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Fifth quadrennial Whitmore Lecture on Chemistry Education and Public Policy to be held June 7

29 May 2024
John Warner sitting at table
Image provided.

John Warner, president and CEO of The Technology Greenhouse and co-founder of the field of green chemistry, will present the fifth quadrennial Whitmore Lecture on Chemistry Education and Public Policy at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, June 7, 2024, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The lecture, titled “Green Chemistry: The Missing Elements,” is free and open to the public.

Warner’s lecture will describe the history of green chemistry, a field of science focusing on reducing or eliminating the use of hazardous materials at the design stage of a materials process. He will also discuss opportunities for the next generation of materials designers to create a safer and more sustainable future.  

After Warner obtained his doctoral degree in chemistry at Princeton University in 1988, he worked in research and development at Polaroid Corporation, which specialized in instant film and cameras. Ten years later, he returned to academia at the University of Massachusetts, where he was a professor of chemistry and plastics engineering and served as head of the department of chemistry from 2001 to 2003. It was there that he established the world’s first doctoral program in green chemistry. Warner moved to the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, in 2004, where he developed and ran the Center for Green Chemistry. He left academics in 2007 to co-find the Warner-Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, a nonprofit organization for education on green chemistry.  

As an industrial chemist, Warner has over 350 patents and has worked with hundreds of companies worldwide. In academia, he has over 120 publications in synthetic methodologies, noncovalent derivatization, polymer photochemistry, metal oxide semiconductors and green chemistry. His inventions have led to the founding of many companies in photovoltaics, neurochemistry, construction materials, water harvesting and cosmetics.

Warner’s work has been widely recognized with many awards and honors, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentorship from the U.S. National Science Foundation in 2004, the Environmental Merit Award from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011, the American Chemical Society Fellows Award in 2011, and the Perkin Medal from the Chemical Heritage Foundation in 2014. In 2016, he received the Lemelson Invention Ambassadorship from the Lemelson Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences (AAAS).

About the lectureship

The Frank Whitmore Lecture on Chemistry Education and Public Policy honors Frank C. Whitmore, dean of the Penn State College of Chemistry and Physics from 1929 until his death in 1947, for his contributions as a teacher, educator and formulator of policy in chemistry education and curriculum reform. The lecture recognizes Whitmore's service to the American Chemical Society, which began in the society’s Central Pennsylvania Section and culminated with his election as American Chemical Society president in 1938. For a decade Whitmore was the de facto public spokesman for chemistry and was one of three chemists who coordinated the organic chemistry war effort in the United States during World War II.