Craig Duckham - Food Group
12 Aug 2015
Craig Duckham rejoined SCI in 2002. He was elected as an ordinary member of the Separation Science and Technology Committee in 2013. In 2015, he was also elected to the Food Group Committee. He became Chair of the Food Group in that year. Craig is the Director of his own company, CD R&D Consultancy Services, which he founded in 2012.
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When and why did you become a member of SCI?
I seem to have been a Member for as long as I can remember, re-joining in 2002 after a lapse, if memory serves. Having a background in both biology and chemistry I was attracted by the whole ethos of SCI around the benefits of multidisciplinary approaches to technical problem solving. The opportunity of meeting up with academic and industry specialists in a diverse range of fields always appealed to me. Not being a natural networker, I always found that the type of events SCI hosts makes it easy to mix and meet a wide range of interesting people.
Why did you decide to get involved in an SCI Committee?
Becoming a consultant allowed me to take more control over my time and activities and one area I wanted to spend more time on was support for the hard working volunteers of SCI. I have benefited over the years from attending many interesting and varied events organised by the Technical and Regional Interest Groups. I have a wide range of interests and contacts and I thought I may be well placed to offer support and new contacts for SCI. When you work for yourself it is easy to become isolated and your network becomes more important than ever. Becoming involved in the Food Group was also a means of maintaining my links with other scientists.
How do your SCI activities reflect your personal/professional interests?
My professional interests lay in flavour delivery and microencapsulated ingredients. This cuts across organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, process engineering, sensory science, innovation, and intellectual property management. My SCI activities are, perhaps unsurprisingly, centred on collaboration between SCI Technical and Regional Interest Groups and with external organisations. I see real value is to be gained in cross fertilisation and mutual support.
What has driven your continued involvement?
The future of SCI is in new ideas. I believe the key to its ongoing success will be through encouraging young scientists, technologists and engineers, to join the Society and play an active role in developing an SCI that is relevant to the 21st Century. New communications technologies and the availability of mobile devices with widespread internet connectivity are a step change in how information is now shared. These platforms and social media must be embraced more widely across the Society. As somewhat of an advocate I am enthusiastic about supporting these developments within SCI. My continued involvement is also very much driven by my ongoing curiosity for innovation and new technologies, particularly those with applications that could be applied across disciplines.
How has being involved in SCI activities impacted on your career?
My time as an ordinary member of SCI enabled me to expand my knowledge into areas outside my core expertise. Having a different perspective when looking at problem solving is an asset and this is helped by being exposed to complementary disciplines and industry sectors. When I set myself up as a consultant I wanted to maintain my knowledge base and being in a professional body such as SCI allows me to keep up to date within the chemical sector.
How do you think that your contribution has helped to shape your Group or SCI as a whole?
It is early days for me as a Chair of a TIG (the Food Group), but I hope I have already been able to support the team by attending and helping to organise a number of events. I have introduced SCI to new audiences and recruited a number of new members particularly through student awards that we have sponsored.
By being involved on a committee, what opportunities have been presented to you which you would not have otherwise had?
Taking part in judging student conference poster/presentation competitions has been a new experience and a great opportunity to meet a new generation of scientists working in new technology areas. The challenge now is to demonstrate to them the advantages of remaining involved with SCI. These student members will be going into industry and academic positions and sharing their experiences with their peers. I want to ensure that their experiences within SCI are valued.
How do you balance your SCI commitments with your job and workload?
As a consultant this is a challenge and, as for any other volunteer, it is important to have an enthusiastic and reliable support network around you, made up of staff and volunteers, who are happy to share the load.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt by being an SCI committee member?
Not to underestimate people's enthusiasm and willingness to chip in. You are not alone!
What advice would you offer to anyone thinking about becoming involved in an SCI Group?
Being on a committee is a great way of opening doors. You find yourself sitting in meetings with respected people from prestigious industry and academic organisations that you would normally not have chance to meet. These are people of experience and influence and may be your next employer, collaborator, customer or mentor. It is an opportunity for you to influence the direction your Group or SCI as a whole is taking. For early career scientists it is also a chance to develop new skills, help to organise events and to get noticed in an ever more competitive employment marketplace.