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Message from the Director: GC&E Conference, Rational Molecular Design, & more

Contributor II
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By most any measure you use, I think the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference was a great success. There were 32 technical sessions covering a range of disciplines and 488 Conference registrants. The Student Workshop was personally exhausting, but it was also a great experience with over 80 students of which 41 were NSF scholars. All of the industrial roundtables met face-to-face, including an exploratory meeting to investigate the possibility for a roundtable centered on greening chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The keynote speakers were all interesting and engaging. Although attendance at the hybrid session was a bit low, the quality of the talks and the panel discussion were quite high and elicited great audience participation. I certainly feel as though I learned a tremendous amount throughout the week. Scholars at the GC&E Student Workshop, June17, 2013, Washington, DC.
Photo by Arthur Lemmon

All that success does not happen without the commitment and dedication of a large number of people over the course of the year. There are too many to name, but the organizers of the conference, the session chairs, keynote speakers, hybrid session speakers, and all the presenters did a fantastic job and I can’t thank them enough for their time, energy, passion and creativity. Much less visible, of course, is all the work of the ACS GCI staff who worked tirelessly to make sure that the attendee experience was as positive and valuable as possible. Finally, the sponsors and exhibitors play a huge role in ensuring that the conference and conference events are possible.  Without them the networking and extended interaction would not be possible, and that is certainly one of the more valuable parts of the conference. Conference attendees listening intently. Front left to right: Stephen
Ritter, C&EN;
David Constable, ACSGCI; Matthew Realff, Georgia Institute of
Technology; Bob Peoples, CARE.
Photo by Peter Cutts Photography

A week after the conference, ACS GCI had the privilege and honor of hosting a NSF workshop on Rational Molecular Design for Reduced Hazard. The workshop was organized by the Yale Center for Green Chemistry and Engineering and was led by Dr. Paul Anastas. As was pointed out at the beginning of the workshop, the number of publications devoted to this topic over the past few years is effectively non-existent. While rational molecular design has been used within the Pharmaceutical industry for years, outside of this industry, it is not something that most chemists are taught or think about. As with most things in green chemistry and engineering, the cross- or trans-disciplinary nature of rational molecular design presents many barriers that we simply must overcome. I look forward to seeing the whitepaper that will come out of the workshop, but more importantly, I look forward to additional research and development in this area.

As this newsletter hits, I’ll be at the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy that is being held at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. This very successful program has been led by Dr. Mary Kirchoff for many years now and it has had a very positive impact on a great many students. I am constantly running into alumni of the school who, more than 5 years after attending, still talk about the experience. Very few programs have that sort of staying power and it is only by training the next generation of chemists to think differently about chemistry that we will see a change. This is a program that will continue to be essential unless and until sustainable and green chemistry and engineering are integrated into how chemistry is taught. Now that’s a discussion for another day, but I am personally working to make the integration happen; I hope I can count on you to help make that a reality.

As always, let me know what you think. 

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