Name: Dr Jennifer Dodson
Current Career Status: Postdoctoral researcher
Institution or Organisation Name: University of York, UK
I work at the intersections of technology, sustainability, development and education. I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in biopolymers and biomaterials at the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York, having previously completed my PhD there, followed by a two year postdoctoral fellowship at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. My main research interests lie in the sustainable utilisation of resources including the production of novel materials from biomass via biorefinery approaches and metal recovery and recycling. I am strongly committed to interdisciplinary approaches having initiated research projects across chemistry, biology and economics. I am also interested in the wider communication of sustainable chemistry through outreach, teaching and public policy.
I decided to work in green chemistry due to my desire to develop new technologies to help enable the rapid move to a sustainable future. When I’m not doing something related to science and sustainability (although NESSE has pretty much taken over my life!), I love dancing lindy hop and forro, testing the many beers on offer in York and keeping my Portuguese up to scratch.
Aims and aspirations for role within NESSE
Having initiated NESSE two years ago and served as the Executive Director since the founding of the organisation, this year I want to ensure that NESSE has a strong foundation on which to fulfil its potential. What drives me is the desire to see the rapid move towards a prosperous, sustainable future for all. NESSE fills a unique gap by developing leaders in sustainable science who have the connections, knowledge and skills to work across disciplines, develop innovative solutions and open up new paths to build sustainable science into our careers whether in research, industry or policy. I also hope that through these interdisciplinary and cross-cultural connections, sustainable scientists will have a broader knowledge of the challenges, conflicts and synergies that are part of technological research for a sustainable future in balance with the ecosystem and human wellbeing.
Building a global organisation from scratch has been a challenging but incredible experience. I have been able to work with a wonderful, diverse group of young scientists from across the world developing innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. These connections will really help NESSE in its vision and over the next year will use them to take NESSE to the next level.
We have achieved a huge amount over the past two years. However, there is much more that I want to see us achieve. Although unglamorous a key aspect of this is building a financially sustainable and stable organisation. A key aim over the coming year will be to ensure that we have charitable status (501c3 status in the USA) and can raise significant funds enabling us to support many more activities for our members but also able to employ someone. I also want to ensure that we really are a grassroots organisation, enabling our members to have more direct ability to connect with each other, host events, share resources, and discuss creative solutions. A vital part of this will be building our new web platform and utilising the power of existing social media technologies. Another key focus will be to build the diversity of NESSE, to move beyond our core connections within chemistry. I also want to further build NESSE’s ‘brand’ and recognition with other partners. I am currently co-ordinating with early-career groups to build a ‘network of networks’ that can provide a voice for early-career scientists in organisations such as the International Council for Science. I am also building connections for NESSE across key professional societies including in Europe, North America and South America. Continuity in the leadership of NESSE at this critical time will enable us to be a powerful voice for early-career scientists.
Alongside my role within NESSE, I have extensive leadership, project, education, international networking and community organising experience. I previously set-up and ran a successful social enterprise, worked as events and training co-ordinator for a national charity and worked abroad in India and Brazil. I studied the connections between green technology and science policy during a fellowship at the UK Parliament and as an educator I have delivered hands-on green chemistry activities to hundreds of young people, developed an MSc course on the Public Awareness of Science and jointly co-ordinated a Public Dialogues project on green technologies. These experiences have provided me with extensive experience of budgeting, fundraising, setting-up legal structures, organising events, networking and managing volunteers. All of these have proved vital for developing NESSE and I look forward over the coming year to use them to help build an inspirational, active and powerful early-career community for sustainable science.