A Whitehaven lab worker is the winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Industry Technician of the Year.

Katie Bell is a technician at Sellafield Ltd and she won the award for validating complex methods for the analysis of special nuclear materials.

Mrs Bell said: “I was very surprised to be nominated and really didn’t expect to win. In the Sellafield labs, everything involves teamwork so I’m looking forward to being able to celebrate with others who have been involved with the projects I’ve worked on, once the COVID-19 crisis is over.”

Mrs Bell, who holds a degree in Combined Arts from Durham University, decided to pursue a career in lab work after working as a technician in an agricultural laboratory during university holiday periods. In recognition of her achievements, she also receives £1,000 and a trophy.

Her work involves instrumental analysis of a range of radioactive nuclear materials in support of Sellafield Ltd’s mission to clean up the nuclear site.

Dr Helen Pain, acting chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “We live in an era of tremendous global challenges, with the need for science recognised now more so than ever – so it is important to recognise those behind the scenes who are making significant contributions towards improving the world we live in. It is our honour and privilege to do that with these awards, which recognise exceptional scientific achievement.

“The global chemical sciences community is one that covers many different specialisms, from health and climate change to product development, sustainable transport, and everything in between. In recognising the work of Mrs Bell, we are also recognising the important contribution this incredible network of scientists makes to improving our lives every day.”