Schools' Chemistry Conferences

KS5 (16-18 yrs)

Our schools' conferences are for students and their teachers interested in finding out more about the cutting edge research happening in the field of Chemistry.

The conferences, usually held on the last Thursday in September, feature LIVE talks and Q&As with researchers from the Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford, and may include guests from other leading institutions across the globe.

Previous conference talks and Q&As, where available, can be accessed below. 

Our 2023 Christmas Chemistry Conference was recorded and you can catch up below:

A brief explanation of what the conference entailed:

Small migratory songbirds are extraordinary navigators: weighing less than 30 grams, they fly thousands of kilometres, alone and at night, ultimately with centimetre precision. To do this they use the sun and the stars, their sense of smell and physical landmarks but they can also perceive the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field – an internal compass.

Despite centuries of theorising, and more than 50 years of research, the mechanism of this remarkable magnetic sense remains tantalising obscure.

In this lecture, open to KS5 (16-19 yrs) Chemistry students, parents/carers, and teachers, Professor Peter Hore discussed the theory that the birds’ magnetic compass relies on a quantum mechanism in their eyes that is much more sensitive than previously thought possible.

We found out how chemistry at the nanometre scale could allow birds to find their way from Scandinavia to North Africa. Heard how data is collected from studies of the proposed receptor molecules and the birds themselves, computer simulations and visualisations, and the ideas about how the birds may actually "see" the magnetic field. This work could have major implications for conservation, navigation and how we think about the robins and other small songbirds we see in our gardens.

Q&A - Professor Peter Hore FRS

About the speaker:


Professor Peter Hore FRS is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Corpus Christi College. His research interests centre on trying to unravel the biophysical mechanism that allows migratory songbirds to detect the direction of the earth's magnetic field as an aid to navigation.

Our 2023 Autumn Chemistry Conference was recorded and you can catch up below: 

Please note: There are sections of Claire Vallance's talk that feature a live demonstration using an air hockey table. To access the top-down camera of this at the appropriate times, you will need to cycle through the camera options via the 'Show next stream' icon (at the top right corner of the video player, not the 'Tile' option).

screenshot 2023 09 25

Q&A - Professor Claire Vallance

Q&A - Professor Tom Brown 

About the speakers:


Professor Tom Brown is Professor of Nucleic Acid Chemistry in the Departments of Chemistry and Oncology. His research interests centre on nucleic acid chemistry and its applications in biology and medicine. He is co-inventor of several technologies for genetic analysis, is co-founder of three successful Biotech companies; Oswel, Primer Design and ATDBio, and has published over 450 research papers and patents.


Professor Claire Vallance is Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, Tutorial Fellow in Physical Chemistry at Hertford College, and until July 2021 was President of the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry.  She has research interests spanning chemical reaction dynamics, the development of laser spectroscopy techniques for chemical sensing, and the application of mass spectrometry and spectroscopy in clinical medicine.

Our 2022 Autumn Chemistry Conference recorded talks and links to further Q&A are available below. 

Ben Shennan is a 3rd year DPhil student in the group of Prof. Darren Dixon. He discussed his forays into natural product synthesis, targeting molecules isolated from a sea sponge from Papua New Guinea and a Chinese mountain shrub. 

Further Q&A for Natural Products and the Future of Drug Discovery


Hannah Asiki is a DPhil student on the Wellcome Trust Chemistry in Cells programme. She is undertaking a collaborative project with Prof. Ed Anderson (Department of Chemistry) and Dr Richard Wheeler. She discussed her journey to chemistry at Oxford and her current collaborative project synthesising anti-parasitic compounds and investigating their mechanism of action.

Our 2021 Autumn Chemistry Conference recorded talks and links to further Q&A are available below. 

Regrettably, there is some noise interference, which is particularly noticeable on Prof. Edwards talk. 

Researchers - Energy at Oxford Chemistry
The Circular Carbon Economy, Professor Peter Edwards

Peter Edwards is Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford. He grew up in Toxteth, Liverpool, looked after by two older sisters and a widowed mother, who held down three jobs to support the family. Peter, who received free school meals until he was an early teenager, was the first in his family to attend university, reading Chemistry at Salford where he stayed on to complete his PhD, before going on to study at Cornell University, New York, via a Fulbright Scholarship. He returned to the UK afterwards, to Oxford, as a postdoctoral researcher with John Goodenough (winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), then on to the universities of Cambridge and Birmingham, before returning to the University of Oxford in 2004, as Statutory Chair in Inorganic Chemistry and Head of Department.


