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Reflections on the Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference: What did I learn over the past 14 years?

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Contributed by Anne Marteel-Parrish Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chair Frank J. Creegan Chair in Green Chemistry Washington College, Chestertown, MD

I am delighted to share my perspective about what I gained as a regular attendee, participant, and now leader at the Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering conference.

I attended my first conference in 2001, which was the 5th annual Green Chemistry and Engineering conference. It is hard to believe that this year we will be celebrating the 19th conference of this type. I still remembered this first time, not because it was my first time attending a conference, but because it was the first time I was given the opportunity to contribute an oral presentation as a second-year graduate student. I remember how nervous and mortified I was to answer questions from a group of experts.

This conference is my favorite one to attend for the following reasons:

1) I am surrounded by people who have the same passion as I do: Green and sustainable chemistry (it always makes me feel like a student at a large university when I attend a huge meeting where there is a rare chance I will bump into somebody I know…)

2) The meeting place and number of attendees is not too large so I am not lost in a sea of people going from one room to another.

3) The breadth and depth of topics provides the right amount of knowledge for anybody who is either a “newbie” in the field or more of an expert.

4) The ideas exchanged go a long way. I always come home with a plethora of new concepts to implement in my Green and Sustainable Chemistry course or in my research projects.

5) I am excited to bring my own undergraduate students to this conference and share this memorable moment with them.

What I will always remember from this conference is the relationships and friendships forged and renewed during this conference. The connections I made at this conference are sustainable ones! I am always excited to go because this conference helps me learn beyond expectations. I come back rejuvenated, ready to use my critical thinking skills, and apply some of the top-notch principles I learned.

Moreover it was my privilege to lead a technical session titled “Green chemistry beyond the bachelor’s degree (and Ph.D.); Green chemistry education" at the 18th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference last year in Bethesda, MD. I am very grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait to attend the next conference as a speaker, session leader, or simply to accompany the next leaders of tomorrow: my students. Go green!

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