The life and times of a younger member volunteer and medicinal chemist.

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UNESCO International Year of Chemistry 2011

Funnily enough Dave, while you’ve been typing.......

Members of the YMF have been working tirelessly on our plans for next year’s International Year of Chemistry.

Posted by Adam McCudden on Dec 12, 2010 5:11 PM GMT

On the 20th of October 2010, the YMNs of Manchester, Liverpool and Northern Ireland came together to host the inaugural Younger Members’ Symposium. This fantastic achievement was the result of over 1000 hours volunteer time spread out over a year of preparation and planning. The full details of the preparations and the results are detailed in this report (see attachment). In summary, the event was an overwhelming success, with over 150 delegates from 5 countries and all levels of academia and industry represented. Feedback from the event, from delegates, invited speakers (who are no strangers to symposia) and sponsors was incredibly positive.

This was despite the considerable challenges faced (including investigations for fraud and money laundering as well as a venue change two weeks prior to the event!).

As with all new events, there are always teething problems. In this case however, some of these problems would have been avoided if the event had been adequately supported by the paid staff of the RSC. At the recent RSC general assembly, the question on my lips was why? Why wasn’t it supported?

WHY… were we unable to use the RSC website to host the conference webpages? Apparently this is because we would have to comply with the RSC’s corporate guidelines for its website. That’s fine, but if the official website of the RSC cannot accommodate the needs of its members, well I feel it has a big problem (and I’ll save the post on the God awful clunky-ness of the RSC site in general for another time).

Thankfully one of the YMS committee is a computational chemist and a tech-wizz to boot, and very kindly designed and mastered the webpage for us free of charge. Next time, we’ll save him the hassle and just hire a design company to do it for us, and simply bill the RSC for it. A complete waste of member’s subscriptions, but if we want a professional site (although, man did our guy do a good job) and the RSC can’t provide it, they should damn well pay for it!

WHY… could we not use the RSC’s RBS Worldpay service to take our registration fee? You know the service that so readily takes your subscriptions each year? Well apparently to use that to run an event on behalf of the RSC would have a cost associated with it. Well what doesn’t? In fact, using Paypal for the YMS cost us less money than using the RSC’s established payment method. Surely that’s not right? The RSC are paying for this service anyway, surely they should be able to fix it so that it is by far and away the cheapest and easiest option for members?

WHY…. Is one of the world’s largest scientific publishing houses not be able to print off a few hundred conference books? Answer: because the RSC outsources most of its marketing printing to another company.

Fine, so WHY… couldn’t the YMS printing be similarly outsourced? Corporate guidelines apparently. I never saw a copy of these guidelines; we didn’t have the time to waste on waiting for them. Still, I’ve published a few papers and written a thesis. Hell, I’ve enjoyed the fun that is re-formatting a rejected paper for another journal! We even have people on the YMS committee familiar with the nuances of an FDA submission, the plain English of patent applications and the joys of EU legislation. We can handle a few measly guidelines. Trust me.

WHY…did the paid members of RSC staff at event not support it’s volunteers? While happy to take advantage of the chance to recruit new members (and not have to pay registration fees) they we less keen to offer an extra pair of hands. In fairness, we didn't ask them to , but then again, in fairness we didn't think we'd have to.

WHY... when we asked for 300 freebies did we get offered 100? With registered delegates nearing the 200 mark, that offer was about as useful as an underwater hairdryer.

Finally WHY…am I writing this….. Why is this the first blog from the Younger Members Forum? Two reasons really:

Firstly….. in case you haven’t noticed, I’m incensed (and I’m not alone). The failure of a member’s organisation to support it’s own members, in fulfilling it’s own road-map is nothing short of disgraceful. This is particularly the case with younger members; our flame burns hot and bright, but can easily be extinguished. Richard Pike – you have mail.

Secondly… and far more importantly. The event actually took place in spite of this lack of support.

Better still it took place very successfully! This was an event run for young scientists by young scientists, and while some of the paid RSC staff don’t appear to stand by their tagline of “chemists provide solutions” the RSC’s hard working volunteers certainly do!

In fact, this event was a testament to the excellent work of the RSC YMN reps who, as I type, are working tirelessly to promote chemistry in more ways than you (or at least the paid staff of the RSC) can imagine.

So for the next YMS (and there will be a next YMS) will these improvements come about? Will you, the consumer, get the symposium you deserve? Watch this space....


Posted by David Foley on Nov 25, 2010 1:16 PM GMT