Biochemistry Major, Biology and Environmental Studies Minors
As a postbaccalaureate fellow at Knox College, Josh Davidoff knew that he
"wanted to make an impact" on the Knox campus.
During his previous four years as a Knox student, the Denver, Colorado, native developed a wide range of interests inside and outside the classroom, and he wanted to continue cultivating them.
A pre-health student, Davidoff graduated in 2010 with a degree in biochemistry, and he double-minored in biology and environmental studies. He volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Boys & Girls Club and participated in Food for Thought. He also was among the Knox students who successfully pushed a sustainability initiative to replace disposable "to-go" food containers with re-usable clamshells.
In applying for a yearlong postbaccalaureate fellowship, he proposed studying food distribution, food canning, food storage, and composting food waste. The "postbac" fellowship program provides a limited number of Knox students with the opportunity to pursue additional academic work and projects immediately after graduation.
"The composting just sort of took off," Davidoff said. Knox students on the Composting Committee had been investigating composting options for more than a year, and he spent months researching the idea of combining waste-reduction with composting.
That research proved to be productive. Starting in the 2011 fall term, leftover food from the Hard Knox Café and other Knox dining facilities will be deposited into a food dehydrator, the eCorect Somat, and transformed into a sterilized biomass called "soil amendment." The biomass -- along with pre-consumer waste such as eggshells -- gets placed into a vermiculture bin, where red wiggler worms consume the material and turn it into compost for campus flower beds and gardens. (Photo at left: Davidoff shows Knox students the new worm bin.)
The project captured the attention of 2011 Commencement speaker and eco-entrepreneur Majora Carter, who toured the operation with Knox College Trustee John Podesta '71 just before the June 4 Commencement ceremony.
"They were both really cool," Davidoff said. "Majora had seen worm composting before, but she hadn't seen combining the two elements."
She was impressed. "I just thought that kind of innovation, for something that is as old as composting, is really pretty brilliant," Carter said shortly after delivering her Commencement remarks. (Photo at right: Davidoff, Majora Carter, and Maxwell Galloway-Carson '11 next to the worm bin.)
Davidoff has been accepted to graduate school at Colorado State University, where he will study toxicology and environmental health. But leaving the Knox College campus is bittersweet, he said.
"I wound up at Knox because I found this school whose mission is one of acceptance, where everyone can be themselves. You have the freedom to fail, or to not fail and to flourish, as the motto goes," he said. "Coming to Knox changed me in ways that I never would have thought would happen. I feel more accepting of different people and different ideas than before. I feel like I'm a better person."