PLA group

CV Polly L Arnold


Nationality:    UK             Orcid: 0000-0001-6410-5838


Twitter: @ProfArno        LinkedIn:

Address:   Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley CA 94720, USA.

        Chemical Sciences Division Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


We make new and reactive molecules that are changing the way the world thinks about the f-block metals, an important but poorly understood area of the periodic table. Our fundamental studies have demonstrated unprecedented bond forming reactions with actinide ions that changes the way we consider nuclear waste, and developed the first catalyst from anywhere across the periodic table that under ambient conditions, catalytically converts atmospheric dinitrogen into a secondary amine – a more versatile precursor to amino acids than ammonia, which is still made via the energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process.


2019-        Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley and

                 Chemical Sciences Division Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

2013-19     Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh.

2009-13     Chair of Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry, University of Edinburgh.

2007-09     Reader in Inorganic Chemistry, University of Edinburgh.

1999-07     Lecturer then Reader (from 2006) in Inorganic Chemistry, University of Nottingham.

1997-98     Fulbright Scholar, MIT,Cambridge, USA. Postdoctoral Fellowship.

1994-97     DPhil Chemistry, Sussex University.

1990-94     MA Chemistry, Oxford University


  • University of York, UK, 2021.
  • University of Sussex, UK, 2020.
  • Elected to the membership of the academy, Academia Europaea.
  • Elevated to the Fellowship of the Royal Society.
  • For pioneering research into transuranic organometallic chemistry. First woman to be awarded this international prize.
  • For advances in chemistry.
  • Scotland’s senior research prize in the physical sciences.
  • Admitted to the Queen’s most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for services to chemistry and women in STEM.
  • University of Edinburgh. Awarded annually by HRH the Princess Royal for research excellence.
  • Research sabbatical position hosted by the Seaborg Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA.
  • Ambassador, since 2017.Technische Universität München.
  • Sabbatical visiting professor 2015-17. Shanghai, China.
  • Seaborg Award lectures and research sabbatical hosted by UC Berkeley, USA.
  • Lucy Pickett Lectureship, Mount Holyoke College, USA. First recipient of the award from outside North American. For contributions to science and women in STEM.
  • Heritage Award, MRC, UK. Awarded by the UK Research Councils for contributions to women in STEM.
  • Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award. For scientific excellence, and women in STEM activity.
  • , Technion Research Institute, Israel.
  • Humboldt Bessel Award.




  • XXIX ICOMC International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry, Prague 2022.
  • 105th CCCE Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, Canada 2022.
  • EuCOMC European Conference in Organometallic Chemistry, Spain 2021.
  • Small Molecule Activation 4. Fusion Conference, Mexico 2021.
  • ISySyCat2017 (International Symposium on Synthesis & Catalysis), Portugal 2017; 400 delegates.
  • ICFE 8 (International conference on the f-elements), Italy 2012; 500 delegates.
  • ICCC (International conference on coordination chemistry), Australia 2010; 600 delegates.


  • ICFE 11 (International conference on the f-elements), US 2020 (pandemic postponed).
  • ICFE 10 International conference on the f-elements, Switzerland, 2018.
  • ICCC International conference on coordination chemistry, Japan 2018; 2500 delegates.
  • The Scottish Humanist Society, 2018.
  • ICOMC International conference on organometallic chemistry, Australia 2016; 700 delegates.
  • ICFE 9 International conference on the f-elements, UK, 2015; 300 delegates.

International lecture tours (in the last 10 years)

Germany 2019 (Berlin Humboldt, Leipzig, Karlsruhe IT, Dresden). Japan 2016 (Kyushu, Osaka, Tokyo). USA 2013 (Yale, MIT, Harvard, UPenn). USA 2011 (including Princeton, Illinois universities and Argonne national Labs). China 2011 (including Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Fudan, Hunan, Hunan Normal, and Changsha Universities). Taiwan 2011.


Computational and crystallography – bonding and reactivity

Prof. L. Maron, Toulouse, France; Prof. H. G. Schreckenbach, Manitoba, Canada; Prof. N. Kaltsoyannis, Univ. Manchester, UK. Prof. S. Parsons, Edinburgh, UK.

Catalysis – C-H bond activation and functionalisation

Prof. A. Poethig, TU Munich, Germany; Prof. C. Williams, Univ. Oxford, UK. Prof. Andy Smith, University of St Andrews, UK.

Synthesis – ligand design

Prof. J. B. Love, Edinburgh, UK.

Transuranic chemistry – synthesis and electronic structure

Prof. R. Caciuffo, Dr O. Walter, Dr N. Magnani, European Commission Directorate of Nuclear Safety, Karlsruhe, Germany; Dr S. G. Minasian, LBNL, USA.

UK National Laboratory Collaborations – fundamental reactivity related to actinide handling UK NNL (National Nuclear Laboratory); UK MoD Defence Science and Technology Lab (Dstl).

GRADUATE ADVISOR Prof. F. Geoff. N. Cloke, University of Sussex, UK.



Totals: PhD ADVISOR 28 PhD graduates, 9 PhD students in post. POSTDOC ADVISOR 17 researchers (4 in post).

