SCI’s 140th Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held at 2pm on 7 July 2021.
The Chairman’s Review
In his last presentation as Chair of the Board of Trustees, Dr Alan Baylis opened the AGM by thanking everyone for their work and commitment to SCI, particularly during the pandemic. ‘Lots of good things have happened at SCI during the last 12 months,’ Dr Baylis said. He reminded attendees of SCI’s ‘clear mission to encourage knowledge sharing, support careers and increase the public understanding of science.’
Dr Baylis updated attendees on SCI’s new Governance structure. This revised structure includes the President’s Council - a senior group of stakeholders - to give further strategic direction to SCI’s ongoing work. He also confirmed that Dr David Witty, Head of Chemistry and CMC Eliem Therapeutics would become Interim Chair of the Board of Trustees, while Harry Swan, Chief Executive Officer Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd. was now Chair Designate.
Dr Baylis steps down from his position as Chair of the Board of Trustees after six years in the position. Members and the SCI team thanked him for his dedication and hard work in helping SCI to establish its current structure and focus.
Dr Geoff Fowler, SCI Honorary Treasurer, started by saying that despite the pandemic 2020 had been a strong year for SCI in terms of turnover and gains made on its investments. Despite a significant income drop off SCI had managed to end the year with a surplus, which he attributed to ‘astute management’ by the executive team. Dr Fowler also highlighted the new membership fees and noted SCI’s financial contingency policy which is being reviewed.
Looking to the future, Sharon Todd, SCI Chief Executive Officer, said that SCI has made good progress in the last six years. ‘We have had success with our strategy over the last six years and now have a strong foundation to build on,’ Ms Todd said. ‘Progress has been made in growing and engaging members, in particular across industry and innovative SMEs. New communities have also been formed in emerging tech areas such as Sustainable Materials, Data, Digitalisation & AI, and Engineering Biology.’
Ms Todd said that SCI was now in a new phase, with many projects started over recent years coming to completion such as the phase 1 Digitalisation programme. ‘We are in new phase of strategy development. This process will run over the next year. Our strategic focus will still be on our core charitable objectives of accelerating scientific innovation out of the lab and into industry.’ Ms Todd added that SCI has a role to play in societal challenges as innovation, business and policy would have to be aligned. ‘We want to ensure that emerging technologies are promoted for the benefit of mankind.’
Turning to new initiatives, Ms Todd spoke about a plan for a legacy giving programme. She also highlighted greater ambitions around sustainability as well as looking at new ways to support the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs. The new strategy would be looking forward for the next 10 years.
SCI President Paul Booth CBE gave an overview of the many areas in which science and chemistry had a key role in addressing challenges from climate change to global health.
Commending the development of SCI during the last six years Paul Booth said ‘It’s now time to change gears and bring greater focus to what SCI is doing.’ Pointing to the President’s Council he said that this was one of the changes that was part of the Society’s greater focus. He noted that SCI now had a clear voice and value proposition.
Society Member Recognition Awards
Distinguished Service Award (DSA)
Professor Emeritus Ray Jones presented three awards. The Distinguished Service Award (DSA) recognises members who have made an exceptional contribution to SCI activities via one or more of SCI’s committees. The winners for 2021 were:
- Dr John Casey - a longstanding secretary and treasurer of SCI Australia Committee who had a key role in establishing the Plant of the Year award and student essay prize. Dr Casey hosts SCI Australia’s ‘virtual lunch’ for retired chemists and is writing a book on the history of SCI Australia and its predecessor SCIV.
- Dr Liam Cox is Deputy Head, School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham. He is a member of SCI’s Fine Chemicals Group. As a former Chair of SCI’s Young Chemists Panel, Dr Cox introduced new events to broaden the network for graduates entering the chemical industry. Dr Cox was also a former Treasurer, Secretary and Chair of the Fine Chemicals Group, running many successful SCI conferences and events.
- Richard Thwaites is the longstanding Chair of SCI Australia Committee. During his tenure he has developed close ties with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Richard introduced the use of online tools to better connect local members in a large geographical area and ensure that SCI was represented at the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUAPC) World Congress, Brisbane, Australia 2001. He also initiated prizes for undergraduate chemists and chemical engineers.
SCI Scholars 2021-2023
Professor Alan Heaton, Chair, Early Careers Committee, Principal of SCI’s College of Scholars introduced SCI’s new Scholars. Each of them will receive an award of £5,000 over two years.
- Joseph Anderson: University of Strathclyde/GSK.
Project: Bridge Functionalisation of Bicyclo[1.1.1]pentane Derivatives.
- John Hudson: Swansea University.
Project: Radical material and devices for opto-spintronics
- Joseph Oddy: Rothamstead Research.
Project: Genetic and agronomic strategies to improve wheat quality through control of grain asparagine content.
Graduating Scholars 2019-2021
Professor Emeritus Jenny Mordue, Trustee/ECC introduced the graduating scholars, each one giving a short presentation of their work.
- Holly Bonfield: University of Strathclyde/GSK.
Project: Expanding the scope of asymmetric redox-relay oxidative Heck transformations.
- Brett Parkinson: Imperial College London.
Project: Methane Pyrolysis of Molten Salt Bubble Columns for Low-CO2 Hydrogen Production.
- Fabien Talbot: University of Manchester.
Project: New Methods in Copper Catalysis to access High value building blocks.
All the Scholars thanked SCI for the help and support that they had received.
Ms Todd thanked all members, volunteers and staff for their work for the Society. She noted the incredible input many members made to SCI, giving generously of their time and expertise. She encouraged all members in attendance to engage actively with the Society.
Appointments to the Board of Trustees
The following candidates were confirmed as new members of the Board of Trustees:
- Dr Charlotte Crowhurst, Potter Clarkson
- Dr Nick Challoner, Croda plc
- Professor Emeritus Ray Jones, Loughborough University
- Professor Joe Sweeney, formerly Lancaster University, now University of Salford
- Dr Kevin Matthews, Scott Bader
- Dr Ben Alston, University of Liverpool
- Dr Dave Allen, GSK
- Dr Jonathan Hague, Unilever
- Dr Sarah Skerratt, MSD
Appointments to other governance committees
The following candidates were confirmed as members of other SCI Governance Committees
- Professor Emeritus Ray Jones (Chair), Loughborough University
- Dr Maryam Bayati, Northumbria University
- Prof Paul Clarke, University of York
- Dr David Leese, Malvern Panalytical
- Dr Cláudio Lourenço, Procter & Gamble
Early Careers Committee
- Ms Nikita Patel, Queen Mary University of London
- Dr John Hardy, Lancaster University
Finance and Investments Advisory Committee
- Mr John Brown
- Mr Martin Curry, STEM Healthcare Ltd.
- Mr Peter Grimbly, Carington Hospitality Ltd.
- Dr Peter Hambleton
- Mr Patrick Kitt, Flameless Energy Solutions Ltd.