Professor Jean M Johnson

Professor Jean M Johnson MTh, BD, BA, BSc (Bsc Chemistry 1966) – Chartered Chemist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Jean Johnson’s 47 years of success in chemistry in the UK and overseas almost didn’t happen. At 16 years of age, the gender prejudices of the time meant Jean was discouraged from pursuing her love of chemistry at A-level by well-meaning family and friends. She didn’t give up her dream, though, studying A-levels part-time and then successfully applying to study Chemistry at The University of Manchester, from which she graduated in 1966.

After university Jean moved into teaching, achieving headships at two prestigious girls’ schools in the UK, inspecting science and mathematics in post-16 education, as well as becoming chief examiner for A-level chemistry and principal examiner for several other papers. Jean is now a Chartered Chemist and has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry since 1980, ten years after she first became an Associate Member.

It is in Africa, however, as a champion of education for the underprivileged, that Jean has made the biggest difference to improving opportunities for others. A volunteer in East Africa for a decade, Jean has made around 25 visits to run courses for chemistry teachers and students in Rwanda, Ethiopia and particularly Uganda. She has raised money for new laboratories and libraries, equipped with donated books and equipment collected, packed and sent out by Jean, at her own expense. In 2013, she raised funds to build a new primary school near Congo and is working with an adjacent secondary school to provide A-level science facilities, determined to continue her work empowering impoverished children through education.