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L-R: Fergus Ewing MSP, Dr. Tony Gutierrez and Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer

On Thursday 14 May the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh welcomed the Energy Academy and Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, as hosts of the first Heriot-Watt Scottish Energy News Researcher of the Year Awards 2015, supported by Scottish Energy News.

Heriot-Watt’s Energy Academy – and its Institute of Petroleum Studies – are two of the most successful examples of driving forward the energy agenda in Scotland.
Fergus Ewing, Scottish Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism

During the afternoon at a ceremony presided over by Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Mr. Ewing presented the winners with their prizes, a fine glass trophy, an award certificate and a cheque for £500. In partnership between the Energy Academy and Scottish Energy News, the awards celebrate outstanding achievements of individuals or companies that have been working on energy or energy-related research for less than 10 years.

Of the six winners for this prestigious award, Dr. Tony Gutierrez of the School of Life Sciences won in the category for Energy and the Marine Environment, and Dr. Jin Xuan of the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences won in the category for Energy Materials and Storage, are both from Heriot-Watt University.

The other four winners were Dr. Jennifer Roberts of Strathclyde University (award category Energy, Infrastructure and Society), Dr. Cairong Jiang of St. Andrew’s University (award category Energy and Fossil Fuels), Mark Crouch & Jacobs (award category Energy and the Environment), and Mr. David Townsend of Town Rock Energy Ltd. (award category Energy Entrepreneurship).

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Fergus Ewing acknowledged the contribution of collaborative R&D to the Scottish energy industry. Talking to the audience of business people and academics, the Minister emphasized the importance of collaboration and partnership between the Scottish Government, academic research, innovation and enterprise and economic development, and the work of Scottish engineers and scientists in the early stages of their careers saying:

 “You are very important to the future of Scotland’s energy industries, not least because your research may be taken up to further help develop Scotland economy and energy sector – and this work – and the Heriot-Watt Scottish Energy News Researchers of the Year Awards – may also help you to develop your own careers, whether in industry or in academia.”

“Heriot-Watt’s Energy Academy – and its Institute of Petroleum Studies – are two of the most successful examples of driving forward the energy agenda in Scotland. Indeed, with a student population of 11,000 people, 1,700 academic staff and an annual turnover of £120 million a year, Heriot-Watt University is itself a powerful economic engine for Scotland.”

The Energy Academy provides a framework for world-class energy study and research – a ‘gateway to the industrial world’.
Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Director of the Energy Academy

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Director of the Energy Academy, told the audience that “the Energy Academy provides a framework for world-class energy study and research – a ‘gateway to the industrial world’. The awards also reflect the entire academic spectrum of the work of the Energy Academy, ranging from technical and engineering, to social and political aspects of energy policy – all issues which also impact on the ‘energy trilemma’ (affordability and security of energy supply, as well as the low-carbon and environmental issues) – with which we constantly grapple.”

Dr. Tony Gutierrez

Dr. Gutierrez won in the category for Energy and the Marine Environment for his major contributions to environmental sustainability, in particular through his extensive work to understand the microbial response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 – a historic spill recognised as the worst maritime oil disaster in the history of the oil and gas industry in the United States. He took up his position of Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt University in 2012 and is an expert in studying marine microbial processes related to oil spills and in deep ocean basins. Dr Gutierrez is also the UK’s expert on the microbial response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

For more information you can visit Dr. Gutierrez's profile.

Dr. Jin Xuan

L-R: Dr. Jin Xuan, Fergus Ewing MSP and Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer

L-R: Dr. Jin Xuan, Fergus Ewing MSP and Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer

Dr. Xuan won in the category for Energy Materials and Storage for his work in the creation of international multidisciplinary networks for fuel cell technology and hybrid low carbon energy innovation and to connect the Scottish and overseas industrial sectors in order to promote renewable energy in Scotland. In 2013 he was honoured by the American Chemical Society with the ENVR Certificate of Merit Award. He took up his current position at Heriot-Watt University as Assistant Professor in 2014 and is now leading an independent research team at Heriot-Watt.

For more information you can visit Dr. Xuan's profile.

The Energy Academy would like to thank the Green Investment Bank and in particular Gregor Paterson Jones and Gavin Templeton for their support of the initiative and Mark Whittet, Editor of Scottish Energy News for his ceaseless promotion of the competition and good will towards the Energy Academy and the renewable energy sector in Scotland.