Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry Dr. Adam Kiefer Selected as 2019 IUPAC Young Observer

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Dr. Adam Kiefer in Peru

MACON – Dr. Adam Kiefer, Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry at Mercer, was recently selected by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) as a 2019 Young Observer to attend the General Assembly and World Chemistry Congress.

Dr. Kiefer is among 12 Young Observers selected nationwide representing institutions such as the University of California, Berkeley, Cornell University and Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as corporations such as Dow Chemical Company. They will attend the 50th IUPAC General Assembly and 47th World Chemistry Congress to be held July 5-12 in Paris, France.

“Dr. Keifer’s selection by IUPAC as a 2019 Young Observer is a testament to the excellent work he is doing with Mercer’s students both on campus and around the world,” said Dr. Anita Olson Gustafson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “By representing Mercer at the General Assembly and World Chemistry Congress, he will be able to collaborate with young scientists from top institutions and build important networks of connection.”

Established by the U.S. National Committee (USNC) for IUPAC in 1977 to foster interactions with internationally acclaimed scientists in various fields, the Young Observer Program aims to introduce the work of IUPAC to a new generation of distinguished researchers and to provide them with an opportunity to address international science policy issues.

The USNC supports the participation of U.S. Observers, who must be citizens or permanent residents under the age of 45 from industry, academia and national laboratories. To date, the program has supported more than 230 scientists, many of whom have served on IUPAC committees and projects and continue to participate in a variety of international activities in chemistry and allied fields.

“I am very excited to learn more about the interface of chemistry and policy and am thankful to have this opportunity,” said Dr. Kiefer. “The only way we can tackle some of the larger scientific problems in today’s world is by ensuring that our findings are disseminated to people working in other scientific and engineering fields, as well as policymakers.”

Dr. Kiefer joined Mercer’s Chemistry Department in 2008. He has played a lead role in Mercer On Mission initiatives in Mozambique, Ecuador and Peru that have developed and implemented methods for reducing mercury poisoning among artisanal gold miners. Small-scale gold mining in the developing world is the largest source of man-made atmospheric mercury contamination, which can have devastating consequences for those impacted by the contamination. Dr. Kiefer’s laboratory at Mercer is one of very few in the world dedicated to developing solutions to this global health crisis.

Teams of students led by Dr. Kiefer have developed analytical techniques using portable atomic absorption spectrometers and GPS units to map cities and identify the locations of excessive mercury pollution in the atmosphere. In collaboration with Dr. Laura Lackey, dean of the University’s School of Engineering, Dr. Kiefer and his students are developing programs to remediate the mercury contamination as well as systems for capturing the mercury before it is released.

Dr. Kiefer earned his B.S. from Allegheny College and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Kyle Sears