Student Assistants Make the CU Green Labs Program a Reality - How Student Help Can Grow Your Green Labs Program

Kathryn Ramirez-Aguilar, University of Colorado Boulder
Ziyu Li, Erika Guth, Jackson Kistler, University of Colorado Boulder

Over the years the CU Green Labs Program has received many questions from other institutions about how we utilize student assistants to keep our program running. Our student assistants are a huge reason why we have been able to grow our program and serve so many buildings and departments on campus, since the Program Manager and Program Assistant cannot be everywhere at once. In this presentation, we'll dive into the ins and outs of having undergraduate student assistants contribute to many facets of our program, from helping with lab material recycling, developing new outreach posters, conducting outreach in the labs, and providing leadership roles too. We'll also explain hiring strategies, hiring process, and management/mentorship strategies. We know that CU Boulder has one of the larger teams of people working solely on laboratory sustainability in the country, which is great for our institution, but the opportunity to work with our program is also beneficial for our students. You'll hear directly from some of our student workers in this presentation on their perspective as to why they wanted to work for CU Green Labs and the benefits / challenges of this job. We hope this presentation provides useful resources and ideas to other institutions so that student workers can positively support the laboratory sustainability movement and help expand the reach of your program.

Learning Objectives

  • Hire student assistants to work on laboratory sustainability initiatives based on the philosophy and strategy CU Green Labs utilizes;
  • Understand the myriad of roles our student assistants play as part of CU Green Labs;
  • Implement tools we utilize to coordinate student work and facilitate projects; and
  • Understand how an experience such as working for CU Green Labs can be beneficial to our students in a variety of ways.


Kathy has a doctorate in Analytical Chemistry and 15 years of laboratory research experience. She manages the CU Green Labs Program at the University of Colorado Boulder, a program she has been building & creating since 2009. She is also dedicated to the Bringing Efficiency to Research (BETR) Grants effort aimed at connecting efficient resource use with the receipt of research funding from sponsors. BETR Grants is presently the focus of the I2SL University Alliance Group that Kathy chairs.

Ziyu Li (Environmental Engineering & Statistics/Data Science), Jackson Kistler (Aerospace Engineering & Astrophysics), and Erika Guth (Environmental Studies & Leadership Studies) are all third-year students at CU Boulder working as student assistants for the CU Green Labs Program. They have each been with the program since 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively. They work on a variety of projects for CU Green Labs including lab outreach, poster design, recycling, and specific leadership roles.

Jackson Kistler is a third-year undergraduate student at CU Boulder studying Aerospace Engineering and Astrophysics. He has been a student assistant for CU Green Labs since 2017, helping with the Green Chemistry Scholarship, designing posters, and helping to coordinate recycling efforts.

Ziyu Li is a third-year undergraduate student at CU Boulder, double majoring in Environmental Engineering and Statistics & Data Science. She has been a student assistant for CU Green Labs since 2016, helping by being the student manager of the shared ULT freezer program, coordinating the mobile freezer program, designing posters, and doing lab outreach.

Erika Guth is a third-year undergraduate student at CU Boulder studying Environmental Studies with a minor in Leadership Studies. She began her position as a student assistant with CU Green Labs in Fall 2018, helping with the brown glass recycling program, lab outreach, delivering materials, and metering lab equipment.


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