Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award

  • Description

    The Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award provides national recognition and honor for outstanding student contributions to furthering the goals of green chemistry through research and/or studies. This includes but is not limited to the research, development, and implementation of fundamental and innovative chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use, and that have the potential to be utilized in achieving national pollution prevention goals.

    The recipient of the award receives a one-time cash prize of $1,000 USD. The award is presented at the annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. The 26th annual GC&E Conference will be held June 6-8, 2022, in Reston, VA. In addition to the monetary award, transportation, lodging, and registration fees for the conference are reimbursable up to $1,000 USD.

  • Eligibility

    The award is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of citizenship or country of study. One or two awards are typically given annually. If two Hancock Awards are given in one year, one of the awards will be given to an undergraduate student and the other to a graduate or post-graduate student (a recent graduate who completed his/her graduate degree after May 1, 2021).

    The award will be presented at the 26th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, planned for June 6-8, 2022, in Reston, VA. The Hancock winner must give an oral or poster presentation during the conference as well as submit a report to ACS GCI on his/her experience after the conference in order to receive reimbursement.

  • Application


    The deadline for submitting applications to the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award is 5 p.m. EDT (GMT-4), Friday, October 8, 2021. Please send your application in a single PDF file to with “Hancock Award Application – [applicant’s last name]” in the subject line.

    Award Scope and Objectives

    Green chemistry is defined as the use of chemistry for source reduction, the highest tier of the risk management hierarchy as described in the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990.  More specifically, green chemistry involves a reduction in, or elimination of, the use or generation of hazardous materials—including feedstocks, reagents, solvents, products, and byproducts—from a chemical process. Green chemistry encompasses all aspects and types of chemical processes, including synthesis, catalysis, analysis, monitoring, and separations and reaction conditions that reduce impacts on human health and the environment relative to the current state of the art.

    Applications for the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award must describe studies or research that the student has participated in, which address the scope and objectives of green and sustainable chemistry and/or engineering. The activity should address one or more principles of green and sustainable chemistry and/or engineering and, more specifically, that address one or more of the following three green chemistry focus areas:

    Focus Areas

    1. The use of greener synthetic pathways. This focus area involves designing and implementing a novel, greener pathway for a chemical product. Examples include synthetic pathways that:
      • Use feedstocks that are of lower inherent hazard to humans or the environment, and/or that are renewable (e.g., biomass, natural oils)
      • Use novel reagents or catalysts, especially those that use earth-abundant metals, organocatalysts, biocatalysts, and microorganisms. Precious metal (i.e., Pt, Pd, Ru, Rh, Ag, Os, Ir, Au) containing catalysts at concentrations greater than 10 ppm are strongly discouraged unless these are heterogeneous and greater than 95% recyclable.
      • Are natural processes, such as fermentation, or use biomimetic processes
      • Are atom- and/or step-economical
      • Are convergent syntheses
    2. The use of greener reaction conditions. This focus area involves improving conditions other than the overall design or redesign of a synthesis. Greener analytical methods often fall within this focus area. Examples include reaction conditions that:
      • Replace hazardous chemicals (starting materials, reagents, etc.) and solvents with chemicals and solvents that have a lower impact on human health and the environment.
      • Use solvent-less reaction conditions and solid-state reactions
      • Use novel processing methods that prevent pollution at its source
      • Eliminate energy- or material-intensive separation and purification steps
      • Improve energy efficiency, including reactions running closer to ambient (T and P) conditions
    3. The design of greener chemicals. This focus area involves designing and implementing chemical products that are less hazardous than the products or technologies they replace. Examples include chemical products that are:
      • Less hazardous (environmental, health and safety) than current products
      • Inherently safer with regard to accident potential
      • Recyclable or biodegradable after use
      • Safer for the environment (e.g., do not deplete ozone or form smog)

    Application Instructions

    Applications should be written by the student applicant and submitted as a single PDF file. Applications must be no longer than eight pages (8½-by-11-inch), written in font no smaller than 11 point, with margins of at least 1 inch. Applications longer than eight pages total will not be accepted. The application should include the following:

