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10 January 2013


Sometimes in one’s career, an opportunity comes along that is irresistible. Perhaps you’ve been preparing for it, in one way or another, for much of your career. For me, such an opportunity has arrived.


I can’t tell you how delighted I am to have the opportunity to lead the ACS’s Green Chemistry Institute. As some of you may know, I have been working in Green Chemistry and Engineering since the beginning of 1996, including formative work with the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable between 2005 and 2009. It is my hope to leverage the experience I’ve gained over the intervening years to the benefit of the sustainable and green chemistry community, the chemical enterprise, society, and the planet.


Over the years, many people have made significant and lasting contributions to the success of ACS GCI and I am deeply indebted to the legacy they have forged. Because of this hard work, the Institute has become a focal point for the collective expectations, hopes and ambitions of the sustainable and green chemistry community. I want to take this opportunity to share with you my initial thoughts about where I think the Institute will be heading.


  • First and foremost, ACS GCI needs to facilitate the very best innovations in science, engineering, and policy in all parts of the chemical enterprise, academia, and government. Innovative research and development in sustainable and green chemistry and engineering is essential and imperative. Everyone has an important role to play.
  • In 2012, the ACS GCI Governing Board approved a strategic plan for the next 3 years that is aligned with the ACS’s goals, and it has impressed me as a roadmap for continuing success.
  • Education and development of scientists and engineers of many persuasions in the principles and practices of sustainable and green chemistry and engineering is of paramount importance. We need to continue to develop sufficient infrastructure that ensures life-long learning and development is readily available.
  • The promise of sustainable and green chemistry is in its implementation throughout the chemical enterprise. We need to enhance, expand and promote the work and outcomes of the Industrial Roundtables. They play a vital role and I am committed to ensuring their continuation, effectiveness, outcomes, and impacts.
  • I firmly believe that policy and regulation can and does promote the good of society. We need to ensure that the best policy results in the most advantageous regulations.
  • Partnerships and collaborations with many like-minded non-governmental organizations are not only possible, but desirable. We can have greater impact working together rather than as individuals.


I firmly believe no community is better situated to have a more positive and sustainable impact on the world than the chemical and engineering communities. We touch all parts of life, commerce and society and your contributions are absolutely vital to the future of the world. I look forward to joining you in making a sustainable world a reality.



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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home. are many champions of green chemistry in the world, but somewhere near the top of the list is Dr. Milton T. W. Hearn. Dr. Hearn has headed up the Centre for Green Chemistry at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia for the last 10 years, and will now be the Associate Director of its next iteration, the newly formed Green Chemical Futures. Securing over $100 million in funding for the new center as the lead scientific applicant, Dr. Hearn has strengthened Australia’s position as a green chemistry powerhouse for years to come.


Born into a small farming community east of Adelaide, Australia in 1943, Dr. Hearn was the first member of his family to go to a university in Australia. His parents were businesspeople, and grandfathers were engineers trained in Europe. As a small child, young Milton’s fascination with “what makes things work” was kindled by watching his older cousins “carrying out small experiments,” with a home chemistry set. In high school, his interest was further buoyed by several “marvelous teachers who created the wonder of chemistry” for him and instilled an enthusiasm in the “enormous contribution that the chemical sciences make to practically every area of our normal lives.”


At the University of Adelaide, Milton Hearn studied organic chemistry, receiving ‘First Class Honours’ as the top student in his major, and then worked toward his PhD, researching a combination of more traditional synthetic approaches as well as biological approaches to synthesis. He recalls at the time the separation tools weren’t particularly effective, equally the task was technically quite demanding. Finding the solutions to these challenges only served to make Dr. Hearn more enthusiastic for his chosen path, and he received his PhD in 1970. his career developed, he found mentors from a number of “people who in their own right were really quite outstanding”— among them, Dr. Goran Schill, a Swedish pharmaceutical scientist, Professor Sir Ewart Jones, a leading Oxford University-based organic chemist and Dr. Csaba Horvath, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Yale University. What he attributes to learning from his mentors is that science requires multidisciplinary thinking—a concept that was rarely thought about at the time. “It’s not just chemistry for chemistry’s sake, but chemistry for what chemistry can do to provide solutions.”


