Thursday 20 July saw hundreds of guests from around the world welcomed to Burlington House, on London’s Piccadilly, for our annual Summer Party.
As well as a party in the fabulous surroundings of the Royal Academy of Arts, next door to our part of the historic Burlington House courtyard, this year’s event included a special celebration of many of the inspirational winners of our prizes and awards.
Our president, Professor Sir John Holman, opened proceedings with a speech to the gathered winners, saying: "As a teacher for many years, I understand the power of positive role models in inspiring young people to study chemistry and I believe everyone in this room qualifies as a positive, inspiring role model.
"Bringing together chemical scientists, and celebrating their successes, is at the heart of what the Royal Society of Chemistry is all about. It is a broad and diverse community comprising hundreds of thousands of people who share a passion for chemistry and its impact."
We spoke to several of the recipients of our diverse prizes and awards, starting with Professor Venkateswarlu Peesapati, who was presented with an award for service for his tireless dedication to our Deccan local section in southern India.
He said: "I am very happy to receive this service award from the Royal Society of Chemistry. I’m proud and privileged to receive the award for what we are doing in the Deccan section.
"It brings me not only happiness but it will increase responses for me. It gives me a platform to do all these things because of the encouragement and financial support – but for that I could never have done it.
"At the same time, as a science teacher, I really enjoy going to the mainly school level students, those who are studying in rural areas, to instil the science curriculum into their minds.
"Thanks once again to the Royal Society of Chemistry for giving me this opportunity at this important award ceremony.”
Teamwork and inspirational members
Dr Sarah Myers was recognised with an inspirational member award, amongst many things for her dedication and enthusiasm as Secretary of the East Midlands Local Section committee.
She said: “For me personally, it’s recognition of my volunteering efforts and it’s always nice to be recognised for volunteering. I believe volunteering is good for you and that everyone should do it and that you learn a lot professionally through the opportunities that volunteering provides for you.
"I’ve benefited myself through the Royal Society of Chemistry, by being able to organise annual general meetings for the local section, I’ve organised a younger members symposium, which had about 120 delegates – these are all things that I wouldn’t have been able to do in my day job and I believe it developed me into the professional that I am today.
Sarah also paid tribute to the team of people she works with in the East Midlands Local Section, saying: "They are fantastic and two years ago, as a committee we were awarded the inspirational committee award, which was fantastic. Actually, as secretary, it makes my job very, very easy to have such a good group of people to work with.
"I don’t think I would be accepting this award today if it wasn’t for the back room of the committee that’s there to help.
"The [Royal Society of Chemistry] education coordinators are also incredibly valuable to the work that local sections do. They just give us a massive extra capacity to be able to deliver especially schools and public engagement focused events. We couldn’t do half the stuff we do without the education coordinators."
"Most meritorious contributions to chemistry"
Professor Eva Hevia, who leads a group in inorganic chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, received one of our Corday-Morgan prizes this year for her ground-breaking research.
She explained what it meant to receive her award in the presence of such leading members of our community as two recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
She said: "It’s amazing. I just feel so overwhelmed by the experience and I’ve just been talking to Ben Feringa now and he’s been talking about my chemistry, so I feel totally over the moon.
"I think it’s fantastic, you know how hard these awards are to get and when you’re actually here, you realise they are for real. It just makes you go home and work harder – I’m so, so inspired and so happy.
"You speak to these people and you actually realise that you share so many things in common, you have the same passion for work, for chemistry for research. You feel your batteries are totally recharged, so you just want to go home and talk to your students and share some of that."
Our 2017 prizes and awards celebrate outstanding achievements by members of our community. Some of these winners were presented with their awards at the Summer Party. You can see the full list of winners here.
Professor Helen H Fielding MA DPhil CChem FRSC, University College London
Awarded for her outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry, in particular her contributions to Council and the Publishing Board.
Helen has supported the Royal Society of Chemistry for nearly 20 years in a wide variety of roles, being an active member of our Council, the Chair of our Publishing Board, leading the 2009 Governance Review and contributing to the 2016/2017 Governance Review. In all of her roles she has brought enthusiasm, knowledge, experience and passion to the position.
Dr Julie Hyde BSc CChem FRSC, University of Sheffield
Awarded for her outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry, in particular to the promotion of chemistry locally, nationally and internationally.
Julie has been involved with the Royal Society of Chemistry since 1990 pursuing her lifelong interest in promoting chemistry to diverse groups of students and the public. Despite having no chemistry qualifications she worked as an assistant in a QC lab which inspired her achieve a BSc and PGCE, a full-time position at Sheffield College and ultimately a PhD and senior teaching position at the University of Sheffield. Her outreach activities always aim to inspire people to have fun with chemistry and dressed in her legendary purple lab coat she has brought the story of Perkin’s dye mauveine to public audiences in both the UK and China.
Dr Philip S Jones BSc MSc CSci CChem FRSC, European Screening Centre, University of Dundee
Awarded for his outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry as Chair of the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector.
Phil was Chair of the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector for seven years. His leadership ensured committee activities and events added value to their members. He was involved in the introduction of a travel award and the BMCS Lectureship. To ensure that the next generation of chemists are inspired at an early age he supported the growth of outreach activities supporting school Chemistry Clubs and provision of enhanced equipment using the surplus generated by the 10-12 scientific conferences run by the committee per annum.
Professor Raymond C F Jones MA PhD CSci CChem FRSC, Loughborough University
Awarded for his outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry, in particular his contributions to the Organic Division and the innovation of a lasting international collaboration with the National Organic Symposium Trust of India.
