May 10, 2016
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan University’s Ram Mohan will help spread awareness of the importance of green chemistry at several workshops in Asia this summer.
Internationally recognized for his contributions to green chemistry, Mohan is Illinois Wesleyan’s Wendell and Loretta Hess Professor of Chemistry. Widely published in international chemistry journals, Mohan’s research focuses on developing environmentally friendly organic methods guided by green principles.
In June he will deliver a workshop at Hong Kong University (HKU). Mohan said HKU is a worldwide research leader in chemistry. “It is exciting to be invited by them to teach a special topics course,” he said, noting the 10 days of workshops are especially expected to attract undergraduates from mainland China.
Selected by the government of India under a program entitled Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education, Mohan will travel to the Indian Institute of Technology Indore in July. GIAN is aimed at tapping the talent pool of international scientists and entrepreneurs to augment India’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reform, and elevate India’s scientific and technological capacity to global excellence. In a 10-day workshop, Mohan will speak to graduate and doctoral students and undergraduate college teachers. Mohan will also travel to other universities including North Maharashtra University in Jalgaon, India, and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Mohali, India, to offer green chemistry workshops.
Because of environmental concerns across the world, green chemistry is of significant relevance to everyone, Mohan said. “Through these workshops, I am raising awareness across the world,” he said.
These international opportunities also inspire Mohan to bring ideas to the Illinois Wesleyan curriculum. Influenced by his lectures overseas, this spring Mohan offered “Special Topics-Introduction to Green Chemistry” for the first time at IWU. In the course students learned about the development of numerous environmentally safe processes and chemicals that have greatly improved the quality of human health, said Mohan. Students presented a poster session at the end of the semester and also participated, with Mohan, in the Illinois Sustainable Living and Wellness Expo.
“This kind of public outreach is an important step in raising awareness for green chemistry,” said Mohan. “People need to know that not all chemicals are bad and that banning all chemicals is not the answer to environmental problems.”
A 1985 graduate of Hansraj College in Delhi, India, Mohan earned a master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Delhi in 1987 and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), in 1992. Following that he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In 2011, the Illinois Heartland Section of the American Chemical Society named Mohan Chemist of the Year. He received the distinguished alumni award from his alma mater UMBC in 2002, the Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar award in 2001, and the Pfizer Green Chemistry Award for promoting green chemistry at an undergraduate institution. His research at IWU, which has involved more than 100 students, has been funded by several grants from the National Science Foundation, Research Corporation, and the American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund.
Mohan was named a Fulbright Specialist on Green Chemistry Education to Pondicherry University in India in 2015, and received a Fulbright-Nehru award to deliver lectures on the principles of green chemistry at several Indian colleges and universities during the 2012-2013 academic year.