Ashok Kumar Fellowship awarded to Sheffield PhD student

Article by Amanda Doyle

THIS year’s Ashok Kumar Fellowship has been awarded to Amber Keegan, a PhD student in chemical engineering and chemistry at the University of Sheffield, UK.

The fellowship is jointly funded by IChemE and Middlesbrough-based Materials Processing Institute in memory of Ashok Kumar, and will enable Keegan to work alongside advisers in the UK’s Houses of Parliament to inform the work of MPs and Peers. The placement lasts for three months and Keegan will produce a briefing or contribute to an area of public policy related to science and engineering.

Keegan’s PhD research involves studying the formation pathway of bio-inspired silica, a method of producing silica nanomaterial which is more sustainable than current methods of manufacture. She also has written for Absolute Zero, a Sheffield-based STEM magazine for primary-school children and has also volunteered at Kyniska Advocacy, an organisation advocating for progressive policies in women’s sport.

Keegan said: “I am so excited to be awarded the Ashok Kumar Fellowship – I literally jumped for joy! My motivation for applying for the Fellowship was the same for pursuing chemical engineering initially; I wanted to use my scientific and engineering research to help solve real-world issues. I was born in Scunthorpe, a steel town, so the dedication Ashok Kumar had for steel research and promotion of chemical engineering makes the award so special.

“Policy, like engineering, is a method by which we can take scientific and engineering advances and use them to improve people’s lives. This Fellowship will be a great opportunity to apply skills I have learned from my chemical engineering studies and research, like technical understanding and problem-solving, to a completely new area."

Alexandra Meldrum, IChemE Vice President Learned Society, said: “Amber really impressed us with her aptitude and experience of effectively, succinctly and impartially communicating complex science and engineering research to different audiences. Her chemical engineering research, skills and her enthusiasm for this Fellowship will stand her in great stead during her time with policy makers and her future career, whether that be in academia, industry, or policy.

“I look forward to learning from her when she shares her knowledge and experience of the Ashok Kumar Fellowship with IChemE members and the wider engineering profession in due course.”

Chris McDonald, Chief Executive of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “Amber is a deserving recipient of the Fellowship, having displayed a passion and an undoubted ability to contribute to the transformation of this country’s industrial landscape.

“Historically, STEM careers have been male dominated, so it’s fantastic to see Amber setting an example to other women and people from diverse backgrounds that science and engineering is open to all and is a hugely rewarding career.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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