The Ultimate “Summer Camp” for Green Chemistry Enthusiasts: My Inspirational Experiences at the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy

By Lisa Kozycz, Member-at-Large for the GCI

Last month I had the opportunity to participate in the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado and I’d like to use this month’s blog to share some of my amazing experiences.

Group shot

Group shot of all the ACS Summer School attendees. I am at the far right in the second row.

The summer school was nothing like your ordinary conference; a typical day consisted of four “lecture periods” with ample opportunity to network with the 55 participants (graduate students and post-docs) and close-knit group of speakers (professors, industry professionals, and entrepreneurs). Lectures covered a wide variety of topics including green chemistry principles, solvent selection, ionic liquids, fuel cells (including the chance to ride in a fuel cell car!), green business creation, and greening the undergraduate teaching laboratory, just to name a few. There were also lectures on useful tools for graduate students and post-docs such as writing papers and grant proposals, and a summary of resources provided by the ACS. In addition to lectures, we had the opportunity to present our own research at one of two evening poster sessions, as well as learn about what the other participants were working on. Getting to learn about research from all different fields and parts of the world, with the one uniting theme of green chemistry, was such a unique and valuable experience that would not be possible at any other conference.


Rafting on Clear Creek (I’m at the front left).

The summer school was definitely not “all work and no play,” as several fun activities were planned for us including line dancing and white water rafting in Clear Creek (the source of the water used to make Coors beer!). Free time in the evenings was used to explore the beautiful town of Golden, hiking through the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, and trying out the many microbreweries Golden has to offer.

ACS President

Getting my certificate from ACS President Tom Barton.

The summer school ended with a closing dinner including presentation of certificates from ACS President, Tom Barton, who shared inspirational words that chemistry is here to stay and the future is green!

My personal favourite part of the summer school was getting to meet the participants who came from all over Canada, the United States, and even South America. It was so exciting to see the green chemistry enthusiasm coming from so many diverse schools and chemistry backgrounds, and it gave me hope knowing that the next generation of chemists is ready to work together to make the field safer and more sustainable. Of course I took the opportunity to spread the word about the GCI and even tried to encourage my new friends to start green chemistry groups at their own schools, so hopefully the GCI will have some new allies in the near future!

Needless to say, I would highly recommend the summer school to anyone interested in learning more about green chemistry. Little to no prior green chemistry background is required, just an open mind and the willingness to share your thoughts and ideas. More information can be found on the ACS website. Applications are typically due in May and if your application is selected then all costs not covered by your supervisor (up to 100%) will be paid for by the ACS. If anyone has any questions or would like help putting together an application for next year, don’t hesitate to post in the comments below or contact me directly.

CSM View

Beautiful view of Colorado School of Mines from South Table Mountain.