Chemical Journeys: Dr Marie Wong

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Dr Marie Wong is currently working for an interdisciplinary commercial company, based in Cambridge. Originally from Malaysia, Marie completed her MChem and DPhil (PhD) at the University of Oxford, the latter in Prof. Ed Anderson’s group. Her research focused on developing chemical methods for the synthesis of complex molecules, with applications in industries such as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and materials. During her undergraduate degree, Marie completed placements in the US at UC Berkeley focusing on palladium-catalysis with Prof. John Hartwig and at Yale University with Prof. Scott Miller, looking at peptide-catalysis. Marie’s talk will focus on her career pathway and her DPhil research.


Our 2020 Autumn Chemistry Conference recorded talks and links to further Q&A are available below:

Cures from within Q&A 

Plastics from another perspective Q&A

A Pollutant's Tale Q&A


Booking details for upcoming conferences, when available, will appear below:

KS4 (14-16 yrs)

Our schools' conferences are for students and their teachers interested in finding out more about the cutting edge research happening in the field of Chemistry.

We have discontinued our conferences for KS4 students and teachers, but previous conference talks and Q&As can be accessed below.

Our 2023 Spring Chemistry Conference recorded talks and links to further Q&A are available below.

Dr Nicola Kelly is a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Professor Simon Clarke. She discussed her journey to Oxford Chemistry and provided an introduction to the world of solid state chemistry.

Denis Hartmann is a DPhil student in the group of Dr Michael Booth. He discussed his research into the use of blue light to control DNA functions and make advances in investigating cellular biology.

Our 2022 Spring Chemistry Conference recorded talks and links to further Q&A are available below. 

Dr Patricia Rodriguez Macia is a Glasstone Fellow in Inorganic Chemistry at the Chemistry Department, University of Oxford and a EPA Junior Research Fellow at Linacre College. She earned her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Alicante (Spain), conducting her final year and final project in Chemistry at Aarhus University (Denmark). She then moved to Germany with a prestigious Fellowship from the European Leonardo da Vinci programme to perform a practical project in the Leibniz-Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe GmbH (IVW) research institute. In 2014, she started her PhD at the Biophysical Chemistry Department in the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (MPI-CEC,) under Prof Wolfgang Lubitz’ supervision - PhD work which was recognised by the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award Ernst Haage Prize in 2017. After completing her PhD, Patricia took up a postdoctoral position at the Inorganic Spectroscopy Department in MPI-CEC, to work in Prof Serena DeBeer’s group, where she applied X-ray spectroscopy to study various metalloenzymes. In 2020, Patricia joined Prof Kylie Vincent’s group at the Chemistry Department in the University of Oxford as a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA), where she expanded her interests to the development of infrared spectroelectrochemical techniques for metalloenzymes engaged in catalytic turnover as well as to single crystal infrared microspectroscopy.

Kam Poon is a DPhil student in Inorganic Chemistry with the OxICFM CDT at the University of Oxford, working with Professor Charlotte Williams researching the 'Synthesis of next generation elastomers and engineering plastics'. In the summer of 2020, Kam completed my MSci in chemistry at UCL, achieving a 1st class Honours. Throughout his time at UCL, he particularly enjoyed learning about inorganic and materials chemistry and their applications to real-world challenges - choosing elective modules covering topics including polymers, metal oxides, thin films and catalysis. In his work, he aims to combine his love of chemistry and problem solving with a passion for environmental and sustainability issues.

Teachers and Technicians

Our teacher and technician conferences are an opportunity to meet other professionals within the beautiful and historic city of Oxford. You'll also interact with researchers, take part in talks, workshops, and find out more about our admissions processes. The conference is co-hosted by the department and one of the colleges and includes an overnight stay and conference dinner. 

Our inaugural conference took place on 7-8 July 2022. We anticipate our conferences will run every five years, with the next one in 2027.  

7-8 July 2022 Conference Resources