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We delighted to announce that Chemical Engineering graduate Yvonne Baker has been awarded the OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the 2022 New Year Honours.

Yvonne graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1986 with BSc Chemical Engineering and is currently Chief Executive of STEM Learning – an organisation working to achieve a world-leading Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education for all young people across the UK. She is possibly most famous for creating the STEM Ambassador volunteering programme in 2002.

As STEM Learning themselves say: Yvonne has been unwavering in her drive to bring together disparate STEM organisations to make this vision a reality, believing that ‘great STEM education has economic, social, cultural and ethical value, with positive impacts on social mobility, diversity and inclusion.’ A full press release celebrating Yvonne’s OBE is available on the STEM Learning website.

Upon hearing she had been awarded an OBE, Yvonne commented: ‘I am privileged to work with people who share a genuine belief in and commitment to STEM education as something that can really change young people’s lives. I owe huge gratitude to the members of the STEM Learning and ENTHUSE Charitable Trust boards. I was lucky enough to have parents, teachers, university lecturers, friends and others who supported me throughout my early years right up to university and beyond (and continue to do so). That support has been the absolute bedrock of my life – but I realise that not every young person is so lucky. I also know that we, as a country and globally, need young people to be able and motivated to contribute to the economy and society so we can continue to function and address the opportunities as well as challenges facing us.’

Professor Gary Leeke, Head of the School of Chemical Engineering, shares in Yvonne's success and says 'Congratulations from the School of Chemical Engineering on your fantastic achievement. We are very proud to have such an influential leader as an alumna'.

We were fortunate enough to have Yvonne return to the University in March 2020 to deliver the annual EPS Distinguished Lecture. Her talk ‘Birmingham, STEM Ambassadors and Me’ followed her journey through working life beginning in our Chemical Engineering labs and travelling through many places she did not expect, including an accidental career in science communication. She also shared her insight into how we can continue to make STEM attractive to the young and not so young. Yvonne's full lecture and interview with our scientific journalistic society SATNAV are available on the Distinguished Lecture website.

Many congratulations Yvonne and we look forward to working with you again soon.