Hearn began his career long before the concept of green chemistry was around. Yet when Dr. Anastas and Dr. Warner defined the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry in their 1998 book, he found he “was doing green chemistry before it was called green chemistry.” And it wasn’t by accident. Dr. Hearn was driven towards towards being mindful of issues such as making chemical processes more efficient, increasing yield, and working with benign compound classes.  Interestingly, he attributes this innate understanding and approach “to issues of integrity” formed in the early years of his background. Growing up in a small farming community, especially one nestled in Australia’s fragile ecosystems, issues like land biodegradation, resource limitations, bushfires, and droughts had to be grappled with. This first-hand environmental awareness was not left behind, but became part of what informed his consideration of chemistry. “How do you apply your science to have a social responsibility that impacts upon a task?” Dr. Hearn asks, adding that this aspect could be considered “the 13th Principle of Green Chemistry.” over disciplines, embracing new opportunities, and going outside the immediate constraints of his expertise to form collaborations with others seems to be a specialty of Dr. Hearn, and perhaps a key to his success. After positions in several different Canadian, UK, Australian and New Zealand Universities and research centers and shorter term positions as honorary visiting lecturer or professor in the USA, Sweden, Germany, Taiwan, France, and Japan, Dr. Hearn joined Monash University as a Professor of Biochemistry in 1986. In 2001, when the head of the chemistry department and the Deputy Chancellor of Monash approached Dr. Hearn to take up the opportunity to direct the newly funded Australian Research Council Special Research Centre for Green Chemistry at Monash, he said yes. “It was an exciting opportunity and an interesting set of new challenges.”


It could be said that one of the ways that the Centre for Green Chemistry and the formation of the new Green Chemistry Futures project has succeeded, is in bringing together a mix of interest groups. “Green chemistry,” says Dr. Hearn, “creates a different kind of collaboration that can lead to more opportunity for innovation.” Pointing to the importance of this in a time where university research centers around the world are facing funding cuts, the ability to better connect academic research priorities—which historically have tended to solely focus on “when can the next journal publication be submitted”—to industry’s different sense of timelines, expectations, and value propositions assigned to a piece of science, can be very beneficial and can “open unexpected doors.” Dr. Hearn certainly seems to have mastered the art and science of collaborations like these, although he denies it is has much to do with his inherent character traits, but instead attributes his success in this area to experience, learning from mistakes, and developing a large network. That being said, there is no hesitation when asked what it takes: “You have to have integrity. You have to have perseverance. You have to be willing to listen to other points of view. You have to think laterally at times. [You have to] go outside your own experience base and have a willingness to collaborate with people who are equally able and eminent in their own area of research. but not consumed by the academic publish or perish syndrome” the last decade, Dr. Hearn has received most major awards the Royal Australian Chemical Society has to offer, including the Green Chemistry Medal (2010), the Analytical Chemistry Medal (2005), the Applied Research Medal (2003), and the H.G. Smith Medal (1998), and as 2012 came to a close, he received the highest award that the Royal Australian Chemical Society has to offer, the Leighton Memorial Award. The Leighton Award recognized for Dr. Hearn for his work embedding green chemistry into Australia in its broadest context, but equally for the contributions he’s made over the years in separation science which have revolutionized a number of fields of biotechnology and for his discoveries in early stage compounds that have led to new opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry. Yet, when asked what he thinks his biggest accomplishment is, Dr. Hearn replies, “I’ve trained nearly 70 talented young PhD scientists. Many of them have gone onto quite significant positions in academia, government and industry. These are my greatest accomplishments.”


Looking forward, Dr. Hearn is optimistic about the potential of green chemistry but points to academia as the laggard. Industry, he observes, is embracing green chemistry and seeking new information and approaches that are economically and technically sound. Government—in Australia at least—is embracing green chemistry because “it avoids landfill, problems with the environment, risk of hazard and industrial health disorders, and gives an opportunity to adopt innovations.” Universities, however, with notable exceptions, have a long way still to go. For example, Dr. Hearn points to the lack of research funding, noting that despite its demonstrated importance green chemistry still does not have its own Field-of-Research (FoR) classification compared to other subtopics of chemistry when you go to write a grant in Australia. Similarly, most Australian Universities, as is the case at many Universities globally, have yet to establish three/four year chemistry curricula majors that focus predominately on green and sustainable chemistry and its industrial uptake. Certainly there is a long way to go, but getting to where we are has been in part because of the efforts and leadership of persons like Dr. Hearn. And his advice to the next generation—the young undergraduate scientists—“Believe in yourself.”


Dr. Hearn will be keynoting at the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference June 18, 2013.




