Faisal Baksh, graduate student at the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC), won a travel scholarship to the 13th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Maryland this past June, 2009.
This conference highlights advances to make the chemical industry environmentally sustainable. Baksh said, “It was a remarkable event.” He was especially excited to hear presentations from leaders in the field, including John Warner and Paul Anastas.
As part of Baksh’s travel scholarship, he participated in a full-day professional development workshop. One of the sessions inspired him to think more about the toxic effects of the chemicals he uses and creates. He even posted a magnet on the break room refrigerator as a reminder to replace hazardous chemical solvents, such as chloroform, with safer solvents like water or ethanol.
Baksh discovered that he can do more to promote greener approaches to research at the University of Kansas. As president for a new student group called, “Students for Green Chemistry and Engineering,” he is doing just that [link]. He has also found ways to make his own research at CEBC safer and less toxic. With his mentor, Prof. RV Chaudhari, Baksh is developing new catalysts for making biofuels from renewable plant resources. He uses water instead of toxic solvents to make these catalysts.
This year’s winners for the Presidential Green Chemistry Award were announced at the conference. Two CEBC member companies, Eastman Chemical Company and Procter & Gamble, won awards for their new innovations in environmentally beneficial chemical technologies [link].
Overall, Baksh found the conference inspiring. He said, “It helped me self-critique the greenness of my research and evaluate the overall long-term sustainability of current research in my field.”
--Story by Claudia Bode