2015 Spring lectures

9 Jan 2015

The London Group's lecture series, in partnership with UCL's Chemical Physical Society, returns on Monday 12 January 2015 for the Spring term.

The history of the UCL Chemistry Department is the subject of the first lecture, and will be given by Professor Alwyn Davies. Professor Davies will briefly sketch the founding and growth of UCL's Chemistry Department and will go on to describe the lives and careers of two departmental characters, Alexander Williamson and Kathleen Lonsdale. Williamson (1824-1904) was the third head of the chemistry department and discovered the reaction which bears his name. He is revered in Japan for his fundamental contribution in transforming the country from an enclosed feudal state into an open parliamentary democracy. Lonsdale (1903-1971) was a pioneer of crystallography in the mid 20th century and went to jail for her pacifist principles during the Second World War.

On 19 January, Prof Lesley Yellowlees, the first female President of the RSC, will be talking about her desire to see an increase in the number of women working and studying in the sciences. She will explore the reasons why many qualified female scientists opt not to have a career in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and will ask what can be done to fix this problem.

Professor Andrea Sella (famous for his spectacular demonstration lectures) will be giving a presentation on the rare earth elements on 26 January. The rare earth elements made an unexpected appearance in the international news between 2010 and 2013 and featured prominently in discussions of international geopolitics. How could fourteen elements that most people have never heard of be so important? And why are they no longer newsworthy now? Sella will tell the story of the rare earths, of why they were so hard to discover and why they are so important in our world; it will be a cautionary tale about the perils of not backing up your data and thinking you can get rich quick.

In February, two SCI members will be give lectures; on medicinal chemistry and airborne particles. The first talk will be by Dr Dave Alker (Fine Chemicals Committee member) on the role of chemists in the discovery of new medicines, on 2 February. Alker will aim to illustrate how the field of medicinal chemistry has led and will continue to lead to the discovery of new medicines which impact millions of lives worldwide. Dr Fred Parrett (London Group Committee member) will give the second lecture, on 9 February. Dr Parrett will compare the two types of airborne particles, dust and bio aerosols, and the monitoring and control of the two types of particles.

Later on in February, on 23 February, Major Daffyd Edwards and Dr Emily Mayhew will be talking about modern military medical organisation and its origins in the First World War. They will outline the remarkable achievements made by medical staff of all trades on the Western Front, and how the system they created in the 20th century remains fundamental to the military medical organisation for Britain's conflicts in the 21st century.

In March, four talks will take place covering an assortment of topics, kicking off with Music and personal development of children (2 March); Einstein's theory of relativity (9 March); the science of invisibility (16 March) and nanotechnology (23 March). The talk on nanotechnology will be given by the Chemical Physical Society President, Dr Matt Blunt, and concludes the lecture series at UCL for the Spring term.

Two further lectures have also been planned in March and April, with the London Group's new collaborative partner, the New York University in London. On 11 March, Dr Haydn Parry will give his lecture on mosquito-borne diseases and will include information on new developments in this area. Dr Michael J Waring, (AstraZeneca), will talk about the past, present and future of anti-cancer drug design on 29 April. Like the UCL lectures, these events are free, but you do need to book to secure your place.

Watch this space for further London Group event announcements, including the annual London Group Summer social event.

Please note; for 2015 London Group lectures at UCL have moved to Monday evenings. All events take place at 17:30 for 18:00, are free to attend, open to all and pre-registration is not required.

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