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Leading American institution bestows honour on inspirational scientist

Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff

You may have been lucky to have been taught by Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff while studying at Nottingham. To millions more of us – both professional scientists and enthusiastic learners - he is best known as the face of the award-winning Periodic Table of Videos, an innovative YouTube channel that brings chemistry to life for people of all ages around the world.  

This February, Professor Poliakoff will be admitted as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This honour, bestowed by AAAS peers, has been given in recognition of his influential research in inorganic, physical and green chemistry; for promoting science diplomacy and for his outstanding contributions to the communication of science. 

On this award, Sir Martyn said:

I am delighted. I see it as an honour not only for myself but for the School of Chemistry and our University.  I hope that it will help raise our international profile even higher. 


The world’s largest scientific society 

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of everyone. It is a leading publisher of cutting-edge research through its Science family of journals – with Science being one of the world’s most-respected and competitive publications for academics, researchers and science educators.  


Jonathan Hirst, Professor of Computational Chemistry and Head of the School of Chemistry, said: “Martyn is a fantastic ambassador for our School, for our University and more broadly for UK science. So it is particularly pleasing to see his science and his advocacy recognised by one of the leading international bodies of science.” 

In 2011, Sir Martyn and Periodic Table collaborator Brady Harran won the coveted AAAS SPORE prize (Science Prize for Online Resources in Education), publishing a feature about the YouTube channel in Science. “Why do the elements have such funny names?” See the channel in action – watch Sir Martyn answer questions from American school children.



A life time of achievement 

This new honour is the latest in a string of awards, titles and honours bestowed on Sir Martyn for a life time of pioneering work in the field of green chemistry. In 2011 he was nominated as the new Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, one of the science world’s highest honours. Over his tenure, he has worked closely with US National Academy of Sciences as well as Professor Robin Grimes (Physics, 1982), currently the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.    

In 2012, Sir Martyn was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Nyholm Prize for Education while in 2013, he won the Universitas 21 (U21) Award for Internationalisation. In 2015, he was knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours for services to Chemical Sciences in recognition of his contribution as a global leader in green and sustainable chemistry. 

Nottingham leads the way in green chemistry

Outside of the GlaxcoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry

Just two years after the devastating fire which destroyed our original GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory (CNL), our new building has opened its doors this winter. 

This new laboratory is home to our Centre for Sustainable Chemistry, and provides unrivalled facilities for Sir Martyn and other Nottingham scientists. The first of its kind in the UK, the centre is unique in its focus on world-leading research that aims for the highest "clean and green" standards. New chemistry developed here at the CNL will be both energy and resource efficient, focusing on the major challenges that face us all – healthcare, energy and sustainability.  The Director of CNL is Professor Pete Licence, also a distinguished Green Chemist and co-star in the Periodic Table of Videos where he is famous for his explosive demonstrations.  

The US and UK have an important role to play in strengthening innovation globally. With world-class facilities now operational here in Nottingham, and world-respected scientists like Sir Martyn championing international relationships, the future of chemistry at the University looks very bright – and sustainable – indeed. 

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