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Congratulations to Dr. Jane Wissinger, 2024 Career Achievement in Green Chemistry Education Awardee

Honored Contributor
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By David A. Laviska, Portfolio Manager for Green Chemistry and Sustainability in Education, ACS Green Chemistry Institute

We are delighted to announce the inaugural winner of the "Career Achievement in Green Chemistry Education" award! Dr. Jane Wissinger will accept her award at the 28th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Atlanta, GA, June 2-5, 2024.

By David A. Laviska, Portfolio Manager for Green Chemistry and Sustainability in Education, ACS Green Chemistry Institute

We are delighted to announce that Jane Wissinger, Ph.D. (Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita, University of Minnesota) is the winner of the inaugural “Career Achievement in Green Chemistry Education” award. This award was established through the ACS Office of Sustainability to acknowledge an instructor who has made a profound and transformative impact on the future of green chemistry and sustainability in education through cumulative contributions spanning a significant portion of their career. Sponsored by the ACS Campaign for a Sustainable Future through the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, this award is given to a pedagogical innovator who has shown consistent creativity and innovation in the classroom, laboratory, and broader chemistry enterprise. Only instructors with a significant, impactful body of work are eligible for the Career Achievement award which is meant to acknowledge career-long contributions to the application of green chemistry in all aspects of education. The award consists of a plaque, a $5,000 honorarium, and travel support for the awardee to attend the annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference (GC&E) to receive the award and speak at an invited symposium programmed in their honor.

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Dr. Wissinger first introduced a green chemistry experiment in her sophomore organic laboratory course twenty years ago, and enthusiastic student responses led to two decades of research devoted to the development of new green chemistry curricular materials. Her pioneering work resulted in five novel green organic chemistry experiments published in the education literature with one of the most popular, a green oxidation reaction, being cited 44 times and accruing almost 18,000 views. Due to the popularity of her approach, more than 15,000 students at the University of Minnesota completed her class “Organic chemistry laboratory course: A green approach” with 80% of the course content modeling green chemistry principles and metrics.

As a member of the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP), Dr. Wissinger developed and published eight versatile green polymer experiments modeling the use of renewable feedstocks, greener processes, and design for degradation. Components of this work fed back into the broader research efforts of the CSP, highlighting the potential of green strategies applied to polymer synthesis. Additionally, sustainable polymer experiments align well with K12 Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) leading to the development of a three-day Green & Sustainable Chemistry Workshop which has engaged more than 100 high school teachers across rural Minnesota. Overall, Dr. Wissinger’s green chemistry and sustainable polymer curriculum development efforts involved 44 undergraduate students, 13 graduate students, 4 high school teachers, 3 postdoctoral fellows, and 2 visiting scholars. There were also collaborations with six faculty colleagues who agreed to trial and implement new green experiments in their courses.

In 2017, Dr. Wissinger was invited to join the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement (now the Committee on Environment and Sustainability (CES)). In association with CES, she was ACS Multidisciplinary Program Planning Group co-chair for the Fall 2022 National ACS Meeting in Chicago, themed, “Sustainability in a Changing World”. The conference gathered ~12,000 scientists to hear 35 interdisciplinary symposia on green and sustainable chemistry. Working with her friend and colleague Edward Brush from Bridgewater State University, Dr. Wissinger has co-organized over 20 national ACS meeting symposia and 10 Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference symposia with themes including curriculum reform, outreach, sustainable polymers, safety, systems thinking, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, and health equity.

Beyond her scholarly achievements, Dr. Wissinger is a role model within the green chemistry community – a community she helped build - who has inspired hundreds of instructors and students across the U.S., Canada, and beyond to boldly work toward curricular reform and the incorporation of green chemistry and systems thinking in teaching. As an innovator, leader, researcher, collaborator, instructor, facilitator, mentor, and friend, Dr. Wissinger has made an indelible contribution to the field of green chemistry and we at the GCI express our profound gratitude for everything she has done and continues to do toward preparing our students to work toward a more sustainable future.

Dr. Wissinger will accept her award and be the featured speaker at the Opening Dinner and Awards Ceremony held at the 28th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Atlanta, GA, June 2-5, 2024.

Learn more about the ACS funding and awards in green chemistry on the ACS website.