Green Materials Research

Our mission is to advance interdisciplinary research and education on the invention, assessment, and adoption of less-toxic “green” materials as alternatives to toxic substances currently used in consumer products.  We aim to vigorously pursue research including:

  1. Intuitive measures for comparative toxicity of alternative materials that includes objective and subjective measures of population health impacts, including occupational hazards, and the assigning of appropriate “weights” to these measures.
  2. Assessment of trade-offs among material toxicity indices, product performance and reliability, economic costs, component recyclability, and potential ecological impacts.
  3. Inclusion of geographical, national, and consumer behavior differences and valuation of toxicity into the assessments of material life cycle impacts on the environment and human health.

 We envisage that individual graduate student research and REGM-teams activities will address important and urgently needed research topics such as:

  1. Review and comparison of toxicity rating or classification schemes that link materials science with experimental toxicology and exposure assessment so that engineers, product designers, and policy makers are better able to choose and recognize 'greener' alternative materials.
  2. Evaluation of the toxic effects of high production volume chemicals (> 500 Metric Tons or about 1 million lbs per year) to characterize, through experimentation, biomedical informatics database mining, and modeling, the potential risks associated with new, alternative materials being developed in the laboratory as potential green alternatives.
  3.  Identification of the different modes of action by which chemicals cause pathologies, focusing on linear or non-linear approaches needed to make informed decisions about low dose exposures relevant for legacy chemicals and their greener alternatives used in consumer products.
  4. Developing methods to integrate indices of material life cycle impacts so that technical product design engineers can simultaneously evaluate the environmental burden and technical feasibility of new materials.
  5. Developing strategies to integrate information on consumer behavior and declared preferences with the formulation of public policy to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative legislative or regulatory methods.

 We welcome all innovative research proposals that are justified within the scope of the green materials mission.