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The 24th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering (GC&E) Virtual Conference is a wrap! Converted to a five-day virtual event due to the pandemic, the theme of the conference was “System-Inspired Design.”  As a free, first-time virtual ACS conference, almost 5,000 people from 100 countries attended the week of June 15-19, 2020.


Each day of the conference started with a distinguished keynote speaker who gave attendees a different perspective on how advancing science can be done through green chemistry.  During the week, participants watched the presentations of Bruce Lipshutz, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara; Thomas Jaramillo, Ph.D., Stanford University; Jeannette Garcia, Ph.D., IBM Research; and Jillian Goldfarb, Ph.D., Cornell University.































On Tuesday, the recipients of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in partnership with the American Chemical Society, were announced by EPA Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. The winners were Genomatica, Merck, Johns Manville, Vestaron and Steven Skerlos of the University of Michigan and Fusion Coolant Systems. 


On Friday, we also heard from green chemistry and engineering early-career investigators. Over 900 attendees watched as David Allen, Ph.D., led a discussion with the 3rd Annual ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering Lectureship Awardees. The recipients were Jonas Baltrusaitis, Ph.D., Lehigh University; Katalin Barta, Ph.D., Karl-Franzens University of Graz and University of Groningen; and Feng Wang, Ph.D., Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics. 

A huge thanks to our gold & silver sponsors, including The ACS Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable, celebrating their 15th anniversary. During the week, exhibitors had over 4,300 views and engagements with attendees.


On the final day, a moment of silence to commemorate Juneteenth was held. That evening, a Special Session: A Conversation on Diversity, Inclusion and Respect was held with Dorothy J. Phillips, Ph.D., ACS Board of Directors, and the ACS community to continue building on the commitment to our core values.


“The ACS GC&E Conference was a phenomenal success. It provided ACS with the opportunity to share green chemistry and engineering with a global audience of almost 5,000 attendees from 100 countries," said Thomas M. Connelly, Jr., CEO, American Chemical Society. 


“The conference was a success, based on the high number of attendees and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees,” said Mary Kirchhoff, Executive Vice President, Scientific Advancement.


The complimentary conference sessions are available to watch on demand until Friday, September 25, 2020. For first-time viewers, register now to watch the sessions. A separate email will be sent with your log-in credentials.


Next year’s conference will be held June 14-16, 2021, in Reston, VA. The theme of the conference is “Sustainable Production to Advance the Circular Economy,” the second stage in the chemical life cycle.




With the desire to advance green chemistry and engineering in the broader oil and gas industry, the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) Hydraulic Fracturing Roundtable is expanding its scope to other areas of oilfield chemistry.  The expanded roundtable, called the ACS GCI Oilfield Chemistry Roundtable, will identify opportunities to catalyze green chemistry and engineering beyond hydraulic fracturing.  Since 2014, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute and companies within the hydraulic fracturing industry have been collaborating to integrate green chemistry and engineering into their chemical supply chain. These companies include operators and companies engaged in the design, manufacture, and supply of a wide variety of chemicals to the industry, as well as those treating produced water.


The mission of the expanded roundtable is to systematically integrate green and sustainable chemistry and engineering principles and practices into the chemical supply chain for oilfield chemistry. This scientific collaboration will seek to inform decisions about those chemicals and processes commonly employed in oilfield chemistry and will work to promote the prioritized development of more sustainable chemical alternatives.


The ACS GCI is a science-based organization that convenes industrial roundtables and provides member companies the means to collaborate, prioritize research needs, and influence the research agenda to advance greener and more sustainable chemistry and engineering research.


This week the ACS GCI Oilfield Chemistry Roundtable published a paper in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels: “Grand Challenges and Opportunities for Greener Chemical Alternatives in Hydraulic Fracturing: A Perspective from the ACS Green Chemistry Institute Oilfield Chemistry Roundtable”.


In the manuscript, roundtable members describe what the hydraulic fracturing industry considers to be the greatest challenges, what is currently being done, and potential future opportunities to provide alternative chemicals that lead to a more sustainable industry. Their desire is to adopt strategies to enable a reduction in areas such as volatile organic compound emissions; toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative chemicals; the overall volume of all chemicals and transportation distance;  and worker exposure  (see figure 1).  The oil and gas industry understands that innovation is essential and there is a need to find alternative chemistries that can reduce potential environmental, safety, and health (ESH) impacts.  This is a call from the industry to academics, chemical manufacturers, end-users and non-industry members to work together to find creative ways to greener solutions in the hydraulic fracturing arena. These solutions could be translated to other areas in oil and gas.


To learn more about this roundtable, please visit and/or contact us at


The American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) is pleased to announce the call for symposia for the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. The Conference will be held June 14-16, 2021, in Reston, Virginia.


Conference Theme


Sustainable Production to Advance the Circular Economy is the 2021 conference theme. This theme directly links to U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production, and reflects the role of chemistry and engineering in creating a closed-loop economy for a sustainable future. Similar to previous conferences, the Committee is interested in proposals spanning the breadth and depth of green and sustainable chemistry and engineering.


