2023-2024 ACE-CES Award Recipients

Dr. A.M. Ranjika Bopegedera

Department of Chemistry, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA 98505

Incorporating Green Chemistry, Sustainability, and Climate Change Themes into the First-Year Chemistry Curriculum and Outreach Activities

I developed a series of laboratory experiments for first-year chemistry undergraduates addressing green chemistry, sustainability, and climate change themes. I consistently integrate these themes into my chemistry lectures. I also redesigned a worksheet on human-caused ocean acidification impacts, investigated using thermodynamics calculations. For broader impact, these efforts were disseminated through presentations at local, regional, and national conferences and publications in the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE). To serve my local community, I was the National Chemistry Week (1997-2014) and Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (1998-2014) Coordinator for the Puget Sound ACS Section. In this capacity, I planned and executed the “Chemists in the Public Library” program at the local public library twice each year. This continuing, free, program engages schoolchildren in hands-on chemistry activities, including those that explore green chemistry, sustainability, and climate change themes. The program has significantly impacted both participants and undergraduate student volunteers from The Evergreen State College.

Dr. Meghna Dilip

Worcester State University, 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA

The evolution of a career in green chemistry: topical to systems, local to international

Over the last 15 years, Prof. Meghna Dilip has incorporated green chemistry into various courses at the undergraduate curriculum at Worcester State University. She was a core part of a team organizing a workshop for Worcester area high school students to explore the sustainability of student consumer choices while encouraging a broader systems thinking. More recently, she has published a teaching case that encourages students to think about social justice and ethics while considering a system. She has developed a series of workshops for an international audience helping students develop skills in systems thinking as they explore the connection between Green Chemistry and the UN Sustainability Goals. The evolution of her teaching materials reflects the evolution of the field of green chemistry – including more constituents, thinking more systems wide and including social justice and ethics to truly achieve a circular economy.

Prof. Mike George, Prof. Pete Licence, Prof. Martyn Poliakoff, Dr James Bennett

University of Nottingham, Chemistry, Nottingham, UK

Evidence of the Impact of Sustainability Teaching at University at Nottingham

In 2002, University of Nottingham was one of the first UK universities to launch undergraduate teaching in green chemistry, initially to our first year MSci students. In 2019, our team launched a new set of 4 modules across the 4 years of the MSci Chemistry course with the aim of placing sustainability at the heart of students’ learning. The modules have been honed and refined annually by our team, which delivers these modules. They were highly popular even during the Covid period and continue to be enthusiastically received. We have pioneered the incorporation of the SDGs into chemistry teaching at UoN. All our teaching material is developed collaboratively, and most lectures and problem-solving sessions are delivered by two or more of us. Each team member has a distinct role, but we believe that we exemplify what a teaching team can achieve when working together. Our work has had international impact.

Prof. Thomas Holme

Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011

Infusing Sustainability in General Chemistry by Connecting Systems Thinking Applications Throughout the Course

For the past 10 years, Prof. Holme has taught traditional topics from within the standard General Chemistry curriculum while connecting them to specific sustainability issues using a systems thinking approach. A particular sustainability theme is chosen each semester so that when connections between foundational chemistry concepts and broader application contexts. The consistent use of a single theme for applications aids student learning of both the traditional chemistry content and that specific sustainability theme. Ultimately, students develop greater confidence applying their chemistry knowledge in broader contexts and gain appreciation for sustainability issues. Over the years, contexts have included biogeochemical flows of nitrogen, the environmental fate of pharmaceuticals, sustainability of concrete production, water and carbon footprints, and carbon capture and sequestration. Assessment of the sustainability content is accomplished via student writing projects where students are explicitly expected to include both core chemistry descriptions and their sustainability implications via a systems approach.

Ms. Altantogos Myagmar

Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences and High School of the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences

Introduction to UN SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation Project for 12th Grade Pupils

In this educational project at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, we introduce 12th-grade pupils to the critical United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. Our aim is to cultivate a deep appreciation for the role of clean water in global health and well-being. The project commences with an exploration of SDG 6, highlighting its profound importance in addressing public health challenges worldwide. We then delve into the fundamental aspects of water chemistry, equipping students with essential knowledge about water properties, the pH scale, and water's universal solvent capabilities. Through engaging lessons and hands-on activities, students will grasp the chemical foundations underpinning water purification methods, thereby gaining a comprehensive understanding of the link between clean water and a healthier world. This project not only fosters scientific literacy but also encourages future healthcare professionals to advocate for sustainable water resources management.

