• The 2016 SISCA Award winners
    Credit: Resnick Institute

Dow and Caltech's Resnick Institute Award SISCA Prize to Recognize Student Innovations in Sustainability

Caltech's Resnick Sustainability Institute has once again come together with The Dow Chemical Company to award a number of exceptional young scientists and engineers the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) for outstanding student achievement in sustainability innovation.

Caltech graduate students Russell Lewis and Kai Chen, and postdoctoral scholar Jennifer Kan, were awarded the 2016 Grand Prize for work developing a sustainable biocatalytic approach to making carbon-silicon bonds, a difficult reaction that is essential for modern pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, electronics and many other important materials. Graduate students Jinglin Huang and Cong Wang are this year's runners up for progress in developing a superhydrophobic surface out of carbon nanotubes that will improve the efficiency of solar powered seawater desalination systems. (For more detail about each of these projects, see our SISCA Winners Page)

"Aligned to Dow's 2025 Sustainability goals, the SISCA program recognizes students that take an interdisciplinary approach to innovate and address critical challenges in sustainability," said Eunice Heath, Global Director, Sustainable Products Marketing and Strategy. "Dow is proud to collaborate with Caltech and others to encourage the sustainability efforts of our next generation of leaders."

By focusing on biocatalysis in the interdisciplinary research group of Professor Frances Arnold, the Grand Prize Winning team has developed a new route for the synthesis of organosilicon materials that is renewable, biodegradable and non-toxic. This process can be implemented more cheaply and efficiently than current best in class reactions, and with a smaller environmental impact – a true win-win that is directly in line with The Resnick Institute's mission and Dow's 2025 Sustainability goals.

The runners up have improved solar powered desalination systems by developing a surface that repels water and therefore the contamination that requires these systems to be shut down and cleaned at a large reduction in efficiency (and increase in cost). According to Dr. Neil Fromer, Executive Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech, "These two teams are great examples of the creative approach to science and engineering research that makes Caltech a unique institution. By directing their efforts towards efficient industrial processes that don't deplete our natural resources, both teams embody the spirit of the SISCA prize and the Resnick Institute's mission to foster a transformational impact in the world's sustainability."

Read more at the Resnick Institute website.