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Exceptional service medal recognises voluntary work of Northumbria Professor

9th July 2021

The Royal Society of Chemistry has bestowed a second major honour on a Northumbria University academic.

Just 12 months after the Royal Society of Chemistry honoured Professor John Dean with an Inspirational Member Award, his outstanding service to the Society has won further recognition.

Professor Dean, of the Department of Applied Sciences, has now been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Award for Exceptional Service for the support he has shown for the analytical science community, as well as his work on developing the National Schools’ Analyst competition which is held across the UK and Republic of Ireland. John has been a Fellow of the Society and a Chartered Chemist since 1993.

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Prizes portfolio is acknowledged as one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world.

A Professor of Analytical and Environmental Sciences and Head of Subject for Northumbria’s chemistry and forensic programmes, John began working as a volunteer for an interest group (Atomic Spectroscopy Group) of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Analytical Division in 1986.

Caption:Professor John Dean“I’m delighted to have received the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Exceptional Service Award 2021,” he said.

“I have been actively engaged with the professional body through supporting and developing professional development opportunities and taking a role in governance committees at both national and regional level for over 35 years, after originally joining as a student member of the Society in 1981.”

Professor Dianne Ford, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said: “The award of this prize is due recognition of the outstanding contributions John has made over his long career at Northumbria University to advancing the work of this prestigious Society through his world-class work in applying analytical chemistry in multiple, timely contexts.”

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “The contribution of volunteers to support and inspire others should rightly be recognised at the highest level.

“Without volunteers we could not do much of the work that we do. Professor Dean’s efforts are humbling and heartening and a fantastic example for others to look up to.

To coincide with World Oceans Day in 2020, a major study led by Professor Dean on the impact washing clothes can have on marine environments was published by PLOS ONE.

It 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. 

For more information on Northumbria’s chemistry and forensic sciences courses visit


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