16 Jun 2016
Jennifer Mordue joined SCI in 1978. She was elected as an ordinary member of the Aberdeen committee in 1982. In 1996, she was also elected to the Agrisciences (then Crop Protection) Committee. She became Chair of the Aberdeen Group in 1993 and led the launch of the Scotland group in 2000 becoming Chair of the Scotland Group with remit for the whole of Scotland from 2000 – 2003. In 2003 she became Chair of the Section Support Committee at London headquarters joining as Trustee from 2007 as an elected member of the Board. Jennifer was awarded the Lampitt Medal in 2002 for outstanding services to the Society. Jennifer is Emeritus Professor of Zoology at the University of Aberdeen and is a Zoology graduate from the University of Sheffield.
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When and why did you become a member of SCI?
I joined SCI towards the start of my academic career studying insect physiology and behaviour. My research, in collaboration with chemists from Rothamsted Research, was concerned with novel means of insect control by the use of insect pheromones, kairomones (host location cues) and allomones (non-host cues) to manipulate insect behaviour and take pests away from crops. It was essential to meet people in the crop protection industry to showcase my science to the benefit of both. The ability to attend SCI conferences at significantly reduced rates, the ability to network with senior people in industry and the ability to publish in and gain usage of the SCI journal Pest Management Science (then Pesticide Science) were all facets of being an SCI member that were essential in my career development. The cross linkage of different disciplines in SCI makes it a unique forum in which to thrive.
Why did you decide to get involved in the SCI Scotland Committee?
On moving to Aberdeen from London I was invited to join the Aberdeen committee by Noel Streatfield, then Chair of the Aberdeen Group and newly retired President of SCI. His personal approach and invitation were most welcoming in a new situation and I appreciated his personal touch. Indeed throughout my career I try to follow his example and encourage all young people I meet within SCI.
How do your SCI activities reflect your personal/professional interests?
‘Where science meets business’ is at the heart of my philosophy where pure research leads to innovation for the benefit of society. I have benefitted greatly from a multidisciplinary approach in solving scientific problems and in taking pure science into products in the market place. Also as I progressed through my career I wanted to help and support other graduates as they developed their careers. In my time it has been particularly difficult for women in SET to climb the ladder and reach their potential in senior positions. As the first female Professor of Zoology in the University of Aberdeen’s 500 year history I feel strongly that I wish to support all young people and particularly women members of SCI to reach their true potential in their working life.
What has driven your continued involvement?
Over the years SCI has been developing and widening its remit to include chemistry and all related sciences in its remit. I feel it important as a biologist to be part of a multidisciplinary society with its mission to advance the science of applied chemistry and related sciences for the public benefit.
Once you belong to an organisation a network of friends and colleagues is created which widens your horizons and creates opportunities to work together and to move into different arenas and areas of expertise.
How has being involved in SCI activities impacted on your career?
The award of the Lampitt medal was one of the highlights of my career and added significantly to others’ awareness of my capabilities in terms of career progression.
Networking outside one’s own specialism with peers and senior figures in both academia and industry expanded my own knowledge and influenced and increased awareness of others to myself.
How do you think that your contribution has helped to shape your Group or SCI as a whole?
At a time when individual groups in Scotland were struggling it was an amazing experience to lead a team to create the Scotland group and to regenerate SCI interest and influence in Scotland.
By being involved on a committee, what opportunities have been presented to you which you would not have otherwise had?
Committee work is rewarding by being part of a team with common goals. My work with SCI has enhanced my academic credentials in team working, organising events and conferences. I was particularly pleased to be able to organise, speak at and create a dedicated volume of Pesticide Science for the 2001 ‘Sealice of farmed salmon Conference: towards an integrated pest management strategy.’
As a trustee of the Board my skills at strategic thinking and knowledge of working in the charitable sector have been greatly enhanced. Also as a member of the SCI Early Careers Committee I am still actively and collaboratively taking forward initiatives to develop young members of SCI and help them reach the heights in their careers.
How do you balance your SCI commitments with your job and workload?
Universities encourage staff to take up responsibilities outside the academic environment to broaden one’s horizons and experiences. My work with SCI has always been closely related to my research interests and those outside links have worked very well for me. Now that I am retired I can choose how much I do and I find I am still greatly interested in SCI and what it hopes to achieve in the future.
What would you like to the see the SCI Scotland Group doing in two - three years time?
The Scotland Group is now well established and expanding with many young members on the committee doing exciting things. I would like to see the realisation of our original aims to have a large committee covering the length and breadth of Scotland working by virtual means to create a vibrant programme of activities; growing membership and playing a pivotal role in bringing Universities and business together along with other initiatives such as ‘Chemical Sciences Scotland’.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt by being an SCI committee member?
Learning to work with people perhaps with differing views and opinions. Learning to work as a team.
What advice would you offer to anyone thinking about becoming involved in an SCI Group or Standing Committee?
Do it! Be a committee member at any and every level of the Society. It creates a wealth of opportunities relating to work, career and broadening one’s horizons.