As part of the Building a better chemistry culture series, this webinar focusses on the 2021 #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek (10-16 May) theme: access to nature and the impact it can have on our mental wellbeing.

Spending time in nature can have a profoundly positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Whether it’s taking part in physical activities, caring for plants or simply enjoying the green spaces around us, there is little doubt about the positive effects it can bring.

However, not everyone has equal access to nature so it’s important that we recognise and address inequalities and how nature in its many forms could be made accessible to all.

Join us to learn about the connections between nature and mental wellbeing, as well as the importance of this to building inclusivity in the chemical sciences.

Our speakers, Alistair Griffiths (Royal Horticultural Society), Anjana Khatwa (Wessex Museums) and Patricia Zurita (BirdLife International), will discuss:

  • the benefits of having access to nature on mental health and wellbeing, and how this connects to the chemical sciences
  • what it means to have access to nature and green spaces, as well as inequalities of access and how nature in its many forms can be made accessible to all
  • the importance of environmental preservation to mental wellbeing

BSL interpretation will be provided by Rachael Dance and Steve Churchill.

Alistair Griffiths

Source: © RHS

Speaker:  Alistair Griffiths, Director of science and collections, Royal Horticultural Society 

Alistair leads the RHS’s highly skilled team of scientists focused on assimilating, evaluating and sharing the most current scientific knowledge and undertaking scientific research to provide high-quality, evidence-based solutions to address horticultural challenges. Alistair is responsible for ensuring that the RHS charity remains at the forefront of horticulture science. Prior to the RHS he was a key player in using horticulture science to create the award-winning Eden Project, spending a decade there as Head Scientist.
Alistair is interested in how gardens, gardening and growing garden plants (indoors or out) can help towards improve the wellbeing of people, and is co-author of Your Wellbeing Garden: How to Make Your Garden Good for You - Science, Design, and Practice. His ambition is to build a more resilient gardening community who enjoy their gardens and who take positive action to benefit their gardening handprint on the planet and to maximise the health of our nation.


Anjana Khatwa

Source: © Rob Coombe

Speaker:  Anjana Khatwa, Engagement lead, Wessex Museums

Anjana is an multi-award winning Earth Scientist, engagement specialist and TV presenter bringing stories about the origins and formation of natural landscapes to life for a wide range of audiences. For over 20 years, she has worked in the natural heritage sector including 15 years at the Jurassic Coast where she developed an award winning education programme. Anjana is now the Engagement Lead at Wessex Museums where she is developing strategic programming to engage underserved audiences with museum spaces. Anjana is deeply passionate to see more diversity in Britain’s landscape, whether it is out on the footpaths or within the organisations that care for nature.


Patricia Zurita, Chief Executive Officer of BirdLife International

Source: © BirdLife International

Speaker:  Patricia Zurita, Chief Executive Officer, BirdLife International

Patricia Zurita is the Chief Executive Officer of BirdLife International, the world’s largest nature conservation partnership, bringing together over 115 organisations worldwide to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainable use of natural resources. Patricia is also the first woman from a developing country (Ecuador) to become CEO of an international conservation organisation. Prior to BirdLife, Patricia was the Executive Director of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, and led the Conservation Stewards Program in Conservation International. She previously worked for the Ecuadorian Government and holds a Masters in Natural Resource Economics from Duke University, USA.


Rachael Dance and Steve Churchill

Interpreters: Rachael Dance and Steve Churchill

Rachael Dance is training to be a fully qualified British Sign Language interpreter and graduated from Wolverhampton University with BA hons in interpreting English and BSL.

Steve Churchill has been a fully qualified interpreter for 4 years, having completed his postgraduate diploma in British Sign Language-English interpreting.


Ben Valsler

Moderator: Benjamin Valsler, digital editor, Chemistry World magazine

Ben is the digital editor of Chemistry World magazine, producing video and podcasts to accompany the magazine and website. Prior to joining the Royal Society of Chemistry, he was the producer of the award-winning Naked Scientists, making local and national radio programmes for the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Primedia in South Africa.

Royal Society of Chemistry logo

Chemistry World and the Inclusion and Diversity team at the Royal Society of Chemistry are proud to offer a webinar series to support the chemical sciences community in response to and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Throughout the Building a better chemistry culture series, we will illuminate the science behind the issues being experienced and provide support tailored to the needs of chemical scientists including sharing coping strategies and reducing stigma around mental health and wellbeing.

The Inclusion and Diversity team drives and coordinates the strategy across all Royal Society of Chemistry activities to support a more inclusive and diverse chemical sciences community. Through research, advocacy and recognising success, we are working to make ‘chemistry for everyone’ a reality. Find out more about our work here.