Anastas Awarded Merck Prize for Pioneering Work in Green Chemistry

paul anastas merck presentation
Photo courtesy of Merck KGaA
Paul Anastas presents a public lecture on green chemistry at the Technical University (TU) Darmstadt in Germany on May 11.
Paul Anastas, a Yale professor and pioneer in the field of green chemistry, has been awarded the 2015 Emanuel Merck Lectureship, an international award that recognizes scientists who have made significant contributions to chemical and pharmaceutical research. 
 
Anastas, the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Chair for Chemistry and the Environment, is often called the “father of green chemistry,” a growing field that promotes the design of products and processes that minimize environmental impacts and hazardous outcomes.
 
He holds joints appointments with the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Chemical Engineering. He is also director of the Yale Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering.
 
The €10,000 Merck prize was awarded on May 11 at the Technical University (TU) Darmstadt, in Germany, where Anastas presented a special public lecture on the origins and future of green chemistry.
Over two centuries of chemistry, there has always been this creative tradition of coming up with new ways of doing things that transform the quality of life. Green chemistry is building on that.
— Paul Anastas
“With his twelve principles of green chemistry, Paul Anastas has shown us a modern form of chemistry, the most important pillar of which is the principle of sustainability,” said Thomas Geelhaar, chief technology officer of chemicals at Merck KGaA and president of the German Chemical Society. “The chemical and pharmaceutical industries will take these principles more strongly into account in the future.”

The focus of Anastas’ research is the design of safer chemicals, bio-based polymers, and new methodologies of chemical synthesis that are more efficient and less hazardous to the environment. Since coining the term “green chemistry” in the early 1990s, he has spent more than two decades developing the field. He has published 11 books, including his seminal work, with John Warner, “Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice.”
 
“Looking back over two centuries of chemistry, there has always been this creative tradition of coming up with new ways of doing things that transform the quality of life,” Anastas said. “Green chemistry is building on that. It says that we can do better. It says that not only can we achieve all of that function and performance, but we can do it in a way that’s fundamentally sustainability, non-toxic, and renewable rather than degrading.
 
“It’s basically a new perspective on how we go about building the products, processes, and systems of our economy and society.”
paul anastas receives merck prize
Photo courtesy of Merck KGaA
Paul Anastas, center, receives the 2015 Emanuel Merck Lectureship during a ceremony in Germany on May 11.
Before coming to Yale in 2007, Anastas was the director of the Green Chemistry Institute, headquartered at the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., where he established 24 green chemistry chapters worldwide.
 
From 2009 to 2012, he took a public service leave from Yale to serve as the Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency Science Advisor for the Obama administration.
 
“As a pioneer in the field of green chemistry, Paul Anastas is helping industry design and produce the chemicals that society needs but that are less toxic and more environmentally friendly,” said Peter Crane, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “This is visionary work in moving toward a more sustainable world.”
 
Added Professor Scott Miller, Chair of the Yale Department of Chemistry: “The Chemistry Department is delighted to congratulate Paul Anastas on this significant honor. Green Chemistry has more than arrived as an important paradigm for research and development, and Paul’s contributions are unquestionably worth celebrating.”
 
The Merck Prize is awarded by Merck KGaA, a multinational company, based in Germany, which produces innovative, top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science, and performance materials.
– Kevin Dennehy    kevin.dennehy@yale.edu    203 436-4842
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PUBLISHED: May 12, 2015
 

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