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Winners Announced for the Ciba Award in Green Chemistry

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The 2017 Ciba Award in Green Chemistry was awarded to four outstanding students from the Simmons College, University of California - Berkeley, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Grosse Pointe North High School. These students have shown significant abilities to incorporate creative green chemistry solutions into their research and education. This year marks the first time a high school student has received the award since the program began in 2010.

Administered by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, the Ciba Travel Award enables students with an interest in green chemistry to travel to an ACS scientific conference—giving them important opportunities to expand their education by attending symposia, networking, and presenting their research. This year’s awardees’ highlight the importance of multidisciplinary and systems-centric learning—representing multiple perspectives and experiences from chemistry, biochemistry, chemical education, toxicology and public health. Research topics includes improving green chemistry education, development of an effective green electrochemistry lab, synthesis of safer antimicrobial copolymers, and the use of ligands for to remove metals from aqueous substances.

From a large pool of excellent applications, the panel of judges selected the following winners, (list is pictured from left to right):


Laura Armstrong is a graduate student at the University of California – Berkeley in the science and mathematics education program. Her area of focus is in how a shared understanding of green chemistry’s purpose and practices can help foster adoption of green chemistry into research and educational settings. To this end, Armstrong has built an assessment tool to collect and analyze beliefs around green chemistry and the factors that influence them in order to understand effective outreach strategies for increased green chemistry adoption. She plans to present her research at the 22nd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, June 18-20, 2018 in Portland, Oregon.

Steven Couture is a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Boston where he is completing a M.S. in chemistry. Couture’s previous experience as a high school chemistry teacher informed his graduate work where he developed a greener electrochemistry lab. After piloting the lab, he conducted a randomized experiment comparing student interest, engagement and ability to apply green chemistry after having taken the greener lab vs. a traditional one and found overwhelming support for the effectiveness of the new lab. Couture is also a leader in the New England Students and Teachers for Sustainability (NESTS). After graduation, he plans to return to teaching high school chemistry and will continue to redesign chemistry labs, integrating green chemistry further into the high school science curriculum. With his award, he will attend the 225th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 18-20, 2018 to present his research.

Ruby Rose T. Laemmle is an undergraduate student from Simmons College with a double major in in biochemistry and public health. Her research is in the design and application of copolymers that can be cross-linked and coated onto textiles. This research seeks to find a safer way to use quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) as antimicrobials on textiles. QACs are effective but typically run off easily in the wash and where they may be toxic to aquatic life.  Laemmle has been able to immobilize the QAC compounds by copolymerizing them with photoresist monomers and crosslinking them to the fabric surface with UV irradiation. Laemmle will present her research at the 225th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 18-20, 2018.

Michal Tomasz Ruprecht is a high school student from the Grosse Pointe North High School in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He participated in advanced organic and green chemistry research at the University of Detroit Mercy where, motivated by the Flint water crisis, he investigated the use of ligands to pull metal ions from aqueous solutions. Ruprecht plans to continue this research through 2018 and, after graduation from high school, expects to continue his studies as an undergraduate student of chemistry and materials science with the goal of pursuing green chemistry-based research in a graduate degree. Ruprecht hopes to present his ligand research at the 226th ACS National Meeting and Exposition in Boston, Massachusetts, August 19-23, 2018.

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