Ray has supported Royal Society of Chemistry governance serving on many Boards and committees as well as President, Vice-President, President-elect and Past-President of the Organic Division, firstly from 2002–2007 and then again from 2012–2017. In between these two major appointments he was an elected member of Royal Society of Chemistry Council in 2007–11.
Most significantly he has forged a lasting collaboration between the Organic Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the National Organic Symposium Trust (NOST) of India. This has led to international exchange visits between the two countries by academics and industrialists, and postgraduate students from the UK attending the highly prestigious J-NOST meeting in India thus gaining life-changing experiences.
Professor Venkateswarlu Peesapati BSc MSc PhD CChem FRSC, Deccan
Awarded for his outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry through his tireless dedication to the Deccan Local Section.
Professor Peesapati has done outstanding work for the Deccan Local Section ever since he took over as Secretary in 2007. He has been extremely active in organising a wide variety of activities for both members and the wider community. In particular he has worked with local female scientists to raise the profile of chemistry to female school students. He has been instrumental in making chemistry attractive, fun and easy to learn to students, scientists and public in the Deccan Local Section.
Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector Teacher – Forest Lane Community School
For her leadership of the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector Education Support Group including the establishment of a coherent publicity strategy and streamlined application and review process leading to a significant increase in the number and diversity of projects supported.
Kathryn joined the BMCS Education Support Group 2012, at which time average spending on school grants was in the range £3000-3500 (60-70% of the budget allocated). She took on the role of Chair in 2013 and quickly established a committee of active volunteers.
She instigated a review of ESG publicity and actions, which led to a revised, easy-to-use nomination form and a coherent publicity strategy. In 2016, 73 applications for funding from schools were received, an increase of 5-fold over the average application levels prior to 2013. These applications were from a diverse range of schools from across the UK. Due to this success she has now set up a formal review process.
Dr Sarah Myers MRSC
East Midlands Local Section committee, STEMNET Regional Networks Manager
For her dedication and enthusiasm as Secretary of the East Midlands Local Section committee and being the driving force behind additional activities established to ensure that a broad diversity of members can get involved.
Sarah has been the Secretary of our East Midlands Local Section since 2009. She was also the Chair of the Midlands Education Division which was active and maintained a varied programme of events throughout her tenure. She carries out her voluntary duties alongside her highly successful career in science education and outreach.
She works tirelessly in her role with the local section ensuring that regular events are incredibly popular and she has driven the creation of a new, mobile Spring Meeting that has allowed us to connect with members in parts of the region that have not seen so many Royal Society of Chemistry events in the past. In addition to her excellent organisational skills, Sarah also manages to commit time to volunteering herself at many of the events she helps organise as well as those organised by others.
Dr Hooshang Zavareh CChem FRSC
Consultancy Group committee, Consultant
For his dedication to the Consultancy Group committee including supporting staff in the creation of the Directory of Consultants which is of benefit to the wider chemical science community.
Hooshang has dedicated much time and effort to his role on the Consultancy Group committee. He is responsible for their MyRSC group which is very active and has worked closely with staff on the creation of the new Directory of Consultants. As a working consultant himself he was able to provide a valuable insight into the needs of both the members and those working in consultancy.
Chair – Professor John Spencer MRSC Secretary – Dr Vladimir Golovko MRSC Treasurer – Dr Jóhannes Reynisson FRSC
For revitalising the New Zealand Local Section of the Royal Society of Chemistry and improving the engagement and activity of members throughout the country.
Honours at the president’s reception
Following the prize and award ceremony, Sir John Holman hosted his president’s reception in our historic library, with an international audience including delegations from both the American Chemical Society and the German chemical society, (GDCh).
Sir John spoke about the importance of continuing to forge partnerships across borders, referring to concerns from many in our community about the uncertainty posed by Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Each year we recognise substantial contributions that individuals make to the chemical science community, by awarding them honorary fellowship to the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Sir John oversaw three new honorary fellows of the Royal Society of Chemistry being presented with a certificate recognising their contributions to science and our community.
Our first new honorary fellow was Professor Ben Feringa, who received the 2016 Nobel prize in Chemistry and is a hugely popular member of our governing Council. He said: “I never thought that when I was a student who walked past this building while visiting London, that I would one day be here receiving such an honour.
"Chemistry is at the core of many of the developments our society needs. It is a way of life."
Cristina Moberg picked up on Sir John’s thoughts on international partnerships, saying: "Science is global. Science does not recognise any borders.
"We need agreements. We need more collaborations between organisations."
Professor Dame Janet Thornton received her certificate from our past president, Professor Dominic Tildesley, saying: "It's something that I never for a minute expected. I started out life as a physicist!
"I think and hope that the recognition from the RSC means something. The Royal Society of Chemistry has a special role in developing relationships at the interfaces between the disciplines.
"As part of this honorary fellowship I hope I can be part of continuing that exciting and important work."
If you’d like to find out how to nominate someone or read a list of all Royal Society of Chemistry honorary fellows, visit our webpage.
Speaking at the reception following the presentation, American Chemical Society chief executive officer Tom Connelly summed up the mood of international partnership, saying: "We greatly value these opportunities to collaborate with our colleagues at the Royal Society of Chemistry, and to take part in their annual meeting and summer party.
"Continuing to strengthen these bonds is critical to achieving our shared mission."
The summer exhibition
The final instalment of the evening’s proceedings was hosted at the Royal Academy of Art, with "a panorama of art in all media, from painting, printmaking, film and photography to sculpture, architectural works and performance art".
More than 400 guests saw a collection gathered by Eileen Cooper, Keeper of the Royal Academy, which explores themes of discovery and new talent.