How has your impression of the Royal Society of Chemistry changed since you started?
The one thing that’s stood out for me is just how influential and well respected the Royal Society of Chemistry is internationally – representing the RSC at a recent Chinese Chemical Society conference brought this home to me. We have a major role to play in supporting and promoting chemistry to our community and more widely and I think our publishing portfolio reflects this, from our flagship journal Chemical Science to our wholly gold open access RSC Advances.
What have you been involved in so far and what are you most looking forward to?
My first RSC overseas trip was to the Chinese Chemical Society Congress in Hangzhou. Along with visiting colleagues from our publishing teams and China-based staff, I had an action-packed few days. I was honoured to give a speech at the congress and present the RSC-CCS Young Researchers’ Awards in front of some 10,000 delegates, as well as seeing thousands of young chemists at the exhibition that included an excellent RSC stand. It’s important for us to engage with a community that is producing high quality science and it was good to see our China team in action supporting the CCS.
We have to stress the importance of keeping our doors open after Brexit
I’m already looking forward to my next visit and in the meantime, plan to visit our other key international hubs.
Closer to home, I had the pleasure of speaking at our Science and the Assembly event at the Senedd in Cardiff. As well as expanding our reach internationally, we have an incredibly important role in supporting the UK home nations as their professional body for the chemical sciences. In my speech at the Senedd, I emphasised how the day’s theme of science and industry in Wales could easily refer to Wales’s past, but absolutely must describe and define its future.
Strengthening links with policymakers in Westminster and the devolved nations is really important in ensuring that voices from the science community are heard as the UK negotiates leaving the European Union. I know you’ve spoken strongly on this, John, and I agree we have to stress the importance of keeping our doors open after Brexit, and I’m really looking forward to joining you in Liverpool in August, as we play host to the EuCheMS congress.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for our community in the next couple of years?
As well as preparing for the outcomes of leaving the European Union, we also need to ensure we stay relevant to play a leading role in the science community. Research is becoming more interdisciplinary and the boundaries between the traditional science subjects are blurring.
This is fantastic for scientific research and is leading to new fields of study that are already making ground-breaking progress in tackling global challenges such as energy production and antimicrobial resistance. We need to make sure we represent the chemical sciences in the broadest possible terms, while still upholding exemplary standards of professional practice.
As well as challenges, we have huge opportunities in front of us. We’ve recently announced an exciting “Read & Publish” agreement with leading US university MIT, to support them towards their open access goals, as we do for partners in a growing number of countries around the world. As a not-for-profit publisher, our aim is to build a sustainable, long-term model to both disseminate chemical science research and information, as well as continuing to support our purpose driven activities.