The Gibson-Fawcett Award was established in 2008, and recognised original and independent contributions to materials chemistry.
This award recognised the contributions of two great chemists, Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett.
Fawcett graduated from Oxford University in 1929, going on to work for ICI Alkali Group's Research Department at Winnington to work on the 'oil from coal' project.
Gibson studied at University College London and was offered a job at the High Pressure Physics Laboratory in Leiden, Holland. Due to the small salary and his family's financial situation at the time, he could not accept. It was only upon receipt of a loan of £25 from the Benevolent Fund of the now Royal Society of Chemistry that Gibson was able to take this position. It was here that he met Anton Michels.
When Gibson returned to ICI in 1931 and Fawcett returned from a one year secondment to the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, they started work together on the effects of high pressures on chemical reactions using equipment designed by Michels. An experiment on 24 March 1933 produced a waxy solid which was later identified as polyethylene.
Shortly before the war, Gibson worked on producing tetra-ethyl lead required for aviation fuel anti-knock compounds. After the war he joined Associated Ethyl as a Chief Chemist, in 1950 he was appointed R&D Manager. Gibson was actively involved in the Royal Society of Chemistry throughout his life.
In 1938 Fawcett joined what is now BP and was associated with the invention and development of a butane isomerisation process to produce isobutane, an intermediate required in the alkylation process for aviation gasoline.
This award was discontinued in 2020, as part of a series of changes introduced following an independent review of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s recognition programmes.