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Chemistry Student Earns Green Chemistry Travel Award

An Ursinus senior is one of four students nationally recognized with a travel award from the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute. His research could be helpful to pharmaceutical companies.

Chemistry major Brendan Phillips ’16, is the recipient of the Ciba Travel Award in Green Chemistry, based on evaluation of his application by an external selection committee. Two of the students have Ph.Ds, the other is working on a second bachelor’s degree.

Victor J. Tortorelli, Samuel H. and Anna M. Professor of Chemistry and Director of Science in Motion at Ursinus, believes Phillips is the first Ursinus student to win this award, which will allow him to attend the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, Ore., in June. The American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute® has given these awards to sponsor student participation in an ACS technical meeting, conference, or training program to enhance the students’ education in green chemistry, since 2010.

The judges were highly impressed with Phillips’ application, said Tortorelli, and stated that he “embodies the intent of the award,” adding that he has a strong potential career in green chemistry.

The ACS Green Chemistry blog states that Phillip’s research “demonstrates simple and industrially-relevant examples of transfer hydrogenation applied toward pharmaceutical synthesis, an area that employs hazardous hydride donors in organic transformations.”

Phillips’ said the goal for his Ursinus research is “to develop safer and more sustainable methods for making pharmaceuticals. The commonly used methods of today are fairly dangerous, require high energy inputs, and inevitably create waste,” he explained. “My method that I’ve been developing seeks to reduce energy consumption, operate more safely, and produce minimal waste.”

He hopes that this work will be industrially-relevant in the future. “Pharmaceutical companies could use the results of this research to reduce the environmental impact of their business while simultaneously cutting costs.”