Next president of the Royal Society of Chemistry will be Robert Mokaya | News

Robert Mokaya has been voted the next president-elect of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Mokaya, who will be the first Black chemical scientist in the role, will take up his post in July 2026 once incoming president Annette Doherty completes her term.

‘I am really humbled and also honoured at the same time,’ said Mokaya, who is already an appointed trustee and chair of the RSC Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

‘There’s great history that goes with this position. I have been to Burlington House and I have seen the names of those who have been president over the last 180 years – these are people I read about when I was a little boy and was getting inspired to study chemistry,’ he said. ‘I have encountered these names throughout my career and to be seen and, hopefully at some point in the future, counted amongst those great people in chemistry is really an honour and also very inspiring.’

Mokaya is a professor of materials chemistry and pro-vice-chancellor for global engagement at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he has been for 24 years. His research interests are on the design, synthesis and characterisation of new forms of sustainable porous materials and the study of their structure–property relations.

On 17 June, however, Mokaya will be leaving Nottingham to become provost and deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield. And, two weeks later, he will step into the role of RSC president-elect.

‘It’s a time of change and I think it’s going to be challenging for me, but I love a challenge and I have wonderful people around me who I’m sure will support me through that process,’ he said.

RSC chief executive Helen Pain congratulated Mokaya. ‘Robert brings a unique wealth of knowledge and experience accumulated on his life-long journey through chemistry, including his education in Kenya and his long and distinguished academic career in the UK,’ she said. ‘His diverse range of insights is tremendously beneficial to the chemical sciences community.’

In 2017 Mokaya was awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award and in 2022 he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the chemical sciences.

During the election process, RSC members could choose from three candidates for the post of RSC president including Mokaya; associate principal and executive dean of the faculty of science at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Duncan Graham; and Annie Powell, an inorganic chemist heading up the Powell Research Group at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.


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