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Members of MPLS departments were amongst those recognised at the University's seventh Environmental Sustainability Awards today, hosted by Vice Chancellor, Dame Professor Louise Richardson.

Abstract image of blurred colourful lights against a green, natural sunrise background

The Vice Chancellor's Awards for Environmental Sustainability celebrate the contributions of staff and students who are actively contributing towards the University's strategic environmental goals. It is hoped that they will inspire others to become involved in working together to help address the greatest challenge of our time.

Dame Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, said: 'I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and that of my colleagues for the talent and commitment of all those involved in our work to promote environmental sustainability.'

Harriet Waters, Head of Environmental Sustainability in Estates Services, said: 'I believe this is a fascinating time to be working on environmental issues within the University. Implementing the University’s new Environmental Sustainability Strategy over the coming years is not going to be easy, and in some areas, we are not yet sure how to do it, but there is a real sense of hope and enthusiasm, which we hope to harness. Thank you all for taking part in this incredible work.'

About 150 staff and students gathered for the awards ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre, to recognise this year's winners and runners up.

Environmental Sustainability Staff AwardS

Winner: Dr Dawn Burnham, Research Coordinator, WildCRU, Department of Biology

Dawn Burnham pictured wearing a brown jacket, by the seaDawn Burnham is recognised for having been an outstanding champion of sustainability efforts for WildCRU for over a decade. During this time, she has contributed to multiple projects including working with students from the Climate Society to envision and scope long-term green energy solutions for the Tubney Panthera Buildings. This has since led to the development of a decarbonisation plan, for which installation works are scheduled to continue this summer, eventually culminating in an annual saving of 66 tonnes of carbon.

Dawn has also convened a Sustainability Working Group for the Department of Zoology, with a view to producing a departmental policy document in response to the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy and calculating a baseline for future monitoring. The positive impact of her teams’ work led to a Silver Award for Green Impact in 2020-21. 

Winner: Sue Henderson, Executive Assistant to the Head of Department and Head of Administration, Department of Chemistry

Sue Henderson pictured outdoors wearing glasses and a grey woolly jumperSue is recognised for her exceptional contribution to the sustainability agenda of the Department of Chemistry over the last five years. She has been a tireless champion for sustainability in the department, quietly leading and effecting change amongst her colleagues.

Examples of her achievements include forming the Green Impact Team of volunteers, leading the department to a Beyond Gold Award, and actively promoting the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF).

In her personal time, Sue is also part of the Open University’s Transforming your Organisation for Sustainability programme. 

Nominee: Dr Kok Siew Ng, UKRI/NERC Industrial Innovation (Rutherford) Research Fellow, Department of Engineering Science

Kok Siew Ng is Co-Investigator and Coordinator of the Oxford Agile project (Sprint 2) – a University-wide initiative focusing on tackling environmental challenges through an interdisciplinary approach, with support from the £10 million NERC Changing the Environment programme. He was nominated for actively promoting environmental sustainability through his research vision, which develops sustainable solutions from a systems engineering perspective. He is also involved in a project that explores innovative approaches to address challenges in organic waste management and achieving a circular economy.

Nominee: Helen Sanders, Technician, Department of Biology

Helen is nominated for her tremendous efforts as Chair of the Green Impact team for the Wytham Field Station. Some of her achievements include meetings with recycling companies to discuss the possibilities for recycling nitrile gloves, arranging trials of eco-friendly cleaning products and purchasing wildflower seeds for the Wytham Wild Flower Meadow Project.

Environmental Sustainability Project Awards

Runners up: OxPOCH – Oxford Partnership for Operationalising the Conservation Hierarchy

Project lead: EJ Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity, Department of Biology

Members of the OxPOCH team pictured outdoorsOxPOCH is a research initiative focused on documenting the biodiversity impacts of the collegiate University’s food consumption and landholdings, and exploring scenarios to reduce the environmental impact these cause. It has brought together many stakeholders including colleges, every division, Estates Services and GLAM, to develop and test a framework for planning, implementing and monitoring progress towards the environmental sustainability goals. 

OxPOCH is recognised for its impact both within and beyond the University. Its Conservation Hierarchy has been recommended as an approach for the upcoming UN Global Biodiversity Framework negotiations by the IUCN World Conservation Congress. The success of this project has ultimately led to new funding and helped Oxford to take a leadership position in environmental sustainability, nationally and internationally.

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