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.