Seminar Series

Green Chemistry Curriculum and the Snowball Effect

Speaker

Jane E. Wissinger

Institute

Visiting Academic, University of Minnesota, Department of Chemistry

Time & Place

Wed, 13 Mar 2019 12:00:00 NZDT in Room 701, West Building

All are welcome

Abstract

The goals of a chemistry laboratory course are multi-faceted and include teaching experimental techniques and problem-solving skills. It is also important to illustrate modern and relevant science to the broad population of students served in lecture and laboratory and prepare chemistry majors for a workforce oriented towards reducing environmental impact and addressing society’s many sustainability challenges.

This seminar will share how incorporation of green chemistry experiments into the University of Minnesota chemistry laboratory curriculum has snowballed in unexpected and advantageous directions. Traditional verification style experiments were replaced with those question-driven and experiments representing green methodologies were incorporated. Almost immediately, undergraduate and graduate students associated with the laboratory course were inspired by green chemistry’s innovative “benign by design” approach and sought research opportunities in my group to develop new green curriculum materials. Several of these projects involved collaborations with faculty in the department providing the added benefit of connecting course work to active research programs. Of special emphasis is the development of polymer experiments, based on recent innovations from the NSF-funded Center for Sustainable Polymers, illustrating environmentally-friendly syntheses of thermoplastics made from renewable feedstocks and design for degradation.

New green experiments for the teaching laboratories will be shared along with their quantifiable safety benefits and reduced waste production. In addition the topics covered in our upper division Green Chemistry lecture class will be described. Our experience shows that students of all disciplines are engaged by the potential positive impact green and sustainable chemistry can have on human health, the environment, and the economy. Chemistry and chemical engineering majors gain a skill set increasingly desired by the chemistry enterprise and an appreciation for chemistry’s essential role in a sustainable future.

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Biography

Jane Wissinger received her B.A. from Susquehanna University (PA) and Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Northwestern University (IL). She was employed as a research scientist at Rohm & Haas Co. for five years where she coauthored several patents. Wissinger began her academic career at the University of Minnesota (1998) as the organic chemistry laboratory director and lecturer and has received multiple promotions; most recently to contract full professor (2016). Wissinger’s teaching and research interests focus on the development of curriculum materials for the college and high school levels that exemplify modern green chemistry methodology, advances in sustainable polymers, and guided-inquiry pedagogy. She is a Senior Principle Investigator in the Center for Sustainable Polymers and active in promoting green chemistry education locally and on a national level through funded projects, publications, and conferences. Her contributions to education were recognized with a U of MN Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor award (2014) and most recently (2017) with an ACS-CEI Award for Incorporation of Sustainability in Chemistry Education.