Philanthropic support has helped shaped the Department of Chemistry, playing an important role in the contruction and equipping of the Dyson Perrins Laboratory, the Physical Chemistry Laboratory, the Chemistry Research Laboratory and the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory. It has helped us create scholarships for the brightest and most passionate chemists from around the world, and has driven forward pioneering research across the breadth of the subject. We are immensely grateful for every gift of every size that has been made to the Department.
We have completed several campaigns in recent years; please read on for more information about their impact.
The 1916 Fumehood Campaign
Since its opening in 2018, the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory has had a transformational impact on the undergraduate practical course. It brings together practical teaching in organic, inorganic and physical chemistry for the first time, enabling cutting-edge interdisciplinary experiments that mirror the collaborative nature of our research programme.
To mark the centenary of the Dyson Perrins Laboratory, opened in 1916, an unprecedented number of alumni made gifts to help equip the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory. This generosity has helped us acquire a state-of-the-art analytical suite, including multinuclear NMR, X-ray diffraction and advanced spectroscopy and spectrometry facilities. It has also gone towards the provision of benchtop NMR, IR and UV-vis spectrometers for routine sample analysis. The facilities are the best of their kind in the world and we are delighted to be able to provide this outstanding practical experience for undergraduates, now and in the future.
Many alumni chose to celebrate the centenary and create a lasting legacy in the Department by dedicating a fumehood. The plaques, with their poignant dedications and sage words of advice, provide inspiration fro current students and will continue to do so for generations of students to come.
Thank you to everyone who engaged with and supported this wonderful campaign.
The Alan Howe Prize
Created in honour of Alan Howe, a much-loved demonstrator in the Department, and his years of service to Oxford Chemistry, the Alan Howe Prize for Best Junior Demonstrator is funded by the generous support of alumni. Professor Tim Softley, Head of the Department of Chemistry at the time of the establishment of the award, says: "The quality of demonstrating can make or break the practical course, and I am so glad that, through the generosity of our alumni, we have been able to establish this prize to recognise where an excellent job is being done."
The Prize is awarded every year to dedicated demonstrators whose hard work and creativity bring the subject to life for our undergraduates, just as Alan Howe did during his many years of work in the Department.
I knew Alan when I was in Oxford doing my DPhil and he remembered everyone's name and treated everyone with kindness. He made the teaching experience in Oxford special and personal, and I could say that because the students and staff felt the same. Great teachers and mentors make a difference for any student, and I feel very lucky to have known Alan before he retired and to have him as a mentor. - Dr Hua Wang, winner of the 2015 Alan Howe Prize
I have much pleasure in contributing to your fund, to help to ensure, in such a wonderful way, the continuation of the very important work from which you are now retiring. I only wish, from all that I have read regarding your career in the Dyson Perrins, that you had been around at the time when I used to work there as an undergraduate. It was one year behind Margaret Thatcher! I know that you would have been a great help and stimulus to me. You will always be a great role model for all future 'Alan Howes'. Through the Alan Howe Fund you are ensuring a great succession of 'Alan Howes' in the Dyson Perrins Laboratory. - Dr Charles Wickham-Jones, Christ Church 1945, donor to the Alan Howe Prize Fund
The Dorothy Hodgkin Project
We were delighted to partner with Somerville College on the Dorothy Hodgkin Project. While universities are getting much better at encouraging girls and women to study science, the number of leadership positions held by women scientists is still very low. We need to address this 'leaky pipeline', and one of the most effective ways to do so is to increase opportunities for brilliant scientists to return to the lab (often flexibly) after a career break. Following an outpouring of generous support from alumni and friends, the Dorothy Hodgkin Project has enabled the establishment of a career development fellowship. The post is currently held by Fay Probert and we look forward to seeing how her career progresses as the first holder of this wonderful fellowship.
Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, a former Fellow of Somerville College and member of the Department of Chemistry, was a pioneer of x-ray crystallography and remains the only British woman to have been awarded a Nobel Prize for science. Her work has contributed to 28 additional Nobel Prizes won by 48 Laureates and has fundamentally shaped our understanding of living organisms and the development of modern medicine. She was the first woman at Oxford to receive some form of maternity pay and fought for similar support for women in her lab, appreciating that this was essential to help brilliant women in chemistry. She also contributed part of her Nobel winnings to Somerville to establish the College's nursery.
Oxford Chemistry is very happy to have been a partner in this project to help address the 'leaky pipeline' and to recognise one of the most important chemists of the twentieth century.