McMaster students start off our Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 list.

The Starfish is proud to present its first three Top 25 finalists, all hailing from McMaster University - Chrissie Fandrich, Stephanie Sullivan, and Vlad Melnic.


Photo from Chrissie Fandrich.

A Geography and Environmental student at McMaster University, Chrissie has been at the front of the pack for the entire undergraduate career. Knowing how important it was to get field experience, she got her hands dirty in courses that taught her what it is really like to see science in action. 

Fandrich took these skills, along with her vast knowledge of GIS, and worked as an intern with McMaster’s office of sustainability, where she formulate policy recommendations that could reduce single-occupant car trips onto the university campus. She pedaled to the metal at MacGreen, where she was an active component of their street team while also playing the role of their Alternative Transportation Coordinator. 

Her modest and hard-working approach is what secured Fandrich a spot at #25 on our top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 list.



Photo from Stephanie Sullivan.

Stephanie Sullivan is, in my opinion, one of the one that got away from us last year. She was a 2011 nominee that didn’t pass our final round of cuts, but she was back in the nomination pool this year and I’m happy to say that she’s on the list!

Sullivan is an eco-entrepreneur. In May of 2011, she decided that there was a gap in the market – nobody in Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario had a green cleaning business. She went to the City of Hamilton’s Small Business Enterprise Centre, where she earned a grant in the Summer Company Program. From here, she took her funds and made Eco-Green N’ Clean, a business that prides itself on simple cleaning solutions that reduce the environmental impacts of other harmful chemicals and cleaners.

Her nominator, Dragica Lebo from the City of Hamiton, has learned lots from Sullivan. “She’s taught me not to give up, to be innovative, and to have faith in your business – all difficult things to do when starting up a business.”



Photo from Vlad Melnic.

Vlad Melnic came up with an idea for his undergraduate thesis independently (a task I myself wasn’t able to do).

Melnic saw the struggles that groups often have with environmental education outreach. So, he took this and collaborated with a large number of high schools to engage students in environmental discussions. The project’s applicability didn’t end there – he even took it to City Hall, where Melnic’s policy recommendations were reviewed and forwarded to City Council.

His supervisor, Dr. Maureen Padden from McMaster University, explains exactly what Melnic found. “Students from suburban and rural neighbourhoods, with abundant green space, were more concerned about the environment than students living in industrial, inner-city neighbourhoods. His research serves as a reminder that sometimes those most affected by environmental degradation are least likely to be actively engaged in pursuing solutions to those types of problems.”

As Melnic travels to Sweden for his graduate career, we wish him the best of luck in future endeavours.