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April 9, 2015

MSU ‘science fair geek’ in Glamour’s Top 10

Michigan State University’s Elizabeth Brajevich, a self-described “science fair geek,” never figured she would one day be in Glamour magazine.

But that’s exactly where the environmental economics and policy junior and Honors College member finds herself.

The Los Angeles native was named one of the magazine’s Top 10 College Women. The competition recognizes students from across the country for their campus leadership, scholastic achievement, community involvement and unique, inspiring goals.

“I’ve just always done things that I love,” Brajevich said. “I love science and what humans do impacts the environment, so I have followed those passions.”

Brajevich and her counterparts will be honored at an awards ceremony April 13 at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City as well as in the magazine’s April 14 edition.

Brajevich received a scholarship, a trip to New York City and introductions to top professionals in a variety of fields. She was paired with celebrity mentor Laurie David, producer of documentaries including “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Fed Up!”

“Liz is an extraordinary student who radiates her passion for the environment and all living things,” said Ruthi Bloomfield, who is Brajevich’s academic advisor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.

“She has the ability to get others excited about her work – whether it’s about her work with worms or her vision for a sustainable planet – Liz is that rare student who represents all that is best about the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources,” Bloomfield said.

Glamour honored Brajevich for her “Worms Eat My Garbage” initiative for which she wrote a grant and founded at MSU. Students in the Worms Eat My Garbage, group compost coffee grounds, apple cores and food waste in their rooms, with the help of a worm bin through a process known as vermicomposting. The end product is a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer for MSU’s Bailey greenhouse, which supplies food for some of MSU’s cafeterias.

“The worm bin project was my answer to ‘how can I do a science fair project in college’ question,” Brajevich said. “I just loved doing the science fair growing up, and I didn’t see any reason to stop just because I went to college.”

She presented this work to the Tokyo University of Agriculture in the fall of her sophomore year.

Through several undergraduate research opportunities in the CANR, Brajevich found another outlet for her love of science fairs. She studied the decision making process for Michigan dam removals and presented her work at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum.

Brajevich recently led a group of student volunteers in a bike build to assemble and donate bikes for children in foster care in the Lansing area. That event, which took place in Case Hall on the MSU campus, built 27 bikes for Lansing area foster children. She worked with Together We Rise, a national non-profit that helps improve the foster care system, to coordinate that project.

Brajevich will complete her undergraduate degree this year, and stay on for a master’s degree in human and family studies. She hopes to work for a corporation in a social responsibility capacity following her graduation.