The SCI International Honours presentation on the evening of 12 November 2009 was a night to remember. The event showcased the Society’s support for science communication, health and safety, and science education by celebrating outstanding contributions from the recipients of its People Awards in these three categories.
And the winners were…
Prof Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins is one of Britain’s best known scientists and is the deserved recipient of the SCI Science Communication Award. He is an evolutionary biologist and zoologist with a great flair for the popularisation of these subjects through a series of best-selling books, television appearances and public lectures. He is a resolute defender of science and the clarity of his works serves as an excellent example of how challenging science can (and should) be explained to diverse audiences.
Sir Robert Malpas presented Professor Dawkins with the Award for his work in helping non-scientists to 'make friends with science'. Prof Dawkins reminded his audience that science is not just useful to mankind – it also has an aesthetic and poetic dimension, and must be brought more into the mainstream culture. But, he stressed, that mustn’t mean dumbing down: science, he said, should be fun – but not in a trivial way.
Prof Trevor Kletz OBE
The SCI Mond Award for Health and Safety (named after Ludwig Mond, one of the pioneers of the British chemical industry and a founder of SCI) went to Professor Trevor Kletz, OBE (pictured with SCI past president Lord Dholakia). Kletz, now 87, has won world renown for his work in the vital area of process safety during a distinguished career with ICI and subsequently as visiting professor at Loughborough University.
Prof Kletz has written extensively on safety issues and, in many ways, can be considered as a ‘founding father’ of the modern health and safety processes and culture within the chemical industry. In 1997, he was awarded an OBE for services to industrial safety.
Mrs Sue Halliday was presented with the SCI Education Award by SCI past president Sir Tom McKillop for her inspiring revitalisation of Catalyst, an education centre in Widnes, NW England, born from the one-time Museum of Chemical Industry. When Mrs Halliday took over some four years ago, the centre was effectively moribund. Now it is highly successful, helping children from 7 to 17 to take an interest in science and consider adopting it as a career.
In a short time, Mrs Halliday has made a considerable impact on the educational activities of the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre: the only science centre in the UK with chemistry as its main theme. Her achievements include doubling the number of school visits and reinvigorating Catalyst’s popular Saturday Science Club (more details). Her infectious enthusiasm makes her a great ambassador for science education and a worthy recipient of the SCI Award.