Green Chemistry Initiative

at the University of Toronto

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The Green Chemistry Initiative: History and Members

GCI Group Picture

Back Row: Laura Reyes, Kenny Chen, Shivanthi Sriskandha, Lisa Kozycz, Jessica Sonnenberg, Melanie Mastronardi, Karl Demmans and Mark Miltenburg

Front Row: Ian Mallov, Kiril Fedorov, Peter Mirtchev, Laura Hoch and Cookie Cho

Absent: Jon Moir, Nadine Borduas, Megan Willis, Rebecca Courtemanche, Kurtis Judd, Bekir Buyukkocabas, Brian De La Franier

The Green Chemistry Initiative at the University of Toronto was founded in September of 2012 by a group of graduate students in the Department of Chemistry.  In search of a way to decrease the environmental impact of their own chemistry research, while educating others in the department and the community on the principles and merits of green chemistry, the Green Chemistry Initiative was founded to promote sustainable practices in the lab and in everyday life.

Since then, the GCI has grown into a full-fledged, university-funded organization. The group is proud to host monthly seminars by cutting-edge researchers and industry partners, waste reduction campaigns, social events and workshops, and to provide resources and literature to the department and the public at large. Check our events page for information on current projects and upcoming seminars!

The GCI is always accepting new Members-at-Large! Please email us at for more information!

Current Members

The following is a list of current members in the group. All new members are welcome to join!

Laura Reyes -- Co-Chair and Social media Coordinator

Founding Member

I started my PhD studies in the Ozin Group in 2011, and I am currently researching silica nanoparticles with various tethered amine-containing polymers for CO2 capture. Before coming to UofT, I completed my BSc at York University, where I worked with Dr. Barry Lever on the electrochemistry of non-innocent ligands. My interest in joining the Green Chemistry Initiative comes from a desire to implement green chemistry principles into my own research and to raise awareness that green chemistry is not necessarily a discipline in itself, but rather a set of methods that can improve any already-existing chemical process.

Laura Hoch -- Co-Chair


I am a PhD student in Geoffrey Ozin's research group where I am working to synthesize functional nanomaterials for photocatalysis. I received my bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University where I worked under the supervision of Tom Mallouk to develop a green synthetic method to prepare iron nanoparticles for environmental remediation. Following university, I worked with Victor Klimov as a post-baccalaureate intern at Los Alamos National Laboratory on nanocrystal-based photovoltaic devices. Both experiences showed me how chemistry could be used to benefit the environment. When I arrived at U of T, I wanted to try to incorporate green chemistry into my research but found it very difficult to find the information I needed to make my reactions greener. After some great discussions with other students and some very helpful faculty, I realized that I was not the only one who felt this way. We wanted to start the GCI so that other researchers in our chemistry community would have an easier time learning about and incorporating green chemistry principles into their work.

Melanie Mastronardi -- Secretary


I am a PhD student in the Geoffrey Ozin research group, currently working on the synthesis and characterization of the size-dependent properties of monodisperse silicon nanoparticles. Originally from Ottawa, I completed my BSc in Chemistry with a minor in Theatre at the University of Ottawa. I had never really been exposed to green chemistry before starting my graduate work, and I figured there were probably many people in the department who also didn't know much about it. Since green chemistry principles can be applied to almost any type of research, we started the GCI to raise awareness and promote the use of sustainable practices.

Kenneth Chen -- Treasurer


I am a second year MSc student working in the Ozin group studying the size-dependent properties of water-soluble silicon nanocrystals. I grew up in British Columbia and received my undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Toronto. I think that increasing education and awareness of green chemistry in the academic setting can have a significant positive influence on the way we use and dispose of chemicals. At best you've learnt simple, practical ways to improve your chemisty's overall attractiveness, at worst you've learnt something new.

Brian De La Franier -- Website Coordinator


I am currently a PhD student in the Thompson lab at the University of Toronto, with my research focused on the development of a low cost early detection system for ovarian cancer. Originally from Toronto, I grew up in Halton Ontario, and upon completing high school moved back to Toronto to complete my undergrad as chemistry specialist at the University of Toronto. I was first exposed to green chemistry in my later undergraduate courses, and continue to teach green chemistry principles while TAing undergraduate organic chemistry courses.

Jonathon Moir -- Seminar Series Coordinator

Founding Member

I am a PhD student in Professor Geoff Ozin's group at the University of Toronto. I am originally from Ottawa, Ontario and completed my B.Sc. at Queen's University with Professor Cathleen Crudden. My current research focuses on the role of nanomaterial surface species and modification of surfaces in photoelectrochemical applications, as well as conductive 3D support structures in (photo)electrochemical catalysis. Green chemistry is an important emerging discipline, as chemistry is one of the most energy-intensive fields of science. It is therefore crucial that we do our part to reduce our impact on the environment and be conscious of our everyday consumption of resources and waste production. This is my motivation to promote green chemistry both in the department and in the community at large.

