David R. Tyler is part of the pioneering green chemistry group at the University of Oregon. He received Bachelor of Science degrees (in chemistry and mathematics) with Highest Distinction from Purdue University in 1975. While an undergraduate at Purdue, he did research with Professor R. A. Walton on the reactivity of the Re2X82- anions and on the X-ray photoelectron spectra of transition metal chloride complexes. He received his Ph.D. degree in June 1979, from the California Institute of Technology where he worked with Professor Harry B. Gray on the photochemistry and electronic structures of metal carbonyl cluster complexes. In July 1979, he was appointed assistant professor at Columbia University.
In July 1985, he moved to the University of Oregon and was promoted to full professor in 1990.
In the early part of his career, Tyler’s interests were in the area of metal radical chemistry, during which time he developed the chemistry of so-called “19-electron adducts.” Although such molecules were initially met with considerable skepticism because they were theoretically predicted to not exist, Tyler’s students developed ingenious mechanistic experiments to show their existence, and they went on to demonstrate that these molecules were important intermediates in numerous radical reactions. These molecules are now so accepted they appear in textbooks as standard intermediates without reference to any of the papers that established their existence.
Tyler’s current research interests are in photochemically degradable plastics; the development of new homogeneous catalysis for use in aqueous solution; and photochemistry, particularly the investigation of reactions on the femtosecond timescale. He has absolutely no interest in administration, having served as department head from 1995-1998. Tyler is the author of over 190 research publications, and he has a patent on a type of photodegradable plastic. Throughout his career, he has lectured extensively on his research. In collaboration with his colleagues he has developed a popular course for non-science majors on the chemistry of sustainability.
In addition to his lectures on research topics, Tyler uses his expertise in polymers and green chemistry to give popular lectures (science pubs, science cafes, ACS local sections) on the sustainability of plastics and their life cycle assessments. These talks focus on how we evaluate the environmental impacts of various materials and products and on some of the fundamental principles of green chemistry and sustainability as well. He delights in showing that our intuition about the sustainability and environmental impact of a product is not always right.
Paper, Plastic, or Cotton Tote Bag? What Life Cycle Assessments Tell Us About the Sustainability of Everyday Items
We are confronted with choices every day that impact our environment: Paper, plastic, or reusable tote bag? Disposable plastic cup or reusable ceramic mug? Biodiesel, gasohol, or gasoline? Prius or Hummer? How do we really know what’s best for the environment? This talk will focus on how we evaluate the environmental impacts of various materials and products and some of the fundamental principles of green chemistry and sustainability as well. Warning: your intuition about environmental impacts is not always right!