Scholars and Early Career Newsletter Issue 1

14 February 2013

14 Feb 2013

College of Scholars Principal's Column

This is the first newsletter for SCI Scholars and other Early Career People (ECP). It is intended to be a vehicle to keep everyone more in touch with SCI activities, particularly College of Scholar (CoS) ones, and also to encourage you to let us have your views on what the society is currently doing and should be doing. This is vital because you are the future and many committee members (like me) are getting on in years and are not really into electronic social networking etc. We do recognise the importance of this to membership societies like ours, but need your input on what to do and how to achieve it.

We are however progressing. For example e-membership will be introduced soon.

The newsletter will also let you know of policies, innovations and activities which are being planned and launched by the Board of Trustees (BoT) and Standing Committees FIAC [Finance and Investment], MAC [Membership Affairs], MDAC [Marketing and Development] and PAC [Publications]. Incidentally former scholars are currently serving on MAC (Kevin Back) and PAC (Natalie Fey).

Equally importantly we hope that it will help persuade you to give us your views which will be extremely valuable in developing our plans for the society. We want you to help shape the society for the 21st century.

We hope that it will also encourage you to stay involved with SCI as an active member by maybe contributing to the work of appropriate committees, such as those mentioned above or one of our Regional (RIG) or Technical (TIG) Interest Groups. Members tell us that one of the best things about SCI is the opportunities it provides for networking, so what better way than joining a committee. It will also enhance your CV and enable you to develop aspects of your career such as organising meetings. In the next newsletter we plan to have an article by a former scholar of how these activities have helped his career plus one on what a major pharma multi-national looks for when recruiting graduates.

Remember to regularly visit the Awards area of the website and within it the College of Scholars section. More . It also contains details of Travel Bursaries, Study Visits and Scholarship funding which we have available and any new funding will be posted there also. There is also an Early Career section. Remember that we are all also on LinkedIn.

Finally do send in your comments on this new venture - feel free to be frank, and offers of articles for future issues. Send them to and copy to me, Alan Heaton at


ECSSC stands for Early Career Support Sub-Committee. It is such a mouthful! Hence we prefer ECSSC.

It was set up in 2010 as a result of the reorganisation of SCI Awards and replaced the Awards Committee, taking over many of its responsibilities. It has both advisory roles and delegated responsibilities. The most relevant of the latter is administering Travel Bursaries and Scholarships (more later). In future it will report to MAC rather than the BoT.

The membership is as follows:

Alan Heaton Professor Alan Heaton (Chair)
Alan was Head of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical Education at Liverpool John Moores University. He is the author of 8 undergraduate textbooks, 5 on Industrial Chemistry and since taking early retirement has been to Oman on three occasions to set up and teach on a new B.Sc.(Hons) course in Applied (Industrial) Chemistry at Sultan Qaboos University. His Ph.D. was in Organofluorine Chemistry and in 1988 he was seconded to ICI as an SERC/Royal Society Industrial Fellow to work on the development of CFC Replacements.

He has devoted a great deal of time to promoting chemistry to the general public and particularly young people through presentations and articles in popular science journals. Most recently he managed a project for the RSC's NW Trust to produce a Primary Science DVD to help Primary School Teachers develop the confidence and ability to carry out practical work with their pupils. It has been immensely successful with over 10,000 copies distributed in this country, Ireland and South Africa and glowing feedback!

Within SCI he has relished the chance to work with and support younger members in his roles as CoS Principal and Chair of ECSSC.

Peter Griffiths Professor Peter Griffiths (Vice-Chair)
Professor Peter Griffiths' interest in nanotechnology started with a final year undergraduate research project on ferrofluids. Thereafter followed a PhD (University of Bristol, 1991), focused on developing NMR and scattering methodology to quantify the dynamics of polymer-polymer and polymer-particle blends, that saw Professor Griffiths' interests broaden into concentrated particle dispersions, and then to polymer-surfactant and polymer-small molecule systems, with post-doctoral research periods at University of Bristol (1991-1993) and the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm (1993-1995). Between 1995 and 2012, Professor Griffiths was based at Cardiff University, and over this period he further consolidated these research themes, and took his attention towards the drug delivery field, in particular polymer-drug and polymer-protein conjugates, small molecule gels and vesicle dispersions. In the summer of 2012, he moved to a Chair in Formulation Science at the University of Greenwich.

Over the years, Peter has been active in various guises for SCI, e.g. previous Chair of the Colloid Group, Awards officer of the same and responsible for introducing the McBain and Graham awards, and is the current Chair of the Rideal Trust.

