Contributed by Adelina Voutchkova-Kostal, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, The George Washington University and co-chair of the GC&E Advisory Committee
This year’s Green Chemistry and Engineering (GC&E) Conference celebrates its 20th anniversary, and for the first time the conference is taking place on the West coast – in breathtaking Portland. The conference is packed with an exciting series of technical tracks and events focused on the theme of Advancing Sustainable Solutions by Design. “Design” is a concept that transcends all facets of green chemistry: it challenges us to strive for rational design of more sustainable processes and chemicals and to unleash creativity that is not constrained by what we consider possible today. Design inherently crosses disciplinary boundaries, and it is our hope that this GC&E will help soften some of these boundaries and inspire us to think outside our “box”, taking inspiration from creative design in nature, art and other disciplines. Here are some of the novel elements to this year’s conference that we are particularly excited about:
This year’s exceptional keynote speakers will help us pay tribute to this 20th anniversary meeting, and will provide inspirational look towards the challenges that will define the next decade of green chemistry. We are proud to host Prof. Nate Lewis (California Institute of Technology) and Prof. Paul Anastas (Yale University Center for Green Chemistry).
The technical sessions strike an excellent balance of fundamental and applied advances to the fields. In addition to sessions on green synthetic design, driving down waste in industry, green material design, catalysis (homogeneous, heterogeneous, photoredox and biocatalysis), conversion of renewables (CO2, lignin, other biomass feedstocks), curricular development in green chemistry and evaluation/design of safer commercial chemicals, some of the new sessions making an appearance this year are:
On Wednesday there is also a toxicology-themed workshop on “Data Uncertainty in Predictive Toxicology & Alternative Assessments,” which will engage the participants in ways to evaluate and use toxicological and predictive data in the design and evaluation of safer chemicals. This topic addresses one of our biggest obstacles in the selection of safer chemical alternatives, and we hope it will attract practitioners, academics and students.
This year we have also developed a very exciting student workshop unlike anything that has been offered in previous years. The workshop centers on a chemical design challenge, themed around dyes and colorants. Students will hear from industry experts about the challenges in the dyes industry and will work in cross-disciplinary teams to come up with solutions that are “out of the box,” pitching their solutions to industry experts. We are very excited to make this workshop a reality and hope it will inspire students to think beyond their disciplines in tackling sustainability challenges in their future careers.
On Monday evening the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award ceremony will take place, held for the first time outside of Washington, DC. On Tuesday evening there will be a welcome reception, followed by yet another new event at the conference – a series of TedX-type talks from designers, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers. These inspirational speakers will bring new perspective to our thinking and we are particularly excited to incorporate this event into this year’s conference. On Wednesday we will have our poster sessions after the technical talks, and the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable will hold its reception. Finally, Thursday will be informal thematic social events to allow participants to network with colleagues from their fields.
We have really tried to take the GC&E conference to the next level this year, and to take advantage of everything that Portland has to offer! I hope to see you all in Portland in June!
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