Tabitha Petchey

Tabitha Petchey – Standing for position of Executive Board Support

Tabitha petchey

Name: Tabitha Petchey
Current Career Status: PhD student
Institution: University of York, UK


I am currently a 2nd year PhD candidate at the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York. My research topic is developing alternative solvents. The aim is to find biomass-derived replacements for traditional, petrochemical-derived solvents, to improve the sustainability of said solvents. In addition, the hope is to find reduced toxicity alternatives as several traditional solvents face restriction in the legislation due to their harmful properties. While there are many barriers in front of this goal, solvents are an area of considerable wastage and I feel it is important to take more care over their usage. The department in which I work is dedicated to the improvement of all chemical processes and finding sustainable sources to reduce the impact of the chemical industry worldwide.

Outside of work, I am member of another eco-friendly organisation known as greenSTEMS (as explained in the candidacy section). My hobbies outside of environment related issues include music and dance, for which I have previously joined university society committees to ensure their continuance. Otherwise, I enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities such as crafting and rambling.

Statement of Interest

  1. Why do you wish to stand for your chosen position?
  2. How do you plan to support the mission and aims of NESSE in your position, if elected?
  3. Your experience in networking organizations, international projects, or any other experience that has prepared you for serving on the Executive Board of NESSE.

I would like to stand for the Executive Board Support position as I am a sustainable scientist who shares the motivations of NESSE and hope to be involved in a more contributory way. My academic work involves a niche area of sustainable science, which may be of interest to other chemists or those in industry, but is somewhat isolated from the wider world. I would like to put more of my time into expanding the community of people who understand and care about current environmental issues. I think it is important to have an open dialogue between those who work in science, partly to hasten progress but also because I believe that the general public will have more faith in science when scientists trust and understand each other.

I plan to support NESSE in the role of Executive Board Support by keeping NESSE information organised in order that the team can keep collectively on top of its aims. For example, I will administrate NESSE’s Asana dashboard to keep members up to date on their respective actions/responsibilities as well as the NESSE Google documents to ensure these can be edited as needed by the relevant people. Meeting notes will be kept on the shared drive for absent members and to remind all members of their actions. I will ensure to fulfil all other requirements of the position, such as helping to expand the Advisory Group, arranging meetings of the Advisory Group and Executive Board, and managing communications for the next elections. I will endeavour to promote NESSE in other organisations to increase its following. I will also support the organisation of future events the team may want to run.

My previous experience includes being a member and current Treasurer of greenSTEMS, a student run society at the University of York, which brings together anyone interested in current environmental challenges. The society is aimed at students with studies in science and engineering but is open to all enthusiasts. In particular, our focus is on organising events, from casual discussions to prepared seminars, etc. to try to broaden our own knowledge and reach a wider audience with important topics. Prior to being on this committee, I joined the team to organise the Building a Bio-based Economy for Europe event, which ran in June 2015. This was a joint event between NESSE and greenSTEMS for which I took an administrative role in the organizing team. My contributions included putting together an application form for the event and keeping track of the details, liaising with the team to approve attendees, keeping in contact with delegates, organising a payment system, keeping track of payments and putting together an evaluation form for the event. I also shared responsibilities for registering delegates and receiving catering staff at the event itself. This was a well-received event where the benefit of sharing knowledge between people of different experiences and from different disciplines was evident. The event was designed to be interactive so there were a lot of opportunities for discussion, which proved to be highly engaging for those involved.

From September to November 2015, I took part in an international placement at the Federal University of São Carlos, in São Paulo state, Brazil. This was part of a collaborative project looking for higher-value usage of citrus waste, owing to the high-scale orange production in the region. While visiting the lab, I gave a presentation to other students and staff, drawing their attention to the benefits of NESSE and encouraging them to create their own group of sustainable scientists, like greenSTEMS. Time there gave me some experience of the barriers to progress that can be found in some regions, such as quick access to materials. I also saw some of the efforts going into maximising process efficiency as Brazil is a country of such tremendous natural resources.

I have also previously been Treasurer of the Dancesport society at York (2008-2009) and Secretary for York Gleesingers (2015-2016). The key responsibilities involved were: keeping track of memberships and payments, keeping a float for lesson payments, sending reminder emails, organising rehearsal space and concert venues, etc. I also volunteered for a number of years at Oxfam, which, among other humanitarian issues, shares the ethos of NESSE around environmental sustainability. I think that NESSE can benefit from keeping in touch with charitable organisations and NGOs to support events and expand our knowledge base.