Dr. Richard P. Wool was a familiar and prominent face in the green chemistry and engineering world, whether he was molding the minds of college students, organizing conferences and events (he was until his recent passing a co-chair of the GC&E Conference this year), or conducting award-winning research. His unexpected passing on March 24th has had a huge impact on the green chemistry and engineering community, where he will be remembered by many.
Born in Cork, Ireland, Wool received his Bachelors of Science in Chemistry from the University College Cork, Ireland in 1970. After moving to the U.S., Wool received his Masters in Science and Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Utah. He taught at many institutions before Wool and his family made a permanent home for the past 20 years at the University of Delaware, where he was Professor of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering. Wool was the director of the Affordable Composites from Renewable Resources (ACRES) program, where he and his students investigated the use of soybean triglycerides as raw materials in the synthesis of new polymers suitable for liquid molding processes.
In 2011, Wool received the ACS Award for Affordable Green Chemistry for developing uses for bio-based materials like chicken feathers and soybeans to create a diversity of products from roofing and housing materials to circuit boards to a synthetic fabric Wool named “eco leather”.
In 2013, Richard Wool won the U.S. EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for his work in Sustainable Polymers and Composites. The award is the nation’s most prestigious recognition for excellence in green chemistry research that has the potential for positive impacts in commercial application. He was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Physical Society, Division of High Polymer Physics. Wool published over 150 papers, wrote two books, and holds four patents.
After being present at many Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conferences, including a keynote address in 2012, Wool was helping to shape the 2015 conference as a co-chair of the organizing committee. Dr. David Constable, Director of the ACS GCI, stated “he was extremely supportive and active throughout the past year as a Conference Organizing Committee Co-Chair. We will greatly miss his leadership, good wit, and strong support.” A former student, Dr. Joseph F. Stanzione, III, Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Chemical Engineering Department at Rowan University, has joined the GC&E organizing committee in Wool’s honor. While Wool will be remembered at the GC&E conference for all he has done to advance green chemistry and engineering, his influence extends well beyond and into the future.
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