Lampitt Medal 2023: David Birkett

4 July 2023

The Lampitt Medal provides a means by which the Society can honour Members who have taken Leslie Lampitt's example and offered their own extraordinary gifts of time, leadership, vision and enthusiasm. This year's winner is David Birkett, who will be awarded this Medal at SCI's AGM on 5 July 2023

1. What made you become a member of SCI?

Early in my industrial career I discovered and enjoyed Chemistry and Industry magazine. I also attended some SCI events and realised that I could attend others at a lower cost if I joined the Society.

2. Why did you decide to get involved in SCI activities?

In the early 80’s I organised an event at my then employers in Coventry. However, the old West Midlands Section wound itself up, and then my career took me to Belgium for a few years, where SCI didn’t have a group. When I moved to Ireland a few years later, my new employers, who were very supportive of the Society, asked me if I would be their representative on the committee of the old Republic of Ireland Section, where I eventually became the Chair. We organised a lot of regional events and even some technical events in the fine chemicals area. But in my own technical field, materials chemistry, there were very few events in Ireland. So, I thought: ‘Why not organise such events myself?’. I joined the Materials Chemistry Group committee in 2008 and have been organising joint events in Ireland ever since.

3. What has driven your long-term involvement with SCI?

Obviously, the joint events mentioned, but also the great education and networking possibilities for organising and attending all sorts of other events.

4. How has your involvement with the Society reflected (or combined with) your professional interests?

My enlightened employers have helped a great deal through sponsorship, in part because I have organised events of interest to them, and because I have been able to bring in visiting speakers on various topics that they requested, through the network that I had developed.

5. Has your professional career been shaped or influenced in any way by your involvement with SCI?

Perhaps not the main, technical part of my career, but certainly some other aspects such as the visiting speaker programme and other initiatives in terms of improving creativity and outreach.

6. What makes you excited to continue to participate in SCI activities?

For the time being I am continuing to be involved in joint MCG/All-Ireland events and with the annual Science Week Ireland table quiz, where I set the questions.

7. How do you think your contribution has helped shape SCI?

A particular interest of mine has been trying to improve the links between the Regional groups and the Technical groups, and I think my efforts there have been rewarded with some success.

8. What would you like to see SCI become in the future? Where are our biggest opportunities?

I actually think that the directions in which the executive and the trustees are trying to take the Society are exactly right.

9. How do you feel about being recognised as a Lampitt Medallist?

Extremely honoured.

10. What inspires and motivates you?

Life-long learning and bringing science, business and the general public together.

11. What advice would you give to someone looking to get more involved with SCI?

You will be welcomed – the Society has an insatiable hunger for active members. And the rewards are great. So go for it – you won’t regret it!

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