Ontario Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Engineering

Dr. Michael Cunningham, Queen’s University

Start Date: September 1, 2010

Five-year funding through the Council of Ontario Universities


The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is providing five-year funding through the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) to support the establishment of two Ontario Research Chairs in Green Chemistry and Engineering at Ontario universities.

 The funding will support two chairs at $250,000 per annum for five years each. The funding is non-renewable.

The Chairs will commence their duties and will undertake the following:

  • Develop and publish a body of research in the fields of green chemistry and green engineering that:
    • Identifies and addresses barriers to commercialization of green chemistry and engineering discoveries
    • Emphasizes the development of alternative approaches that result in the reduced use and release of toxins, including those substances identified under Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 and itsregulations
  • Build network with other researchers and research bodies in Canada and abroad, including industry and non-governmental organizations
  • Contribute to public understanding and policy development in the area of toxics reduction
  • Contribute to the training of highly qualified personnel

Research Program

The primary objective of Dr. Cunningham's research is to address challenges related to the implementation of green chemistry and green engineering solutions to the manufacture of polymeric materials, pmiicularly high value-added materials with tailored architectures. The four main target areas to be addressed are:  

  • Preparing "smart" water-based polymer nanopmiicles that will change their physical properties in the presence of a particular chemical signal.
  • Developing applications for "switchable water" to allow reduction or elimination of solvents used in a variety of industrial processes (e.g. polymers currently made as mixtures with harmful organic solvents such as toluene could be made without using toluene, which would reduce energy consumption in addition to reducing toxic compound emissions;
  • Developing water-based processes to replace solvent-based processes for new polymerization chemistries that enable advanced polymer architectures, allowing manufacture of value added materials with minimal energy consumption and use/release of toxic compounds into the environment, and;
  • Treating biomass using "ionic liquids" to produce renewable energy and chemicals from renewable resources. Ionic liquids are a new class of green solvents that facilitate innovative green chemistry/engineering approaches to environmental challenges.

Research Projects (supported by ORC)

1. Switchable Surfactants for Preparation of Stimuli-Responsive Polymer Nanoparticles (with Dr. Philip Jessop, professor of Chemistry, Queen’s University)
3. Developing Water-based Processes for New Polymerization Chemistries (with Dr. Timothy McKenna, professor of Chemical Engineering, CRC Polymer Reaction Engineering and Dr. Cathleen Crudden, professor of Chemistry, Queen’s National Scholar)
4. Biomass Treatment using Ionic Liquids (ILs) (with Dr. Pascale Champagne, professor of Civil Engineering, and Dr. Ralph Whitney, professor of Chemistry)
5. Policy Development Goals of the Green Chemistry Chair (with Prof. Philip Jessop, Dept of Chemistry, Queen's University, Prof. Peter Hodson, Dept of Biology and School of Environmental Studies, Prof. Warren Mabee, School of Policy Studies and Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy)
News Articles
Future Green Chemistry and Engineering Conferences
Queen's Green Chemistry and Engineering Courses / Programs 

Conferences (supported by ORC)

  • Pacifichem 2015, Honolulu, Hawaii (December 2015)
  • Pacific Polymer Conference 14, Kauai, Hawaii (December 2015)
  • Visiting Professor to University of Montpellier, France (November 2015)
  • CSChE 2015, Calgary, Canada (October 2015)
  • 4th Symposium of Applied Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Saltillo, Mexico (October 2015) 
  • Advances in Emulsion Polymerization and Latex Technology, Zurich, Switzerland (August 2015) 
  • Canadian Society for Chemistry Annual Conference, Ottawa, Canada (June 2015)
  • International Polymer Colloids Group Conference, Durham, New Hampshire, USA (June 2015)
  • Polymer Reaction Engineering Conference, Cancun, Mexico (May 2015) 
  • Kyoto University, Osaka, Japan (April 2015) 
  • Ontario Research Chairs Symposium, Toronto, Canada (April 2015) 
  • Macromex Conference – Symposium on Advances in Polymer Science, Nayarit, Mexico (December 2014) 
  • WACKER-RSC Intentional Symposium on Smart Materials for Smart Applications – Emulsion Polymers and Silicones, Shanghai, China (November 2014)
  • Canadian Chemical Engineering (CSChE) Conference, Niagara Falls, Canada (October 2014)
  • Cabot Corporation, Billerica, MA (September 2014)
  • ACS 7th symposium on "Controlled/Living Radical Polymerization, San Francisco, CA (August 2014)
  • Advances in Emulsion Polymerization and Latex Technology, Zurich, Switzerland (July 2014)
  • Frontiers of polymer colloids: From synthesis to macro-scale and nano-scale applications, Prague, Czech Republic (July 2014)
  • RCI Science Dinner of the Year, Toronto, Canada (April 2014)
  • Ontario's Toxics Reduction Program, Toronto, Canada (March 2014)
  • IUPAC International Symposium on Ionic Polymerizations, Kyoto, Japan (September 2013)
  • XXI International Conference on Bioencapsulation, Berlin, Germany (August 2013)
  • ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy, Golden, CO, USA (July 24, 2013)
  • Diverse Synthesis and Applications of Polymer Colloids, International Polymer Colloid Group (IPCG), Shanghai, China (June 2125, 2013)
  • 17th International Symposium on Wood, Fiber and Pulping Chemistry, Vancouver, Canada (June 12 – 14, 2013)
  • 96th Canada Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Quebec, QC (May 2630, 2013)
  • 4th Annual General Meeting of Bioconversion Network, Cornwall, ON (May 1316, 2013)
  • 11th International Workshop on Polymer Reaction Engineering, Hamburg, Germany (May 2013)
  • Canadian Society for Chemistry Annual Conference, Quebec, QC (May 2013)
  • 245th ACS National Meeting, New Orleans, USA (April 711, 2013)
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment Green Chemistry Symposium, Etobicoke, ON (November 27, 2012)
  • XX International Conference on Bioencapsulation, Orillia ON (September 2012)
  • Polymers in Dispersed Media, Lyon, France (April 2012)
  • Polymer Reaction Engineering VIII, Cancun, Mexico (May 2012)
  • CSC 2012, Calgary, AB (May 2012)
  • ACS National Meeting, San Diego, CA (March 2012)
  • International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA (December 2011) 
  • Macromex International Symposium on Macromolecules, Mexico (December 2011) 
  • Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference, London, ON (October 2011) 
  • Advances in Emulsion and Nanoparticle Technologies, Shanghai, China (October 2011) 
  • The Sustainable Chemistry Summit, Kingston, ON (September 2011) 
  • 60th SPSJ Symposium on Macromolecules, Okayama, Japan (September 2011) 
  • National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Denver, CO (August 2011) 
  • International Latex Conference, Akron, OH USA (July 2011) 
  • IUPAC International Symposium on Ionic Polymerizations, Akron, OH USA (July 2011) 
  • American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Meeting, Washington DC, USA (June 2011) 
  • Green Chemistry Conference, Washington, DC (June 2011)  
  •  International Polymer Colloids Group Symposium, Durham, New Hampshire USA (June 2011) 
  • Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference, Toronto ON (May 2011) 
  • Symposium on Waterborne Coatings Conference, New Orleans USA (March 2011) 
  • Pacifichem 2010, Hawaii USA (December 2010) 
  • Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering Conference, Saskatoon (October 2010)