Raffaella Ocone set to be 84th president of IChemE

Article by Adam Duckett

Raffaella Ocone: I look forward to promoting social and technological responsibility for the benefit of the profession and society

RAFFAELLA OCONE, professor of chemical engineering at Heriot-Watt University, will take up the presidency of IChemE next year after being nominated to serve as deputy from June.

Ocone said she is honoured, humbled, and thrilled by her appointment and is looking forward to working with IChemE’s members and stakeholders.

“As deputy president I will ensure that diversity of people and ideas – characterising the membership – will be embedded and lead the strategic objectives of IChemE,” she said. “I look forward to promoting social and technological responsibility for the benefit of the profession and society in areas such as energy transition, climate change, health, water and, overall, ensuring resilience to the changes that our profession will continue to face.”

Ocone graduated in chemical engineering from the Università di Napoli, Italy and obtained her MA and PhD from Princeton University, US. In 1999, Ocone became the first female professor of chemical engineering in Scotland and the second in the UK. During more than two decades of research she has modelled complex systems including how solid particles behave when flowing through industrial equipment; chemical looping technology for carbon capture and storage; and the processing of waste biomass and plastics.

In the 2019 new year honours, Ocone was appointed Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for services to engineering. That same year, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the Engineering Sector in a list produced by the board appointments firm Inclusive Boards in partnership with the Financial Times.

Among various volunteering roles for IChemE, she currently serves as an ordinary member of the Board of Trustees and previously chaired the IChemE UK Research Committee, aiming to establish an agreed view on chemical engineering research needs for addressing key global challenges. Ocone is a strong advocate for ethics in engineering, serving on a joint steering group for the Royal Academy of Engineering and Engineering Council that produced the 2022 report Maintaining Society’s Trust in the Engineering Profession; and went on to coordinate a series on engineering ethics for TCE.

Ocone will be the 84th president of IChemE. She will succeed current deputy Mark Apsey who will take over as president from Nigel Hirst at the Institution’s AGM on 11 June.

Other trustee roles

The deputy president role was among seven positions on the Board of Trustees that were available for members to contest in the latest round of elections. IChemE has announced that the following members have been elected uncontested: Alan Harper as vice-president (qualifications), Andrea Hosey as vice-president (member engagement), and Tawana Muchatuta as regional/ordinary member (rest of world). All will be formally elected at IChemE’s AGM in June.

There are three positions which members are being asked to vote on. Joan Cordiner and the incumbent Alexandra Meldrum are in a run-off to be vice-president (learned society). Thaddeus Anim-Somuah, Helen Ramsay, and Tim Mays are the candidates for a two-year term as an ordinary member. And Iqbal Essa and Paul McLaughlin are contesting to serve as an ordinary member for a three-year term. The ballot is now open and will close on 16 May. Each candidate has written an election statement and recorded a video. To see these and for more details on how to vote, visit the election site.

Correction: this story incorrectly said Raffaella Ocone would be the 82nd IChemE president. It has been corrected to say she will be the 84th.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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