Launched in 2001, the Distinguished Service Award recognises the enthusiasm, hard work and goodwill of longer-serving members from all parts of the Society. This year's winner is Simon Peace, who will receive his award at SCI's AGM on 5 July 2023.
1. When and why did you become a member of SCI?
I cannot remember exactly, probably in 1995-6 during my first year of PhD. The Sheffield University Chemistry Society had good representation from SCI and members promoted the value of the community, in addition to event discounts, which were helpful to us as students.
2. Why did you decide to get involved in committee work?
After initiating some science sharing events in-house at GSK, a colleague asked me if I would like to be involved as his replacement on the Young Chemists' Panel. Whilst initially daunting, the importance of sharing science in the community was obvious and it was a great chance to contribute.
3. What has driven your continued involvement with SCI?
It sounds a bit grandiose, but it’s always felt like the strength of the science in the UK is built on sharing of experiences and the community network – which is very important given the capricious nature of funding and the industry – so anything that can help build and sustain it is crucial.
Looking for new ways to help develop the current and future generations also helps sustain motivation in the more challenging times. Perhaps the real reason is the people – the sheer class of the other volunteers, staff at SCI and the community it supports is very alluring.
4. How has being involved in SCI activities had an impact on your professional career?
So many ways… hearing first-hand about the latest developments devoid of hype from experts who know; arguing at the bar about science during events; building relationships with a diverse group of colleagues; learning-through-teaching; avoiding company cabin fever; developing organisational, budgeting, and chairing skills. It all feels a bit selfish put like that.
5. How do your SCI activities reflect your personal/professional interests?
As a scientist in medicines discovery so much of what we do is directly related to the technical focus of the society; however, the opportunity to share knowledge and find better ways for developing experienced and junior scientists is also a significant personal interest.
6. What motivates to you to participate in SCI activities?
We would be a far poorer community if we did not care for it. The value of the events put on by the charitable bodies – and very much SCI – is far, far greater than those put on by commercial conference producers.
7. How do you think that your contribution has helped shape SCI?
Hopefully drawing in others but maybe also trying to influence the leadership on behalf of the community, for which I must say the last 7-8 years have been a rewarding and productive experience.
8. What are your thoughts about receiving a Distinguished Service Award?
It’s lovely to have any contribution recognised in this way; however, I would urge everyone to recognise the huge amount of passion, care and dedication from our friends and colleagues across the network who care for and support each other.