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1 Mar 2016


Akshay Deshmukh, a postgraduate chemical engineering student at Yale University, Connecticut, US, has been awarded the Ashok Kumar Fellowship for 2016.

The Fellowship provides an annual opportunity for a graduate chemical engineer to spend three months working at the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). It is jointly funded by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and the North-East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC).

Ashok Kumar, a Fellow of IChemE and Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, UK, died suddenly in 2010. He was the only Chartered Chemical Engineer in the UK House of Commons at the time.

Fellowship winner Akshay is a British graduate, achieving a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK. He is currently undertaking a PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University, in the US.

Akshay’s PhD project concerns energy efficient ways of processing contaminated water into clean drinking water. His interest in making engineering processes more energy efficient, and environmentally-friendly, is highly relevant to a parliamentary Fellowship this year – with the COP21 emissions targets a high priority for UK government.

Keen to learn about how POST pulls together various pieces of research and data to put into a concise briefing for MP’s, Akshay said of being awarded the Fellowship: “I am thrilled to have been awarded this year’s Ashok Kumar Fellowship and I would like to thank the IChemE, NEPIC and POST for giving me this opportunity. I am really looking forward to working with the POST team and learning about how a diverse and complex range of STEM research is used to better inform parliamentary debate and scrutiny.”

Dr Lydia Harriss, physical sciences and ICT adviser at Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) said: “We’re delighted to award Akshay the 2016 Ashok Kumar Fellowship and are really looking forward to him joining us in May. During his three month placement he’ll help POST to analyse and communicate scientific evidence and ensure that Parliament is well equipped to debate, scrutinise and pass legislation.

He’ll gain great experience from meeting with experts from across Government, industry, academia and the third sector as he researches and writes a POST note briefing for MPs and Peers. Fellows make a huge contribution to the work we do at POST and provide an important bridge between Parliament and the research community.”

Dr Stan Higgins, chief executive of the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), said:

“Ashok Kumar’s list of scholars is growing into quite a cadre of engineers and scientists who have spent time with POST, and now better understand the workings of our parliamentary system. Ashok would be very proud indeed of the calibre of the young people that have taken up this challenge set up on his name. This year the quality of applicants was very high i and we are sure that Akshay will do an excellent job during his experience with POST.”

IChemE policy manager, Alana Collis, who led the interview team for the Institution said: “Akshay clearly understood the importance of evidence based policy and the role science and engineering can and must play in government and decision makers. Although he is clearly passionate about his PhD, he wants to pursue a career in policy/public affairs and this is a fantastic opportunity to experience such an environment.”

Applications will shortly open for the next Ashok Kumar Fellowship in 2017. The closing date for applications is 31 October 2016. Full details, including eligibility and an application form, are available from IChemE’s website.

About chemical engineers

Chemical, biochemical and process engineering is the application of science, maths and economics to the process of turning raw materials into everyday products. Professional chemical engineers design, construct and manage process operations all over the world.  Oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, synthetic fibres and clean drinking water are just some of the products where chemical engineering plays a central role.

About IChemE

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) is the global professional membership organisation for people with relevant experience or an interest in chemical engineering. With a growing global membership of over 44,000, the Institution is at the heart of the process community, promoting competence and a commitment to best practice, advancing the discipline for the benefit of society, encouraging young people in science and engineering and supporting the professional development of its members. IChemE is the only organisation to award Chartered Chemical Engineer and Professional Process Safety Engineer status.

About Akshay Deshmukh

Akshay Deshmukh is currently studying at Yale University, Connecticut, USA. He is a PhD student in Chemical & Environmental Engineering, due for completion in July 2018. His research focuses on membrane distillation, which can be used to purify contaminated water. Looking to improve the current process, his aim is to make the process much more energy efficient to advance the possibility of real-world applications. Her research focuses on understanding the fundamental science behind pharmaceutical plant cleaning.  Prior to this Akshay wrote a paper on zero emission vehicles, focusing on meeting the UK government’s 2050 carbon reduction target.

About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar (28 May 1956–15 March 2010) was a UK Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland from 1997 until his death shortly before the 2010 general election. He studied chemical engineering at Aston University, Birmingham where he was awarded a BSc in 1978. He gained an MSc in Process Analysis and Control Theory in 1980, and a PhD in Fluid Mechanics in 1982. He was a Research Fellow at Imperial College London (1982–5) and worked as a research scientist at British Steel, Middlesbrough from 1985 to 1997. Ashok was a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), a Chartered Engineer and a Member of the Energy Institute.

About POST

UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) is the UK Parliament’s in-house source of independent, balanced and accessible analysis of public policy issues related to science and technology. POST’s aim is to help parliamentarians examine science and technology issues effectively. By writing briefings, organising events and assisting Select Committees, POST has supported parliamentarians in their decision-making since 1989. Further information: www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/offices/bicameral/post


The North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) is a stand-alone company, limited by guarantee, which was created and is owned by its member companies to represent the companies and supply chain of the Process Industry in the region. NEPIC’s members are Chemical, Petrochemical, Polymer, Specialty Chemical, Fine Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Composites, Bioresources, Biofuels and Renewable Materials and Energy Companies.

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