The challenges ahead in chemical sciences

chemical sciences

Open Access Government lifts the lid on the greatest challenges facing those working in chemical sciences in the UK, as well as the opportunities ahead and a glimpse at promoting heterocyclic chemistry of every kind

The Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK believes that the chemical sciences are essential in today’s changing and complex world, in that they are essential to our daily lives and will be vital in our response to some of the biggest challenges we face. Looking at one aspect of their work, we know that there are many divisions & interest groups within the Royal Society of Chemistry, which can be defined as, vibrant communities of individuals with interests across the spectrum of chemical sciences. These divisions advise on areas of science policy and support the development of research and training within their field. One of many examples of this is the Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group, which like the other interest groups, is member-driven and exists for the wider chemical science community as well as the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group aims to promote heterocyclic chemistry of every kind by means of scientific meetings. They believe that heterocyclic chemistry is interpreted in its broadest sense and that their Interest Group is closest to mainstream synthetic organic chemistry. In their view, the following themes have been prevalent in recent years including:

  • Mechanistic studies;
  • Practical applications of heterocyclic compounds;
  • Total synthesis and;
  • Heterocyclic intermediates and reagents. (1)

Challenges and opportunities in chemistry Picking up on the theme of challenges in the field of chemistry, some of these were explored in a recent interview with the Royal Society of Chemistry’s pastpresident, Professor Sir John Holman, who spoke to deputy chief executive, Paul Lewis. When it comes to the greatest challenges for the UK’s chemistry community during the next couple of years, Sir John Holman draws our attention to preparation for the outcomes of the UK leaving the European Union (EU). He adds that research today is becoming more interdisciplinary in nature and that boundaries between the traditional science subjects are blurring. He develops the latter point, as well as outlining future opportunities in the field.

“This is fantastic for scientific research and is leading to new fields of study that are already making groundbreaking progress in tackling global challenges such as energy production and antimicrobial resistance. We need to make sure we represent the chemical sciences in the broadest possible terms, while still upholding exemplary standards of professional practice.

“As well as challenges, we have huge opportunities in front of us. We’ve recently announced an exciting “Read & Publish” agreement with leading U.S. university MIT, to support them towards their open access goals, as we do for partners in a growing number of countries around the world. As a not-for-profit publisher, our aim is to build a sustainable, long-term model to both disseminate chemical science research and information, as well as continuing to support our purpose-driven activities.”

Professor Sir John Holman says that he looks forward to seeing a step change in the approach of the chemistry community in supporting diversity and inclusion, which he believes can be done by building a fully inclusive pipeline of future chemical scientists. This, he believes, will open up more routes into chemistry for those from diverse backgrounds. He explains more on this point, plus his hopes for the future of pushing forward the fantastic opportunities that can be found in the field of chemistry.

“Diverse teams produce better science and it would be fantastic to see our community taking a lead in this area…I am now very much looking forward to working with our incoming president, Professor Dame Carol Robinson. Carol’s career path – from technician to the top level of academia shows what can be achieved by opening up to all, the fantastic opportunities available across the chemical sciences.” (2)



Open Access Government


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