UMass Boston Writes the Book (Again) on Green Chemistry

Colleen Locke | July 26, 2018
Professors Wei Zhang and Berkeley Cue with their new green chemistry textbook

Professors Wei Zhang and Berkeley Cue with their new green chemistry textbook
Image by: Harry Brett

[What we’re hoping people take away] is just how far [the field] has advanced in the last five years.

First Edition Was Published in 2012

Two UMass Boston professors have edited a second edition of their green chemistry textbook, Green Techniques for Organic Synthesis and Medicinal Chemistry, which has been used in classrooms worldwide since it was first released in 2012.

UMass Boston is home to the first PhD program in green chemistry in the country.

Publisher John Wiley & Sons asked Wei Zhang, a professor of chemistry and director of the Center for Green Chemistry, and Berkeley Cue '69, an adjunct professor of chemistry at UMass Boston, to revisit their book because of strong sales. The publisher’s stipulation: more than 30 percent of the book had to be new. One of the new chapters is one Cue cowrote along with Vesela Veleva, a lecturer in management at UMass Boston, on green chemistry adoption by “big pharma” and generics manufacturers.

“There are some great case study chapters in there, how green chemistry is being used to make drugs that are important in low-and medium-income countries to treat diseases like HIV/AIDS,” Cue said. “Hopefully people will read it and they’ll start to think, ‘How can I apply it to what I’m doing?’ and they’ll think of new ways that we haven’t even conceived of yet.”

Cue, a former vice president at Pfizer, defines green chemistry as any type of chemistry where you weigh the environmental impacts of chemistry.

“We don’t hear about green physics, green biology,” Zhang added. “The reason is chemical products so rudimentary to life have great benefits, but big issues. Green chemistry can maximize the benefits and minimize the impacts to the environment and health.”

UMass Boston alumnus Paul Anastas ’84, the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment at Yale University and the director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale, wrote the forward to the new book.

“This second edition of Green Techniques for Organic Synthesis and Medicinal Chemistry … reflects the exponential growth that is taking place in the chemical enterprise around the world and the ways that elegance in chemistry is being defined,” Anastas wrote. “Each of the topics covered in this book demonstrates not merely an advance in the discovery, demonstration, and development of a molecule or synthetic pathways, but also an advance in the design thinking behind the chemistry.”

Anastas and fellow 1984 UMass Boston alum John Warner are considered the fathers of green chemistry, publishing the seminal Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice in 1998, which outlined the 12 Principles of Green Chemisty. These principles continue to be taught and serve as the foundation for the field of study.

“[What we’re hoping people take away] is just how far [the field] has advanced in the last five years – how many opportunities that exist now that didn’t exist before and new ways to implement green chemistry and different ways to think about it,” Cue said.

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 10 colleges and graduate schools serve more than 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit

Tags: book , center for green chemistry , chemistry , green chemistry , textbook

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