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Find out about all the exciting activities and meetings that the RSC Organic Division are involved in, including many local, national and international meetings, symposia and conferences on topics of interest to organic chemists.

You can visit our forum and join in the discussions to learn and share information relevant to those working in the field of organic chemistry in its broadest interpetation.

Organic Division Blog - if you would like to contribute news/reports that would be of interest to members of the Organic Division then please contact, Anne Horan.

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I’ve become really interested in explaining science to the public over the past few years, so when I was offered the opportunity to recreate Perkin’s synthesis of mauveine and be the chemistry expert on-set for a BBC science series, I jumped at the chance. Filming was scheduled to take place in the week of my  viva, so racked with guilty thoughts about revision, I sidled back into the lab to produce the famous purple dye. The synthesis of mauveine itself isn’t too tricky, but is pretty time consuming and low-yielding. So it was with all fingers and toes crossed that I watched the potassium dichromate turn the straw-coloured mixture of anilines into a deep black sludge. Two soxhlet extractions followed (not seen since those hazy undergraduate days...), the first to remove the tar-like impurities, leaving straw-coloured needles. Nothing remotely purple was evident, and I was beginning to sweat a little...with a racing heart, I swapped the solvent to ethanol and began the second extraction. As the solvent began to boil and drip over, the most intense purple colour began to appear. I imagine I felt a little like Perkin, when washing his glassware after his ‘unsuccessful’ experiment.
Two days later, I was picked up from Imperial College at 6.30 armed with my tiny amount of black solid (that I had checked repeatedly produced a purple solution when re-dissolved in ethanol), loads of lab glassware and a stirrer hotplate. I even managed to take some of the fluorescent dichromate (tightly wrapped of course) for that TV wow-factor. On-set (an old warehouse on an industrial estate in North-West London), I was asked to set out the lab kit, and to make up some purple solutions using food dye. Satisfyingly, none of these were as brilliantly purple as the mauveine in ethanol. After a bit of waiting and tea-drinking, the presenter arrived...none other than Brian Cox himself. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a kick out of explaining the chemistry behind Perkin’s synthesis to him...
I’m yet to see the finished product – it will be aired at 9pm on BBC2 on 2nd October. The series so far has been brilliant, and this last episode promises not to fail us. It’s all about the serendipity of science - how the best discoveries come when we least expect them, with the story of mauveine as a shining example.

Alex Ferguson
National Cancer Research Institute and Member of Organic Division Council
Posted by Anne Horan on Sep 30, 2013 10:32 AM BST
The 5th Young Investigator Workshop of EuCheMS was held in Marseille, France. The meeting was a fantastic blend of science from all over Europe, as well as from farther afield. Selected early stage Investigators attended and presented a broad array of organic chemistry from new synthetic methodology and natural product synthesis, to the application of organic compounds to materials and medicine. While the quality of the talks was high throughout, selected European highlights for me included Syuzanna Harutyunyan’s (University of Groningen) development of 1,2-selective asymmetric copper catalysed addition chemistry, Mate Erdelyi’s (University of Gothenburg) fundamental study of 3 centre 4 electron bonding and Stellios Arseniyadis’ (CNRS, Paris) versatile palladium catalysed allylic alkylation of allyl dienol carbonates. There was good representation from chemical industry at the meeting too with talks on small molecule stem cell reprogramming (Laure Bouchez, Novartis), novel chemotype chemistry (Olivier Loiseleur, Syngenta) and process development work (Didier Schils, Jassen). Finally, invited international attendees from Israel, the USA and China reported a wonderful assortment of novel synthetic methodology, chemical biology and (photoresponsive) materials science.
 Group Photo from 5th Young Investigator Workshop of EuCheMS, Marseille, France, 2013

I would like to thank the Organic Division of the RSC for financial support to attend this meeting.
Matthew Fuchter
Imperial College London

Posted by Anne Horan on Jul 17, 2013 11:27 AM BST
Dear Colleagues,
The RSC is delighted to announce a fantastic bursary opportunity for PhD students/post docs to attend the Advanced School Bioorganic Chemistry taking place in Araraquara, Brazil, 30 June – 05 July 2013. The school includes talks and discussion sessions from highly qualified scientists (including Professor Steven V. Ley from the University of Cambridge) and leaders in the field covering bioorganic chemistry, involving aspects of natural products, medicinal chemistry, synthesis and spectroscopic methods.  The full programme can be viewed here:
FAPESP (Sao Paulo Research Foundation) have invited the RSC to select 2 UK students to participate in the meeting. The bursary will cover international and domestic transportation, hotel accommodation, meals, registration fee and welcome reception. To apply please complete the form which is available download here and at the end of this post. Return to by 19 April 2013 at 4pm.

Closing date for application is 4pm on 19 April 2013
For any queries please contact
Kind regards, Anne
Posted by Anne Horan on Apr 16, 2013 1:56 PM BST