The Conference Organizing Committee seeks proposals that:

  • Provide diverse perspectives from academic, industrial and government scientists, business leaders, students and NGO representatives.
  • Deliver creatively designed sessions that are highly interactive (e.g., facilitate lively discussion, include sufficient time for Q&A, rapid-fire sessions, and workshop-based learning).
  • Provide attendees leaving each session with a clear idea of how they can leverage the outcomes professionally.
  • Describe how these outcomes will be achieved in the session and provide potential speakers or topics of presentations.


Topics Include, But Are Not Limited To, The Following:


  • Design strategies incorporating systems and life cycle thinking and how these are used to make more sustainable, renewable and recyclable chemicals, chemistries and processes.
  • Success stories in using sustainable production strategies and methodologies in chemical design, synthesis pathways, process, and product design.
  • Designing and developing processes and products that facilitate sustainability and achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Design and development of curricula and curricular materials that infuse green and sustainable chemistry concepts (e.g., circular economy, systems thinking, LCI/A, function-based design, etc.) throughout the chemistry curriculum.
  • Design of chemicals, novel chemistries, synthetic pathways, and processes that enable a circular, more sustainable economy.
  • The design of materials that enable a closed-loop, more sustainable economy in:
    • The built environment (e.g., homes, offices, manufacturing, etc.)
    • Apparel and footwear
    • Electronics
    • Materials assembly (i.e., automotive, aerospace, etc.)
    • Packaging
  • Fundamental scientific advances that enable separation and conversion of water or by-products to valuable materials.
  • Innovative approaches to:
    • Collaborations between government, academia and industry that promote more sustainable design
    • Government policy that enables the closed-loop economy
    • Tools for process and product design and simulation
    • Green and sustainable chemistry and engineering metrics that facilitate better design-thinking
    • Assessment methodologies that enable design for the closed-loop economy
  • Topics in green chemistry and engineering unrelated to the theme are also welcome.


Proposals Should Include the Following Information:


  • A brief statement describing the rationale/need for this topic at the meeting (500 words or less).
  • A description of how the gaps in current practice will be addressed during the symposium. The description should focus on how addressing these gaps will advance green chemistry and engineering in this area.
  • A list of proposed speakers (with affiliations), anticipated topics of the presentations and the proposed mix of invited and contributed presentations.
  • Plans/methods for creating an interactive environment during the session. Workshops and panel discussions are encouraged.


Green Chemistry & Engineering Diversity, Inclusion & Respect Statement


Diversity, Inclusion & Respect are core values of the American Chemical Society and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute. We are committed to promoting an inclusive, diverse, and respectful conference for participants, organizers, and attendees. We recognize the shared responsibility needed for a safe and productive meeting environment regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, physical or mental ability, ethnicity, religion, race, or nationality.  All GC&E participants are expected to treat others with respect to facilitate open dialogue and effective discussions.

We ask that symposia coordinators be mindful of the following guidelines as they are finalizing their speaker lists for GC&E.


Aim to:

–    Include a minimum of 30% of under-represented groups (including women and People of Color)

–    Incorporate expertise from a range of geographic locations

–    Include speakers from all stages of career

–    Include diverse stakeholder perspectives from across the chemistry enterprise, where appropriate


Please submit your symposia proposal to with the subject line “2021 GC&E Symposia Proposal” by October 9, 2020. All symposia submissions will be reviewed by the Conference Organizing Committee and applicants will be notified of decisions by November 20, 2020. If you have questions, please contact us at the email address above.


We’re looking forward to creating an exciting event as we convene a diverse scientific community to advance green chemistry and engineering research, education and sustainable technologies.


Stay safe and healthy!


The ACS Green Chemistry Institute ®

If you missed any of the fantastic chemistry education sessions at the ACS Green Chemistry Institute’s® 24th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Virtual Conference, it’s not too late to go back and review those sessions now.  Several of the technical sessions focused on integrating green chemistry, systems thinking and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) into the undergraduate chemistry curriculum.  Registration and content from this year’s meeting will be available for viewing through September 25, 2020  If you haven’t registered yet, you may do so here.


Educational Resource Development


Now that the 2020 GC&E Conference is behind us, ACS GCI continues to focus on the educational resource development project advancing the adoption of green chemistry principles and practices into the undergraduate chemistry curriculum. This three-year initiative is seeking to develop modules for undergraduate general and organic chemistry courses.


To guide the development and evaluation of the modules, we have been developing two foundational documents: a content evaluation rubric and a guiding principles document. The rubric is largely based on the work by the geosciences community to create a variety of modules that educators may use to raise geosciences literacy.


The ACS GCI rubric will be used to guide developers of the education modules to ensure quality and content are in line with the goals and intent of this project. The same rubric will be used to evaluate the completed modules.  The guiding principles document outlines our thoughts on the green chemistry core competencies (look for our upcoming publication on the core competencies in the ACS Journal of Chemical Education), systems thinking approaches and chemistry connections to the UN SDGs. This document is meant to serve as a reference point for module developers who may not be completely familiar with these ideas.


