In honor of this year’s Chemists Celebrate Earth Week theme, “Protecting Our Planet through Chemistry,” I traveled to Wilmington, Massachusetts, USA, to meet with Dr. John C. Warner, President and Chief Technology Officer at The Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry.
I read on the Institute’s website that their team “creates technologies and processes that are functional, cost-effective, and environmentally benign.” I asked Dr. Warner if he could tell me a little more about what that work involves.
“We invent new products that people need, and that don’t hurt the planet,” Dr. Warner told me. “We are a chemistry laboratory, so we have dozens of cool pieces of equipment that either make or measure things. Most of the things we work with are safe, but to be extra careful, we always wear gloves and eye protection. If someone came to our labs, they would find medicines and petri dishes, big pieces of wood, and presses to make boards. We have molding equipment to make plastics, equipment to make and measure solar energy, and various devices and instruments to help us invent ways to clean up the oceans and help keep them clean.”
Dr. Warner explained that children can come into contact with his work every day. “Our inventions might include the clothes kids wear, the roads they drive on, and the medicines they take.” He also said, “You might even know some people who color their hair using some of our inventions!” The work they do also “helps protect children from being exposed to dangerous things.”
Growing up, Dr. Warner was interested in science, but he was also very interested in music. He did some science experiments around the house as a child. “I used to do a lot of things with electricity,” he said. “My dad was an electrician, and I would make electromagnets and different alarm systems.” Later he decided to become a scientist because he “wanted to use creativity to make the world a better place.”
I asked Dr. Warner what he thought was the best thing about being a scientist. “You can be really creative while making new things that will help people and the environment,” he said. “I get to invent things that will help make the world better.”
I really enjoyed my visit to Massachusetts to meet with Dr. John C. Warner. We should all be very thankful for scientists like him who spend every single day “Protecting Our Planet through Chemistry”!
Personal Profile – Dr. John C. Warner
- Accomplishment you are proud of Helping to create the Warner Babcock Institute and Beyond Benign, a program that makes resources for green chemistry teachers
- Favorite pastime/hobby Playing music
- Very interesting project you were a part of In August 2019, I testified to the U.S. Congress on a bill called “The Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019”
- About your family They are all amazing, and I am lucky to have them! My family includes my wife Amy, daughters Joanna, Libby, Amy, and Natalie, a son, Tom, and also my two brothers.