The 6th International IUPAC Conference on Green Chemistry was held in Venice between the 4th and 8th of September. The venue itself, the Centro Culturale Candiani, was actually located in Mestre; a town on the mainland located half an hour on the tram from Venice. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to present my work on Interfused Cellulose-Chitosan Hydrogels for Tissue Engineering as a 20-minute talk which was well received.
Two talks in particular caught my attention: The first – by Professor Sato at the National Institute of Technology, Tsuruoka College, Japan – covered the development of a double network ionic gel for low friction material. Double-network gels – which consist of a rigid skeleton polymer network within a ductile polymer substance, enabling high mechanical strength and toughness – are well known. However, the idea of replacing the water present in the gel (often 90 wt% or more) with an ionic liquid interested me as it stabilises the material (evaporation of the water affects the physical properties of the gel; ionic liquids have negligible vapour pressure) and results in a low friction material, even under vacuum and at high temperatures. The second – by Dr Stevens, Professor Emeritus at University of North Carolina at Asheville, USA – presented 12 principles on New Chemistry, intended as “a guide to allow society and chemists to prosper and grow sustainably”. One message that caught my attention was the advocation of interdisciplinary science. The CSCT already encourages co-operation between chemistry and chemical engineering. Although I’m more interested in how we could develop work with social scientists, which surely will be required if we are to effectively address societal demands.
The conference gala dinner was held at the Casinò Di Venezia in the Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, where Wagner spent his last days. Entertainment was provided by a local string quartets and a couple of opera singers, with the opportunity to have a free flutter at the tables afterwards. The Wednesday afternoon was spent on a boat trip around the islands of Venice, including Burano (home of the colourful houses) and Torcello Abbey. Whilst it was great to see the surrounding area, I did begin to feel like a trapped animal after a while as excursions on the islands were limited to half an hour. Venice is a particularly beautiful city, although I do recommend either getting up early to meander through the streets before the tourists descend, or being prepared to stay up late. A word of warning though: always keep your bearing as the narrow streets often results in GPS becoming confused as to exactly where you are – trying to find St. Mark’s Square at 1 am proved a particular challenge! Overall, the experience was positive – both from the conference and cultural perspectives – and I look forward to attending the next one.
Venice sans tourists
Conference dinner: the tried and tested method for making new contacts and/or friends
Marcus is in his final year in the CSCT working towards his PhD on “Biomaterials for the Cardiac Environment” with Dr Ram Sharma, Dr Janet Scott and Dr Sameer Rahatekar.
On 18–20 June 2013, 4th year PhD student Julia Griffen attended the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in North Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
I would like to thank the ACS Green Chemistry Institute for awarding me the Joseph Breen Memorial Prize. Without it I would have been unable to attend this year’s Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference. Since starting my PhD I have always wanted to attend a conference in the US as I consider it a hub of academic science, innovation and industry. With green chemistry being central to my research, this conference was a natural choice as it offered excellent variety of keynote presentations, technical talks and poster presentations.
My key learnings from attending this event were vast and varied. At the student workshop I was able to meet, engage and debate with many students from different institutions and stages of their scientific careers. The workshop, excellently delivered by Constable and Williams, presented a general overview of the 12 principles of green chemistry. Additionally the outreach activity organized by beyondbenign was incredibly engaging interactive and simply fun.
Keynote addresses included that from Milton Hearn of Monash University, who eloquently introduced and emphasised why we need green chemistry and his current research efforts in Australia. Michael Pcolinski of BASF Corporation gave an insight to the business aims, tools and methods used to analyse and implement green chemistry into company strategy. Finally James Hutchison of the University of Oregon described ‘Greener Nanoscience’ work on nanomaterials, which I am not as familiar with, in the synthesis and collaborative toxicology studies involving the use of zebra fish.
Through the technical sessions I learnt of the difficulties from implementing green chemistry from Lynn Ledger of Alcereco, and strategies for encouraging the next generation of green chemists, the emphasis being the need for better training and education. I was fascinated by the number of commercial tools and databases available for companies to access the toxicology and ‘green score’ of a chemical process, which I was previously unaware off, especially that presented by George Thompson of a web-based for alternative assessment of a chemical process. I especially enjoyed the Panel Session of ‘Going Global: International perspectives on green chemistry’ enabling me to engage and draw on my experience of implementing a green chemistry course at the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This discussion time, facilitated by Kira Matus from the London School of Economics, enabled in-depth discussion of the success stories and barriers to implementing green chemistry globally.
Key benefits to me personally and professionally came though the numerous networking opportunities. I especially enjoyed the poster sessions where I was able to meet and converse with students, academics and industry over my work, green chemistry and generally science. Additionally the poster sessions allowed me to see other’s work that I was not able to see due to clashing of parallel sessions.
I feel that attending this conference has significantly broadened my subject knowledge of green chemistry especially business tools and strategy, toxicology testing and design, education and engagement. I hope this will benefit my future career choice within the chemical industry to enable me to become a conscientious and considerate scientist whom puts the principles of green chemistry into practice.