Keele scientist wins national award for work to make chemistry more sustainable

A Keele University lecturer has received the coveted Sustainability Champion award at a prestigious national awards ceremony for her work to promote sustainability in her chemistry teaching.

Senior Lecturer Dr Katherine Haxton received her commendation at this year’s Green Gown Awards, a national ceremony which celebrates and promotes sustainability in higher education.

The awards celebrate the efforts of higher education institutions to promote and embed sustainability across all of their operations, with the judges praising Dr Haxton’s work to decolonise STEM subjects and develop sustainability-led modules in chemistry which tackle environmental and societal inequalities like race, gender and poverty.

Dr Haxton said: “I'm honoured that my work has been recognised in this way. It's a reflection of several years of hard work and also the valuable input and support of many colleagues and lots of students. It is fantastic to work at an institution that values sustainability so highly and I'm looking forward to continuing this work.”

Among the modules developed by Dr Haxton is one which focuses on sustainable chemistry. The module places chemistry in the social, political and economic context of 'the real world' with a heavy emphasis on environmental sustainability, covering topics including e-Waste and water security and exploring some of the underlying chemistry, as well as the implications for humanity.

Additionally, Dr Haxton has developed a module for second year single honours and MChem chemistry students focusing on industrial chemistry, which also has environmental sustainability at its heart. The module looks at how chemistry associated with industrial processes has changed to become more sustainable, and how it must continue to change going forward to further this progress.