Green Chemistry at CSC2017 – The 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition

By Kevin Szkop and Alex Waked

This year, the GCI partnered with the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC), the organizing body of the CSC2017, to be closely involved in various aspects of Canada’s largest chemistry meeting.

In collaboration with GreenCentre Canada and CIC, the GCI organized a Professional Development Workshop as part of the CSC2017 program. This event consisted of four components:

The green chemistry crash course, led by Dr. Laura Reyes. Laura is a founding member of the GCI, and is now working in marketing & communications with GreenCentre Canada.

A case study, led by Dr. Tim Clark, Technology Leader at GreenCentre Canada. The case study gave attendees a unique opportunity to learn about some projects that GreenCentre has been developing and in collaboration with peers, learn how to find applications for new intellectual property (IP) and how to make contacts within relevant companies.

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Dr. Tim Clark leading the GreenCentre Canada Industry Case Study

Career panel discussion, sponsored by Gilead, featuring members of academia and industry.

A coffee mixer for an opportunity for informal networking.


Supplementary to the Professional Development Workshop, the GCI organized a technical session, co-hosted by the Inorganic, Environmental, and Industrial sections of the conference. This new symposium, entitled “Recent Advances in Sustainable Chemistry”, brought together students, professors, industry, and government speakers to showcase a diverse and engaging collection of new trends in green and sustainable chemistry practices across all sectors of chemistry. Highlighted talks included Dr. Martyn Poliakoff from the University of Nottingham, also a CSC2017 Plenary Lecturer, Dr. David Bergbreiter from Texas A&M University, and Dr. William Tolman from the University of Minnesota.

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Dr. Martyn Poliakoff teaching the audience about NbOPO4 acid catalysts found in Brazilian mines

Dr. Bergbreiter’s lecture was an engaging one. His enthusiastic approach to the use of renewable and bio-derived polymers as green solvents was captivating to both industrial and academic chemists.

Dr. Martyn Poliakoff, a plenary speaker at the conference, gave a phenomenal talk during the first day of the symposium. His charismatic style complimented perfectly the cutting-edge research ongoing in his group at the University of Nottingham. Particularly interesting was the use of flow processes in tandem with photochemistry to yield large quantities of natural products useful in the drug industries.

Dr. Tolman’s talk was of interest to essentially anyone working in an academic environment, especially for student run groups, like the GCI, with both academic interests as well as safety awareness initiatives. In the first part of the talk, synthetic and mechanistic studies of renewable polymers were discussed. The second part shifted focus to student-led efforts to enhance the safety culture in academic labs, which stood out from most of the other talks in our symposium.

One highlight was a group of graduate students at the University of Minnesota organizing a tour of Dow Chemicals to observe the work and safety codes in an industrial setting, which they used as a lesson to bring back to their own research labs. This caught the eye of most of the GCI members, which inspired us to organize a similar day trip in the future.

In further efforts to make our symposium accessible to undergraduate and graduate students, the GCI partnered with GreenCentre Canada to award five Travel Scholarships to deserving students from across Canada to provide financial aid to participate in the conference.

We thank all of our speakers, both national and international, for their participation in the program. It was a great success!


Green Innovations – The Sky’s the Limit

By Annabelle Wong, 2016 Symposium Coordinator for the GCI

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Every year, 80 billion gallons of fuels are consumed and 705 million tones of CO2 is produced by airplanes. Innovations in chemistry for applications like futuristic windowless airplanes being developed by the Centre for Process Innovation is one way to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. [1,2]

It’s an exciting time of year again when the GCI hosts their annual Green Chemistry Symposium! I remember starting as a graduate student here at the University of Toronto just a year ago and had the wonderful opportunity of attending the 2015 symposium as a first-timer. And this year, I will be attending the annual event as the GCI Symposium Coordinator.

What does this blog post have to do with windowless planes you may ask? The theme of the this year’s symposium is “Innovations in Chemistry towards Sustainable Urban Living” which will focus on topics related to greener products and chemical processes associated with urbanization and modern technological challenges like sustainable aerospace materials. The symposium organizing committee has chosen this theme because it builds onto last year’s theme of “Green Chemistry Applied to Industry” since innovations are often related to commercialization of products and scaling up in a cost-effective, sustainable manner.

With increasing interest coming from other departments at U of T and outside of U of T, we decided to expand this year’s symposium to include a public keynote lecture by Dr. John Warner, one of the founders of Green Chemistry, and an exciting case study session on analyzing a chemical process led by Dr. Tom Enright from Xerox Research Centre of Canada. We also decided to expand beyond just chemistry to touch on some chemical or process engineering topics.

The idea to include participants outside of chemistry partially stemmed from my personal experience working as an intern at the Fuel Cell Division of Mercedes Benz Canada in Vancouver and BASF SE in Germany. I realized that for chemists in academia, research often just stops at the chemical laboratory. But when it comes to research and development of a product in hopes of bringing it to the “real world” modern daily living, you’ll most likely find yourself interacting with an interdisciplinary team of scientists,  chemical, materials, mechanical, electrical or process engineers, and financial managers to ensure that the chemistry is cost-effective, safe, and sustainable to scale up. What might be seen as a novel innovative chemical reaction that works incredibly well in the laboratory scale may possibly end up as a disaster when it’s scaled up.  I think that the professional development in academia is slightly lacking when it comes to educating us on bridging the gap between chemistry and engineering and am delighted to have invited Dr. Enright from XRCC to teach us how to make this connection.

We are also very honored to have experts from academia and industry to tell us about their innovations in chemistry and how they can help the modern society to be a sustainable one. Topics include sustainability in textiles, electrochromic windows, catalysis, aerospace materials, switchable materials, biofuels, crop protection, and sustainable scale-up processes! Here’s the schedule of the symposium:gci blog 3

To find out how innovations in chemistry can make our world more sustainable or how your own research can take flight as a scalable innovation, make sure to register here before the deadline on May 2, 2016! See you there!



[1] Centre for Process Innovation. Aerospace Windowless Aircraft – The Future Inspired by CPI. YouTube, (accessed April 27, 2016).

[2] 2014. The Centre for Process Innovation. (accessed April 27, 2016).