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Martyn Poliakoff in a red lab-coat
Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff CBE CChem FRSC

Martyn has been widely recognised for his work in green and sustainable chemistry, as well as his role as an ambassador for UK science.

Martyn Poliakoff at his deskMartyn grew up in London with Russian and physics roots but decided to pursue a career in the chemical sciences. Martyn’s current research involves synthesising anti-malaria drugs photochemically to make them economically viable. 

Learning Russian from the age of 14, Martyn has collaborated with Russian research groups; this, alongside his collaboration with China, has enabled him to fulfil the foreign secretary of the Royal Society well. With a love for green chemistry, Martyn has further built international bridges with Africa, especially Ethiopia, where he is an advocate for publicising African scientists in the international scientific community.  

Continuing his outreach work, Martyn has created the well-known 'Periodic Table of Videos' that is featured on YouTube. The 118 videos have provoked interest from a diverse audience, including non-scientists and students. As an undergraduate, Martyn remembers failing his organic chemistry exam. He has used his experiences of education at the University of Cambridge to inspire students to spend their time focussed on research rather than exam results.

Martyn’s outreach work coupled with his research has been recognised by the Royal Society of Chemistry's Nyholm Prize for Education, and he was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of East Anglia and Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Words by Jenny Lovell 
Images © Anne Purkiss and © Campbell Rowley/University of Nottingham 
Published November 2014

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