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MPLS departments, teams and individuals have all been recognised in this year’s awards, which celebrate the exceptional contributions of staff and students in advancing environmental sustainability.

Orange flowers in a meadow, with University of Oxford buildings in the background

Vice-Chancellor Professor Irene Tracey presented the awards at a ceremony in the Divinity School of the Bodleian Library, along with colleagues from across the University. As well as celebrating individual and project winners, runners-up and nominees, 180 teams in labs, colleges and departments were also recognised in the Engagement Awards category for accreditation received through the national Green Impact scheme and the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF).

Taken together, these Awards highlight the significant contributions being made across the University community towards meeting our strategic environmental goals of net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain by 2035.

The full list of winners across the University and colleges can be found on the University’s Sustainability webpages, where you can also download the Awards brochure to learn more about the winners and see the winning photographs from the Sustainability Photographer of the Year competition.

Departments, teams and individual staff and students from MPLS Division were well represented in many of the award categories. Particular congratulations to the following:

Winner of the Sustainable Laboratory Champion Award: Department of Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry is dedicated to integrating sustainable practice into their research with 26 laboratories having achieved Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) accreditation (see below). Numerous changes to practice and infrastructure have been implemented to foster a culture of sustainability, including the formation of a sustainability committee with representation of staff and students across all chemistry buildings, offering a detailed sustainability induction for new staff members, putting in place sustainable lab close-down procedures, and hosting friendly coffee mornings to facilitate exchange of knowledge. Truly going above and beyond to enable real change, the Department of Chemistry continues to push for even greater improvements with new projects underway.

Winner of the Environmental Sustainability Students’ Award: Nell Miles, MBiol undergraduate, Hertford College

Nell Miles is a passionate environmental advocate and campaigner dedicated to promoting solutions with tangible results and the potential for longstanding widespread application. Nell is an integral member of the Sustainability Working Groups for both the Biology Department and Hertford College, advocating for progress towards net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain through a broad range of initiatives.

Runners-up in the Environmental Sustainabiity Students’ Award category

  • Taras Bains and Jamie Walker, Oxford University Nature Conservation Society; MBiol masters students at Wadham College and Somerville College
  • Yasmin Jordan, Co-President (with Emmy Powell) of the Oxford Sustainable Business and Entrepreneurship Society (OSBE); Biology Masters, St Hugh’s College

Runner-up in the Environmental Sustainability Project Awards category: Nature Positive Universities 

Project Lead: Emily Stott, Research Coordinator - Nature Positive Universities

Nature Positive Universities is a global alliance of educational institutions committed to understanding and improving their biodiversity impacts by addressing factors such as supply chains and land use. The alliance was formed in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Oxford University, as a part of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. It has grown rapidly with over 500 partner institutions and 200 Student Ambassadors to date. Furthermore, senior leadership from 130 universities have now taken the ’Nature Positive Pledge’ to begin a journey towards meaningfully addressing their impact on nature.

The programme’s Research Co-ordinator, Emily Stott, said: ‘Nature Positive Universities built on the momentum of the Nature Positive movement of NGOs, businesses, and national commitments leading up to Biodiversity COP15, and has established a broad community of institutions and students worldwide acting together for nature.’

Green Impact Awards for MPLS departments

Green Impact is a national scheme providing simple and effective ways for staff and students to make their buildings, departments or colleges more sustainable. The Green Impact workbook is tailored to align with the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy, and can be applied to teams and departments of any size or complexity.  Actions recognised through this scheme range from changing the type of paper used to creating a biodiversity garden.

Green Impact Awards awarded in MPLS this year:

  • Beyond Gold Award: Department of Chemistry
  • Gold Award: Department of Biology and Department of Earth Sciences
  • Bronze Award: Department of Statistics

Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) Awards for MPLS research group labs

The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is the world’s largest green lab programme, empowering researchers to implement sustainable practices. LEAF is supported by the UKRN (The UK Reproducibility Network) in recognition that high quality research is sustainable research and all MPLS departments are strongly encouraged to engage with its aims and advice.

Gold LEAF Awards

  • Department of Biology: IOI Walsh Lab and Maiden Lab
  • Department of Chemistry: E.Anderson Lab and Williams Lab
  • Department of Earth Sciences: Rickaby & Cosmidis Labs

Silver LEAF Awards

  • Department of Biology: Foster Lab and McLean Lab
  • Department of Chemistry: H Anderson Lab, Brouard and Burt Lab, Donohoe Lab, Gouverneur Lab, Langton Group, Mackenzie Lab, McCullagh Group, NMR Lab, Oxford Colloid Group, Perkin Lab, Robinson, Benesch, Baldwin and Kukura (Kavli Lab), Russell Group, Teaching Lab, Vallance Group and Willis Group
  • Department of Engineering Science: Tissue Engineering Lab (IBME)

Bronze LEAF Awards

  • Begbroke Science Park: Advanced Processing Lab and Begbroke Agile Labs 17 and 31
  • Department of Biology: Baena-Gonzalez Group, Barraclough and King Labs, Bolla Group, ForesTree Biology Group, Jarvis Group, Sweetlove Group, Fly Lab, Langdale lab, Licausi Lab, Molecular Ecology Lab, RHL Lab, Richards Lab and Kelly Lab
  • Department of Chemistry: Clarke Group, Davis Group, Dixon Group, Faulkner Group, Jonathan W. Burton Group, Manolopoulos and Tew Groups, Robertson Group, Timmel Group, Vincent Group
  • Department of Earth Sciences: Earth Sciences Workshop
  • Department of Engineering Science: Denison Lab
  • Department of Materials: Patrick Grant – Wetlab

Sustainability Photographer of the Year Awards

Prizes were also awarded in the Sustainability Photographer of the Year Competition, which was open to staff and students. Entries featured Oxfordshire wildlife, people or places that inspired their creators to take environmental action.

Undergraduate biologists Jake Dudderidge (3rd place with "Summer Radiance") and Daniel Bowen (runner-up with "Sharing the Waterways") were both recognised for their photography submissions.

Left, Jake Dudderidge's photo of a female Broad-Bodied Chaser Dragonfly; right, Daniel Bowen's photo of geese in Christchurch meadow set against a rowing eight on the river behind.Left, Jake Dudderidge's photo of a female Broad-Bodied Chaser Dragonfly; right, Daniel Bowen's photo of geese in Christchurch meadow set against a rowing eight on the river behind.

How to take part

With over 26,000 students and about 15,000 staff members across the University and colleges, there is great potential mongst us for positive environmental action. The Environmental Sustainability team runs a diverse range of engagement and training activities throughout the year, as well as campaigns and events designed to educate and inspire staff and students on all aspects of sustainability. Visit the Sustainability Team website for ideas on what you can do to contribute, and email the team at with suggestions or questions.