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

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I've attached the report from the 2nd RSC Younger Members Symposium.

As you can see, the event was a resounding success and we're looking to make it bigger and better in 2014. We've pencilled in Birmingham, in the summer of 2014 as a tentative date for YMS 3.

If you have any suggestions, ideas or want to get involved - drop me a line.
Posted by David Foley on Dec 14, 2012 9:44 PM GMT
Sad to hear of the death of an inspiration.

Between SPM and Neil Armstrong, 2012 will be the year the stars never look the same again.
Posted by David Foley on Dec 9, 2012 8:53 PM GMT
Just got the following email that may be of interest

Dear RSC Younger Member

I hope this is a reminder notice as you should have been contacted by other routes. If not, apologies. We have 40 people from 19 chemistry departments registered for the "Irène Joliot-Curie Conference: establishing an independent career in chemistry" from 1–2 October. We can accommodate up to 20 more people so I’d like to encourage you to register. The conference is open to anyone who feels they will benefit from the programme, but it is particularly targeted as female post docs who are considering a career in academic chemistry. We are covering the costs for the event but you (or hopefully your head of department) will need to pay for and organise travel and accommodation. For more details see the conference website. The programme is below.

Best wishes

Professor Alison Rodger

Irène Joliot-Curie Conference, 1st – 2nd October 2012, University of Warwick


Monday 1st October

12:00 Arrival, registration, lunch MOAC DTC
13:00 Welcome, house keeping (Seminar room)
13:15 Women in Science: What has chemistry ever done for me? - Lesley Yellowlees, University of
14:00 Getting your work published - Joanne Thomson, Royal Society of Chemistry
14:45 Tea/coffee break
15:15 Becoming a Lecturer - Tricia Hunt, Imperial
16:00 Writing confident cvs/applications, takings risks, dealing with failure and getting feedback and
          support - Liz Elvidge
16:45 Wine, soft drink, posters
18:00 Dinner

Tuesday 2nd October

9:30 Vision and creativity in research planning - Lesley Thompson, EPSRC
10:15 Group Session A
11:15 Tea/coffee break
11:30 Group Session B
12:15 A modern chemist - past, present and future - Rachel O'Reilly, University of Warwick

13:00 Lunch (chat or grab and go)
Posted by David Foley on Sep 25, 2012 9:38 PM BST
The thalidomide scandal of the 1960’s has hit the news again today, with the manufacture finally issuing an apology (which has been rejected, it seems) to the victims of thalidomide, who (if still alive) have now spent the best part of 50 years with crippling disability.

Of course, there has been so much written about thalidomide (a Nazi drug, a medical cover up, proof that animal testing is worthless, proof that animal testing is a necessity to name but a few of the more common themes on the Net) that I am not going to add to the debate (the fact checking alone would be a full time job).

All I would like to say is that the images of thalidomide babies had a profound effect on me when I was first shown them during my undergraduate studies (where it was used as a textbook example in my chirality classes, pharmaceutical chemistry classes and toxicology classes).  It shaped my ethical view on chemistry, and it is why I always react strongly (as I’m sure all chemists do) to any reports of adverse drug reactions, particularly those from drugs that have reached the market.

There will always be those who believe that money talks and that drug companies suppress data to ensure their compounds reach the market place. There is even evidence in some cases (Vioxx for example) that this is true. These real and supposed scandals are absolutely devastating to the genuine medicinal chemist, working so hard and with such good intention to try to help sick people.

We must never forget the thalidomide mistakes. We must never forget that money does talk. But we must never forget also that medicinal chemistry and the pharmaceutical industry have saved and extended countless lives in the past century, and will continue to do so.

I feel for anyone who has suffered at because of our mistakes, ignorance or greed; but I also feel on balance that the positive influences of chemistry in the health sciences still far, far exceeds the negative. Thererfore despite the scandals, despite the mistakes, despite the tragedies, I am proud to be a part of a long and distinguished quest by chemists to make people better.
Posted by David Foley on Sep 1, 2012 1:30 PM BST
Posted by David Foley on Aug 30, 2012 4:07 PM BST
You may have read in this month’s RSC News that I have been “elected” to the Members & Qualifications Board. I say “elected” as there were no other candidates for the position.
Since I wasn’t really elected, I thought I would share with you what would have been my manifesto. It remains a summary of what I hope to achieve during my time on the MQB. If there is any other area that falls within the MQB remit that you feel I could act as a voice for, please leave a comment or drop me a line.
Since getting involved with the RSC in 2002, I have experienced firsthand the benefits of RSC membership. It is very important to me that all members are provided with, and made aware of, the many opportunities and support the RSC provides. If our newest members have a positive experience, it is more likely they will get involved, remain members over their careers and recruit new members to the Society. I believe working on the MQB is the best way for me to contribute to these goals. I feel my experience working for and with younger members over several years would be beneficial to the MQB and the Society as a whole.

