Kharkiv-York partnership to tackle the environmental impact of the Ukraine conflict

News | Posted on Thursday 21 September 2023

In a new partnership the Department of Chemistry, working with colleagues from the Department of Environment and Geography, recently hosted a Ukrainian PhD student as part of an exchange programme between their universities in Kharkiv and the University of York.

The project is a collaboration between the University of York and Karazin Kharkiv National University in Ukraine and stems from a UK-wide twinning initiative to offer support to academics, students and university leaders during the conflict.

Academics, PhD students and post-doctoral researchers from the Ukraine have spent eight weeks with research teams in York, to gain hands-on experience of different research methods in ecotoxicology, environmental fate assessment and green chemistry. During their time in the department, they were able to access cutting edge facilities and expertise.

A 9-week online course led up to the exchange, sharing background information from multiple disciplines – including Green Chemistry.  The GCCE then hosted a Chemistry PhD student from Kharkiv, who undertook a project considering the nature of pollutants likely to be present after the war and looking at bioderived sorbents for pollution remediation.

The project aims to equip the Ukrainian researchers with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle the inevitable clean up of the country’s natural environment.

Professor Helen Sneddon, from the Department of Chemistry said: "The chemical industry in Ukraine accounted for ~ 9% of Ukraine’s exports before the war, screening compounds made in Ukraine have historically helped underpin global drug discovery efforts. We were keen to help in any way we could in the hope of a tangible benefit to Ukraine and in the hope that it would facilitate future projects helping monitor the damage, facilitate the clean-up, and ultimately “build back better”.  We are keen to learn from our Ukrainian colleagues – and see how best we can collaborate in future."