These monthly newsletters aim to keep all member networks updated with news describing how to get involved, as well as information of relevant events, services and new initiatives from the RSC Networks team. If you require further information about any of the items in the newsletter, or have any comments or ideas for content please contact the Networks team.

Committee members and representatives are encouraged to disseminate this information, as appropriate, to colleagues and other members. E-alert request forms can be downloaded from the Useful Forms and Documents page. Up to date lists of members can be obtained by emailing the Networks Team.

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Archive for July, 2020
This month Hassun El-Zafar, our Public Engagement Officer, discusses the difference between objectives and outputs when planning outreach and public engagement activities. What do you want to achieve? How do you think you can do it? Share your thoughts with Hassun via email at or on Twitter @HassunElZafar.

We’ve now lost track of our time in lockdown. But as I sit at my newly made workspace at home, facing directly into our front room window, it’s time to write another blog article.

Over the last months we’ve been relooking at how we do public engagement, what we want to achieve and how we can achieve this within the time, resources and new normal we find ourselves. It is indeed a strange time, but also one that demands creativity, imagination and ideas, and requires us to not just think outside the box, but to make a whole new box, or to throw the box away and be radical, brave and bold.

Public engagement thrives when boundary-pushing ideas give audiences experiences that are memorable, enjoyable and/or empowering. I recently did a masterclass with Aaron Sorkin on story ideas, and I think some of it is applicable for this blog. Sorkin states that there’re two parts to having an idea, the first is knowing what an idea is. Something as broad as “chemistry of food” isn’t an idea, but a concept. It’s helpful in giving a sense of direction, but it’s not an idea yet.

Something like “chemistry of food” becomes an engagement idea when we start thinking of the objectives that we want to achieve and the outputs that we use to do to help us achieve this.

This brings me to the purpose of this article: to talk all matters outputs and outcomes – what they are, how they often blur into each other and how effective public engagement can make the most of them being clearly defined and differentiated.

I like to think of objectives in the same frame as what organisations call “visions”. The objective is the purpose behind the project, the reasons why it needs to be done and the motivation for why people should get involved. On the other hand, outcomes are what those same organisations would call “working plans”: what you’re going to set out to do and the mechanisms through which your objectives will be met.

I understand why the two can get confused, from experience it is usually due to one of the two being defined very weakly. Successful organisations have bold objectives, for example, Nike’s objective, even in its early days was never simply to sell running shoes, but rather Phil Knight (co-founder of Nike) wanted to make ordinary people feel like Olympic winning athletes. It sounds impossible, but it’s that vision that propelled Nike into being a world-renowned sports brand. The selling of shoes, signing of sponsorship deals (e.g. Air Jordans) and expansion into attire were all outputs in achieving that one objective.

Let’s go back to the “chemistry of food” idea:

You want people to engage with the Chemistry of Food… Why?
Because I live in a food desert filled with liquor stores, fast food restaurants and vacant lots. The obesity rate is five times what it is in a more affluent area just eight miles away.

I’m hooked, you got a plan?
To install a vegetable garden on the strip between the footpath and the street that the city owns but the resident has to maintain.

Ok, but how’s that going to address the problem?
The garden becomes a tool for the education, a tool for the transformation of my neighbourhood. To change the community, you have to change the composition of the soil. We are the soil. Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus you get strawberries.

Sounds great, and strawberries too? Sold!

Now, I’ve obviously simplified this. But this is actually a real idea by Ron Finley, AKA the Gangster Gardener from South Central LA; his brilliant TED talk can be seen here.

Ron’s objective was to make his community understand the importance of healthy eating and the value of food production. His outputs included changing old green sidewalk grass areas into fruit and vegetable gardens, abandoned car lots into gardening schools, old trailers into farm markets, and much more.

Note, each output fits into being a mechanism into achieving the overarching objective, which is his source of motivation, the reason why he started his project and continues to pursue it every day.

What I love is that he thought outside the box, started small, learnt more about his audience and continued to build ways to better and better engage his community. His project still runs today and he’s become a community and global role model (and he didn’t even need a camera to do it).

So on your next outreach project, think about your motivation and be bold and aspirational like Ron. I think the world needs creative engagement projects like his more than ever.

This is our fourth blog article from Hassun, you can read the others in the series here:
  1. Know Your Audience 
  2. Co-Create, Co-Create, Co-Create
  3. What now?

Posted by Aurora Walshe on Jul 1, 2020 11:00 AM BST
Dear colleagues,

Welcome to the July Networks Newsletter, our way to keep our member network committee members and representatives up to date with RSC activities, services and new initiatives.

This month’s Newsletter contains:
  • Upcoming Deadlines
  • Upcoming Events
  • Spotlight: Outputs ≠ Outcomes
  • Communications from across the RSC
Upcoming Deadlines
01 July
07 July
09 July
13 July
28 July
30 July
31 July

10 August
Deadline for Local Section and Interest Group Top-Up Fund applications
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 16 July to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 16 July
July deadline for Outreach Fund small grants
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 6 August to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 6 August
Deadline for Local Section inserts into September Chemistry World issue
August deadline for Outreach Fund small grants
Upcoming Events
02 July
10 July
16 July
06 August

20 August
29-30 September
Member e-alerts
Effective communication with Journal editors (8am BST / 4pm JST)
Member e-alerts
Member e-alerts
Member e-alerts
Chemical Science Symposium 2020 - now being held online
Spotlight: Public engagement – Outputs ≠ Outcomes

What do you want to achieve? How do you think you can do it?

