Aberdeen chemist wins prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Prize

Professor Jörg Feldmann is the Royal Society of Chemistry Interdisciplinary Prizewinner for 2016.

Professor Feldmann is Chair in Environmental Analytical Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen and he has developed a field kit that can detect the carcinogenic form of arsenic in rice, without electricity and within an hour. This could have a real impact on food safety worldwide, enabling farmers in the developing world to comply with recently introduced World Health Organisation legislation, without needing access to sophisticated analytical systems.

Furthermore he has developed visualisation methods which can locate essential and toxic metals in very small concentrations in organs of animals that suffer from bacterial or fungal infections. This has helped to understand how a mammalian body fights against these infections without the use of antibiotics. The latter may be used in the future to fight antibiotic resistance.

The prize is awarded for work at the interface between chemistry and other disciplines.

He said: It has been a great honour to be selected to receive the RSC Interdisciplinary Prize 2016. Throughout my career I have been working at the interface of analytical chemistry with other disciplines such as environmental science, medical sciences and food chemistry. This has not always been easy, since my work has not always been recognised and does not fit into the usual categories.

"I feel this Prize highlights the importance of not only inter- but more importantly multi-disciplinary work. Big science has always been multi-disciplinary work and been part of it is like playing an instrument in a symphony orchestra. For me, playing a symphony is what I always wanted, rather than being a solo artist.”

Professor Feldmann was born in Essen, Germany, where he also obtained his first degree.

An illustrious list of 47 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including Harry Kroto, Fred Sanger and Linus Pauling.

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “It is an honour to recognise the illustrious achievements of our prize and award winners in our 175th anniversary year.

“We were founded in 1841 by a group of academics, industrialists and doctors who understood the power of the chemical sciences to change our world for the better. Our winners share that vision and are advancing excellence in their fields, whether through innovative research or inspirational teaching and outreach.

“We are proud to celebrate and support the work of inspiring and influential individuals, whose work has the potential to improve so many lives.”

Prize winners are evaluated for the originality and impact of their research, as well as the quality of the results which can be shown in publications, patents, or even software. The awards also recognise the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, and the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.