Community of Practice


In collaboration with Beyond Benign, we are also exploring the potential development of an online Community of Practice for chemistry educators interested in integrating green chemistry into their courses. To better understand the need for a community of practice, we are currently asking chemistry educators to please complete the survey and tell us about your chemistry curriculum. The survey will be open until July 10, 2020.


If you are interested in learning more about our educational initiatives, we will be hosting a webinar in the near future where we’ll be discussing the education resource development project in greater detail. We’ll also be recruiting module development teams in the early fall, so keep an eye out for the application.

Edward Brush, Ph.D.

Bridgewater State University


The world presents us with problems whose complexity and impact we can barely imagine but that we must solve. As educators, our mission is to prepare our students to do exactly that. The integration and scaffolding of Green and Sustainable Chemistry, Systems Thinking and the UN Sustainable Development Goals into an equitable and inclusive undergraduate curriculum can inspire all students to take ownership of their education. They can graduate with the satisfaction that their classroom knowledge has connected them to understand and contribute to solving big global problems.


The highlight of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute’s® 24th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Virtual Conference (GC&E) were the numerous sessions, discussions and workshops related to the emerging paradigm change in chemistry education. The broad array of topics included green and sustainable chemistry, systems thinking, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, high impact practices, career development and lab safety. These topics illustrate how chemistry educators are making a green chemistry commitment to engage students in making broader connections to knowing, understanding and solving big global problems.


It was not at all surprising to hear several presentations related to equity, inclusion and environmental justice. These topics have been a regular part of GC&E education sessions since the 2016 conference in Portland, Oregon, and have been some of the highest attended sessions. Following the GC&E networking event on Inclusion, Diversity and Respect, led by Dr. Dorothy Phillips, it is now crystal clear that equity and inclusion will be an integral part of this paradigm shift in chemistry education. Chemistry students will know how to use their content knowledge to understand complex, real-world problems and to effectively collaborate with others from a range of disciplines in addressing them.


It is essential that these transdisciplinary teams bring together people with diverse perspectives and life experiences to understand the challenges facing the world in the 21st century, and with the skills needed to help solve them. These students will graduate with a desire to build a more just and sustainable world, a deeper knowledge they can apply to real-world problems, skill in collaboration, and the ability to articulate what they’ve learned and how they can adapt it in new contexts. These are the skills employers need and the world needs.


Green chemistry educators are committed to taking action through virtual discussions continuing this summer, into the fall of 2020 and beyond. Educators will outline a general, adaptable curriculum with guiding principles, scaffolded learning outcomes and development of innovative pedagogical approaches - all under the umbrella of an Inclusive Curriculum designed for equity, engagement and accessibility. If you did not sign the participant form at the GC&E Virtual Conference, you can add your name and email at this virtual sign-in sheet.


Thanks to all those who joined the ACS Green Chemistry Institute for our first virtual conference the week of June 15!  It was an amazing week spent sharing green chemistry and engineering research and education, making new connections, and reconnecting with colleagues across the globe.  The keynote speakers – Bruce Lipshutz, Tom Jaramillo, Jamie Garcia, and Jillian Goldfarb – delivered compelling presentations on their research.  We were honored to partner with ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering on the journal’s 2020 Lectureship Awards, recognizing the accomplishments of Jonas Baltrusaitis, Katalin Barta, and Feng Wang.  And our sincere thanks to EPA Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dunn for joining the conference to announce the 2020 recipients of the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  ACS congratulates Genomatica, Merck, Johns Manville, Professor Steven Skerlos, and Vestaron on their award-winning technologies!


One of the biggest benefits of the virtual conference was its global reach:  Almost 5,000 individuals from 100 countries logged onto the meeting platform during the week of the conference!  The online format coupled with no registration fee and no travel costs made the meeting content accessible to a much broader audience than the traditional in-person meeting.  I sincerely hope that greater awareness of and access to green chemistry and engineering content will accelerate implementation of greener technologies across the globe.


Transitioning from an in-person to a virtual conference was not trivial, and I am grateful to everyone who contributed to the success of the conference.  Conference Co-Chairs Meg Sobkowicz-Kline and Rafa Luque provided outstanding leadership in organizing a program focused on the theme of “Systems-Inspired Design,” with the support of the advisory committee and symposium organizers.  My phenomenal colleagues in the ACS Green Chemistry Institute, the ACS Meetings Department, and the Scientific Advancement Division spent countless hours learning how to navigate the Chime platform while “Zooming” in with conference presenters and attendees.  You have my deep appreciation for learning so many new skills in ensuring the success of the conference.


My thanks to the sponsors and exhibitors who continued their support as we moved to a virtual meeting, especially to our gold sponsor, the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable.  The generous support of all sponsors and exhibitors greatly contributed to the success of the conference.


Finally, we sincerely hope that conditions will allow us to meet in person in Reston, Virginia for next year’s conference, June 14-16, 2021.  Please consider submitting a symposium proposal to the 2021 Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.


Stay safe and healthy!


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