IHS Chemical Week


Dow’s Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Aims to Foster Sustainable Solutions

9:40 AM MDT | November 1, 2010 | By NEIL HAWKINS

Neil Hawkins is Vice President of Sustainability and Environment, Health & Safety at Dow Chemical.

Chemistry is at the root of 96 percent of all manufactured goods, serving as the nexus between energy and all manufacturing activities across the globe. Because of this vital connection, the chemical industry has a tremendous responsibility and opportunity to provide the basis for sustainability solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.

At Dow, sustainability and innovation are the key elements that drive our business. But, sustainability is not just a business imperative; it is also a platform for collaboration with other leaders and innovators, including the next generation of sustainability leaders.

In alignment with this perspective, Dow launched the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge in 2009. The program is designed to encourage and recognize university students across the globe to develop solutions to the most pressing social, economic and environmental global challenges.

Dow created partnerships with seven universities – four in the United States and three in other regions of the world – to participate in the first three years of the program. 2010 participants include: The University of California – Berkeley, The University of Cambridge, The University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Peking University, The University of Sao Paulo and Tufts University.

In its second year, the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge program encourages forward thinking in social and environmental responsibility among tomorrow’s scientists, business and government leaders. Throughout the academic year, students worked on thesis-like projects on sustainability-related challenges.

Following are examples of recognized projects:
•    Application of organic photoelectric materials in the field of solar power generation and energy conservation
•    A synthetic route to developing polyethylene terephthalate, used in a range of products from beverage containers to synthetic fibers,  currently produced from crude oil
•    An exploration of the biotechnological aspects of the interaction between bacteria and sugarcane

The full list of winners, who have been recognized at their respective universities, include:
•    Antoine Aubeneau, Phillip Brunner, Jennifer Drummond, Jonathan Lamano, Joseph Park, Jonathan Servaites, Junzi Shi and Shiyuan Zhou – Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
•    Zhaomin Dong, Ting Lei, Zitao Wang, Shimin Wu, Xiaoqin Wu, Kun Zhang, Shaoguang Zhang, Yan Zhou – Peking University, Beijing, China
•    Amanda Beal, Georgia Kayser, Karen Claire Kosinski, and Ellen Tyler – Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
•    Paul Borokhov, Cindy Chen, Matt Evans, Evan Haigler, Laura Schewel, Mika Shiramizu, Gopal Vaswani – University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A.
•    Jamie Anderson, Cise Unluer, and Max Wigley – University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK
•    Paul Davis, Colm Fay, Cynthia Koenig, Robert Levine, Jennifer McLaughlin, Christopher Mueller, Prashanth Prasad, and Imogen Taylor – University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.
•    Rosangela Calado da Costa, Maria Carolina Quecine and Marcela da Silva Costa – University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

The three graduate student teams that were selected for their research and innovations received $10,000 for their innovative solutions to the world’s challenges. Selected winners from each winning team were represented at the annual recognition luncheon.

In order to ensure a more sustainable future, it’s essential that we promote and cultivate fresh ideas, innovative thinking and sustainable practices that balance environmental, societal and economic decisions. Dow’s vision is that programs like the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge advance sustainable development to create positive change for tomorrow.

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