Tilden Prizes

The Tilden Prizes are awarded for advances in chemistry.

2019 Winners

Professor Eric McInnes

2019 Tilden Prize Winner

Professor Eric McInnes, The University of Manchester

Professor Russell Morris

2019 Tilden Prize Winner

Professor Russell Morris, University of St Andrews

Professor James Naismith

2019 Tilden Prize Winner

Professor James Naismith, The Rosalind Franklin Institute & University of Oxford

General information

  • Run annually
  • Up to three prizes are available 
  • Winners receive 5000, a medal and certificate
  • The winners will complete UK lecture tours
  • Prize winners are chosen by the RSC Awards Working Group           

Guidelines for Nominators

  • Only RSC Members can nominate for this prize
  • Nominees may NOT nominate themselves
  • Nominees should be an established career scientist, typically with no more than 30 years of full-time equivalent professional experience. 
  • The prize is open to nominees working in the UK or Republic of Ireland only
  • This should be experience gained as part of a scientific career excluding time spent in full-time education. Time spent as a postgraduate student should not be included e.g. Masters, PhD. Time spent as a post-doctoral researcher should be included. 
  • Nominators will be asked to provide details of the nominee's professional experience, in relation to the above criteria. 
  • Career breaks will be recognised, and applications are particularly encouraged from those whose career has spanned a break due to caring responsibilities or personal circumstances e.g. a period of parental/adoption leave, family commitments, illness, or other exceptional circumstances.
  • When nominating previous RSC prize or award winners, please remember that a person cannot be awarded twice for substantially the same body of work    

To make a nomination please use our online awards nominations system  to submit the following:

  • Your name, contact details, and membership number (please contact the RSC Membership team if you do not know your membership details)
  • The nominee's name and contact details 
  • An up to date CV for the nominee (no longer than one A4 side, 11pt text) which should include a summary of their education and career, a list of 5 relevant publications, total numbers of publications and patents (if appropriate) and webpage URL if relevant
  • A supporting statement (up to 4500 characters, not including spaces) addressing the selection criteria 
  • A short citation describing what the nominee should be awarded for. This must be no longer than 250 characters (not including spaces) and ideally no longer than one sentence 
  • References are not required for this award and will not be accepted    

The RSC reserves the right to rescind any Prize or Award if there is reasonable grounds to do so. All nominators will be asked to confirm that, to the best of their knowledge, there is no confirmed or potential impediment to their nominee receiving this prize/award related to their professional standing. Our Professional Practice and Code of Conduct can be referred to as a guide on expected standards.

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Selection Criteria for RSC Prizes

Our selection committees base their evaluations primarily on the overall quality of relevant contributions made by nominees and not simply on quantitative measures.

The selection committee(s) will consider the following aspects of all nominations for scientific research Prizes as appropriate:

  • Originality of research
  • Impact of research
  • Quality of publications and/or patents and/or software
  • Innovation
  • Professional standing
  • Collaborations and teamwork
  • Other indicators of esteem indicated by the nominee/nominator      

Awards Working Group

  • Duncan Bruce, University of York (Chair)
  • Duncan Graham, University of Strathclyde 
  • Rob Field, University of Manchester 
  • Robert Mulvey, University of Strathclyde
  • Simon Lancaster, University of East Anglia
  • Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Heriot-Watt University
  • Claire Vallance, University of Oxford
  • Roy Sandbach, Newcastle University
  • Milo Shaffer, Imperial College London
  • Stuart Conway, University of Oxford 

Previous Winners

Tilden Prizes Previous Winners

1939 - present

History of the Prize

William Augustus Tilden
The Tilden Prize, founded in 1939, commemorates Sir William Augustus Tilden, British chemist and pioneer in the teaching of science.

Born in 1842 Tilden studied at the School of the Pharmaceutical Society and won the first Bell Scholarship.  In 1863 Tilden became demonstrator in chemistry at the Pharmaceutical Society where he went on to gain his BSc and subsequent DSc.  He spent an eight year period as senior science master at Clifton College before becoming Chair of Chemistry at Mason College (now the University of Birmingham) and a fellow of the Royal Society.  At the age of 52 Tilden became Professor of Chemistry at the Royal College of Science, a position he held until retirement in 1909.  Appointment as Emeritus Professor at Imperial College soon followed.

Tilden's research activities ranged from determining the relationship between the specific heat of metals and their atomic weight, to investigating the nature of terpenes and hydrocarbons.  In 1884 during his study of terpenes he demonstrated that the synthetic conversion of isopropene into rubber was possible, however he never managed to develop a commercially viable route to rubber synthesis.

Arguably one of Tilden's most significant legacies was his support of the younger universities of Great Britain as shown in 1889 when he, with Sir William Ramsay and others, secured a government grant of 15,000 for university colleges.  He also aimed much of his published work at students and teachers, such as "Hints on Teaching Chemistry" (1895).

Esteemed posts held by Tilden included President of the Chemical Section of the British Association, President of the Institute of Chemistry, and treasurer and then President of the Chemical Society.  He received the honour of knighthood in 1909.

Contact and Further Information

Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas Graham House, Cambridge Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WF
Tel: +44 (0)1223 420066