Chris Williamson CChem FRSC
Winner: 2021 Award for Exceptional Service
RSC Downland Local Section
For outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry through our member communities and governance groups.
Celebrate Chris Williamson
Any professional body for chemical scientists with a worldwide community needs local groups to help inspire an interest in science in general, and chemistry in particular. Serving on a local section committee gives the opportunity to organise events which facilitate networking and outreach.
Chris was appointed Honorary Secretary of the RSC's Downland Local Section committee in 2009, and has continued to make a contribution to the local section ever since.Read winner biography
Chris's interest in chemistry was confirmed in a two-day work experience programme in 1968 at the Glaxo site in Greenford, just a mile from his home, and after completing O, A and S levels at Eliots Green Grammar School, he went on to read chemistry at York University.
He was fortunate to get his first job with Glaxo in 1973, at the Greenford site. His career as a chemist with GlaxoSmithKline spanned 36 years, starting in research inventing new potential medicines, then developing scalable processes in development and, finally, leading the technical team establishing new, global supply chains for the manufacturing division. He took early retirement as a Technical Director in October 2009 and joined the RSC’s Downland Local Section committee.
Chris was appointed Honorary Secretary at the first meeting and has continued to make a contribution to the local section ever since, and has served on other bodies such as the South East Regional Steering Group, Member Networks Committee and Member Communities Board.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in chemistry?
Be sure this is a passion for you, and be open-minded in terms of which field of chemistry. There is so much diversity in chemistry and many interfaces with other disciplines. Collaboration is key.
Can you tell us about a scientific development on the horizon that you are excited about?
We need to switch urgently to a low carbon economy. Burning carbon in its many forms is frankly ridiculous when we need to conserve such raw materials for a circular economy. New ways of generating, storing and using electricity through new and improved chemistries and technologies are on the way!
What has been a highlight for you (either personally or in your career)?
Inventing hundreds of new organic compounds (for which the biological purpose has not yet been discovered). Random screening might reveal hitherto unknown properties! Plus, making the first sample of a thio-acid in Glaxo which led to fluticasone propionate.
What is your favourite element?
Carbon. Essential for our life forms and contributes to so many building blocks and useful molecules.