The Sir Christopher Ingold Lectureship was awarded for work linked to the relationship between structure and reactivity in chemistry, or any aspect of this theme that can be associated with the name of Sir Christopher Ingold, former president of the Chemical Society and structural organic chemist.
The lectureship was discontinued in 2008, but the Christopher Ingold Lecture continued and was associated with the Physical Organic Chemistry Award.
Ingold was born in London in 1893, and after growing up in the Isle of Wight obtained a scholarship to study at Hartley University College Southampton for his BSc. Ingold worked under organic chemist Jocelyn Thorpe at Imperial College London until 1915, where he was invited to work on chemical warfare and poison gas in Glasgow, which earned him the 1920 British Empire Medal for wartime research. After receiving his PhD, Ingold began working as a demonstrator at Imperial College, earning a DSc in 1921 and two RSC Meldola Medals in 1922 and 1923 respectively.
In 1924 Ingold was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and began a 6 year position as Professor of Organic Chemistry at Leeds University. It was in this position that Ingold began taking a strong interest in chemical bonding, and over the next decade had a bitter dispute with fellow chemist Robert Robinson on the terminology and representation of electronic effects in organic reactions. In 1930 Ingold moved to University College London, where he remained for the rest of his life. Ingold’s work on organic reactions led to his identification of several essential mechanisms, including electrophilic, nucleophilic, inductive, mesomeric, SN1 and SN2 reactions. His book “Structure and Mechanism in Organic Chemistry” became essential reading and solidified Ingold’s reputation as a pioneer in electronic theory in organic chemistry. In 1966 Ingold worked with Robert Cahn and Vladimir Prelog on a series of rules for clearly naming stereoisomers, known as the Cahn-Ingold-Prelog (CIP) Priority Rules.
Ingold was President of the Chemical Society from 1952-1954 and was head of the University College London Chemistry Department from 1937 until his retirement in 1961. The Chemistry Department at UCL is currently housed in the Sir Christopher Ingold Building (which opened in 1969). Ingold also received the Royal Society Royal Medal in 1952, the Longstaff Medal in 1957, and was knighted in 1958.
The Lectureship was established in 1973 through generous donations in response to an appeal. In 2021, the purposes of this Trust were amended, and remaining monies were combined with other generous bequests and donations to become part of the RSC Recognition Fund.