Professor John Dean CSci CChem FRSC
Winner: 2021 Award for Exceptional Service
For outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry through the development and support for the analytical science community and the School's Analyst Competition.
Celebrate Professor John Dean
Analytical science has allowed Professor Dean to engage in a diverse range of multidisciplinary research projects. Over the years his focus has often been on environmental pollutants (e.g. metals/metalloids or organic compounds) and their occurrence and impact on humans using a broad range of spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. He has also investigated approaches to determine microbial activity, using enzyme substrates, in food and clinical samples. More recently, his research has focused on alternative environmental impacts on our world. These new diverse research areas include the investigation of microfibre release and their reduction from domestic laundry as well as the use of aerial spectroscopy, with an unmanned aerial vehicle or drone, to assess woodland health and arable farming linked to food production.Read winner biography
Professor John R Dean has been a professional educator in chemical sciences for over 30 years. He has taught a range of chemical science subjects at university, from BSc/MChem to MSc and supervised more than 40 research degree students. He has delivered chemical science lectures, laboratories and tutorials on analytical, environmental and inorganic chemistry. He has also taught at an international MSc programme in Spain as well as an international summer school. He has acted as an external examiner at 13 institutions in the UK and RoI (1993–2022).
Professor of Analytical and Environmental Science at Northumbria University, John has held a variety of academic positions at Northumbria and was appointed to a personal chair in 2004. In 1998 he was awarded a Higher Doctorate (DSc) by the University of London. More recently, his leadership has been acknowledged with the award of Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2015). His most recent innovative teaching is the development of an Escape Room for level 5 students.
John has authored/co-authored over 226 peer reviewed journal articles, reviews and book chapters, as well as research books and textbooks. He has an h-index of 35. His research is broad and extensive ranging from the environmental impact of pollutants to microbiological analysis.
He has supported the educational development of chemical science researchers as the chair of the RSC Researcher Mobility Grant Working Group (2015–2021). He also supports chemical science education via his role on the RSC Committee for Accreditation and Validation (of Chemistry Degrees) as both an assessor and panel member (2013–present).
John is also a qualified British Canoeing canoe coach and leader in moderate and advanced water.
How did you first become interested in chemistry?
I was particularly inspired by an analytical chemist who taught on my undergraduate programme. This was partly due to his obvious interest in analytical chemistry but also his diverse background that he used to expand my horizon to its applicability.
What motivates you?
I particularly like the diverse range of tasks that an academic member of staff in a university gets involved with and how you can impact on others, sometimes unintentionally. As well as research, I also enjoy undergraduate teaching across all levels, seeking to inspire the next generation of chemists (or forensic scientists/biochemists).
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in chemistry?
Do it – it's going to be fun, exciting, explorative and invigorating with a smattering of satisfaction.
Can you tell us about a scientific development on the horizon that you are excited about?
The developments in unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) with multispectral cameras, and their ready availability at low cost, is changing the way environmental research can be done.
Why do you think teamwork is important in science?
Teamwork, across multidisciplinary scientists, has been the cornerstone of my research. Working with microbiologists, ecologists, biologists, physical geographers as well as other chemists has been key to a fruitful and enjoyable research career.
What is your favourite element?
I guess it must be Pb, as much of my environmental research has involved determining and assessing its impact on human health from soil, often based on the rich industrial heritage where I live and its legacy.