By David A. Laviska, Ph.D., ACS Green Chemistry Institute
I have been strongly committed to quality education, the environment, diversity, and improving our world throughout my career. Therefore, it is with profound gratitude (and excitement!) that I step into the role of Portfolio Manager for Green Chemistry and Sustainability in Education here at the ACS Green Chemistry Institute. I started my career as an Environmental Scientist at the U.S. EPA (Region II), working for a bit more than a decade with a team of chemists, biologists, atmospheric scientists, geologists, and engineers to address polluted ecosystems that resulted from what we might call “poor decisions” made throughout the history of the chemical enterprise. Cleaning up after a mess has already been made can be tricky, and sometimes, impossible. I then made a big change, returning to graduate school and earning my Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry and catalysis. Along the way, I developed a passion for teaching and green chemistry and decided to direct my energy toward carving out a niche in academia. Now, after a decade of teaching, researching, and innovating in higher education while advocating for green chemistry throughout, I have the privilege of focusing my energy on the development and propagation of educational initiatives at the ACS GCI.
Over the coming months, you will be hearing more about the new ACS Office of Sustainability and Campaign for a Sustainable Future from our Director, Adelina Voutchkova. I am honored to be working with Adelina and will share information about opportunities for collaborative development and updates on the progress of the education-related components of this campaign. As I settle into this new role, I want to acknowledge the pioneering work of my predecessor, Jennifer MacKellar, and thank her for her inspiring leadership and enthusiastic creativity. Her vision and commitment to green chemistry education set impressively high standards in all the projects to which she contributed. I am grateful for the opportunity to build from where she left off as well as introduce new goals and initiatives in the future.
I will also be working closely with my colleague David Constable as we approach the implementation stage for our new collection of systems thinking-based teaching modules for general and organic chemistry curricula. An exceptional roster of educators have been working for close to two years on the development of these free resources and we are looking forward to seeing them deployed in your classrooms as soon as possible. Please stay tuned for more information on how you can access and implement these modules; we are anxious to get your feedback!
In my previous work in green chemistry, I have been fortunate to be welcomed into a diverse community of experts practicing in the classroom, teaching and research laboratories, industry, and beyond. Among the many things I have learned from this generous community, none is more important than the value of collaboration. Therefore, this will be a consistent theme throughout all current and future educational initiatives at the ACS GCI. I welcome you to contact me anytime with ideas, requests for information, feedback, and/or suggestions for collaborative projects. We will continue the close partnership with our friends at Beyond Benign (who recently celebrated the 100th signer of their Green Chemistry Commitment!), including the development of a new online platform called the Green Chemistry Teaching and Learning Community. You will hear much more about the GCTLC, as well as our own new web-based platform that provides critical research tools and connects educators, researchers, industrial chemists, and engineers to better match innovation gaps with curricular and research advances.
In future posts to The Nexus, I will outline additional initiatives and ask for your thoughts and feedback. I will be working hard to encourage more communication and participation from both instructors and students, so I hope you will get involved and collaborate with us. The future for green chemistry and sustainability in education is bright, but we need everyone to join us as we map out our future directions. I look forward to collaborating with you sometime soon!
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