Queen's awarded new research chair in environmental science
Queen's University Chemical Engineering professor Michael Cunningham has been awarded one of two new Ontario Research Chairs in Green Chemistry and Engineering.
Dr. Cunningham, who also holds a Premier's Research Excellence Award, is an expert in the design of polymer nanoparticles. The goal of his research is to address challenges and problems related to the implementation of green chemistry and green engineering solutions related to the manufacture of polymeric materials.
"My proposed research is concerned with the development of chemical processes that are more environmentally benign than existing processes, and therefore reduce the impact on the environment," says Dr. Cunningham. A primary research direction will be the development of water-based processes (in replacement of existing solvent-based processes) for new types of polymerization chemistries that enable advanced, tailor-made polymeric architectures.
Dr. Cunningham will also study "switchable surfactants" to the preparation of polymeric nanoparticles to make "smart" materials (in collaboration with Chemistry professor Philip Jessop) and produce valuable chemicals and polymers from renewable resources instead of petroleum-based resources (in collaboration with Civil Engineering professor Pascale Champagne).
In announcing the funding, Environment Minister John Gerretsen, MPP for Kingston and the Islands, noted that the new chairs "will play an important role in developing the green chemistry sector of the economy and will contribute to Ontario becoming a world leader in this field."
A new Ontario Research Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health has also been announced. Selection of the chairs was made by the Council of Ontario Universities.