UC Berkeley architecture graduate student Antony Kim and his faculty mentor have been awarded the new Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship for their commitment to finding self-sustaining sources of lighting in low-income housing developments.
The fellowship, a joint venture between the Schmidt Family Foundation and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, aims at combating the problems associated with population growth and waste by finding solutions in a method known as the “circular economy,” which focuses on creating self-sustaining products that will have minimal to no environmental impact.
Kim says he had no idea how important it was to be awarded the new fellowship, because it did not even exist before this year.
“At first I was excited, but then all these PR agents started to call, and I realized this was big,” Kim said.
Kim and his project mentor, professor Galen Cranz of the College of Environmental Design, are one of the 10 teams selected worldwide for the fellowship. The fellowship partners with 10 universities from around the world, including UC Berkeley, Yale University and Stanford University. One student and mentor from each university are then selected by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
“This fellowship is unique and special because it connects generations by supporting the fellow and the mentor, so even when Antony is gone, the experience gained from his work will still be here for other generations of students,” Cranz said.
According to Kim, the interdisciplinary approach of the fellowship was what got his attention. While other fellowships he had applied to focused on one field of study, the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship incorporates various fields in order to make sustainability profitable and accessible to all social classes.
“This project I’m doing wasn’t necessarily designed and catered for them,” Kim said. “It is just what I have been working on for the last couple of years.”
Kim’s project focuses on developing sustainable and affordable housing. He says that affordable housing is often not created efficiently or aesthetically appealing because it is not economically viable for the developer to do so.
Kim would utilize natural light and incorporate LED lighting to make housing more affordable for developers and aesthetically pleasing for occupants.
He first became interested in sustainable low-income housing while he was an undergraduate student at Humboldt State University. Kim worked for a private housing developer, and the adversarial relationship between developers and sustainability advocates caused him to rethink the way energy is used in lighting.
Next month, Kim and Cranz will travel to London to attend a week-long conference and workshop with the other winning teams and experts from multiple fields around the world.
Contact Chase Schweitzer at [email protected]
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was involved in the selection process for the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship. In fact, Schmidt was not involved in the selection process.