In 2004 Tom Welton became the world’s first Professor of Sustainable Chemistry, at Imperial College London. Sustainable Chemistry is both the implementation of sustainability in the production and use of chemicals and the application of chemistry and chemical products to enable sustainable development. The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework for the creation of a sustainable common future, in which all the world’s needs are met without compromising the abilities of future generations to provide for their needs. The chemical sciences and chemical scientists have much to offer to all of the SDGs. Tom is a former President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2020-2022), during which he championed the contribution of the Chemical Sciences to achieving a sustainable future.
Tom is the author of over 150 research papers across the range of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry journals, mostly on the structures and chemistry of ionic liquids and solutes in these. He is particularly interested in using ionic liquids for the conversion of biomass to chemicals and materials.
He is widely acknowledged to be a champion of diversity in science and was head of department when the Chemistry department at Imperial College won its first Athena SWAN Gold award. Together with Alison Roger of the University of Warwick, he founded the Irene Juliot-Curie conference series. He is a L’Oréal-UNESCO Male Champion for Women in Science, a member of Elsevier’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion advisory board. In recognition of these activities, he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2017.