Mention a “green” summer school and people start thinking about lessons in gardening or maybe lectures in the cool shade of a forest. The green-titled school that goes into session today is in the concrete-and-glass environs of downtown Washington, D. C., a few blocks from the White House. With temperatures this past week hovering in the 90s, and humidity to match, cool shade is merely a dream.
The school’s focus is an exciting field called green chemistry. And the school bell is ringing for more than 50 graduate and post-doctoral students who are preparing to use green chemistry and engineering to solve global challenges. Their classroom for the 4th Annual Summer School on Green Chemistry is Marvel Hall in the American Chemical Society (ACS) headquarters. To me, this must rank as one of the world’s most remarkable summer schools. “Green chemistry is the design of new products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances,” said Paul Anastas, Ph.D. Often called the “Father of Green Chemistry,” Anastas directs the Green Chemistry Institute at the ACS.
I’m excited about the Green Chemistry School for another reason, as well. It is a chance to kick the tires of our new weblog. Nishant Magar, of the ACS Office of Communications, designed the blog, and we’re debuting it today and during next week’s Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.
The Johnson Family Foundation and the ACS are sponsoring this year’s event, which precedes the 10th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. That conference will be just down 16the street in the Capital Hilton hotel. News media are welcome, and can get information from the ACS News Service (202-872-4400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.) There will be presentations by leading scientists and educators, collaborative problem-solving projects, presentations by students, and more.
Not on the official program is the golden opportunity for schmoozing and networking, in which these young scientists develop friendships and collegial relationships. These interpersonal connections often lead to future collaborations on research and career-building presentations at scientific conferences. Some could be international in scope, with this year’s class hailing from the United States and five other countries.
Green Chemistry School − 2006 is one in a series that began with the Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI) on Green Chemistry in Montevideo, Uruguay, in July 2003. “The proposal for the PASI was developed by the ACS’s Mary Kirchhoff,” noted Kathryn Parent, of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute. “It was to provide education in green chemistry and engineering for chemists and engineers, as well as an opportunity for these young scientists to build interdisciplinary and cross-cultural collaborations.”
This year’s program is a slightly shorter version (3.5 days) of the typical week-long program, Parent said, citing other changes. “It also will offer background in green chemistry and engineering principles, as well as feature several cutting-edge examples of current green chemistry and engineering research. For the first time, the summer school is immediately preceding the annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, which many of the students will also attend.”
Next: School Days