Kaitlin Gawkins

Class of 2019-2020

University of Dayton, 2019
Biology

Why I chose ESTEEM:

As an undergraduate in the biological sciences, I was passionate about the practice and implications of research. However, I often experienced a feeling of internal restlessness while working in the lab. I longed for a way to apply my technical background to new pursuits, ones where I could get face to face with other people and create tangible change. In the ESTEEM program, I saw a network of innovators who each heard the call to make a positive impact on the world. So, I visited, applied, and the rest is history!

My capstone project and why I am excited about it:

Mobius is working to build the circular economy starting with lignin, the primary waste product of the paper and biofuel industry which is produced at over 50 million tons per year. Their innovative technology transforms lignin into a biopolymer replacement for petroleum plastics. My project entails exploring the market potential to add fertilizer to this material so that as it biodegrades, it will release nutrients into the ground. As an ecology nerd and environmentalist, I'm excited to learn how to make a tangible positive impact on issues surrounding waste management and nutrient pollution.

What I hope to do after ESTEEM:

By combining my ecology knowledge with business, design, and entrepreneurial training, I hope to gain the skills and experience necessary to help those who are disproportionately affected by climate change.

What I like to do when I’m not working:

When I'm not in class or working, I can usually be found outside looking at trees or loitering around the local dog park. I also enjoy supporting local musicians and artists.