As part of the AGM, we announced the latest members of our community to be granted Honorary Fellowships – granting them to Professor Frances Arnold, Professor John B Goodenough, Professor Natalia Tarasova and Dr Tony Wood.
In a short video recorded before the AGM, Natalia Tarasova said: “This news came to me when I was at the closing ceremony for the International Year of the Periodic Table in Tokyo. I was so touched by this decision of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
“The whole idea of the International Year was a combination of the British and Russian minds – because first the idea came from Sir Martyn Poliakoff. Martyn wrote that Mendeleev’s discovery doesn’t only belong to Russian science, it was one of the most outstanding achievements.
“Only in cooperation could the scientific community move forward and help human beings to survive in this complicated world”.
Dr Tony Wood, who works for GSK, has a distinguished career that includes inventing the HIV antiviral medicine maraviroc. He explained that: “The Royal Society of Chemistry has always been an extremely important body to me, particularly as a British chemist.
“It’s a tremendous honour to be recognised by my peers and by those people who I’ve admired over the years as my career has developed, so it means a great deal to me.
“As a scientist, I don’t see national boundaries at all – I have colleagues and friends all over the world who I respect enormously, whose work I am following because of the massive contributions they make. I am a big fan of a global community in science.”
Professor Frances Arnold received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work, as she describes it “directed evolution”. She said “I am absolutely trhilled. I want to greet my colleagues in the UK from here in sunny California, where I’m working from home and have been for the last few months. I can’t wait to get on the road again and see my friends – it’s unfortunate that we have to do this virtually.
“I am really happy to be included in this royal society of some of the best chemists in the world and really the best chemists of our age. It’s also wonderful to see the inclusivity of the Royal Society [of Chemistry] – why you’ve even elected an engineer!
“UK chemistry has had such a long history of very innovative chemistry coming from different fields, so I’ve had colleagues that I’ve collaborated with, visited and spoken to over the last 35 years – I’ve learned a lot from chemistry in the UK and I have many friends that I love to see.
Professor Arnold has been hugely supportive of our recent work on inclusion and diversity, including backing our Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing. She said: “It makes absolutely no sense to limit the possibilities of all members of society. Everyone should have a chance to contribute what they are able to contribute.
“Chemistry has benefited enormously from diverse inputs, from diverse ways of thinking – it’s such a central science, it’s so full of possibilities for innovation that we would be foolish to limit who can do chemistry.”
Professor John B Goodenough has unfortunately been unwell recently and was unable to take part in an interview. We were lucky enough to meet him on the day of his Nobel Prize announcement in 2019, so you can watch that video here.
Thanking our community
Helen Pain brought proceedings to a close, paying tribute to our community. She said: “We really do wish you all the best for 2020, we hope you continue to work with us and, of course, we will continue to support you – and very much hope that you will continue to support us over the coming months and over the coming years.
“We are absolutely rewarded by working with you, we feel proud to be part of the Royal Society of Chemistry and we hope to be able to meet you in person very soon.”