An interview with James Batteas
In 2013, Beyond Benign created the Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) program with guidance from higher educatio
n institutions as a framework to unite the global green chemistry community. The GCC goal is to infuse green chemistry into Higher Education and give scientists the required skills to design processes and products less hazardous to human health and the environment.
Beyond Benign has partnered with companies including Dow, MilliporeSigma, and Biogen to further its mission to empower educators to transform chemistry education for a sustainable future. Support from these partners has allowed Beyond Benign to create resources, foster relationships, and provide essential funding to educators, all in an effort to grow and strengthen the green chemistry education community.
The Texas A&M is a Dow academic partner and GCC signer. Discover the university’s story in our interview with D. Wayne Goodman Professor in Chemistry James Batteas.
How has being part of the GCC impacted your institution and you as a faculty member?
Since becoming a GCC signer in April of 2021, TAMU Chemistry has continued to build up its curriculum and research opportunities that expose our students, and the broader Bryan/College Station community, to the benefits of green, sustainable chemistry. While we already had a course specifically in green chemistry (since 2011), we are expanding our portfolio of educational programs to include activities such as our Youth Adventure Camp (YAP) in Mechanochemistry, first offered in the Summer of 2022. Students also garner direct research experiences in green chemistry via our current NSF REU program on Biological, Green, and Materials Chemistry, and through the NSF Center for the Mechanical Control of Chemistry (CMCC), for which TAMU is the lead institution. Students in our REU program participate in a weekly workshop on green chemistry, tour a DOW plant that focuses on sustainable packaging, and prepare general audience outreach (mostly videos) on green chemistry topics. The experience is aimed at increasing their awareness and understanding of green chemistry practices and principles. For me personally, as the Director of the CMCC, the partnership between TAMU, Dow Chemical, and Beyond Benign has helped me establish unique opportunities for our students, such as our YAP camp.
What student outcomes have you observed since instituting green chemistry practices and principles?
While we have yet to initiate a formal evaluation process, anecdotally, we have observed that a number of TAMU chemistry students choose green chemistry related topics for their senior seminar course projects and include discussions on green chemistry in their talks and papers, even when that’s not the primary focus. Additionally, our
Green Chemistry course continues to be a popular course for our students majoring and minoring in chemistry.
How do you envision the GCC community supporting the future green chemistry goals of your institution and training of your students?
It is our hope that the GCC community will serve as a resource for helping to build our green chemistry curriculum, and likewise, will help us disseminate the curricular and research activities and innovations that we have been developing at TAMU to other GCC partner institutions. We also hope that the GCC community will continue to foster a collaborative network between GCC institutions, to exchange ideas, and enable broader engagement across all stakeholders, academic, industrial, and governmental entities, to forward actions that enable the future of sustainable chemistry.