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Junior becomes national green chemistry scholar

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June 18, 2012

Georgia College junior Peng Hao joins student scholars of Ivy League schools to present his “green” research at this year’s international Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.

The chemistry major became a 2012 National ScienceJunior Peng Hao and Georgia College professor mentor Dr. Koushik Banerjee travel to national green chemistry, engineering conference in Washington, D.C.Junior Peng Hao and Georgia College professor mentor Dr. Koushik Banerjee travel to national green chemistry, engineering conference in Washington, D.C. Foundation (NSF) Scholar for his green chemistry research, which he presents during the 16th annual event this week in Washington, D.C.

“When I found out I became a NSF scholar, I thought it was impossible,” said Hao of Eatonton. “This recognition is a first for me, so I feel lucky and blessed.”

The undergraduate research student was selected to join 22 NSF science scholars from schools such as Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Iowa and University of California, Berkeley.

His work earned NSF’s highly competitive Student Travel Scholarship to participate in the conference with Georgia College faculty mentor Dr. Koushik Banerjee.

“This scholarship is very competitive,” said Banerjee, assistant professor of chemistry. “It’s exciting that Georgia College’s talented, innovative students like Peng are recognized for great research on an international level.”

Hao worked alongside Banerjee to develop a green chemistry method that minimizes the use and generation of  the hazardous substance pyridine in organic chemistry laboratories.

“Pyridine is a chemical that attacks the nervous system,” said Banerjee. “This undergraduate research project provided a cheaper, more sustainable solution that eliminates pyridine and prevents chances of cancerous side effect in laboratories.”

Hao and Banerjee worked on this fundamental chemistry for six months, testing, analyzing and recording data.

Now, the two will share the beneficial research to a global audience.

“I hope people become interested in our project during the conference,” said Hao, who plans to attend dental school after completing his undergraduate studies. “I also hope to gain more knowledge about green chemistry from the other presenters because chemistry experiments are exciting.”

Visit for more information about the conference.

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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