Professor Richard Blackburn


My key areas of research focus around the principles of sustainability and how these principles can be applied in the fields of materials science, coloration technology and cosmetics. My research is important in terms of the contribution to basic research, fundamental discoveries, and influence on the direction of the field, making a significant contribution to the scientific community. My research also has significant impact in its application in terms of providing more sustainable products and processes for industry and society. I am co-founder and director of spin-out company Keracol Limited.

In 2013 I was made a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Dyers of The City of London, and was given The Freedom of The City of London.

In 2016 I was awarded the Silver Medal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists for Prolonged contributions to education and academic research and in 2017 the Fellowship of the Society. In both 2018 and 2019 I was awarded The Society of Dyers and Colourists Centenary Medal for best paper in the journal Coloration Technology, becoming the first author in history to win the award in two consecutive years.


  • Head of Sustainable Materials Research Group

Research interests

I am co-founder and director of University spin-out company Keracol Limited, which develops novel approaches to the extraction of active molecules from plant sources, and fractionating and purifying them for multiple applications, both existing and novel. Keracol extracts are effectively applied in cosmetic products for hair coloration, hair care and skin care. Keracol have invented novel hair dye systems that utilise solely natural and renewable materials, providing a solution to unmet needs in the personal care industry, where there is huge consumer demand for personal care products containing natural and renewable ingredients.

I was co-founder and Director of RITE Group (Reducing the Impact of Textiles on the Environment) which is a non-profit industry association which aims to provide advice and fact based information to minimise the negative environmental impact of the production, use and disposal of textiles and apparel. The Group’s ultimate goal was to drive forward the sustainable and ethical production of textiles and clothing throughout the global supply chain through a number of innovative initiatives.

My research interests are:

  • Sustainability issues within the textiles, coloration and finishing industries
  • Physical organic chemistry of fundamental interactions between dye molecules and polymers
  • Dye chemistry, chemical properties of dyes and structure colour relationships, particularly natural dyes such as anthocyanins and colorants used to dye textiles historically
  • Polymer chemistry, particularly fundamental understanding of polysaccharide chemistry and cellulose I and cellulose II crystallinity. Also, development of novel methods of analysing and quantifying cellulose crystallinity.
  • Extraction of natural products and application in cosmetics, particularly in natural products chemistry; applied research has focused on clean extraction techniques for isolation of actives from plants and the development of cosmetic products.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BSc (Hons) Colour Chemistry & Dyeing (Leeds)
  • PhD Colour Chemistry (Leeds)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of The Society of Dyers and Colourists
  • Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member of the American Chemical Society
  • Member of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists
  • Member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>