FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 17, 2011

Chemistry students from PA, NJ, and AL to attend and blog U.N. climate talks

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2011 — In 2012, the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which legally requires participating nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will sunset.

As political leaders, scientists, and policymakers from more than 190 nations travel to the U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa, which will begin later this month, many wonder whether the deadline will give rise to a new approach to climate change policy.

And perhaps no one is more curious than the university students who will attend and blog their observations of the Durban talks, using social media to engage their peers. In fact, they may be witnessing and helping to write history for the generation that will have to implement these policies.

The American Chemical Society (ACS), through its Committee on Environmental Improvement, will sponsor five students to attend the United Nations climate talks Nov. 28 – Dec. 9, in Durban, South Africa. The students will interpret how the science of climate change may be incorporated into international policy.

Student University Hometown
John Canada University of Alabama Birmingham, AL
Kirsten DeBlaker York College of Pennsylvania Blackwood, NJ
Matt DeNardo Carnegie Mellon University Moon Township, PA
Patrick Lestrange York College of Pennsylvania Green Brook, NJ
Lauren McCullough Penn State University Saxonburg, PA

"ACS has long held the belief that real world educational opportunities for science students are critical to both their futures and to our society's," said ACS President Nancy B. Jackson, Ph.D. "There is perhaps no more 'real' issue that faces our world and our younger generation than climate change. ACS is glad to help support these students in attending the Durban climate talks in 2011 –– the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). I hope you will follow their online reports from Durban."

The program was initiated and organized by chemistry professors Keith Peterman, Ph.D., and Gregory Foy, Ph.D., of York College of Pennsylvania (YCP), both of whom attended and blogged about the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun in 2010. Peterman teaches general chemistry, inorganic chemistry and a course in chemistry and society at YCP. Foy is currently teaching general chemistry and quantitative chemical analysis.

“The five students traveling to the United Nations climate conference in Durban will be reporting from the epicenter of climate negotiations,” said Peterman. “They will employ social media tools to engage and educate their peers back home about the issues. We believe that with greater climate literacy, America’s youth can and will accept the challenge of addressing climate change.”

The students will conduct extensive interviews with national leaders, scientists and policymakers participating in the Durban talks. They have already posted pre-conference blogs and beginning Nov. 27 they will post daily observations and commentary from the Durban talks at

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


Short bios of the students and other information are available at

Media Contact

Rachael Bishop