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Living Lab or Research

The Sustainable Carolina Garden offers raised beds, open spaces, and a greenhouse for students to utilize for research purposes related to environmental science, sustainable agriculture, engineering, and technology.

Sustainable Magellan

This grant offers students funding for research, scholarship and creative projects with a focus on sustainability. Recipients may be awarded up to $500 for salary, materials and travel.

Past Sustainable Magellan Recipients

Current Research

Disinfection Bi-products (DBPs) in Drinking Water
All drinking water, including Columbia tap water, has been known to contain some level of disinfection bi-products. DBPs are toxic results formed from disinfectants used in the water disinfection process with the natural organic matter in the water. This project specifically focuses on plant uptake of these DBPs. This experiment takes place in our greenhouse where 3 hydroponic systems are used to grow Basil: one with purified spring water, one with pure water spiked with controlled concentrations of 3 DBPs (iodoacetic acid, dibromoacetic acid, and dichloroacetic acid), and one with Columbia tap water. 

Chlorella vulgaris
Chlorella vulgaris is a microalgae that has been shown to be a very effective growth adjuvant in tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries, boosting yields by 50% and greatly extending the shelf life of products. This project will help determine how and if algae improve growth rates of tomatoes and kale. The experiment will be set up in our greenhouse during the Fall 2020 semester and will run through the Spring 2021 semester.

Past Research

Permeable Concrete
Come take a walk through the garden and you will notice our unique stepping stones that were made using permeable concrete and designed to help with water runoff and mitigate soil erosion.  Pervious concrete pavement is a unique and effective means to address important environmental issues and support sustainable growth here on campus. By capturing stormwater and allowing it to seep into the ground, porous concrete is instrumental in recharging groundwater and reducing stormwater runoff.  In fact, the use of pervious concrete is among the Best Management Practices (BMPs) recommended by the EPA for the management of stormwater runoff on a local basis. 

Outdoor Classroom
The goal of this project was to assess students’ performance in traditional classrooms versus an alternative learning environment. Student performance was based on the criteria of attendance, engagement, motivation, and emotional well-being in the two different classroom environments. The results added to our understanding of alternative classroom environments and their effect on students’ performance, and thus support the possibility of building a permanent outdoor classroom on campus.

Reserve the Outdoor Classroom

Water Filtration System
The water filtration system in the Garden captures rainwater and filters it into purified drinking water for Garden volunteers. Rainwater is captured from the Green Quad C building, stored in a rain barrel, then passes through a biosand filter and Berkey water filter. A biosand filter is a point-of-use water treatment system adapted from traditional slow sand filters. Biosand filters remove pathogens and suspended solids from water using biological and physical processes that take place in a sand column covered with a biofilm.

What is a Berkey filter? Find out more here.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.