Those entered into academia: Dr Andrea di Giuseppe, University of Aquila, Italy;  Thomas Cadenbach, University de San Francisco Quito, Ecuador; Dr Joy Farnaby, University of Glasgow; Dr Stephen M. Mansell, Heriot-Watt University; Dr Bernabé Perandones, University of Saragoza, Spain; Dr Rowan D. Young, National University of Singapore; Dr Rianne Lord, University of Bradford; Dr Sergey Zlatogorsky University of Central Lancashire; Dr Benjamin D. Ward, Cardiff University; Dr Zoe R Turner, Oxford University; Dr Stephen T. Liddle, University of Manchester; Dr Louise S. Natrajan, University of Manchester.


Teaching: Teaching commitments are not required during tenure as Berkeley Lab’s CSD division director. However, guest lectures were delivered to three different undergraduate classes during 2020/21 academic year.

Mentees: Three academics in UK; 3 career research fellows; 1 fiat lux student (UC Berkeley program).


  • Strategic advisory board member, UK British Embassy in the US.
  • Royal Society Community of Interest panel member, providing strategic advice on research and innovation policy to the UK government, since 2019.
  • Royal Society Section Committee member, Chemistry (2021-24).
  • Department of Energy, Committee of Visitors Panel co-chair, for evaluation of the DOE Energy Innovation Hub and Energy Frontier Research Center programs, 2020.
  • Senior Leadership Council member, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) at Berkeley Lab.
  • Energy Sciences Area Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability committee member, Berkeley Lab.
  • Ordinary Member of Council, Royal Society of Chemistry (stepped down, 2020).
  • EPSRC college member since 2001 (chair/member of 6 panels including fellowship interviews).
  • Panel member for RS Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (since 2014, two consecutive terms); ERC Consolidator Fellowship panel PE5; RSE Fellowship panel B.
  • International Review panel member. For National Nuclear Research Programmes in the US (Lawrence Berkeley lab, Los Alamos lab, DoE Programs and Energy Frontier Research Centers) France (CEA Saclay and CEA Marcoule), and Sweden (Prisma).
  • Journal Editorial Board member: Inorganic Syntheses (ACS); Royal Society Proceedings A (RS). Advisory Board member: Chem Catalysis (Wiley); Chemical Science; Chemical Communications (RSC), ACS Central Science, and Inorganic Chemistry (ACS).
  • International/local organizing committee member for: ‘IUPAC Congress 2021’ Canada, ‘Actinides 2021’ US, ‘Actinides 2017’ Japan, ‘Actinides 2013’ Germany. ‘EuCheMS 2018’, Liverpool, UK.
  • Editor for special issues of the RSC journals Dalton Transactions and Chemical Communications.
  • Chair of the first ‘Twitter Inorganic Chemistry Poster Conference’ (2017, RSC).


  • Chair of the Inclusion and Diversity Committee, Royal Society of Chemistry, representing 50,000 international membership (stepped down, 2020).
  • Board member, Edinburgh International Science Festival (stepped down, 2020).
  • Established SciSisters – a Scottish Scientific Sisterhood. A cross-cutting network for senior women in STEM in Scotland. Invited to advise the Scottish Government on putting together a ‘Scottish Government Women Scientists’ network (ca 100 members). We are now working to devise an academic/government scientist mentoring/networking scheme.
  • Creator and Executive Producer of A Chemical Imbalance (; a project (comprising a short book and documentary film) about women in science, and Edinburgh’s successful female chemists with four action points to drive progress towards equality of opportunity in the workplace. Funded by the RS’s Rosalind Franklin Award, 2012. Press coverage has included the BBC and the Guardian, the website/film’s reach to date is close to 100,000 views, over 50 % external to the UK, and covering 124 countries. I received a special invitation to present the Chemical Imbalance work at the Pacifichem Conference 2015 (USA, 14,000 delegates) by Prof E. Ann Nalley, a former president of the American Chemical Society (international membership 150,000). Hosted a discussion as the centrepiece of their 10-year anniversary celebrations at the Scottish Parliament.
  • Regular media coverage of both research and Women in STEM work, recently including being the subject of the feature article in Chemistry World (international readership 50,000), and of an episode ofBBC Radio’s Brainwaves 2018 Panelist on the Infinite Monkey Cage (BBC Radio 4’s multi award-winning science radio show  Also featured interviews and commentaries in The Times 2018, Good Morning Scotland 2018, BBC TV interview with Scotland’s Science Correspondent (2017), Radio 4 Today (2016), PM (2016), BBC Radio Scotland other (2017, 2015, 2012), Woman’s hour (2017, 2012), the i (2017), Sunday Times (2016), and various international press such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  • Tweets about diversity and women in STEM as @ProfArno; over 4500 genuine followers that include learned societies, international scientific publishers and journalists, UK and US parliamentary party leaders and thought leaders, policy makers, and equality and diversity pressure groups.


Fellow of the RSC. Chartered Chemist, C.Chem.

Member of the AAAS and ACS.

ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) standard qualification.

PGCAP (Postgraduate Certificate of Academic Practice).

Training in Identification and Exploitation of Intellectual Property; Frank B. Dehn & Associates.