Berkeley Campus – The Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry celebrated the successful conclusion of the NSF funded Systems Approach to Green Energy (SAGE) IGERT program at the “SAGE Sunset Celebration” all-day event on April 30th, 2018. This program has supported 28 graduate researchers with two year tuitions and stipends, our anchor course Greener Solutions, and enabled the partnership with dozens of organizations beyond the campus. Sixteen guest speakers from a myriad of backgrounds, including academia, industry, government, consulting, and advocacy, joined the proceedings to discuss their past and current work with the SAGE program, alongside a group of current and former SAGE fellows.
The event kicked off with a warm welcome and brief history of the BCGC from executive director Tom McKeag and faculty director John Arnold, who described the beginnings of the Center in 2010, and the pivotal role that the SAGE program, which started in 2012, played in the growth and development of BCGC.
Associate director and co-founder Megan Schwarzman led the first guest presentation of the day, partnering with Karl Palmer, manager, Safer Consumer Products branch of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, to discuss the power and importance of getting out of the “siloes” that professional researchers so often find themselves in. This presentation set the tone for the rest of the day, as speakers and panelists across disciplines and industry sectors discussed their work and ideas at length with about 50 thoughtful and engaged audience members.
Presenters covered a range of topics, offering a showcase of the diverse projects and collaborations undertaken by SAGE Fellows during the program’s history. Former fellow Noah Kittner and his advisor Dan Kammen, Distinguished Professor of Energy at the Energy and Resources Group, spoke about SAGE-funded research into the hazards of lignite coal power plants in Kosovo. Current SAGE fellow Jennifer Lawrence and her colleague Emily Gonthier presented their research on ammonium remediation in wastewater treatment. BCGC associates Justin Bours and Jeremy Faludi teamed up with Autodesk’s Susan Gladwin and Northwest Green Chemistry executive director Lauren Heine to discuss the progression of sustainability projects (including the Additive Manufacturing Roundtable) that have come of BCGC’s initial work in assessing stereolithography (SLA) printing resins. Marty Mulvihill, former executive director of BCGC and one of the center’s founders, joined textile chemistry consultant Amanda Cattermole to describe the history of Levi’s relationship with the center’s Greener Solutions course.
An expert panel comprising associate director and consultant Ann Blake, DTSC manager Karl Palmer, innovation lead at Method Kaj Johnson, and Lauren Heine had a lively interchange with the audience about the challenges and opportunities facing the field of green chemistry. Mr. Johnson and Billy Hart Cooper of the USDA spoke about their ground-breaking work on reversible formulas for preservatives in personal care products, another example of fruitful work started through our Greener Solutions course. Miriam Rotkin Ellman, researcher at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and BCGC postdoctoral scholar and former SAGE fellow David Faulkner spoke of their work together affecting federal policy on the testing of substances. Former SAGE fellows Akos Kokai and Drew Hill recounted their transitions from academia to industry in a talk entitled “Two Academics Walk into a Firm…”. Altogether, the blend of BCGC alumni and former industry partners highlighted the impressive variety of expertise and interests that has enriched the SAGE program and its participants.