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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Berkeley: Joins Forces with School of Chemistry to Impact Industry Sustainability

How can the makers of Gore-Tex produce waterproof gear without toxic perfluorinated chemicals? How might an enzyme found in plants and fungi help Levi Strauss & Co. keep their brand of khakis wrinkle-free? Is it possible to make an effective sunscreen that doesn’t damage coral reefs? A novel collaboration between University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health and the College of Chemistry through the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (BCGC) is leading the nation in reimagining chemistry education to reduce waste, develop safer chemicals, and achieve sustainability.

In a recent article in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Chemical Education, course developer Dr. Megan Schwarzman and course alum Dr. Heather Buckley detail how Berkeley’s one-of-a-kind Greener Solutions course (PBHLTH 271H) brings together graduate students in chemistry, environmental health and engineering to develop safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals and manufacturing processes.

“Berkeley is just the right intellectual environment to join these disciplines in reimagining chemistry education,” says Dr. Schwarzman, associate director of BCGC, who co-founded the course eight years ago with then chemistry postdoctoral fellow Dr. Martin Mulvihill.

“The profession of chemistry is undergoing a generational transformation toward the design and use of inherently safer chemicals and materials,” says Mr. Tom McKeag, course co-instructor, BCGC executive director and author of the forthcoming book Green Chemistry in Practice: Greener Material and Chemical Innovation Through Collaboration Volume 1. “Berkeley is on the forefront of redesigning chemistry education to prepare future leaders for creative problem solving.”

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