    1. A one-page cover sheet with the complete names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses (if available) of the following individuals:
      • The undergraduate or graduate student applicant
      • The primary sponsor (academic institution and project advisor)
      • Contributors (individuals or organizations that provided financial or technical support for the student activity)
      • Contact person – person who is responsible for all communications with the program (the student or advisor)
    2. The cover sheet should be followed by a background section (no more than one page) containing the following information:
      • For undergraduate applicants: type of degree expected (B.A., B.S. or Associate), major and any minor fields of study, and the month and year the degree is expected
      • For graduate applicants: type of degree expected (M.S. or Ph.D.), field of study, number of years already spent pursuing graduate work, and the month and year the degree is expected. Students who complete their Ph.D. prior to May 1, 2020 are not eligible for the award. In addition, graduate applicants must provide their undergraduate institution, type of degree earned, major and any minor fields of study, and the month and year their undergraduate degree was awarded.
      • Current undergraduate or graduate grade point average. In addition, graduate applicants must provide their cumulative undergraduate grade point average.
      • List of applicant’s public presentations and publications, if any
      • A sentence or two on the applicant’s academic interests and motivations
      • A sentence or two on the applicant’s career plans
    3. The background page should be followed by an abstract page containing the following information:
      • A project title.
      • An abstract not to exceed 500 words that briefly describes the student’s studies or research.
    4. The remaining five pages can be used to detail how the project meets the selection criteria. Explain the following:
      • How the student’s studies or research meet the award scope and objectives and focus areas
      • The potential human health and/or environmental benefits
      • The potential application to academia, industry, and society
      • The innovation and scientific merit of the student’s project

    Quantitative statements of benefits are more useful to judges than qualitative ones. The judges recognize that some applicants will not be able to conduct a full lifecycle or cost-benefit analysis, but like to see a discussion of impacts across the lifecycle. Some selection criteria might not apply to every project. Such instances should be indicated where appropriate.

    There is no limit on the number of applications that can be submitted by any one academic institution or project advisor; however, only one application is permitted per student. Students who completed their degree prior to May 1 of the previous year are not eligible for the award. All applications received will be considered public information. No material will be returned. Award program sponsors are not responsible for lost or damaged applications.


    An independent panel convened by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® will judge applications received for the award. This panel might include members of the scientific, educational, industrial, governmental, and environmental communities. Judges might request verification of any activities described or claims made in applications that are selected as finalists. The judges will select the student(s) whose project best meets the selection criteria for the award.

    Selection Criteria

    The selection criteria used to judge applications received for the Hancock Memorial Award are similar to those used for the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The criteria were designed to ensure that award recipients are furthering the goals of green chemistry and/or green engineering. The Hancock Memorial Award selection criteria are as follows:

    The student activity must meet the scope and objectives of the award and address one or more of the focus areas:

    1. The student activity should offer potential human health and/or environmental benefits. The activity should further a technology that might, for example:
      • Reduce toxicity (acute or chronic) or the potential for illness or injury to humans, animals, or plants
      • Reduce flammability or explosion potential
      • Reduce the use or generation of hazardous substances, the transport of hazardous substances, or releases to air, water, or land
      • Improve the use of natural resources, for example, by substituting a renewable feedstock for a petrochemical feedstock
    2. The student activity should be potentially applicable to a large and broad-based segment of academia, industry, or society at large. The activity should further a technology that is, for example:
      • A practical, cost-effective approach to green chemistry
      • A remedy for a real environmental or human health problem
      • Readily transferable to other academic institutions or industry sectors
    3. The student activity should be innovative and of scientific merit. The activity should be, for example, original (i.e., never before investigated, researched, or employed) and scientifically valid.

    Notification & Award

    The official public announcement of the award recipient will be made during the annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference held June 6-8, 2022, in Reston, VA. A certificate and check for the award amount will be presented to the student during the ceremony. The recipient will be notified prior to the public announcement and will be asked to verify that he or she will be able to attend the ceremony.

  • Establishment & Support

    Green chemistry, or environmentally benign chemical synthesis and processing, is an integral component in meeting national sustainable development and pollution prevention goals and objectives. One of the architects of the ‘Environmentally Benign Chemical Synthesis and Processing’ approach was Dr. Kenneth G. Hancock, Director of the Division of Chemistry at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Hancock was an active advocate who emphasized the role of chemists and chemistry in solving the environmental problems of the past, as well as avoiding environmental problems in the future, in an economically viable fashion.

    It was a great loss to the advancement of green chemistry when Dr. Hancock died unexpectedly while attending an environmental chemistry conference in Eastern Europe in 1993. To honor his contributions in the field of green chemistry, Dr. Hancock’s colleagues from academia, government, and industry established the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Student Award in Green Chemistry, offered under the auspices of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Environmental Chemistry. ACS President Dr. Paul Anderson announced the Hancock Memorial Award in June 1997 as an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to compete for a prestigious award in recognition of their studies and/or research in green chemistry.

    In 2006, the ACS Division of Environmental Chemistry and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) expanded the award. The award is administered by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) and is presented annually in conjunction with the ACS GCI's Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.

