Alumni

Professor Roger Sheldon (Chemistry PhD, 1967)

Rodger Sheldon image

What have you gone on to do since graduating from the University of Leicester?

After leaving Leicester with a PhD I moved to the US to complete a post-doctorate with Prof. Jay Kochi (1967-69). From there, I joined Shell Research in Amsterdam, where I was concerned with developing new, more environmentally friendly processes for bulk and fine chemicals using clean, catalytic technologies. I met my wife in Amsterdam and have lived in the Netherlands ever since. In 1980 I moved to DSM-Andeno as Research and Development Director, where I became involved in developing cleaner catalytic processes for the manufacture of pharma intermediates. In this period, I invented the E factor (kg waste per kg product) for measuring the waste produced in chemical manufacturing processes. The E factor was adopted by both industry and academia and I became known worldwide as Mr E factor. I also became interested in biocatalysis during this period and my interest in both chemo and biocatalysis continued and intensified when I moved to the Delft University of Technology (TUD) as a Professor of (Bio)catalysis and Organic Chemistry in 1990. Following my retirement from the TUD in 2007, I continued as CEO of CLEA Technologies. I then became a distinguished Professor of Biocatalysis Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2015.

For more details of my career and honours and awards received, see www.sheldon.nl.

As a prominent Chemistry Alumnus, what are the biggest challenges for the profession in the modern day?

I currently consider a few challenges for the profession: facilitating the ongoing transition to a climate-neutral, low-carbon energy base and a circular, waste-free bio-economy. Also, research at the cross-roads of chemistry, biology and medicine, for example, in developing treatments for a variety of disabling and life-threatening metabolic disorder diseases.

Do you have a favourite memory of the chemistry department or your tutor from your time at The University of Leicester?

I enjoyed my time at Leicester. I made a lot of friends (some of which I am still in contact with) and I learnt a lot from my co-supervisors, Prof. Stuart Trippett and Prof. Stephen Davidson.

What advice and tips do you have for students and recent graduates who would like to enter a similar work role to you?

Pick a subject that is interesting and important from both a societal and scientific viewpoint and go for it.

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