T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation

Conferences & Symposia
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
3:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. EST (UTC -5)


The Briny Deep...in the "Heart" of Texas

The Briny Deep...in the “Heart” of Texas
Advertisement for Dow Chemicals Texas Division, 1945.

Science History Institute

The T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation explores, celebrates, and encourages innovation and sustainability in the chemical sciences.

This annual event brings together established and emerging leaders in the technical, entrepreneurial, healthcare, and policy arenas to share innovative ideas that address society’s needs in the 21st century.

This year’s virtual symposium will use the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act—landmark legislation aimed at reducing water pollution and improving water quality—to reflect on the past, present, and future of water quality in the United States and globally.  

Westlake Chemical chairman James Y. Chao will deliver opening remarks and Science History Institute president and CEO David Cole will moderate a panel discussion featuring green chemistry and sustainability experts.


Opportunities and Challenges with Water in Sustainable Chemistry Innovations


David Constable headshot

David Constable.

David J. C. Constable
Science Director, American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute®

In his role as science director of the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute®, David works to catalyze and enable the implementation of green chemistry and engineering throughout the global chemistry enterprise. Previously he held a variety of industry roles in energy, environment, safety, and health focusing on influencing scientists, engineers, and decision makers responsible for chemical research, development, and manufacturing in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and aerospace and defense industries. He has developed a variety of programs, systems, tools, and methodologies that integrated sustainability, life cycle inventory assessment, green chemistry, and green technology activities into existing business processes.

Managing Water Quality in the United States

David Konisky
Lynton K. Caldwell Professor, Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University


David Konisky headshot

David Konisky.

David Konisky is the Lynton K. Caldwell Professor of Environmental Studies at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, where his research and teaching focus on U.S. environmental policy and politics. His research has been published widely in leading environmental, public policy, and social science journals, and he has authored or edited six books, including Fifty Years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Progress, Retrenchment, and Opportunities (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021, with A. James Barnes and John D. Graham) and Cheap and Clean: How Americans Think about Energy in the Age of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2014, with Steve Ansolabehere). Konisky’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Konisky earned his PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds master’s degrees in environmental management and international relations from Yale University and an undergraduate degree in history and environmental studies from Washington University in St. Louis.


The Plastic Paradox

Sherri A. “Sam” Mason
Director of Sustainability, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College


Sam Mason headshot

Sherri A. Mason.

Sherri A. “Sam” Mason earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her doctorate in chemistry at the University of Montana as a NASA Earth System Science Scholar. While a professor of chemistry at SUNY Fredonia, her research group was among the first to study the prevalence and impact of plastic pollution within freshwater ecosystems. Sam has been featured within hundreds of mass media articles including the BBC, The Guardian, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and 1A. Her work formed the basis for the Microbeads-Free Water Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in December 2015. Similar legislation has been approved or is being considered at various locations internationally. Accolades and awards include EPA Environmental Champion (2016), Excellence in Environmental Research by the Earth Month Network (2017), the Heinz Award in Public Policy (2018), and the Great Lakes Leadership Award from the Great Lakes Protection Fund (2021). She currently serves as director of sustainability at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College.

Designing a Green Chemistry Future

Julie Zimmerman
Professor, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and School of the Environment, Yale University


Julie Zimmerman headshot

Julie Zimmerman.

Julie Zimmerman is an internationally recognized engineer specializing in sustainable technologies. She holds joint appointments as a professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and in the School of the Environment (YSE) at Yale University. She also serves as senior associate dean for academic affairs at YSE as well as the deputy director of the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering at Yale. Julie is also editor in chief of Environmental Science & Technology, the most highly cited journal in environmental sciences and engineering. Her work focuses on the innovation of products and processes in academia and industry including her own research group on topics that include breakthroughs to convert biomass into chemicals and fuels, design of safer chemicals and (nano)materials, sustainable water treatment, and analyses of the water-energy nexus.

Zimmerman is coauthor of the textbook Environmental Engineering: Fundamentals, Sustainability, Design, which is used in engineering courses at leading universities in the United States and abroad. Prior to Yale, she was a program manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where she established the national sustainable design competition, P3 (People, Prosperity, and Planet) Award, which has engaged thousands of students from hundreds of universities across the United States since its inception in 2004. Zimmerman earned her BS from the University of Virginia and her PhD from the University of Michigan jointly from the School of Engineering and the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

The T. T. Chao Symposium on Innovation is an annual event designed and hosted by the Science History Institute and made possible by a gift from the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation in Houston, Texas.