Kevin Back Dr Kevin Back
Kevin Back is a solid state analytical chemist who has recently joined Pfizer, studying the solid state properties of new drugs. He recently completed his PhD looking at the crystallisation properties of pharmaceutical molecules, working with Professor Roger Davey at the University of Manchester. During his studies he was awarded an SCI scholarship and became an active member of the College of Scholars, helping to organise a Regional Presentation at Manchester. Prior to his PhD, Kevin worked at AstraZeneca for 5 years, starting out as an analytical chemist and moving into the solid state area. He now has experience moving into industry as both a graduate and as a PhD, with an understanding of the challenges of both!

As well as the ECSSC, Kevin has served as a committee member on the Liverpool and North West Regional Group.

Jenny Mordue Professor A Jennifer Mordue(Luntz)
Professor Jenny Mordue(Luntz) is Emeritus Professor of Zoology at the University of Aberdeen. Her research in chemical ecology is at the cutting edge of innovative approaches to integrated pest management strategies. It involves the identification and use of semiochemicals (allelochemicals from plants, pheromones, kairomones) in the control of phytophagous insect pests, biting flies (mosquitoes and midges) and sealice of farmed salmon.

Jenny has published more than 100 research papers and chapters, holds two patents and is involved with commercialisation towards product formation. She is also a Trustee of the Royal Entomological Society.

Tim Reynolds Tim Reynolds
Tim Reynolds is a writer, journalist and communication consultant with wide experience of multinational and multicultural programmes. Tim currently works for a range of clients in the UK and Brussels including the European Chemical Industry Council and the European Commission.

Tim's early career was with British Gas research working on fundamental spectroscopic studies of coal and catalysts before leading projects on catalyst development and characterisation. He then worked in corporate communications on research-related topics and was awarded a British Science Association Media Fellowship with BBC TV Science & Features. After the Fellowship he worked in international licensing and technology transfer. He left British Gas to work in public relations and communications via a second spell at the BBC.

Within SCI Tim is a long-term member of the SCI Marketing Development Advisory Committee and as Chair of the SCI Awards Committee helped launch the College of Scholars.

Ben Wahab Dr Ben Wahab
Ben took his PhD at the University of Hull, working on novel reaction platforms for pharmaceutics- namely microfluidic devices for radiochemistry. After his PhD he took on a Knowledge Transfer position between the University of Sheffield and a local CRO, working at the interface between chemistry, biology and chemoinformatics towards drug discovery. Ben is enthusiastic about converting innovative research into real world solutions, and finds working in technology transfer as rewarding as it is challenging.

Ben is the newest member of SCI's Early Careers Support Sub-Committee, and is interested in increasing the level to which SCI involves its younger members in events, as well as improving how SCI caters more for the specific needs of this important demographic.

Most of us are also on other committees ranging from BoT to Standing Committees to RIGs and TIGs, so between us we know practically everything about SCI!

News Update from Belgrave Square

In the last six months two new senior staff have joined SCI they are Karen Hobbs, Membership Manager and Reshna Radiven, Marketing Manager. They are most welcome and we will be working closely with Karen and the membership team.

The 2012 Members' Forum was held on 28 November and we hope that some of you will have been able to attend and contribute your ideas. It was generally agreed that it was the best Forum yet. More

There was a poster competition for ECPs to report on their research with cash prizes and Wiley book tokens. The winners were:-

  • 1st - Alessandro Poma, Cranfield Health, Cranfield University
    Solid-phase synthesis of molecularly imprinted nanoparticles ('artificial antibodies')
  • 2nd - Polly Keen, Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology, University of Cambridge
    Encapsulation of microorganisms in colloidosomes
  • Joint 3rd - Charlotte Richards-Taylor, Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford
    Applications of DABSO in Palladium Catalysis
  • Joint 3rd - Callie Seaman, Aquaculture, Sheffield
    The 'After-Life' Experiment - Mass Spectrometry Imaging Used to Demonstrate the 'Cycle of Life'

The ideas put forward at the Forum are considered by MAC and then about three are recommended to the BoT to be taken forward. We will report on these in issue 2 of this newsletter. One example from previous fora is the ability of members to use the letters SCImem after their name.

The BoT has expressed its congratulations to, and support for, the CoS and its activities and wishes to see them extended to many other Early Career People. The ECSSC is now discussing this and trying to develop an action plan to implement it. They will be considering questions such as:

  • Should the expansion maintain this select group or merge them with others and have only one category of membership?
  • If more than one what would each be named?
  • Will a new name to replace CoS be needed?
  • Who will be eligible to join?
  • What support services would we offer?
  • How will they be promoted/publicised?
  • How would the support be delivered?

We really would very much welcome your input on this.

