Carnegie Mellon Doctoral Candidate Anindya Ghosh Receives Heinz Scholarship for Environmental Research-Mellon College of Science - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, August 4, 2003

Carnegie Mellon Doctoral Candidate Anindya Ghosh Receives Heinz Scholarship for Environmental Research

PITTSBURGH—Anindya Ghosh, a Carnegie Mellon University doctoral candidate in the Chemistry Department, received a $10,000 scholarship from the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Foundation. The Teresa Heinz Scholars for Environmental Research Program honors doctoral and master's degree candidates who are researching environmental issues.

Only eight doctoral candidates nationwide receive this prestigious scholarship each year. The scholarship is intended to provide financial support to enhance the quality of dissertations and master's theses at Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Harvard, Penn State, Princeton, Stanford and Yale universities. It also provides financial support to enhance the quality of master's theses at Florida A&M University and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi.

Ghosh is involved in developing a group of environmentally safe catalysts that have a wide range of potential uses. Theses innovative catalysts, called "tetra-amido macrocyclic ligands," or TAML® activators, are modeled on naturally occurring enzymes and consist of nontoxic elements. Together with the natural oxidant they activate best, hydrogen peroxide, TAML® activators detoxify a range of potentially harmful substances. Work to date strongly suggests that they will form the basis of technologies that are cheap, safe, low capital replacements for chlorine-based technologies that are currently used extensively in the pulp and paper, textiles and laundry industries. The activators need only be used in very tiny amounts to work effectively. Moreover, in contrast to most currently employed technologies, these peroxide-based processes do not create long-lived pollutants that threaten the environment and health.

Ghosh has completed work on synthesizing TAML® activators that are not only chemically stable, but that are also able to work effectively in water, opening up a broad new range of potential applications.

According to Terry Collins, the Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry and leader of the TAML® project, Ghosh is well-deserving of the award. Collins said, "I have no doubt that Anindya will become an outstanding independent scientist working to further green chemistry. The prestige of winning this award will certainly help him achieve those goals."

Ghosh will use the Heinz scholarship to support work on optimizing TAML® activators' interaction with another natural oxidant, oxygen.

"Oxygen is one of the most environmentally safe, or greenest, substances to work with. There are no harmful byproducts," Ghosh said, adding "on top of that, it's plentiful and inexpensive."

The work on increasing the TAML® activators' interaction with oxygen is still in its early stages, but Ghosh expects to complete this phase of research shortly. "If everything goes according to plan, it shouldn't take too much time because we already have a good understanding of the mechanism of oxygen activation with TAML® activators," he explained.

Ghosh will present his recent findings at the American Chemical Society national meeting in New York City this September.

Ghosh came to Carnegie Mellon in 1998 after earning an M.S. in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, and a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Calcutta.

The Teresa and H. John Heinz III Foundation, a member of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, is active in a wide range of issues, but is principally focused on those issues concerning the environment and its relation with public health. For more information, visit http://www.hfp.heinz.org/.

By: Lauren Ward