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Plenary Speakers

We are pleased to announce the following Plenary Speakers and the topics of their lectures.


(King’s University College, Edmonton, Canada)

TOPIC: Educating for a Sustainable and Secure Planet

Peter Mahaffy is internationally recognized for his deep commitment to helping students, scientists, and the general public see the intricate webs that connect chemistry to so many aspects of life.  Professor of Chemistry at the King’s University College in Edmonton, Mahaffy also co-directs the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science (,, and, which provides digital learning resources used by a quarter million students, educators and the public from over 100 countries each year.  He carries out research in the areas of chemistry education, visualization in science, and organic chemistry, and has strong professional interests and activities related to the interface between chemistry and sustainability, as well as the responsible uses of chemistry.  He is co-author of an international 1st year university chemistry textbook published by Nelson/Cengage, “Chemistry: Human Activity, Chemical Reactivity.”

&Applied Chemistry’s (IUPAC) Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE) and membership on IUPAC’s Bureau.  In that capacity, he helped to facilitate the process to obtain UN designation of 2011 as an International Year of Chemistry and served on the IYC-2011 Management Committee.  He was a charter member of the International Council of Science (ICSU) Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science, and serves on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) working group on education and outreach and the American Chemical Society (ACS) presidential working group to help professional chemists communicate climate science to the public.  He is also vice-chair of the Province of Alberta’s Quality Assurance Agency for universities (Campus Alberta Quality Council).  Recent awards for contributions to chemistry, chemistry education, and public understanding of science include a Fellowship of the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC, 1999); the CIC National Award for Chemistry Education (2003); the 3M National Teaching Fellowship (2008); the ACS James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry (2011), the ACS-Committee on Environmental Improvement Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education (2012), the IUPAC CCE Award for Distinguished Contributions to Chemistry Education (2012), and the Dow Canada WesTEC Distinguished Speaker Award (2012).  Mahaffy has 40 refereed publications in science and science education, and presented over 70 plenary, keynote or invited lectures to scientists, educators, and the public on six continents in the past six years.


(Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

TOPIC:  Catalytic Conversion of CO2: From a Green House Pollutant to a Green Raw Material

Claudio J. A. Mota was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and graduated in Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he also obtained his doctoral degree in Chemistry.  He worked in the Petrobras Research Center for 11 years carrying out research on catalysis.  In 1997 he moved to the Institute of Chemistry of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he is presently an associate professor.  He has been an invited professor at the University of Strasbourg, France and in 2000 he won the Third World Academy of Science (TWAS) Award, sponsored by the Mexican Academy of Science, for the his collaboration with Mexican scientists.  In 2007 he received the Technology Award from the Brazilian Chemical Industry Association (ABIQUIM) and in 2011 the Innovation Award of the Brazilian Chemical Society for his work on biomass transformation.  He is a member of national and international scientific societies, as well as a research fellow of the National Research Council (CNPq) and the Rio de Janeiro Research Foundation (FAPERJ).  He participates in the Brazilian Biodiesel Technology Network of the Ministry of Science and Technology, as one of the coordinators of glycerin conversion and is a member of the subcommittee on Green Chemistry of IUPAC.  He is author and co-author of over 100 scientific articles and 12 patents.  His present research interests are focused on catalytic processes of biomass transformation and CO2 conversion, with emphasis on the molecular aspects and innovative solutions.


(University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africal)

TOPIC:  Hydrogen Energy in Africa - Does it make sense?

Pollet is currently at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town as Professor of Hydrogen Energy and Fuel Cell Technologies and Director of the DST Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Systems Competence Centre (an industry oriented and led R&D Centre with a strong emphasis on prototype/product development and energy material manufacturing).  Pollet is known in the field (both in academia and industry) to be a dynamic, energetic, enthusiastic, positive and visionary individual (regarded as an individual ‘who makes things happen’) with extensive expertise in the research fields of Hydrogen Energy, PEMFC, Fuel Cell Electrocatalysis and Electrochemical Engineering.  He was formerly a co-founder and an Associate Director of the Birmingham Centre for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research, and Operations and Delivery Director of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Centre in Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their Applications in the UK.  He was responsible for the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Carbon Abatement Technologies Demonstration Programme (HFCCAT) Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle project and PEMFC, MEA and Fuel Cell Electrocatalysis activities at the University of Birmingham.  He successfully implemented a Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Supply Chain (EPSRC project) within Western Central England with over 60 SMEs involved in the development and manufacturing of hydrogen and fuel cell components.  He also developed and implemented the first Masters and PhD with Integrated Studies in “Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their applications” programmes in the UK.  He has worked for Samuel Banner Ltd (Banner Chemicals Group) and Albion Chemicals Ltd (now Brenntag (UK) Ltd) in Sales and Marketing, Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells Ltd (Johnson Matthey Plc) as Test Facility Scientist, Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) Design Scientist and Programme Leader, SmartWater Europe Ltd as Research Manager and Coventry University as Head of Sonoelectrochemistry, Project Development Manager and Lecturer in Environmental & Physical Sciences.  After turning down PDRF job offers at the Oxford Compton Electrochemistry and the Bard Electrochemistry Groups, Pollet joined the University of Liverpool Electrochemistry Group headed by Professor David J. Schiffrin where he worked as an EPSRC and EU Research Fellow in the field of Electroanalytical Chemistry and Fuel Cell Electrocatalysis.  He was awarded a Diploma in Chemistry and Material Sciences from the Université Joseph Fourier (Grenoble, France), a BSc (Hons) in Applied Chemistry from Coventry University and an MSc in Analytical Chemistry from The University of Aberdeen.  He also gained his PhD in Physical Chemistry in the field of Electrochemistry and Sonochemistry (Sonoelectrochemistry) under the supervision of Professors J. Phil Lorimer & T.J. Mason at Coventry University.  Pollet has published many scientific publications, articles and book chapters (inc. one book) in the field of Fuel Cells, Electrocatalysis and Electrochemical Engineering.  Pollet is member of: the IAHE, ECS, ISE, RSC, IChemE, SCI and a member of the editorial boards of journals (the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy/Electrocatalysis/Journal of Nano Energy and Power Research/Journal of Technology Innovations in Renewable Energy/Journal of Fuels).  He is also fluent in French and Spanish


(Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy)

TOPIC:  Halogen-free routes to 5- and 6-membered heterocycles

Pietro R. Tundo is Professor of Organic Chemistry at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy).  He was guest researcher and teacher at College Station (Texas,1979-1981), Potsdam (New York, 1989-90) and Syracuse (New York, 1991-92), Chapel Hill, (North Carolina, 1995).  He is the holder of the UNESCO Chair on Green Chemistry (UNTWIN N.o 731) and author of about 260 scientific publications and 30 patents.

His scientific interests are in the field of organic synthesis in selective methylations with low environmental impact, continuous flow chemistry, chemical detoxification of contaminants, hydrodehalogenation under multiphase conditions, phase-transfer catalysis (gas-liquid phase-transfer catalysis, GL-PTC), synthesis of crown-ethers and functionalized cryptands, supramolecular chemistry and finally, heteropolyacids.  He is the sole author of the book "Continuous flow methods in organic synthesis" E. Horwood Pub., Chichester, UK, 1991 (378 pp.), and editor of about 15 books.

Tundo was President of the Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry Division of IUPAC in the 2007-2009 biennium.  He is currently Chairman of the IUPAC Subcommittee on Green Chemistry and of the Working Party on “Green and Sustainable Chemistry” of Euchems (European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences).  He was the founder of the IUPAC International Conferences on Green Chemistry Series.  He has received awards by the American Chemical Society in 1983 (Kendall Award, together with Janos Fendler), and by Federchimica (Italian Association of Chemical Industries) in 1997 (An Intelligent Future).  Tundo co-ordinated many institutional and industrial research projects (EU, NATO, Dow, ICI, Roquette) and was initiator and director of the ten annual Summer Schools on Green Chemistry, conducted in Venice in the years 1998-2008 and sponsored by the EU, UNESCO and NATO


(Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, China)

TOPIC:  Catalytic conversion of cellulose to ethylene glycol: discovery, mechanism and challenge

Tao Zhang received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 1989 under the supervision of Prof. Liwu Lin. After graduation, he worked as a postdoc with Prof. Frank Berry at Birmingham University for one year. He founded his own group at Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in 1995. He was appointed as an associated professor in 1993 and then promoted to full professor in 1995. Dr. Zhang has also been an invited professor at University of Poitiers (France) in the period of 2006-2007 and a guest professor at University of Namur (Belgium) since 2011. Dr. Zhang is the director of DICP (since 2007) and the director representing the China aside of the China-France Joint laboratory for Sustainable Energy (since 2008).

Over the past decades, Prof. Zhang has successfully designed a great number of nano and subnano metallic catalysts for applications in energy conversion (such as biomass catalytic conversion and propellant decomposition) and environmental control (such as NOx-SCR, CO removal).  He has authored and coauthored more than 240 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.  He has applied for more than 100 patents and 65 of them were licensed.

Prof. Zhang is an associate editor-in-chief of the Chinese Journal of Catalysis (since 2007) and is serving on the advisory boards of Applied Catalysis B (since 2008), ChemPhysChem (since 2010), and Chemical Propellants & Polymeric Materials (since 2006).  He has served as a Guest Editor of special issues for CHEMSUSCHEM (one time) and Energy Env. Sci. (one time).

Dr. Zhang has also received several research awards, including the Distinguished Award of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2010), Zhou Guang Zhao Foundation Award for Applied Science (2009), Excellent Young Scientist Award of Chinese Catalysis Society (2008), and the  National Award of Technology Invention (Second Grade, 2008, 2006, 2005).