Chemistry graduate student receives Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship

Image of Bonnie Buss recieving Breen Award
Bonnie Buss receives Breen Award from Tom Connelly.
© 2018 American Chemical Society. Photo Credit: Naim Hasan Photography.

Over the summer, Bonnie Buss, a Ph.D. student in the Miyake Research Group, was awarded the Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship from the American Chemical Society. The Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship sponsors the participation of a young green chemistry scholar to attend a green chemistry technical meeting, conference, or training program. One award goes to out each year to a graduate and undergraduate student. Buss used her award to travel to Portland, Oregon for the ACS Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.

The ACS established the fund in 2000 to commemorate Dr. Breen’s commitment to and accomplishments in advancing green chemistry. Dr. Breen was instrumental in creating the Design for the Environment and Green Chemistry programs in the U.S. EPA, as well as founding the Green Chemistry Institute (which later became a part of ACS).

Buss has always had a strong interest in green chemistry and sustainability, which she has been able to integrate into her graduate career through her research, teaching, and mentorship. Buss shared that “she was also very fortunate to attend the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry & Sustainable Energy after my first year, which was influential during a formative time at the start of my research career.”  This past spring, Buss saw the posting on the ACS Green Chemistry Institute website. The award was a good fit and presented a great opportunity to further her exposure to how green chemistry can be applied out in the real world through attending a specialized green chemistry conference.

Image of Bonnie Buss at the ACS Green Chemistry and Enginnering ConferenceAt this conference Buss presented a poster about her work on organocatalyzed atom transfer polymerization, titled “Organocatalyzed atom transfer radical polymerization as a tool for functional polymer design and production”. When sharing her thoughts on the conference, Buss stated that “Attending this conference was great! The GC&E is a great mix of scientists from diverse backgrounds, all with a common interest in green chemistry.” She was given the opportunity to speak with representatives from academia, industry, government, and scientific writing. Additionally, this conference also has a really strong student program which allowed her to have breakfast with keynote speaker, Joe DeSimone, the founder of Carbon, which has some really interesting 3D printing technology. Buss exclaimed that “she would highly recommend this conference to any graduate student, even if they don’t have a strong interest in green chemistry -although hopefully they can be converted!”

Green Chemistry and Polymers

In the Miyake group, Buss is currently working on the development of organocatalyzed atom transfer radical polymerization (O-ATRP). This polymerization methodology replaces unsustainable and expensive transition metal catalysts with organic variants that use light to make specialized polymeric materials. Buss’ specialty in this area is in the extension of this new system to photo-flow reactors and synthesis of complex architectures, which helps to mature O-ATRP into a technique that can be broadly applied to solve problems in materials development Her research also focuses on the extension of O-ATRP application scope through rational new organocatalyst design, and eventually with the incorporation of biorenewable monomers and solvents. Advancements in this research will enable sustainable production of new materials with tailored properties and specialty applications. This can lead to development of materials that can be used in areas like biomedical devices and coatings, electronics, and drug delivery.

After graduate school, Buss plans to use her scientific skillsets, coupled with her passion for green chemistry, to develop new sustainable materials.