Department of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

Five Oxford chemists are among the winners of the RSC’s 2018 prizes and awards, which celebrate outstanding work and recognise achievements in advancing the chemical sciences.

Frankland Award winner – Professor Simon Aldridge

Simon Aldridge carries out research in the area of organometallic chemistry – the chemistry of compounds featuring bonds between carbon and a metal.

He explains: “At the heart of chemistry is the need to make custom-designed molecules to order – in high yield and with minimal waste. Synthetic chemists constantly strive for new and improved ways to do this. One strategy involves exploiting inexpensive and environmentally benign elements from parts of the Periodic Table which have traditionally been ignored for such processes. Manipulating the chemistry of these elements so that they can be used in this way lies at the heart of much of our work.”

On receiving the award, he said:  “I am surprised, delighted and not a little intimidated to have been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Frankland Award for 2018.  Surprised to be chosen – given the very high calibre of work going on across the UK in the field of organometallic/coordination chemistry; delighted – for the students and post-docs in my group whose hard work and imagination this award really recognizes; and intimidated – given the spectacular list of previous winners of the award going back to its inception in 1982!”

The Frankland Award is awarded for outstanding and highly innovative contributions to the synthesis of main group compounds with unusual electronic structure, and their application in small molecule activation and catalysis.  Professor Aldridge receives £2000 and a medal. and >

Spiers Memorial Award winner – Professor Sir David Clary

David Clary’s work focuses on using quantum theory to predict the rates of chemical reactions. His research has a wide range of useful applications – from understanding how molecules form in space to explaining the mechanisms of chemical reactions important in atmospheric and combustion processes.

He said: “To receive the Spiers Memorial Award, given previously to such scientific greats as Mond, Bragg, Herzberg, Herschbach, Polanyi, Ertl, Marcus and Tsein, is a great honour.”

The Spiers Memorial Award is presented in recognition of an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of a Faraday Discussion.

Faraday Discussions are unique international scientific conferences, which focus on rapidly developing areas of chemistry and its interfaces with other scientific disciplines. Each one is opened by an introductory lecturer who sets the scene for the discussion.

The Spiers Memorial Award is presented once a year to the introductory lecturers who are likely to provide the most stimulating and wide-ranging introduction to the discussion. Professor Clary receives £2,000 and a medal, which will be presented at the conference dinner of an upcoming Faraday Discussion. and >

Robert Boyle Prize for Analytical Science winner – Professor Richard Compton

Richard Compton carries out research in the area of analytical electrochemistry, which lies at the heart of modern technology.  His work focuses on the analysis of manmade nanoparticles, such as silver nanoparticles, which are widely used in clothing to kill bacteria.  It is not yet clear how these nanoparticles might affect the environment or the human body, and Compton’s work could assist in the rolling out of much-needed legislation in this area.

He said: “It is always encouraging to have one’s research recognised, especially by one’s peers. Of course, this reflects the contributions of all of the many co-workers (post-docs, doctorate and masters students and academic visitors) who have participated in the Compton Group over recent years and made it not only an intellectually stimulating, creative and productive environment also one in which people of great diversity have flourished.  I am particularly proud of the range of nationalities within the Group as well as our effortlessly achieved 50:50 female/male ratio, and salute the strong support of the EU (Marie Curie grants, ERC Advanced Grant) in facilitating this.”

The Robert Boyle Prize for Analytical Science is awarded for outstanding contributions to analytical science. It is given in memory of Robert Boyle (1627–1691), who is widely regarded as being the first modern chemist.  Professor Compton receives £5,000 and a medal, and will complete a UK lecture tour.

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Main Group Chemistry Award winner – Professor Jose Goicoechea

Jose Goicoechea’s work focuses on the synthesis of previously unknown molecules and chemical compounds.  Such compounds can be used for the synthesis of speciality chemicals as either precursors or catalysts, allowing for a more sustainable approach to chemical synthesis. 

He said: “I am incredibly honoured to have been selected to receive the 2018 RSC Main Group Chemistry Award, especially considering the truly outstanding scientific calibre of previous award winners. While my contribution to chemistry has not been nearly as remarkable as theirs, it is a genuine privilege to form a part of a tradition that features some of my scientific role-models, several of whom I consider as friends.”

The Main Group Chemistry Award is awarded for outstanding and transformative developments in the fundamental and applied chemistry of the p-block elements, especially that of phosphorus and arsenic.  Professor Goicoechea receives £2,000 and a medal. and >

Ronald Belcher Award winner – Ms Kamonwad Ngamchuea

Kamonwad Ngamchuea develops sensors that measure biomarkers – indicators of disease in the body. She is also investigating the possible use of saliva as a non-invasive replacement of blood for health monitoring.

She said: “I am very honoured to have been selected to receive the Ronald Belcher Award 2018. I would like to express my gratitude to the Royal Society of Chemistry for recognizing my research on human saliva and the quantification of glutathione as a biomarker. I would also like to acknowledge my supervisor, Professor Richard Compton, for his extraordinary support and guidance.”

The Ronald Belcher Award is awarded in recognition of the quality of research in analytical chemistry and in particular for work on human saliva and quantification of glutathione as a biomarker.  Ms Ngamchuea will present her work at an event later this year, where she will also be presented with £500 and a certificate.  and >