Resnick Institute


sisca winners 2016

Dow and Caltech's Resnick Institute Award SISCA Prize to Recognize Student Innovations in Sustainability

Winners are working on sustainable chemical synthesis and solar power seawater desalination technologies.


Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute has once again come together with The Dow Chemical Company to award a number of exceptional young scientists and engineers the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) for outstanding student achievement in sustainability innovation. Caltech graduate students Russell Lewis and Kai Chen, and postdoctoral scholar Jennifer Kan, were awarded the 2016 Grand Prize for work developing a sustainable biocatalytic approach to making carbon-silicon bonds, a difficult reaction that is essential for modern pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, electronics and many other important materials. Graduate students Jinglin Huang and Cong Wang are this year’s runners up for progress in developing a superhydrophobic surface out of carbon nanotubes that will improve the efficiency of solar powered seawater desalination systems. (For more detail about each of these projects, see our SISCA Winners Page)

“Aligned to Dow’s 2025 Sustainability goals, the SISCA program recognizes students that take an interdisciplinary approach to innovate and address critical challenges in sustainability..,” said Eunice Heath, Global Director, Sustainable Products Marketing and Strategy. “Dow is proud to collaborate with Caltech and others to encourage the sustainability efforts of our next generation of leaders.”

By focusing on biocatalysis in the interdisciplinary research group of Professor Frances Arnold, the Grand Prize Winning team has developed a new route for the synthesis of organosilicon materials that is renewable, biodegradable and non-toxic. This process can be implemented more cheaply and efficiently than current best in class reactions, and with a smaller environmental impact – a true win-win that is directly in line with The Resnick Institute’s mission and Dow’s 2025 Sustainability goals.

The runners up have improved solar powered desalination systems by developing a surface that repels water and therefore the contamination that requires these systems to be shut down and cleaned at a large reduction in efficiency (and increase in cost). According to Dr. Neil Fromer, Executive Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech, “These two teams are great examples of the creative approach to science and engineering research that makes Caltech a unique institution. By directing their efforts towards efficient industrial processes that don’t deplete our natural resources, both teams embody the spirit of the SISCA prize and the Resnick Institute’s mission to foster a transformational impact in the world’s sustainability.”

Learn more about Caltech's SISCA Winners.

The Dow SISCA Award

In alignment with Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goals, the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) program promotes forward thinking in social and environmental responsibility and acknowledges the energy, commitment and enthusiasm of the students and their university professors, sponsors and facilitators who support their sustainability innovations and efforts in continued excellence. Since its inception in 2009, the SISCA program has continued to expand. Through this program, Dow annually recognizes students from 15 universities around the globe with Dow prizes of up to $10,000. The spirit and power of global collaboration has sparked the development of long-lasting and impactful solutions.

About Dow

Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines the power of science and technology to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The Company is driving innovations that extract value from material, polymer, chemical and biological science to help address many of the world's most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, clean energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow's integrated, market-driven, industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 180 countries and in high-growth sectors such as packaging, electronics, water, coatings and agriculture. In 2015, Dow had annual sales of nearly $49 billion and employed approximately 49,000 people worldwide. The Company's more than 6,000 product families are manufactured at 179 sites in 35 countries across the globe. On June 1, 2016, Dow became the 100 percent owner of Dow Corning Corporation’s silicones business, a global company with sales of greater than $4.5 billion in 2015, 25 manufacturing sites in 9 countries and approximately 10,000 employees worldwide. References to "Dow" or the "Company" mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. More information about Dow can be found at

About The Resnick Sustainability Institute

The Resnick Institute at Caltech is dedicated to supporting the cutting-edge science and creative problem solving necessary to change the balance of the world’s sustainability. The Resnick Institute works with some of the world’s top and emerging scientists—at the California Institute of Technology and beyond. Current projects at the Resnick Institute include research into energy generation, such as advanced photovoltaics, photoelectrochemical solar fuels and cellulosic biofuels; energy conversion work on batteries and fuel cells; and energy efficiency and management such as fuel efficient vehicles, green chemical synthesis and advanced research on electrical grid control. The Resnick Institute is also the founder of the “Resonate Awards” for up-and-coming innovators in sustainability-focused science and technology.