By Polly L. Arnold, Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh
The subtleties of structure and bonding in compounds of uranium and its neighbours in the f-block are still poorly-understood. A fundamental understanding is needed to develop environmentally cleaner ways to extract technology-critical rare earth metals, and for the safe, long-term handling of our nuclear waste legacies.Our research focuses on the synthesis of exotic and reactive new f-block organometallic complexes; from this we gain the fundamental understanding of the electron and oxygen balance that is essential for the cleaner and safer manipulation of our nuclear waste legacies.
Outside the laboratory, there is another economically important imbalance in science: the talent pipeline still leaks female scientists and engineers at a disproportionately high rate, with tcost to the UK economy estimated as £2 billion per annum. The University of Edinburgh’s female scientists started their campaign for equality with street riots in the 1870s, and today Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry has been recognised for its excellence in equality and diversity actions. I made the film ‘A Chemical Imbalance’ as a call to action to improve equality of opportunity in STEM, and will take a look at how we’re doing.