February 25, 2014, by Emma Thorne

Prestigious stateside trip for Nottingham’s green chemistry expert

The University of Nottingham’s green chemistry expert and YouTube star Professor Martyn Poliakoff has recently returned from a prestigious visit to the US and Canada, as part of a mission to showcase the excellence of UK science.

Professor Poliakoff accompanied David Willetts, the Minister of Universities and Science, in his capacity as Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, during the week-long trip which was organised by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

As part of a packed programme, the delegation visited Concordia University in Montreal to take a tour of the University’s Centre of Applied Synthetic Biology (CASB). The university’s President and Vice-Chancellor Alan Shepard explained how Nottingham was one of Concordia’s major partners in the UK.

Mr Willetts accompanied Professor Poliakoff on a visit to the Green Chemistry Department at McGill University where Professors Bruce Lennox and CJ Li expressed interest in developing  stronger links with The University of Nottingham’s Doctoral Training Centre in Sustainable Chemistry.

The BBSRC was holding a synthetic biology workshop in Chicago on the day that the delegation arrived in Chicago.  Professor Pete Licence, Director of the Carbon Neutral Laboratory at Nottingham, was one of the participants.  So, fortuitously, Professor Poliakoff was able to introduce him to the Minister.

Meeting global challenges

At a dinner that evening at the Residence of the British Consul General  in Chicago, Michael Golembieski, Senior Vice-President at  Tate & Lyle, told the Minister how his company had licensed its low sodium salt-alternative SODA-LO® from technology developed by Eminate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University of Nottingham.

While in Chicago, Professor Poliakoff delivered a lecture to chemistry students at the Jones College Preparatory school on green chemistry, the Royal Society and the success of the Periodic Table of Videos series, which has become a YouTube sensation.

The visit was concluded with the AAAS 2014 in Chicago, the annual meeting of the world’s largest general scientific society, where Mr Willetts delivered a speech in which he outlined the strength of British science and promoted the work of UK universities, including Nottingham.

He told the audience: “We have excellent research teams in over 400 distinctive areas. No other comparable economy has anything like this range of world-class disciplines — including of course the social sciences and humanities. This breadth matters because none of the major challenges facing the world today — climate change, neuro-degenerative disease, energy security — can be tackled by one discipline alone.”

Speaking about the visit, Professor Poliakoff said: “Overall, I met a wide range of people who were interested in learning more about what we are doing at Nottingham, in particular in green chemistry and synthetic biology. My visit ended at the AAAS meeting in Chicago where I met several fans of our Periodic Table of Videos.”

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