Spotlight Symposia Series. October 25-26, 2024.

The College of Arts and Sciences Spotlight Symposia Series recognizes and elevates members of our faculty. Each Spotlight symposium honors a particular faculty member by inviting distinguished speakers to our campus who share the honoree’s research field. The symposium places our honoree at the center of vital national and international conversations and serves as an important venue for building scholarly relationships critical to the university.

Convergence of Science for One Planet, One Health

October 25-26, 2024 | UB North Campus

Our planet and its ecosystems are under duress. The world’s increasing chemical pollution and scarcity of natural resources are exacerbated by the rapidly changing climate in a vicious, existential cycle. To create solutions for the fragile water-energy-food nexus, we must understand the threats we face as interlocking global sustainability challenges. This two-day symposium rises to the challenge by convening leading experts in chemistry, environmental science, and engineering who will identify the key challenges and opportunities before us. The symposium will include a keynote lecture, numerous technical talks, a poster session with networking opportunities and a performance.

Event schedule and registration information will be available in the summer.

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2024 Honoree

The University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences Spotlight Symposia Series honoring Professor Diana Aga, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Henry M. Woodburn Chair and Director of RENEW.

About Diana Aga, PhD

Professor Aga is a recognized world leader in environmental analytical chemistry. She has developed innovative methods that identify “emerging contaminants” and analyze and predict their movements through the environment.

Her seminal contributions have dramatically improved our knowledge of the ecological and human impacts of emerging contaminants, such as antimicrobials and other pharmaceuticals, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, pesticides and PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals.”

A prolific scholar, Professor Aga has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, nine book chapters and two edited books. Since joining UB, she has been awarded more than $20 million dollars in federal, state and industrial grants to support her research.

Professor Aga is the recipient of numerous local, national and international awards and honors. Among her many honors, she has received two Fulbright Fellowships; a National Science Foundation CAREER award; the Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal of the Western New York American Chemical Society, an  American Chemical Society AGRO Fellow, and an Alexander von Humboldt Research fellowship. She is also an elected fellow of the American Chemical Society.


Keynote Speaker

Pedro Alvarez.

George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Member NAE Director, NEWT Center Director, Rice WaTER Institute, Rice University

Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment

Through control over material size, morphology and chemical structure, nanotechnology offers novel materials that are nearly “all surface” and that can be more reactive per atom than bulk materials. Such engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) can offer superior catalytic, adsorptive, optical, quantum, electrical and/or antimicrobial properties that enable multi-functional technology platforms for next-generation water treatment. This presentation will address emerging opportunities for nanotechnology to improve the selectivity and efficiency to remove priority pollutants, decrease electrical energy requirements, and meet a growing need for safer and more affordable decentralized water treatment and reuse. Examples of applicable nano-enabled technologies include electrosorption with highly conductive and selective electrodes to remove multivalent ions that precipitate or cause scaling; solar-thermal processes enabled by nanophotonics to desalinate with membrane distillation; disinfection and advanced oxidation using nanocatalysts; and electrocatalytic degradation of recalcitrant organic pollutants of emerging concern. We envision using these enabling technologies to develop compact modular water treatment systems that are easy to deploy and can tap unconventional water sources and treat challenging wastewaters to protect human lives and support economic development.

About the Speaker

Pedro J.J. Alvarez is the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University, where he also serves as founding Director of the NSF ERC on Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT). 

Technical Talks

Hector Abruna.

Cornell University

The Energy Landscape in Age of Sustainability

David Dzombak.

Carnegie Mellon University

Plastics Recycling in the USA and Reuse in Infrastructure

Vicki Grassian.

University of California San Diego

Aerosols and Their Impacts on Atmospheric Chemistry, Climate and Health

Kate Freeman.

Pennsylvania State University

Richard Luthy.

Stanford University

Sustainable Water Supplies in California: Preparing for a Hotter and Drier Future

Shelley Minteer.

University of Utah

Bioelectrocatalysis for Sustainability Applications

Lutgarde Raskin.

University of Michigan

Elsie Sunderland.

Harvard University

Paul Westerhoff.

Arizona State University

Everything You Need Can Come From the Air

Honoree Talk

Diana Aga.

2024 Honoree

Lessons Learned from Three Decades of Research on Emerging and Re-emerging Contaminants in the Environment

Toward a Climate Haven

“Toward a Climate Haven” is a project blending sustainability science with performance art to address Western New York's role as a potential climate refuge amid its own climate uncertainties. This program is brought to you by the UB Department of Environment and Sustainability and the UB Department of Theatre and Dance.

The research team includes: Tim Chevral, professor; Susan Clark, assistant professor and Kacey Stewart, postdoctoral associate from the Department of Environment and Sustainability and from the Department of Theatre and Dance: Lynne Koscielniak, professor and Eero Laine, associate professor.

Symposium organizing committee:
  • Luis Colón, SUNY Distinguished Professor and A. Conger Goodyear Professor of Chemistry
  • Ning Dai, associate professor, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering
  • Emanuela Gionfriddo, associate professor, Department of Chemistry
  • Elizabeth Thomas, associate professor, Department of Geology
  • Javid Rzayev, professor, organizing committee chair and chair of the Department of Chemistry
  • College Events team, College Marketing and Communications team.

For more information, contact

Spotlight Symposia Series logo.