A Professor in Northumbria University’s Department of Applied Sciences has won a top national award from The Royal Society of Chemistry.

John R. Dean, a Professor of Analytical and Environmental Sciences, was nominated for the Inspirational Member Award by his peers for his dedication to the planning, coordination and ongoing development of the national Schools’ Analyst Competition, which is held across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Inspirational Member Award recognises and celebrates the creative and inspirational members that are proactively and inclusively supporting their peers and the wider community. It is given in recognition of those who have been instrumental in introducing and driving new ideas and approaches to support the Royal Society of Chemistry’s community.

Professor Dean is Head of Subject for Northumbria’s chemistry and forensic programmes, teaching analytical and inorganic chemistry to students at all levels, from Foundation Year Applied Sciences through to the BSc and MChem Chemistry degrees.

He began working as a volunteer for the north east region of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Analytical Division more than 30 years ago and is now a Fellow of the Society.

He said: “I started as a volunteer for the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1986 as a newly qualified PhD, having been a member since my undergraduate days. Along this journey I have met many new people at the society’s conferences and symposia, on regional and national committees and network events. What you remember is the warmth of the welcome from fellow chemists and the lifelong friendships you develop.

He added: “Contact with our students is very important at both a personal level and as a professional educator. My role as Head of Subject for the Chemistry and Forensic Programmes as well as the Applied Sciences Foundation year provides strong interaction with current students supporting them on their journey at Northumbria University and their careers beyond. Being acknowledged with an Inspirational Member Award is a delight and an honour.”

Dr Helen Pain, acting chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “We live in an era of tremendous global challenges, with the need for science recognised now more so than ever. It’s incredibly important to recognise those who are making significant contributions behind the scenes towards improving the world we live in as well as inspiring colleagues within the chemical sciences community to do what they can for the people around them.

This award is about celebrating the efforts of the unsung heroes who go above and beyond to support their colleagues and our wider community. It is for this reason we are proud to be presenting this award to Professor Dean.”

Dr Sophie Carr, Head of the Department of Applied Sciences at Northumbria University, said: “John’s enthusiasm for chemistry and its capabilities influences so much of his work and his engagement with others.

“As Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, he provides strong guidance to colleagues in the design and delivery of the chemistry provision at Northumbria and continues to innovate his teaching material. His latest online delivery involving an ‘escape room theme’ received rave reviews from his students.”

She added that John’s leadership has also been instrumental to the career development of his chemistry colleagues and their personal engagement with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

“We have benefitted from accreditation of our chemistry provision through to outreach funding awards, student bursaries and the recent celebration of International Year of the Periodic Table which saw the projection of an animated film onto the side of the University Library. It is a relationship much valued by Northumbria.”

Professor Dean recently led a major study with Procter & Gamble into the impact that washing our clothes can have on marine environments. The study, which was published by PLOS ONE for World Oceans Day, revealed that thousands of tonnes of microfibres are being released into rivers, seas and oceans in Europe each year when we do our laundry, but this could be reduced by 30% if we changed our washing habits and did cooler, faster cycles instead.