Jacqueline Bennett Wins Inventor of the Year Award


Jacqueline Bennett working in a lab with safety gear

The Eastern New York Intellectual Property Law Association (ENYIPLA) has named SUNY Oneonta Associate Professor of Chemistry Jacqueline Bennett its 2016 Inventor of the Year. Bennett was selected because of her contributions in green chemistry, most notably “Green Synthesis of Aryl Aldimines Using Ethyl Lactate,” a chemical process for which she received a U.S. patent in 2014.

“I’m delighted that Jacqueline is being recognized for her innovative research in green chemistry,” said SUNY Oneonta Provost James Mackin. “In addition to leading the way in this important and growing field, she has been a fantastic mentor for our chemistry students.”

Chemical processes used to create essential materials often consume large quantities of relatively toxic compounds that are later disposed of as hazardous waste.  Bennett invented a new chemical process that’s safer, greener and more efficient than traditional methods used to make imines, a class of chemical compounds that has household and industrial applications.

Because traditional imine synthesis uses solvents that pose inhalation hazards, Bennett experimented with an alternative solvent called ethyl lactate, a naturally occurring, FDA-approved food additive that breaks down quickly and harmlessly in the environment. Unlike the established method, Bennett’s process does not require heat, agitation, recrystallization or purification. Yet, it forms imines more quickly, producing higher yields. More details on Bennett's process.

“Green Synthesis of Aryl Aldimines Using Ethyl Lactate” is the result of years of research, including projects undertaken in collaboration with SUNY Oneonta undergraduate students in Bennett’s research group, the BLONDES: Building a Legacy of Outstanding New Developments and Excellence in Science.

“This recognition is a tremendous accomplishment that reflects Dr. Bennett’s expertise and leadership as a SUNY innovator, as well as her commitment and dedication to society,” said Dr. Jeffrey M. Cheek, president of The Research Foundation for The State University of New York (RF). “Congratulations to Dr. Bennett and her team, and to SUNY Oneonta for this extraordinary achievement.” 

Research at SUNY produces more than 200 new technologies every year. The RF protects the valuable intellectual property generated at SUNY campuses and works with business and industry to translate research discoveries into commercial products that serve to benefit society and spur economic development.

Steven Wood, assistant director for innovation services at RF, nominated Bennett for the Inventor of the Year award. Bennett will be recognized at an ENYIPLA award dinner in the fall.

An associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at SUNY Oneonta since 2006, Bennett received the American Chemical Society's Committee on Environmental Improvement 2011 Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education in recognition of her work on imine synthesis. She holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Riverside.

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