  • Past Recipients

    Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award Winners 1998-2021



    2021 Sarah Ellis
    Queen’s University, Canada
    CO2-Responsive Agents for Water Filtration  
    2021 Stephanie McCartney
    Columbia University
    Sustainable Production of Fertilizer Using Human Urine and Waste Resources
    2020 Ariel Fernandez
    University of Costa Rica
    Cigarette butts treatment: a new alternative for a simple hazard
    2020 Metin Karayilan
    University of Arizona
    Biomimetic metallopolymers with enhanced catalytic activity for sustainable hydrogen production in neutral water

    Mevan Dissanayake
    University of South Carolina

    Anion pool synthesis for electrochemical derivatization of pharmaceutical compounds 


    Emily Roberts
    University of Southern California

    High-throughput, continuous flow synthesis of nanoparticle catalysts as a safe and sustainable nanomanufacturing method

    2017 Adam Fisher
    United States Merchant Marine Academy

    Magnetic carbon nanocomposite for water treatment

    2017 Julian West
    Princeton University

    Design of new, sustainable chemical reactions through Earth-abundant element photocatalysis

    2016 Austin Evans
    Flinders University/The University of Tulsa

    A sulfur-limonene polysulfide synthesized entirely from industrial byproducts and its use in removing toxic metals from water and soil

    2016 Jesse Vanderveen
    Queen’s University

    Switchable hydrophilicity solvents: Benign alternatives to volatile organic solvents for syntheses, extractions, and separations

    2015 Alan Medina-Gonzalez
    Augsburg College

    Continuous flow chemistry for the synthesis of amides from nitriles and amines

    2015 Leah K. Rubin Shen
    University of California, Berkeley

    Use of nitrogen heterocycles as virtual hydrogen storage materials: An electrochemical and toxicological study

    2014 Heather Buckley
    University of California, Berkeley

    Functionalized metallocorroles for covalent tethering to an electrode surface: A platinum-free oxygen reduction catalyst for PEM fuel cells

    2014 Florence Chardon
    University of California, Berkeley

    Development of a ternary solvent blend for chromatography


    Cristina de Salas
    Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg

    SynDeNOx, recycling of nitrogen monoxide through carbonitrosation reactions

    2013 Lindsay Soh
    Yale University

    Towards efficient biodiesel production using carbon dioxide

    2012 Keary Mark Engle
    The Scripps Research Institute

    Ligand-accelerated catalysis in Palladium(II)-mediated C–H functionalization

    2012 Sean Mercer
    Queen’s University

    The development of "switchable water": A CO2-switchable aqueous solvent

    2011 Huan Cong
    Boston University

    Silver nanoparticles: A novel catalyst for green and biomimetic synthesis of anticancer natural products

    2011 Swapnil Jadhav
    The City University of New York

    Functional molecular gelators from crop-based feedstock

    2010 Laura Allen
    Yale University

    Atom economical alcohol activation with inexpensive and non-toxic catalysts

    2010 Madhav Ghanta
    University of Kansas

    A greener, energy-efficient process for making ethylene oxide

    2009 Joseph Binder
    University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Simple chemical transformation of lignocellulosic biomass and olefin metathesis in aqueous solvents

    2009 Johnathan Gorke
    University of Minnesota

    Enzymatic synthesis in deep eutectic solvents

    2008 Lallie McKenzie
    University of Oregon

    High-throughput, low-waste synthesis of well-defined nanoparticles in microcapillary flow reactors

    2008 Arsen Simonyan
    State University of New York

    Characterization and use of linear-dendritic copolymers as building blocks of supramolecular nanoreactors for green chemistry

    2007 Arani Chanda
    Carnegie Mellon University

    Applications and mechanistic understanding of Fe-TAML® activators of peroxide – A green oxidation catalysis system

    2007 Jennifer Haghpanah
    Polytechnic University

    Investigating cutinases for the deacetylation of polyvinyl acetate

    2006 Ke Min
    Carnegie Mellon University

    Atom transfer radical polymerization in aqueous dispersed media

    2005 Anindya Ghosh
    Carnegie Mellon University

    Synthesis and application of green catalytic oxidation systems using Fe-tetraamido macrocyclic ligand activators and hydrogren peroxide

    2004 Amy Cannon
    University of Massachusetts, Boston
    The environmentally benign synthesis of materials for dye-sensitized solar cells
    2003 Richard Swatloski
    The University of Alabama

    Dissolution and reconstitution of cellulose without derivatization or pretreatment:  A 'green' utilization of ionic liquids where traditional solvents fail


    Biana Sculimbrene
    Boston College

    Biomimetic synthesis, biomimetic catalysis: Concise synthesis of D-myo-Inositol-1-Phosphate

    2003 Nicolay Tsarevsky
    Carnegie Mellon University

    Preparation of well-defined (co)polymers by atom transfer radical polymerization in aqueous media

    2001 Richard Brown
    University of California, Davis

    Reactions in alternative reaction media and exploring the effect of alternative media on selectivity

    1999 Clayton Bunyard
    University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
    Perfluoropolyethers: From environmentally benign synthesis to nontoxic fouling release coatings
    1998 Jeanne Jennings
    University of South Carolina


  • Contact

    Questions about the Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Student Award should be directed to the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®: Email (preferred) or, telephone +1 (202) 872-6102.