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Eight Students Win Green Chemistry Awards

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By Evan Riley, Communication Associate, ACS Green Chemistry Institute


In order to reimagine chemistry for a more sustainable future, the next generation of chemists needs to have a working knowledge of green and sustainable chemistry principles and practices. Attending and presenting at a scientific conference is an important milestone and professional development opportunity for young researchers. To enable this experience for more early-career scientists, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) administers several annual awards for students and postdoctoral scholars pursuing research that incorporates green chemistry and engineering design principles. To date, over 100 scholars have benefited from these awards. Many of these scholars have gone on to become scientists and engineers leading the way, as we strive to develop chemistry solutions for the world’s grand sustainability challenges.


This year, eight awardees were selected from an impressive pool of applicants. We were excited to see innovative green chemistry work being done by young researchers both domestically and internationally.


Thank you to our dedicated judging panels for volunteering their time to review the ever-growing number of applications. This was not an easy task! And, last but certainly not least, congratulations to these outstanding researchers! We’re excited to see what’s in store for you.


Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award

The Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award provides national recognition and honor for outstanding student contributions to furthering the goals of green chemistry through research and/or studies. The ACS Division of Environmental Chemistry and the National Institute of Standards and Technology support the award. Recipients receive $1,000, and an additional $1,000 is available to support travel.


The 2020 award will be presented during the 24th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering (GC&E) Conference, June 16-18, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.


Ariel Fernandez is an undergraduate chemistry student from the University of Costa Rica. Fernandez’s research is aimed at developing an alternative use for a ubiquitous waste product: cigarette butts. The study finds a way to reuse all parts of the waste product. The extraction of any remaining nicotine to be used locally as a more environmentally friendly pesticide; tar can be converted into biochar and used to filter heavy metals from water; filter material can be decontaminated and used for water filtration; and the paper portion can be recycled into paper business cards.


Metin Karayilan, a Ph.D. candidate in organic and polymer chemistry at the University of Arizona, is being honored for his work on biomimetic metallopolymers with enhanced catalytic activity for sustainable hydrogen production in water. His research aims to improve the electrochemistry of H2 production as an energy storage solution for renewable energy sources using earth-abundant catalysts.


Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship

The Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship supports the participation of young green chemistry scholars from around the world to attend an international green chemistry technical meeting, conference or training program. The award was established in 2000 through the ACS International Endowment Fund in commemoration of the late Dr. Joe Breen, first director of the Green Chemistry Institute. Each winner receives up to $2,000 for travel and conference expenses.


From the nominations received, the 2020 winners are:

Emily Chapman.jpg 

Emily Chapman is an undergraduate chemistry student from Augsburg University in Minnesota. Chapman has helped to develop a greener alternative to the classic Biginelli reaction using microwave irradiation and a urea catalyst.


Giulia Ischia is a Ph.D. student from The University of Trento in Italy. Her work investigates thermochemical processes for the valorization of waste biomass into bio-based products, sustained completely by solar energy.


Both women will be presenting their research at the 24th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Seattle, Washington next June.


Ciba Travel Awards in Green Chemistry

Established in 2009 through the Ciba Green Chemistry Student Endowment, the Ciba Travel Awards in Green Chemistry aim to expand students’ understanding of green chemistry by facilitating their participation in a scientific conference. The award amount covers conference travel expenses up to $2,000.


The winners of the 2020 Ciba Travel Award in Green Chemistry are:


Mollie Enright, a second-year graduate student in chemistry at the University of Toledo, is studying iron-catalyzed cross-coupling of heterocycles. Her study involves utilizing inexpensive, abundant and less-toxic metals to perform chemical transformations. Enright has been a passionate advocate of green chemistry throughout her academic and professional career. She will present her work at the GC&E meeting in Seattle.


Tyler Roberts, a M.Sc. candidate in chemistry from the University of Arizona, is developing an alternative glycolipid surfactant using biocatalysis. He will attend and present his research at the GC&E meeting next June.


Alia Rubaie is an undergraduate student of biochemistry and chemistry at Santa Clara University in California. Rubaie looks to improve the efficiency of copper use in atom transfer radical polymerization during polymer synthesis by using activators generated by electron transfer (AGET) and radical trap assistance. She will attend and present her work at the ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia in March 2020 at the poster session in the Division of Polymer Chemistry.

Shultz.jpg Lorianne Shultz, a first year Ph.D. student in materials chemistry from the University of Central Florida, is developing noble metal-free catalyst systems for remediation of emerging contaminants (e.g. pseudo-estrogens, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and pharmaceuticals), utilizing both photochemical and traditional redox processes. Shultz will present her findings at the GC&E conference next summer.