By David Laviska, Portfolio Manager for Green Chemistry and Sustainability in Education, ACS Green Chemistry Institute
The Nina McClelland Memorial Award was established in 2021 to commemorate the strong commitment Dr. McClelland showed to green chemistry. As a lifelong advocate for cleaner chemistry and strengthened environmental standards, Dr. McClelland lent her fervent support to initiatives that could improve the health of our environment and enhance the safety of our communities. She generously donated her time and leadership to the American Chemical Society—serving on the ACS Board of Directors for nine years, including three as Chair of the Board. She also was influential in bringing the Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) into the ACS and served on the ACS GCI’s Advisory Board for many years.
After careful deliberation by academic and industry experts who generously volunteered their time to serve as judges, we are delighted to announce the 2023 winners of this prestigious award. Both winners will present their work at the 27th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Long Beach, CA, June 13-15, 2023.
The McClelland Award provides national recognition for two outstanding post-doctoral scholars who have shown superior quality in their research in the fields of green chemistry and/or engineering.
Shivali Banerjee is currently a postdoctoral associate at the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI), part of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment (iSEE) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in chemistry at Delhi University and IIT Delhi respectively, and her Ph.D. in bioprocess engineering and green chemistry at IIT Bombay and Monash University. The title of her award application is “Green process for enhanced recovery of anthocyanins as valuable co-products from bioenergy crops in a biorefinery”.
Increased awareness of green chemistry and sustainability has shifted public interest from synthetic dyes to natural plant-based pigments such as anthocyanins. These natural pigments are known for their wide range of industrial applications and can be derived from berries, grapes, purple yams, purple corn, and black rice. However, exploiting high-value food sources for colorants is not likely to be economically advantageous. Fortunately, bioenergy crops such as miscanthus, sorghum, and sugarcane have also been found to accumulate anthocyanins. In her work, Banerjee has evaluated these latter sources as potential feedstocks for the recovery of anthocyanins and applied greener methodologies for the isolation and recovery of these molecules.
Liwei Ye is currently a postdoctoral associate working with Tobin Marks at Northwestern University. He earned his B.S. in chemistry at the University of Oregon and his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles. The title of his award application is “Rationally tailored catalysts for highly efficient chemical recycling of nylon-6 and for achieving a circular economy towards end-of-life plastics”.
With limited technologies available for addressing end-of-life plastics, the accumulation of plastic waste has emerged as a global environmental crisis. Nylons, which are being produced at a rate of over 3 million metric tons per year, significantly contribute to the non-degradable plastic waste pollution in oceans and landfills due to their superior chemical persistency and lack of efficient recycling techniques. In his research, Ye is working to selectively depolymerize nylon-6 to its parent monomer caprolactam by rationally tailored lanthanide catalysts.
To learn more about these and other green chemistry student awards that the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® offers, please visit https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/funding/green-chemistry.html.
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