Prof. Lynne Pilcher

Department of Chemistry, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa

Systems thinking for sustainability: Impacts of the surfactant - linear alkyl benzene sulfonate

The intervention concerning linear alkyl benzene sulfonate (LAS), the common ingredient of laundry detergents, was implemented in a first-year BSc general chemistry II module. Students learned about chemical processes such as micelle formation, detergent action, foaming and the organic reactions used to manufacture LAS from crude oil. They engaged with the positive and negative impacts of LAS on society, the economy and the environment and recognized that chemicals have benefits, but hazards have to be managed. They learned about chemistry research directed at developing more sustainable surfactants. Guided enquiry via a concept mapping approach was used to scaffold learning. A jigsaw cooperative learning design facilitated peer learning in a way that helped students manage the complexity of these interlinked systems. Students felt empowered to contribute to sustainability by reducing their use of LAS.

Haley Smith, Anne-Marie Daniel, and Dr. Heather Buckley

University of Victoria, 1509 Oakland Avenue, Victoria BC Canada

Industrial Symbiosis: a core course of the Masters in Industrial Ecology, Civil Engineering Department, University of Victoria

Bringing together the practices of green chemistry, biomimicry, and circular economy resource management models, Masters students conduct an applied research project to design an intervention that could restore cultural harvesting of clams in an urban watershed. Through site visits and consultations with stakeholders and rightsholders, watershed contaminants are identified and analyzed through the frameworks and metrics of green chemistry and engineering. Teams choose a point of intervention that prevents ecosystem toxicity and redeems value from the contaminant materials by safely redirecting and/or repurposing them for industry within a circular system. Life Friendly Chemistry, a key design principle of biomimicry, further encourages the research to “create the conditions conducive to life”. Students are encouraged to find examples of emerging green chemistry and biomimetic models, products or technologies to support their proposed intervention. Methods, strategies and research are presented to a local client with influence to consider and inform next steps.

Prof. Jessica Tischler

University of Michigan-Flint, College of Innovation and Technology, Flint, MI

Using green chemistry to address environmental injustices: A set of assignments that explore the intersection of scientific ethics, the chemical literature, and communication skills.

This assignment was born out of our Green Chemistry Commitment pledge to incorporate green and sustainable chemistry across the curriculum. I sought to examine the question, “How can chemistry help bring environmental justice to communities negatively affected by past and current chemistry practices?” This question evolved into a set of three assignments in my Junior Seminar course that seek to explore the social impacts of chemistry and the social responsibility we have as scientists. Following presentations that define and discuss scientific ethics, green chemistry, and environmental justice, students are asked to find an example of an environmental injustice and summarize it as a discussion board post. Students are then asked to find research in the chemical literature that could be used to help the affected communities or prevent it from occurring again. They are then asked to communicate this information as a written paper and as a poster presentation.

Prof. Serge Van Calenbergh

Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium

A Future-Proof Master in Sustainable Drug Discovery

The rising use of pharmaceuticals increases environmental exposure, straining ecosystems and threatening long-term well-being. Drug residues may for example cause reproductive disorders and antibiotic resistance. Ensuring equitable global access to medications is another critical challenge. To tackle these issues comprehensively, a global approach is essential, involving the pharma industry, regulatory bodies, academia and civic groups. The primary goal is to embed sustainability across a medication's entire life cycle, starting from its early discovery phase ("cradle") rather than just in later development or post-marketing stages ("grave"). Recognizing the growing demand for researchers skilled to address this challenge, we've partnered with three universities to create a unique, transdisciplinary two-year master program on Sustainable Drug Discovery (S-DISCO). It covers diverse pharmaceutical disciplines, with a strong focus on early discovery, intertwined with environmental and socio-economic considerations.

Dr. Mengqi (Veronica) Zhang

Department of Chemistry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

Incorporation of Green and Sustainable Chemistry into Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory Using Cooperative Project-based Lab and Case

In 2021, the large enrollment (~1,500 students per year) organic chemistry laboratory at Michigan State University was redesigned to incorporate principles of green and sustainable chemistry using cooperative project-based labs and case studies under a three-dimensional learning framework. A new project “Amide Synthesis: Assessment of Catalyst Efficiency from a Green Chemistry Perspective” was developed by Dr. Zhang to further illustrate the design notion. A set of learning materials including four lab projects, three case studies and the Cooperative Green Organic Chemistry Lab Manual are provided to students to facilitate critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and ethical decision-making. The transformation and implementation of the new curriculum highlighting Green Chemistry proved to be successful at preparing students to become environmentally conscious professionals for future challenges.