PH-born scientist named fellow of the American Chemical Society

Diana Aga, director of the University at Buffalo’s RENEW Institute, is a globally recognized leader in environmental and analytical chemistry. UB

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Philippine-born scientist at New York’s University at Buffalo has been named a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), one of the world’s largest scientific societies and publisher of some of the most prominent journals in chemistry.

Diana Aga, PhD, director of the University at Buffalo RENEW Institute and Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, is among 45 scientists named as 2022 ACS fellows who are being honored for outstanding achievements and contributions to science, the profession and society.

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.

Aga 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 cited for her contributions to the ACS’ AGRO division, where she has organized student research, learning and networking activities. AGRO brings together scientists and other partners worldwide to promote innovative solutions for the protection of agricultural productivity, public health and the environment.

Aga’s career was inspired by changes she witnessed in her childhood village 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.

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 has led the UB RENEW Institute since 2021. This university-wide multidisciplinary research institute focuses on complex energy, environmental issues and related t social and economic issues.

A prolific scholar with over 180 refereed papers, Aga also continues to lead a lab in UB’s 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 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.