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Aga named fellow of American Chemical Society


Published August 9, 2022

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Diana Aga

Diana Aga, director of the UB RENEW Institute and Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, has been named a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The ACS is one of the world’s largest scientific societies and publisher of some of the most prominent journals in chemistry. The fellowship honors members for outstanding achievements in and contributions to the science and the profession, and for exemplary service to the society.

Aga is among 45 scientists named as 2022 ACS fellows.

According to the award citation, she is being recognized “for encouraging women and underrepresented minority students to pursue careers in environmental and agricultural Chemistry, and for innovative contributions in agrochemical analysis to better understand their ecological and health impacts.”

She is also being honored for her contributions to the ACS’ AGRO division, where she has organized student research, learning and networking activities. AGRO brings together a worldwide community of scientists and other partners to advance knowledge and promote innovative solutions for the protection of agricultural productivity, public health and the environment.

A two-time Fulbright award winner and a recipient of Germany’s Humboldt Research Fellowship, Aga is globally recognized for her work in environmental and analytical chemistry.

She has led the UB RENEW Institute since 2021. This university-wide multidisciplinary research institute focuses on complex energy and environmental issues, as well as the social and economic issues with which they are connected.

A prolific scholar with over 180 refereed papers, Aga also continues to lead a lab in the chemistry department that analyzes pollutants in the environment, develops ways to break them down and clean them up, and investigates the chemicals’ impact on humans and wildlife.

Her team’s discoveries have had a far-reaching impact on understanding emerging contaminants such as antimicrobials and other pharmaceuticals, endocrine-disrupting chemicals and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

Aga’s career was inspired by changes she witnessed near the village where she grew up in the Philippines. She remembers swimming, playing and fishing frequently in a river near her home, but as the years went on, the river gradually became darkened with pollution. In an interview in 2021, she noted that her research “is inspired by my desire to prevent the continuous deterioration of our environment as a result of industrialization and population growth.”

Aga is now helping to train the next generation of researchers. She has mentored dozens of undergraduate and graduate students who have gone on to careers in industry, government and academia. She hopes to expand this work through programming and partnerships at the RENEW Institute that support pathways to STEM for K-12 and university students from underrepresented groups.

Aga joined the UB faculty in 2002 after earning a PhD in analytical and environmental chemistry from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural chemistry from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

She is a recipient of the ACS Schoellkopf Medal, the AGRO Fellow Award from the ACS AGRO division, the Koh Lectureship Award in Science from the Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering, and the Menzie Environmental Education Award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, among other honors.