This month Hassun El-Zafar, our Public Engagement Officer, discusses the difference between objectives and outputs when planning outreach and public engagement activities.

Read the full article on the Networks Newsletter blog, and if you have any questions or suggestions for public engagement activities please let Hassun know!

Read the full article

Communications from across the RSC

Here are updates about events and activities from our Outreach, Careers, Events, International, and Research & Innovation teams, as well as the Chemists’ Community Fund and RSC Publishing.

Volunteer recognition award winners announced
The 2020 Prizes and Awards winners were announced last week, and we would like to congratulate all of the volunteer recognition award winners!

Award for Exceptional Service
  • David Evans
    For outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry through the activities of our inorganic and biochemical member-led communities.
  • William Griffith
    For outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry through our Historical Group and for advising on activities celebrating the history of the chemical sciences.
  • John Hepworth
    For outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry through our Local Sections, governance committees and Board of Trustees.
  • Jackie Morton
    For outstanding service to the Royal Society of Chemistry through the activities of the Sheffield and District Local Section and the Atomic Spectroscopy Group.
Inspirational Committee Award Inspirational Member Award
  • John Dean
    For dedication to the planning, coordination and ongoing development of the Schools Analyst Competition.
  • Amanda Hardy
    For her dedication to the diversification of the committee and programmes of the Chilterns and Middlesex Local Section.
  • Steve Lancaster
    For dedication to the development of an analytical chemistry training programme in Africa.
  • Gemma Scotney
    For dedication to expanding the public engagement activities of the Kent Local Section.

We will be sharing more information about these great projects later in the year.

Explore the 2020 Prizes and Award winners gallery here

Celebrating the Analytical Division Award Winners
The 2020 Analytical Division Award winners have been announced and congratulations to the following:
  • Anne Bennett Memorial Award for Distinguished Service:
    Dr Mike Foulkes (University of Plymouth) for long-standing service to the RSC Analytical Division and the sustained promotion of analytical chemistry, particularly atomic spectroscopy.
  • Industrial Analytical Science Award:
    Dr Alex Shard (National Physical Laboratory) for pioneering accurate chemical measurements of surfaces and interfaces.
  • Joseph Black Award:
    Dr Anna Regoutz (University College London) for outstanding contributions to the development and application of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy in the area of electronic materials and devices.
  • Robert Boyle Prize for Analytical Science:
    Professor Kourosh Kalanter-Zadeh (University of New South Wales) for the development of commercialised ingestible sensors for gut disorders, gas sensors for pollutants and point-of-care biosensors.
  • Ronald Belcher Award:
    Ms Hayley Simon (University College London) for outstanding and innovative research on the conservation of Mary Rose iron cannonballs, which has produced unique insights to the field of conservation.
  • Theophilus Redwood Award:
    Professor Richard Brown (National Physical Laboratory) for excellence in theoretical and practical aspects of chemical measurement leading to the recent redefinition of the mole, and communication of these changes.

Find out more about our 2020 Prizes and Awards winners here

Help shape the next phase of our Division Review
You will be aware from previous communications that we are currently undertaking a review of our Divisions to ensure there is clarity over the function and purpose of the Divisions and to achieve their full potential. The main objectives of the Review are:
  • To define the purpose and function of the Divisions
  • To define the relationship between Divisions, interest groups and other RSC groups
  • To ensure staff fully understand the purpose and potential of divisions and can support them effectively
  • To review effectiveness of member engagement with the Divisions
  • To review the management of any financial responsibilities held within the Divisions
We will be inviting input from all members from 10 July, and we would like to encourage you, as our most engaged and active members, to tell us what you think - this is your opportunity to shape our recommendations for the Divisions and define the relationship between Divisions, Interest Groups and other RSC groups.

Please contact if you have any queries about the survey.

Have your say: Complete our survey between 10 and 17 July

Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants
We are pleased to share with you that in light of feedback we have received we have been able to extend the purpose of our Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants schemes to include:
  • Extra equipment that may be needed to work from home and/or home-school those you care for (maximum £500 total cost).
  • Specific assistance or support needed to attend an online meeting, conference, workshop, professional development or teaching responsibility as restrictions ease.
Eligibility criteria continue to be available on the funding webpages.

Additional redundancy support available for members
If you or your members are being affected by redundancy we offer a number of resources designed to help you navigate this challenging time

This includes our redundancy support page, which summarises how we can support you through 1:1 career consultations via phone or Zoom, a recorded webinar outlining practical information and advice and financial support via the Chemist’s Community Fund.

If you are being affected by redundancy then we'd encourage you to contact the Careers team via email ( They have significant experience in supporting members through career transitions.

Thank you for reading!

A tailored version of this Newsletter is sent to all member network committee members and International Representatives. Please get in touch with suggestions for what you would like included or feedback about what we've sent you!

Send us your feedback

Kind regards,

The Networks Team
Fiona, Aurora and Debbie

Posted by Aurora Walshe on Jul 1, 2020 11:00 AM BST