Hurter Memorial Lecture 2015 Report

10 Nov 2015

There are occasions when people and context combine to reward beyond expectation; the 2015 Hurter Lecture, organised by the SCI Liverpool and North West Group, was one such experience. Bangor University’s Pritchard-Jones Hall, situated up on the hillside overlooking Bangor set the atmosphere. Alumnus Prof Peter Licence presented the Hurter lecture titled ‘Chemistry in vacuo; Suck it and see’ on the subject of ionic liquids. Present were the Vice Chancellor, the Deputy Mayor of Bangor City, our Executive Director, Prize Winners, University staff, students, members of the public and local SCI committee.

In the photograph (L-R): Chris Cartmell, Prof Peter License, Gemma Tatton, Mike Halliday and Tom Britten

This was the first Hurter lecture I have attended where there was a link to Hurter’s photographic endeavours. The topic moved swiftly to the heart of characterising ionic liquids whose physical properties are difficult to measure. For example the vapour pressures are generally so low that a sample open to near-vacuum for months has no measurable gravimetric loss. Yet to run computer models basic data such as vapour pressure or heat of vaporisation are required. These and a number of conundrums were laid open through the excellent lecture. One challenge is to have an ionic liquid of predictable properties prepared by ratiometric blending of any two ‘standard’ ionic liquids. Would the mixture behave as the sum of two parts or as if it were a ‘single’ ionic liquid? The experimental work described was a masterclass design and interpretation.

It was a pleasure to welcome alumni back to the university to receive their prizes. The Vice Chancellor presented the prizes to Tom Britten, Chris Cartmell, and Gemma Tatton. Some had travelled significant distances in order to receive the prizes, supported by family and friends. The Prize Winners are now SCI members and hopefully they will be drawn further into our diverse ‘family’. Sharon Todd (SCI’s Executive Director) presented Dr Mike Beckett, Head of the Chemistry School and Dr Lorrie Murphy, Senior Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry, at Bangor University with a glass plaque to mark the long-stanging relationship between the SCI Liverpool and North West regional group and the School of Chemistry.

Following the lecture and prize giving, we congregated and networked in the corridors outside the Pritchard-Jones Hall surrounded by melodies from the Papageno Flute Trio. The Pritchard-Jones Hall is a beautifully proportioned room with a stage, surrounded by wainscot panelled walls and electroliers (electrified chandoliers) suspended above. Welsh themes permeated the evening through the food we ate and by the Bangor Music Society and Choir. There was a reluctance to bring the evening to a close which testifies to the success.

Mike Halliday
Chair of SCI Liverpool and North West Committee

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