Ensuring that young chemists are equipped with both technical and transferable skills is ever more important in a global, competitive economy. Working through the MQB, I would hope to increase training and learning opportunities for young chemists, along the lines of the Younger Members Symposia, which I have been fortunate to have been involved in. Additionally I would like to improve the recognition of the CChem Award, ideally to the point where it is listed as an essential or desirable requirement for most, if not all, positions of a certain level.

It is vital that the opinions of young chemists are represented and respected at every level of the Society. The youngest of our members have the most to gain (and lose) in the future from policy and strategy decisions taken today. In that respect, I would like to establish and formalise the Younger Members Network as an Interest Group of the Society in its own rights, with its own funding stream under the control of a committee made up of members of the Younger Members Forum.
Posted by David Foley on Aug 7, 2012 6:02 PM BST

Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 26,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life.


Research and Development (R&D) is central to Syngenta’s business; innovation enables us to meet the needs of the constantly evolving agricultural markets. Last year we invested more than $1 billion in R&D to develop new and improved methods of enhancing crop yield and quality. Jealott’s Hill International Research Centre, the largest agricultural research site in the UK, is one of five main R&D centres in our global network.


The Syngenta scholarship for organic chemists reflects our belief in encouraging and rewarding scientific excellence. The scholarship scheme involves interactive workshops from 4th-6thNovember 2012, and will take place in Jealott's Hill. Up to six participants in the workshop will be awarded scholarships of £1,000 as well as funding of up to £1,000 to attend a scientific conference of their choice. The scholarships are open to those who will be in the final year of their PhD at a UK university this November.


To apply, please email: recruitment[DOT]gb[DOT]syngenta[AT]bpopen[DOT]capgemini[DOT]com, quoting Ref: JH198, including:

  • Covering Letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • A 2-3 page research summary of your PhD project
  • Contact details of two referees.

Please note that if you receive funding from an industrial sponsor, you should obtain permission from your sponsor before applying.


Closing date: 7th September 2012

Posted by David Foley on Jul 18, 2012 9:27 PM BST
I have to say how very impressed I was by the level of professionalism and commitment shown by the organisers (pictured) of this year’s YMS, held in Nottingham on the 13th of June. I am not blowing my own trumpet here, as whilst I am in the picture, my role in the committee was quite small and low impact (especially when compared to the last YMS!). This was both because the YMS 2012 committee had everything well planned long before I moved to Nottingham and joined, and also because I deliberately did not want the YMS 2012 to be identical to YMS 2010.

In this respect, I was delighted at the success of the education and outreach session, which was the unique feature of YMS 2012. It was a resounding success, and I think it opened the eyes of many of the over 100 delegates from all across the UK and Ireland. The “poor” people in the academic session (myself included) were “forced” to listen to gales of laughter from the outreach session next store whilst we tried to concentrate on “real” chemistry!

Given that the YMS is apparently “my baby” (I still say Amy did all the leg work), I am really proud of the success of YMS 2012, and to fulfilling the last aim of YMS 2010 “ to establish this event as a significant and recurring one in the calendar of the young chemical scientist.” I already have some groups interested in hosting YMS III, and I can’t wait to see how this symposium develops in the future. I will post the formal report on this symposium once it is written, as well as links to upcoming articles in RSC News.

From left to right - Back row: David Foley, Helen Neal, Al Taylor, Heidi Dobbs & Laura Yeats.
Front row: Sara Ronca, Sam Tang, Jane Pancheva, Jasprit Chahal, Sarah Hill & Elizabeth Gibson
(c) John Sumpter from JMS photography
Posted by David Foley on Jul 1, 2012 6:39 PM BST
See my post on the Chartered Chemist's Stories blog.
Posted by David Foley on Jun 28, 2012 9:35 PM BST
Sweet suffering Jesus (and Mary too, by the way!).

This gem from the EU is intended to be "45 seconds of fun for launch [of campaign] to grab attention. Not central to main campaign" - as tweeted by the EC's science spokesman, Michael Jennings.

Really!? I mean, you have got to be kidding me!!

Let's look at the errors, shall we?

1. Jonny Depp there with the microscope is wearing a lab coat, so clearly the three high-heelers are entering a lab space. Where is the PPE ladies?
2. Oh dear, those high-heels appear to be open-toed... surely not in a lab?
3. Why do you need to clamp that round bottom flask? It's perfectly able to stand on it's own.
4. Can't see a recieving flask for the open seperating funnel. A rookie mistake.
5. The "scientist" fails to observe her pen isn't working when writing on the board. And you'd trust her with some Dry Ice?
6. Two flasks clamped in mid-air this time, with no support underneath them if the clamp fails.
7. Why is one of the seperating funnels upsidedown?
8. Molecular model of what I think is water (it's pink, not red) has "hydrogens" attached that are apparently capable of forming more than one bond (multiple holes)
9. That gas is NOT hydrogen.
10. Oh... and it's some seriously sexist garbage.
Posted by David Foley on Jun 22, 2012 9:03 PM BST
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