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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home. Kent Voorhees will succeed Dr. Berkeley “Buzz” Cue as Chair of the ACS GCI Governing Board effective January 1, 2013. The ACS GCI Governing Board provides oversight, advice, and strategic leadership for the Institute and is crucial in the success of its mission: to catalyze and enable the implementation of green chemistry and engineering throughout the global chemical enterprise. ACS GCI is extremely grateful to Dr. Cue for his years of service both as Chair and a member of the Governing Board, and confident Dr. Voorhees will continue in a long line of superb Governing Board Chairs.


Dr. Voorhees has been an ACS GCI Governing Board member since 2007 and also serves on the Board of Directors for the American Chemical Society. He therefore comes to this new role with extensive knowledge not only of the field of green chemistry, but also of the workings of the Governing Board and the Institute itself.


A Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry at the Colorado School of Mines, Dr. Voorhees’s research focuses on two distinct areas: rapid bacterial identification and biofuels characterization. In 2002; he co-founded MicroPhage Inc., a biomedical diagnostic company, which has successfully commercialized a bacterial detection technology licensed from the Colorado School of Mines.


Dr. Voorhees is a strong voice for green chemistry and engineering and has been instrumental in the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy which in 2012 was hosted at the Colorado School of Mines.


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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home. ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable (ACS GCIPR) formally recognized Dr. Berkeley “Buzz” Cue for his vision, leadership, and dedication, as he steps back from his active role in the roundtable. The ACS GCIPR was founded by Dr. Cue and Dr. Paul Anastas in 2005 as a partnership between ACS GCI and global pharmaceutical-related corporations in order to catalyze the implementation of green chemistry and green engineering in the global pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Cue, is a consultant, author, recent ACS GCI Governing Board Chair, and led an influential career for over 28 years at Pfizer.


Under Dr. Cue’s tutelage, the Roundtable developed from a concept into an established organization making an impact on the global pharmaceutical industry and beyond.  In appreciation of Dr. Cue’s work, the ACS GCIPR members recently presented him with a crystal award accompanied by highlights of the exciting Roundtable milestones including:


  • Publishing the first papers providing an industry perspective on green chemistry and engineering research needs.
  • Directly funding over $1.2 million in pharmaceutically-relevant green chemistry & engineering research.
  • Expanding the scope of work from a small molecule process development focus to also include bio-pharma and medicinal chemistry.
  • Defining Process Mass Intensity which is now considered the standard green chemistry metric in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Developing the solvent selection guide and reagent selection guide to help chemists make informed decisions.
  • Influencing journals including Organic Process Research & DevelopmentChemSusChem, and Green Chemistry to encourage and/or require the use of greener alternatives to highly hazardous chemicals.
  • Leveraging approximately $1.5 million of government funding (NIH and NSF) to support pharmaceutically relevant green chemistry research.


This list of achievements is far from complete, and more importantly, the industry is poised to continue its efforts for the foreseeable future.  Dr. Cue’s foresight to establish the organization with Dr. Paul Anastas, and then his leadership as Chair and Advisor, have forever changed the way the industry develops medicines.


“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

By Daniel Teitelbaum, Pollution Prevention Staff Lead, Toxic Release Inventory Program, US EPA its inception in 1986, EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program has embodied the principle that information can lead to improved environmental outcomes even in the absence of explicit pollution control mandates.  Now, TRI is shining its spotlight in an area where experts have identified significant information and knowledge barriers: green chemistry innovation and implementation.


In connection with the publication of the 2011 TRI National Analysis report, EPA released a new pollution prevention (P2) search tool to make green chemistry and other P2 information collected by TRI readily available and help break down barriers to adoption of these practices.  The tool offers easy and direct access to a variety of data elements provided by industrial facilities.  These include both mandatory release and waste management quantities and an optional free-text field that thousands of facilities use to describe their green chemistry and other P2 practices.


For the more than 20,000 facilities that report to TRI annually, completing the P2-related data fields in the TRI reporting form is an opportunity to showcase their green chemistry achievements, provide important context for the toxic chemical quantities they have disclosed, and get the word out about environmentally-preferable products that have proven, quantifiable benefits.  For data users, the tool offers an easy way to find out which facilities reported the largest reductions in toxic chemical releases and the P2 activ that were most effective for their area of interest.


Over the coming months, EPA plans to enhance this tool and make it easier for facilities to report new information on green chemistry practices, as well as barriers to such practices. We encourage you to explore the tool and provide your feedback at You can also get information on TRI and green chemistry by viewing a recent ACS webinar or attending the session on this topic at the upcoming Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.


