Gordon in the News: last updated 10/19/2010

Green Chemistry Professor Irv Levy Selected to National Leadership Role

For Immediate Release
March 28, 2010

Media Contact
Jo Kadlecek
Office of College Communications

WENHAM, MA—It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Irv Levy, associate professor of chemistry at Gordon, has been creating a lot of spontaneous combustion lately.  

Last October during National Chemistry Week, Levy and his colleagues sponsored a poetry contest using only symbols from the periodic table. (See video below.) He has since been elected to a national leadership position within the American Chemical Society and has continued a high-energy pace to educate about green chemistry.

Over spring break, for instance, Levy and Gordon student Annie Hsieh ’10 inspired over 300 high school students on Green Chemistry Day at the Boston Museum of Science (MOS) for its High School Science Series. Every year at the MOS (usually within a week of St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the green) Levy helps run activities that showcase the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. This year he extracted base from wood ash, showing that “waste” is in the eye of the beholder.

“Wood ashes have been used for centuries because of their basicity,” Levy said. “They can be used to make soap, biodiesel, correct acid rain in soil, etc. The use of wood ash base incorporates two of the principles: ‘Prevent waste’ and ‘Use renewable feedstocks,’ so I think it was a success.”

With barely time to turn around, Levy then joined colleagues March 21–25 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Francisco, where over 15,000 people attended. He co-hosted a day-long workshop for high school chemistry teachers in the San Francisco Bay area to learn about green chemistry, which included internationally known speakers as well as a series of hands-on activities the teachers could take back to their classrooms.

Along with Gordon chemistry professors Dwight Tshudy and Emily Jarvis, and students Kim McCabe ’11, Jesse Doiron ’11, Carolyn Heusser ’10, Levy and the team also presented research at the San Francisco conference and submitted abstracts for the next ACS national meeting in Boston in August.

“Gordon College will once again be very well represented at the national ACS meeting,” Levy said

To top off his trip, Levy was elected as the next chair of the ACS’s Chemical Education Division's Program Committee. As a result, he will be organizing the chemical education program for the next six national meetings of the ACS, the first in Anaheim, California, in March 2011. The national meetings run for five days and the education program is one of the largest at the meeting, usually bringing 1,000 to 2,000 papers or posters in dozens of themed symposia.

And back home on April 14, Levy, faculty and students will offer green chemistry demonstrations to the Gordon community in the Ken Olsen Science Center in conjunction with the annual green chemistry lecture series speaker event that brings in key leaders in green chemistry and chemical education. Dr. Mary Kirchhoff, director of the Education Division of the American Chemical Society, will speak April 14 at 4:30 in the KOSC. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“Because green chemistry is relatively new, it’s an exciting field for us to be at the forefront of,” Levy said. “It’s busy but a lot of fun.”

For more information on where Professor Irv Levy might combust next, please call the Office of College Communications, 978.867.4752.


Gordon College is a multidenominational Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston’s North Shore, offering majors in 36 fields with graduate programs in education and music education. Gordon is nationally recognized for excellence in academics and in character building, and ranks as one of the nation’s top Christian colleges. www.gordon.edu


Irv Levy