Dr. Al Matlack – Founding Educator of Green Chemistry

Green Chemistry Education through the eyes of Dr. Albert Matlack – University of Delaware

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Dr. Matlack, professor of Green Chemistry at the University of Delaware and one of the founding educators in the field. Before teaching at UD, Professor Matlack worked for the Hercules Incorporated (known as Ashland Inc. today) synthesizing polymers. The idea of teaching a green chemistry course came to him after his retirement from the Hercules Incorporated while reading an edition of Chemical and Engineering News. He came across an article stressing the need to unite chemistry and environmentalism; as an avid environmentalist, Dr. Matlack decided talk to the Department of Chemistry to pioneer a course in Green Chemistry. The idea was met with no resistance, so in 1995, he began his first course. In 2001 his first Green Chemistry textbook was published. This process proved to be an arduous task. Publishing companies did not believe in the field of green chemistry, thinking the market size would be too small, and even worse, thinking of it as merely a catch phrase used to make money! However, with patience and persistence, the textbook was published. It incorporates the different journal articles and themes that Matlack had used to teach the class before the textbook. The textbook also goes beyond the field of green chemistry, getting students to think about other relevant issues such as population growth and challenges students with many thinking questions at the end of each chapter. After hearing about it, I am looking forward to checking out of the University of Virginia Chemistry library.

Click here to view Professor Matlack’s textbook