“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

How does one design a benign chemical? What makes a chemical toxic? Can toxicity be predicted at the design stage? These are some of the questions that Dr. Julie Zimmerman, Associate Professor of Green Engineering at Yale University, seeks to answer. Last month, Dr. Zimmerman presented her ongoing research into these issues during a well-attended webcast sponsored by ACS GCI and moderated by Dr. Joseph Fortunak. As Professor Zimmerman noted, we need to change the way we think about chemistry, “Hazard must be recognized as a design flaw.”


Existing strategies to reduce toxicity however focus on doing animal testing at the pilot stage after new chemical has already been developed, but before it goes to market—which is an expensive process prohibitive to smaller companies, and also raises animal testing concerns. In any case, testing after design would be impractical given that there are approximately 90,000 chemicals in the market today. What Zimmerman goes onto explain in her presentation, is an alternative approach that looks at creating a set of rules that can guide chemists toward non-bioactive, non-hazardous structures by looking at the physical chemical properties and relating them to various types of toxicity.


Watch the presentation below to find out more about this fascinating research. If you are having trouble viewing the video below, click here.



This presentation was produced by ACS Webinars. The recording and PDF download of the slides are available on ACS Webinars site.


“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

By Sudhakar Reddy, Ph.D., Coordinator - Sustainable Labs, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor


Like most higher education institutions across the country, lab operations at the University of Michigan (UM) typically consume 4 to 8 times more energy when compared with a class room or office environment.  This is largely due to chemical fume hoods, conditioning of air, lab equipment and operations that go in these laboratories, providing rich opportunities to save on energy, utilities and resources.


Sustainability in the labs can be achieved through engineering controls,  operational changes and behavior. UM’s Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC)  department, UM’s Plant Operations, and several other sustainability  teams strive to make system wide improvements to reduce energy and utility consumption. The Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) applies green chemistry principles and waste reduction techniques along with administrative and behavioral controls to achieve short and long term sustainability goals in our campus laboratories.   OCS spearheaded a unique program called Green Laboratory Operations for Sustainability, focused on standardizing greener practices in our teaching and research laboratories.  This program developed through the participation of student groups addresses two of four broader University wide sustainability goals to  reduce scope I and II greenhouse gas emissions  by 25%, and  reduce waste being disposed of in landfills by 40%  by 2025. program is run in a phased manner in order to lessen the impact on laboratory staff, energy and resources. Once a Principal Investigator (PI) or a Laboratory Manager contacts OCS, the OCS staff visits the laboratory to evaluate its current practices in the areas such as pollution prevention, waste minimization, green purchasing, recycling, green chemistry, energy and utilities conservation, and chemical treatment and disposal. Following this evaluation step, appropriate operational recommendations specific to the laboratory are provided along with suggestions on how best to implement them. After the recommendations are implemented, a follow-up visit is scheduled at which time the laboratory is formally recognized as a U-M Sustainable Laboratory.  A certificate of recognition along with promotional items will be presented to the group.


Through this program we have designed and produced ‘Shut the Sash’ magnetic stickers (see Figures below) and placed them on every chemical fume hood on our campus.  We have nearly 2500 fume hoods on campus and this campaign is geared to educate our lab users to shut the sash when not in use to save significant amount of energy thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. of surplus chemicals, recycling solvents, treatment of dialysate and HPLC streams to reduce waste, chemical substitution are a few among many benefits that are being achieved through this program.  Metrics are being tracked and published in an annual environmental report., this program also emphasizes and encourages our lab users to employ less toxic alternatives in place of toxic chemicals and solvents.  Consequently, many life sciences labs have replaced toxic ethidium bromide with non-toxic gel-red as a gel staining agent in their DNA research.  Some labs participated in this program have now shifted to green solvents such as methyl acetate and 2-methyl tetrahydorfuran in place of toxic solvents like methylene chloride in their extractions.


To date, we have evaluated nearly 40 labs through this unique program and the number is growing.


Principle investigators and laboratory managers are seeing real benefits from this program, including the introduction to Green Chemistry practices, reduced consumption of energy and utilities, reduction in the use and generation of hazardous materials, increased recycling, and improved safety for laboratory students, faculty and staff.


“Our new sustainable lab practices have resulted in savings of chemicals and supplies,” says Dr. Pilar Herrera-Fierro, lead research engineer at the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility and a College of Engineering faculty member. “The LNF community, users and staff have embraced sustainable lab practices wholeheartedly.”


To learn more about the Green Laboratory Operation for Sustainability, visit or contact Dr. Sudhakar Reddy at 734-763-4615, or by email at


Submitted by:

Sudhakar Reddy, Ph.D.,

Coordinator – Sustainable Labs

Office of Campus Sustainability

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109



“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

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