Ian Mallov -- Seminar Series Coordinator

Founding Member

I began my Ph.D. in summer 2012 in Professor Doug Stephan's inorganic group where I am exploring new Lewis acids for use in Frustrated Lewis Pair chemistry. Originally from Truro, Nova Scotia, I completed my B.Sc. at Dalhousie and M.Sc. at University of Ottawa and worked for 3 years in chemical analytical laboratories doing mainly environmental chemical analysis. I am motivated by the belief that in science it is our responsibility to lead by example in the reduction of waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Karl Demmans -- Workshop Coordinator


I am a grad student who recently joined Dr. Robert Morris' group. Also from Montreal's McGill, I became interested in Green Chemistry immediately after taking Prof. C. J. Li's fourth year course. I was fairly surprised when I sat down and read all the statistics he presented. Needless to say, I am glad to join the Green Chemistry Initiative!

Lisa Kozycz -- Member-at-Large

Founding Member

I started my PhD in September 2010 under the supervision of Dwight Seferos, where I work on synthesizing conjugated polymers for use in organic solar cells. I completed my undergraduate degree at Queen's University where I worked for Philip Jessop, studying CO2-switchable solvents. I hope to share the green chemistry knowledge I acquired during my time at Queen's with the GCI and expand the understanding and popularity of green chemistry here at UofT.

Megan Willis -- Member-at-Large


Originally for Nanaimo BC, I completed my Bachelor's degree at Vancouver Island University where I became interested in the connection between chemistry and our environment. At VIU, under the supervision of Erik Krogh and Chris Gill I helped to develop a membrane introduction mass spectrometry technique for real-time environmental monitoring. I began my PhD in Jon Abbatt's group in the fall of 2012. To improve our understanding of the climate impacts of atmospheric black carbon, I am currently using aerosol mass spectrometry characterize these aerosols in urban and remote regions. I joined the GCI to learn about green chemistry practices, how to implement these ideas in my own research and to promote these ideas at UofT.

Nadine Borduas -- Member-at-Large

Founding Member

Originally from Montreal, I completed my Bachelor's degree at Université de Sherbrooke where I was introduced to green organic chemistry, working on C–H activation and ionic liquids. I wanted to continue working on C–H activation chemistry so I came to UofT where I obtained a Master's in palladium catalysis and total synthesis. To combine my passion for chemistry and the environment, I decided to pursue a PhD in atmospheric chemistry in Jon Abbatt and Jen Murphy's research labs. I am currently working on understanding the fate of amines, used in carbon capture and storage technology, in the atmosphere and their climate and health impacts.

Peter Mirtchev -- Member-at-Large

Founding Member

I have been a Ph.D. student in the Ozin group at U of T since 2010. I work on synthesizing nanoparticle catalysts for sunlight driven generation of hydrocarbon fuels from carbon dioxide. I am interested in learning about how green chemistry principles are used by industry to simultaneously decrease costs and lower environmental impact.

Kiril Fedorov -- Member-at-Large


I am PhD student in Professor Micheal Thompson's group working on surface science. I am a student from The Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering(IBBME). I finished my bachelors degree in chemistry from the University of Toronto. Green chemistry is an important component of many aspects of life and I think it should be extended to many fields from subatomic research to mega scale construction projects. I have a wide variety of interests from sociology to mathematics.

Shivanthi Sriskandha -- Member-at-Large


I am a Master’s student in the Kumacheva group having begun graduate school in September 2013. My research focuses on creating and modifying the surface properties of gels made from cellulose nanocrystals for the purpose of mimicking the extracellular matrix. I received my bachelor’s degree in Arts & Science and Chemistry from McMaster University. During my senior undergraduate thesis I fabricated and characterized polymeric films for use as cell supports under the supervision of Dr. Harald Stöver. Since joining the GCI, I have learned a great deal about green chemistry and sustainable techniques that I can apply to my own research; all in a fun and supportive environment provided by the GCI.

Cookie Cho -- Member-at-Large


I am a graduate student in Prof. Mitch Winnik group working on polymeric radioimmunoconjugate, which is taking an antibody and attaching a polymer with multiple radioactive nuclide to be used for targeted cancer therapy. My interest in green chemistry originate from my undergrad studies in McGill University, where Prof. C.J. Li and Prof. Audrey Moore introduced green synthesis techniques and tricks that were far superior to conventional methods in terms of yield, efficiency, and whose procedures were more convenient.

Mark Miltenburg -- Member-at-Large


I started my Ph.D. in 2013 in the Seferos research group, studying non-precious metal catalysts for fuel cells. Prior to coming to Toronto, I completed a B. A. Sc. in Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo. My exposure to engineering, as well as my co-op terms, demonstrated the importance of green chemistry in industry, where environmentally unfriendly and energy-intensive processes are even more wasteful than research scale experimentation. I hope to spread this knowledge to a larger community through the GCI.

Past Members

Elyse Henderson, Founding Member

Raj Dhiman, Founding Member

Jessica Sonnenberg, Founding Member

Rebecca Courtemanche

Kurtis Judd

Bekir Buyukkocabas