BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Wendell and Loretta Hess Professor of Chemistry Ram Mohan has
been named a recipient of the United States’ Fulbright-Nehru Award to India, in support
of his work to promote green chemistry at Indian undergraduate colleges and universities.
Overseen by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural
Affairs, the Fulbright Award honors individuals at the top of their fields, including
dozens of Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows and Presidential
Medal of Freedom recipients. The program was founded to strengthen international relations
by sending recipients abroad to work as cultural ambassadors in educational, economic,
scientific and various other fields.
This is Mohan's second Fulbright Award, which is a rare achievement. “I'm deeply honored
and humbled, but also shocked to receive the Fulbright-Nehru grant a second time,”
said Mohan. “It is an honor to go as a representative of America to the country where
I was born.”
Mohan will spend the spring of 2020 as a Fulbright-Nehru Teacher Scholar, teaching
the principles of green chemistry – the design of chemical products and processes
that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances – to undergraduate
and graduate students at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. In addition to
offering a green chemistry course at IIT Delhi, he will visit numerous undergraduate
colleges to give lectures on green chemistry. He will also help these small college
incorporate green chemistry experiments into their curriculum.
“Because of increasing environmental concerns, it is imperative that the coming generation
of scientists in India be educated on the practice of green chemistry to prevent pollution
and improve human health,” Mohan explained.
In 2012, Mohan received his first Fulbright-Nehru Award, which enabled him to introduce
green chemistry at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER)
in Mohali, India.
During his second visit as a Fulbright-Nehru Teacher Scholar, Mohan plans to reach
a broader student audience by travelling outside major metropolitan areas. During
a 2015 visit to a small college in western India, Mohan met with students from tribal
communities who routinely travel over 20 miles daily to attend college, and he hopes
that his upcoming visit will provide him with more opportunities to work with students
in such remote areas.
“This experience was eye-opening and humbling,” said Mohan. “This single visit has
motivated me to want to visit many such remote corners of the country.”
Mohan looks forward to returning to India to share his expertise on how green chemistry
can be implemented to reduce pollution and improve environmental conditions in India.
“Over the last 20 years, as I have incorporated green chemistry principles into my
own teaching, research and practice of chemistry, I have gradually developed clear
ideas on how I can help change things,” said Mohan. “As an American with Indian roots,
I will find this an exciting opportunity to serve as a U.S. cultural ambassador to
a country that has changed significantly since I left in 1987.”