Professor of Sustainable Chemical Engineering, The University of Manchester
What is your background? What made you decide to become a scientist?
I am a chemical engineer by background. I was always technically-inclined and liked technical subjects in school, including maths and science, so studying engineering seemed only natural to me. I chose specifically chemical engineering as it combines maths, chemistry and other natural sciences, more so than some other branches of engineering.
What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful scientist? Why?
The key prerequisites for being a successful engineer are that you have to be good at maths and natural sciences and have a practical, solutions-oriented mind. However, above all, you need passion for what you’re doing as a lot of hard work is required!
What is your favourite part of being a scientist?
My favourite part of being an engineer is to be able to seek and identify solutions to various problems. In my case, this relates to finding solutions to various sustainability-related problems, in sectors and applications such as energy, water, chemicals, food and so on.
What would you say is important when mentoring an early career researcher?
For me, the most important part of mentoring is to help early career researchers develop and reach their potential, both professionally and personally. It is also important to help them distinguish between what matters and what doesn’t so that they can focus their efforts. I wish I knew all that when I was a young academic!
What are you most proud of working on to date?
It’s got to be the CCaLC project where we developed a free carbon footprinting tool (www.ccalc.org.uk) which is now used worldwide by industry, government organisations, universities and the public.
What’s been your greatest scientific triumph to date?
I would say it is bringing carbon footprinting, life cycle assessment and the broader concept of sustainability closer to industry. This has helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in many sectors, mitigating climate change, as well as addressing various other sustainability issues.
What’s been the biggest impact of the UK Catalysis Hub?
I only joined the Hub a year ago but from what I know from before, I believe its biggest impact is showing the crucial importance of catalysis for many processes and industries.
How can other groups interact with you?
We work on determining environmental, economic and social sustainability of different processes, including catalysis. We work with colleagues who are developing various catalyst, helping them address the sustainability hotspots and design inherently more sustainable catalysts and related processes. If this interests you, please get in touch!