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Aga to receive Schoellkopf Medal

By CHARLOTTE HSU

Published August 23, 2017

“She has made exceptional contributions in environmental chemistry that also have practical applications that benefit the residents of Western New York.”
Frank Bright, SUNY Distinguished Professor
Department of Chemistry

Diana Aga

Diana Aga, Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal.

She will receive the medal on Sept. 26 at a reception at the Hotel @ the Lafayette in Buffalo.

The recognition, given annually by the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society (ACS), honors individuals from the Buffalo Niagara region for outstanding work and service in the fields of chemical engineering or chemistry. The medal, awarded since 1931, is the oldest award of the ACS given by a local section.

Aga is a leader in the field of environmental chemistry. Her research focuses on the environmental impact of emerging contaminants such as pesticides, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, flame retardants, endocrine-disrupting chemicals and engineered nanomaterials. She also studies the efficacy of treatment procedures designed to mitigate or remove such pollutants.

She is receiving the Schoellkopf Medal for this work, as well as for her mentoring efforts and service to the chemistry profession. Her research has global significance as scientists try to understand the ecological consequences of emerging contaminants and their effect on human health.

Aga is one of the pioneers who have uncovered the presence in the environment of these relatively new types of pollutants, which are called “emerging contaminants” because most have been detected only recently by advanced analytical techniques over the past 15 years. The methods that Aga and other scientists developed have enabled detection of very low, yet ecologically important levels of emerging contaminants in complex environmental samples, such as wastewater, livestock manure, soil and fish, to name a few.

“Dr. Aga’s exemplary scholarship and service to the chemistry profession make her well deserving to receive the 2017 Schoellkopf Medal,” says Frank Bright, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry, who nominated Aga for the award. “She has made exceptional contributions in environmental chemistry that also have practical applications that benefit the residents of Western New York.”

Aga joined the UB faculty in 2002 after holding research positions at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Bayer’s crop science division.

She currently is applying her expertise in developing trace analytical methods using chromatography and mass spectrometry to understand and optimize various treatment processes to remove emerging contaminants and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment.

Aga has co-authored more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters. She serves as editor of the Journal of Hazardous Materials, an Elsevier international journal that publishes research papers on environmental control, risk assessment, impact and management.

Aga’s past honors include the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award (2000), Humboldt Research Fellowship (2007), ACS PROGRESS/Dreyfus Lectureship Award (2007), New York Water Environment Association Kenneth Allen Memorial Award (2007), Fulbright Research Fellowship (2011), Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Menzie Environmental Education Award (2012) and ACS AGRO Fellow Award (2017).

At UB, Aga has mentored dozens of undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have received national and international awards and highly competitive travel grants. For her efforts, she was selected as the recipient of the UB Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award in 2013.

Aga received her BS in agricultural chemistry from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños in 1988 and her PhD in analytical chemistry from Kansas University in 1995.