The Distinguished Service Award (DSA) is given to members of the Society who have contributed significant and sustained service to at least one element in the SCI structure for ten years or more.
Dr Alison Foster is a longstanding member of SCI's Horticulture Group and curates and tends to SCI's SCIence Garden at Belgrave Square. Alison will be awarded with her DSA at SCI's 141st Annual General Meeting on 6 July 2022.
When and how did you become a member of SCI?
I first became a member of SCI in the late 1990s when I worked as a medicinal chemist and attended the Young Chemist in Industry event – in order to get a reduced rate for the meeting.
Why did you decide to get involved in committee work?
Just after I transitioned from the chemistry phase of my career to the horticultural one, I saw that there was a new Horticulture Group being formed within SCI and I thought it would be interesting to join the group. A tick in a box when renewing my membership led to a conversation with Sue and Peter Grimbly from the group, who asked if I would like to attend a committee meeting with a view to becoming more involved. The group were very welcoming and friendly, and I felt like I had something to contribute as I straddled both the chemistry and horticulture worlds.
What has driven your continued involvement with SCI?
The key has been the opportunities SCI provides for those in all career stages to build a professional network with people from across such a diversity of disciplines – but who all share a common interest in using science to drive innovation.
How has being involved in SCI activities had an impact on your professional career?
New opportunities have definitely come my way through people I have met on SCI committees or at SCI events – and being part of the Horticulture Group has consolidated my dual career interest in plants and chemistry.
How do your SCI activities reflect your personal/professional interests?
My personal and professional interests are all about plants and chemistry, and raising awareness of the importance of both. The Horticulture Group activities very much align with this. We deliver activities to communicate the importance of chemistry through the medium of plants – to help overcome the sometimes negative public perception of chemistry – and are working on a project about horticulture and plant science in higher education.
What motivates you to participate in SCI activities?
The opportunity to gain new knowledge, learn new skills and to meet interesting people.
How do you think that your contribution has helped shaped SCI?
I hope I’ve helped to raise the profile or one of the newer groups within SCI, and raised awareness of the importance of plants and horticulture to a wide range of industries – showing how relevant the Horticulture Group is to the breadth of interests encompassed by SCI.
What are your thoughts about receiving a Distinguished Service Award?
I have to say that I was honestly rather surprised! I feel very honoured and appreciative that SCI colleagues have taken the time to nominate me. I’m just part of a team of people who all want to promote the scientific aspects of horticulture and plants to the wider world – so a big thank you to them all.