The chemical sciences provide both the components and the methods to create essential materials and modern medicines, as well as to destroy or immobilize environmental contaminants. Almost all existing and new technologies, including most renewable energy technologies, rely on chemical extraction, processing and manufacturing. However, widespread use of many desirable new and existing technologies could become severely resource-limited in the not-so-distant future. A systems-level approach aligning science and engineering considerations with assessment of environmental impact, economic feasibility and societal acceptance is needed to move US chemical manufacturing towards sustainable value chains. Furthermore, to achieve the necessary integration, sustainability principles must be incorporated into chemical processing at the design stage.
Via a Mellichamp Academic Initiative, the University of California, Santa Barbara, has approved a cluster of four endowed Chair positions with a common theme of “Sustainable Materials and Product Design”. The interests of the Chairholders will encompass green chemistry, sustainable manufacturing, sustainable catalytic processing, and economic analysis of sustainable chemical technologies. The cluster is the result of a philanthropic gift generously donated by Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp. All four Chairholders are expected to work together closely to foster broad and interdisciplinary research and education in chemical sustainability.