Get to know what our staff, students and professionals in the field say about the coming of this new chemistry Master's programme.

Eva Harsevoort, PhD student ‘Organic Chemistry and Catalysis’ (OCC)

PhD student Eva Harsevoort

I think it is a very exciting time to study Sustainable and Circular Chemistry, since it focusses on topics that are now more relevant than ever. In the past, chemists have not always considered how the chemical industry affected the environment. Today, we are facing a number of big challenges that we need to solve in order to move towards a more sustainable future. Think about the three mayor transitions (energy, resource and materials) that need to occur. Sustainable and Circular Chemistry plays a vital role in enabling these transitions.

Within the OCC group we work on research topics in this context like: converting CO2 to fuels, using CO2 to form plastics, biomass valorization – where we figure out how to make useful molecules from renewable resources rather than from oil, recycling of (current) plastics, designing new bio-based and circular plastics, but also more fundamental research on understanding and developing catalysts, which play an important role in green and sustainable syntheses. I believe that this new Master’s programme will equip students with the required chemical knowledge and experience to contribute to this research. Personally, I also find the opportunity to learn about data science in the context of chemistry within this programme very interesting. I think it’s beneficial to have more chemists around that are skilled in the tools offered by the digital revolution.

Joyce Kromwijk, PhD student 'Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis' (ICC)

One of my motivations for studying chemistry was to be able to contribute to sustainable research. During my Master’s in Nanomaterials Science, I performed my research thesis on CO2 conversion at the ‘Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis’ (ICC) group. After completion, I continued with a PhD in the same group where I study CH4 valorization. At ICC, there is a lot of expertise on various topics concerning sustainable chemistry, ranging from electrocatalysis to plastics recycling. If you are interested in this kind of research, the new Master’s programme ‘Sustainable and Circular Chemistry’ is a good fit. Not only will you focus on the fundamental aspects, but you will also obtain a better understanding how the various parts of chemistry fit together in the bigger picture of the energy, resources and materials transitions.

Dr. Marc-Etienne Moret, Programme Leader

Portrait photo of Marc Etienne standing on a building of Utrecht University

I think of us chemists as molecular engineers. Over the years, we have learned to control the arrangement of atoms in molecules and materials, to give them a wide range of desirable properties like vivid colors, pleasant fragrances, efficient and safe drugs, and much more. In this way, chemistry as a science has made the world a better place.   

In the past, resources were thought to be abundant, meaning that our material well-being was primarily dependent on our ability to efficiently harvest and transform them. However, we are now confronted with the fact that our planet has finite resources and a limited capacity to absorb our various waste streams. The world has suddenly become much smaller. Therefore, society needs us to incorporate new dimensions in our thinking. Not only do chemicals need tailored properties, but they should be produced, consumed, and disposed of in a sustainable way, with a minimal impact on humans and their environment. Even better, current waste streams may become useful raw materials to in a more and more circular economy. 

I am thrilled to be the leader of this new Master's programme, which aims to prepare a new generation of chemistry researchers for these challenges. As a student, you will deepen your knowledge of the fundamental chemistry of molecules and materials and, at the same time, better understand the broader societal context in which chemistry operates. I hope to welcome you on board soon!

Jaap Bergwerff, Global Renewables Business Development Director at Ketjen

I’m happy with the coming of this new Master’s in Sustainable and Circular Chemistry, since it empowers students to make a valuable contribution to solving the biggest challenges of our generation.

Most of the research being done in the chemical industry today, is aimed at delivering the technology required to make the energy and material transitions a reality. Established companies are changing their processes and in some cases their entire business model. At Ketjen for example, we are developing the catalytic solutions required to create renewable fuels and circular materials. In order to do so, we need graduates trained for these transitions.

Ferry Winter, Director ETCA & General Manager Technology Management

Chemistry and understanding chemical processes are, and will remain, the heart of necessary innovations to accelerate the energy transition and the transition to sustainable products.

At the Energy Transition Campus Amsterdam (ETCA) and in Shell, we are continuing to make an impact through innovation and technology. Our aim is to develop more and cleaner energy as well as ensuring new and more sustainable chemical products are developed to support our quality of live. As a chemist, and Utrecht University alumni myself, I see great potential for students that develop themselves in this field of expertise, who will continue to make a difference for future generations and an impact in energy transition and new sustainable technologies. We very much welcome chemistry graduates.