20 June 2017
Dr Trevor Rhodes is one of three recipients of this year’s Distinguished Service Awards (DSA). The DSAs are presented to members of the Society who have contributed significant and sustained service to at least one element (normally a Group) in the SCI structure for ten years or more.
Here, Dr Rhodes talks about his involvement with SCI, first joining as a member in April 2007 and as a Liverpool and North West Committee member since 2008.
When and why did you become a member of SCI?
My first dealing with SCI was through attending a technical meeting organised by the Colloid Science Group about 10 years ago. The subject was drying thin films. I was really impressed with how the meeting covered both the academic side of the topic as well as the industrial side. The following year I attended another meeting organised by the same group but this time on surfactants, which again followed the same format. No other conference or meeting I had been too did this as well as SCI. So, I joined.
Why did you decide to get involved in committee work?
The then chair of the Liverpool and North West Group, Dr Mike Pitts, organised some symposiums in the North West on patents and other interesting topics. I attended some of these and through that got to know him. He persuaded me to come along to a committee meeting and then to get involved in SCI, which I did.
What has driven your continued involvement in SCI?
Several reasons. One is because through SCI I have met some wonderful people who have all treated me as an equal. I had not come across an organisation before where I could speak to leading academics and industrialists all under one roof, and be listened to. Through SCI and its members, I have been invited to give talks (one in Spain!), introduce speakers, and go to interesting meetings and lectures, all of which I have enjoyed. Some of the technical meetings I have attended have benefited my company though their content. All good reasons to continue to be involved.
SCI had some difficulties a few years ago, and some committee members became disillusioned and left. I didn’t have the same concerns, having worked in a company that had been through very difficult times, so felt I could continue to contribute. Being a positive person, I thought I could help bring that positivity into meetings and events, so I continued to be involved. Those dark days seem to have passed now and I look forward to a brighter future.
How has being involved in SCI activities had an impact on your professional career?
Networking with other scientists has given me a better understanding of some of the technical problems I have faced at work. Liaising with members of SCI has given me more confidence in speaking to members of the academic world on projects and in discussing innovative ideas. Being involved in organising SCI events in the North West has given my directors more confidence in my abilities.
How do your SCI activities reflect your personal/professional interests?
If I commit myself to something I always try to give whatever it is my best shot. I have always enjoyed meeting, talking to, and getting to know people. I find learning new things about science fascinating. SCI has enabled me to progress all of these. In the case of getting involved, I have been given the opportunity to do this to a level I feel comfortable with. I am too far on for it to make a great deal of difference to my future career.
How do you think your contribution has helped shape SCI?
Most of my contribution has been at the local level where I feel I have been able to bring stability to the group and to be there whenever possible to support what the group does. I try to encourage other people as much as I can.
What are your thoughts about receiving a Distinguished Service Award?
It is a great honour for me. I have put as much effort as I have been able to into supporting and helping SCI. It is not always easy when working in a full-time position which involves a lot of travel. It is a great feeling to have my efforts acknowledged by other people for which I am very thankful. I am also keen to be part of what I hope is a renewal in the organisation.