By Megan Arnett, Ph.D., Executive Director, Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
This past year was marked by transitions for all of us, and this was no less true for the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (BCGC). Many of you will be aware of BCGC—a home to green chemistry education, research, and outreach for more than a decade. After six years of exciting and dedicated work, my predecessor Tom McKeag stepped down last year, and in October 2021, I was warmly welcomed as the new Executive Director for the center. It is my honor to be introducing myself to all of you—many of whom have supported and partnered with the BCGC throughout the years. As a scientist, educator and concerned citizen, becoming a part of the BCGC work feels like a homecoming in many ways, and I look forward to guiding it through this next part of the journey.
As a neuroscientist, I have long been aware of the devastating impact that many commonplace chemicals can have on our bodies, particularly endocrine disruptors, and other actors with neurological impact. However, it’s only during the past few years that I (along with many others) have become increasingly alarmed at the effect of these chemicals not just in our bodies, but also in our ecosystems. The escalating public awareness of this multi-faceted challenge is in large part thanks to the work done, and being done, by members of the green chemistry community. I am excited and humbled to be joining your efforts to facilitate and expedite the adoption of green and sustainable chemistry and engineering practices.
The Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry has a long history of providing practical education and innovative green chemistry research, which will continue under my direction. Education and outreach are of particular importance to me and will be a primary focus of the BCGC during this next chapter. Prior to this role, I worked for a number of years with a non-profit organization that develops STEM education resources for K-12 teachers and students. More recently, I’ve worked for several years at UC Berkeley, overseeing both the research and community outreach components of an international atmospheric chemistry project. It is my sincere hope that my commitment to community education, informed policy, and solutions-oriented innovation will be reflected in the work done at the center during my tenure as director.
Over the next several editions of The Nexus, my colleagues and I will be sharing more about our work at the center, in the hope that this sharing will engender (or continue) opportunities for collaboration, partnership and support from the green chemistry community. For now, it is my privilege to be introducing myself, and I look forward to working with you.