A strategy/plan for recruitment and retention of members is already being developed. In the first instance ECPs are the target and the Chairs of ECSSC (Alan Heaton), MAC (Len Copping) and MDAC (Colin Borg) together with the Executive Director 2010-13 (Joanne Lyall) and Director of Operations (Tony Ramgobin) are spear heading this. Again any of your views would be most welcome, particularly on what we currently offer to members and what else should be offered.

College of Scholars Events

The College held its fourth Scholars' Regional Presentations event at Cambridge University (which was also the venue for the first one in 2010) on 31 October 2012. It was again held jointly with Cambridge University ChemSoc and SCI's Cambridge and Great Eastern Regional Group. These events are designed to enable our scholars to give a presentation to a more general audience and practice and hone their presentation skills. More.

Our three scholars Aditi Borkar, James Frost and James Womack delivered excellent talks as follows:

  • Aditi Borkar, University of Cambridge (Michele Vendruscolo Group)
    Choreography of RNA
  • James Frost, University of Cambridge (Professor Steven V Ley Group)
    Total synthesis of anti-cancer natural products callipeltoside A, B and C
  • James Womack, University of Bristol (Prof Fred Manby Group).
    A new method of approximating many-electron integrals in explicitly-correlated methods

We also had a useful chat with James Frost's supervisor, Professor Steve Ley (a former SCI Vice-President and medalist), regarding future meetings and other SCI events.

A date for your diaries - Monday, 22 April, 2013

This will be our second meeting entitled Day of Science and Careers. We will be inviting current scholars to give presentations and inviting previous scholars to join us.

We have a small group planning the meeting at present and have already earmarked some new speakers. See a copy of last year's programme, in case you missed it.

The 2013 event will be largely similar but - and this is a key point - it will be opened up to all Early Career People, both members and non-members from academia and industry, and therefore widely publicised. The students attending last year were quite surprised at the wide range of careers in the chemical and chemistry using industries. There will also be tips on applying for jobs, plus lunch. The concluding informal part over wine and nibbles is again included specifically as an opportunity for informal discussion and networking.

News of Scholars

James Frost has gained a Post-Doc. position in Germany.

James Douglas has started a Post-Doc. position at LIFA Industrial Postdoctoral Research Associate at Eli Lilly and Company, Boston, Massachusetts

Congratulations to James Womack on his recent marriage. He has also joined the Editorial Board of SCI's Chemistry and Industry magazine (C&I).

Dr Natalie Fey has gained a Visiting Fellow Research Associate position at Bristol University.

Liam Ball is completing his Ph.D. at Bristol University and has had a memorable year, being awarded a Syngenta Scholarship and an invitation to participate in the Gordon Stone Symposium.

Dr Simon Beaumont has returned from his post-doc position in California and is now a Lecturer and Leverhulme Trust and Addison Wheeler Fellow at Durham University. He has also published a review in an SCI journal - Beaumont, S. K., Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology 2012, 87, (5), 595-600. Heterogeneously catalyzing C-C coupling reactions with precious metal nanoparticles.

Dr Fionn O'Hara has also been awarded a Syngenta Scholarship and is currently a Fulbright Scholar carrying out post-doctoral research at the Scripps Research Institute in California.

Kevin Back has been awarded his Ph.D. by Manchester University and has now joined Pfizer in Sandwich.

Many congratulations to all of them on their achievements.

Aditi Borkar and James Womack are thinking of starting a new TIG based on 'Computing and Theoretical Chemistry' and anyone interested in joining them should contact them via SCI HQ (

SCI Awards

SCI Scholarships for 2013 are now available. More.

At its November 2012 meeting the Board approved the re-introduction of Travel Bursaries and Study visits. There will be fewer awards, but they will have a higher value - £400-1500. Note that as well as applications for presenting papers at conferences, we will also consider those for study visits to other labs, institutions etc. More

Application forms are also available for Travel Bursaries.

SCI has recently received a legacy, in excess of £1 million, from the estate of SCI Life Member Dr Sydney Andrew FRS. This will fund an annual lecture on 'neglected science' and, initially, three Ph.D. studentships. The latter will be administered by the Royal Society and known as the The Royal Society/Society of Chemical Industry Studentships. They can be applied for by academic or industrial staff who have been awarded a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship. The students, known as 'Andrew Scholars' will join the CoS and participate in SCI events. There was an article on this by Joanne Lyall in the December issue of Members' News. More

And Finally...

We hope that you have enjoyed reading this newsletter and rest assured that the next one will not be so long! Items such as pen pictures etc of ECSSC members are a one off.

Have you been doing anything interesting in your research, travelling, writing articles etc.? Why not share them with us by sending them to for inclusion in future newsletters? It is another chance to improve your written communication skills!!

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