Professor Johannes Awudza CChem FRSC
Winner: 2022 Award for Exceptional Service
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
For outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry in Ghana and through the Pan-African Chemistry Network.
Celebrate Professor Johannes Awudza
Johannes is the Royal Society of Chemistry representative in Ghana and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Pan-African Chemistry Network (PACN). He chairs the PACN hub in Ghana which organizes annual international GC-MS and LC-MS training workshops at KNUST with sponsorship from the RSC and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). He has been the chairman and/or member of the organising committee of a number of national and international conferences and was a member of the Scientific Committee of the Commonwealth Chemistry Congress held virtually in May 2021.Read winner biography
Prof Johannes A. M. Awudza holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Manchester (UMIST), U.K., and is a faculty member in chemistry at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. He has held a number of positions at KNUST including Head of Department, Member, University’s Academic Board, Chairman, University Safety Committee and is currently the Chairman of KNUST’s Plastic Waste Recycling Committee.
Johannes is a chartered chemist (CChem), Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), an affiliate member of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), Member of the Ghana Science Association and a member of the Ghana Chemical Society.
He has been a Principal Investigator for KNUST for a number of national and international research collaborations and has carried out extensive research in the chemical sciences. He has supervised many PhD, MSc, MPhil and BSc students.
His current research areas include development of renewable sources of energy including waste into energy, nano-materials for solar cells and next generation biofuels (biodiesel and bioethanol), alternative materials for water treatment, adsorption studies, catalysis and plastic waste management.
How did you first become interested in chemistry?
I became interested in chemistry whiles studying for my O-level in secondary school. I was excited by the study of fermentation and saponification in organic chemistry. I could relate these to some local scientific activities even though they were not classified as such. These were the production of local gin (ethanol) from palm wine using fermentation and the production of soap using palm oil and ashes from cocoa pod and plantain peels (saponification).
Who or what has inspired you?
My O-level and A-level chemistry teachers in secondary school inspired me to take up the study of chemistry at a higher level and as a career.
What motivates you?
Being able to help others to achieve results and bringing about transformation in society – these motivate me.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in chemistry?
They should go for it. Chemistry is the central science. The more one goes into it, the more exciting it becomes.
Can you tell us about a scientific development on the horizon that you are excited about?
The green revolution – development of battery technology for electric cars and the development of solar cells for renewable sources of electricity.
Why is chemistry important?
Chemistry is applied in many of day-to-day activities and in many of the things we use: the food we eat, the medications for our health (pharmaceuticals), materials used for agriculture, cosmetics, the clothes we wear, our carrier bags, our luggage bags, renewable and sustainable energy systems etc. Most aspects of the sustainable development goals hinge on chemical processes.
What has been a highlight for you (either personally or in your career)?
A highlight in my academic career has been meeting the late Prof Paul O’Brien (CBE, FRS, FRSC) and collaborating with him in a number of scientific research programmes. That enabled me to get research funds for some of the research studies that I have undertaken.
What has been a challenge for you (either personally or in your career)?
The lack of resources, especially equipment and materials for carrying out high level investigations (research).
What does good research culture look like/mean to you?
Adhering to the ethics of research and making sure that those who need to be acknowledged for their contributions towards ones work are duly recognised.
How are the chemical sciences making the world a better place?
Chemistry is the central science. Without chemistry, the world would be worse off.
Why do you think teamwork is important in science?
Nobody is a storehouse of all knowledge.
What is your favourite element?