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NSF Awards $3.4 Million to Train Students in “Green Chemistry”

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The Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (BCGC) has been awarded a $3.4 million training grant by the National Science Foundation.

The grant will train five to six Ph.D. students annually for five years in the principles of green chemistry and the design of clean energy technologies.

The goal of the Systems Approach to Green Energy (SAGE) grant is to develop a generation of scientists, engineers, toxicologists, policy-makers and business leaders who are well versed in the principles of green chemistry and clean energy.

By using a systems approach, the program will foster technology innovations in solar energy, biofuel, and energy storage systems.

Chris Vulpe, associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Science and Toxicology, is the principal investigator for the grant.

“We will bring together disciplines that don't speak the same language, and not only get them to talk, but also work together toward creative solutions to our pressing need for sustainable energy solutions”, Chris Vulpe said.

John Arnold, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, is a Co-PI. Other Co-PIs include Alastair Iles, an assistant professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management in the College of Natural Resources, and Thomas McKone of the campus Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.

He is an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health and a senior staff scientist in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

The SAGE grant team is seeking grad students interested in incorporating green energy research into their graduate studies. They will be recruited from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, the College of Chemistry, the College of Natural Resources, and the Haas School of Business.

SAGE students will participate in interdisciplinary courses related to green chemistry. They will also be advised by interdisciplinary dissertation committees.

Says BCGC Executive Director Marty Mulvihill, “We anticipate that SAGE grad students will be fully funded for two years, starting in the spring of their first year and continuing through the fall of their third year. After that, SAGE students will be funded through traditional research and teaching assistant positions. SAGE students will also have access to funding from the National Science Foundation’s Competitive Innovation Fund.”

The program will also feature K-12 outreach programs to Bay Area schools, and the option of studying at universities in England and Sweden that are developing similar green chemistry and sustainable energy programs.

“I really encourage interested grad students to apply to the SAGE program,” says Mulvihill. “Our project-based curriculum will engage students in hands-on learning that they can apply to their own dissertation research. And SAGE students will develop connections and a sense of community with their peers from many different departments on campus.”