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The University of Sydney



ISSUE 23, 2013


I'm just back from a meeting of Australian Head's of Chemistry organised by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. It was interesting (and somewhat comforting) to hear that many of the issues we are facing as a School are issues at Universities nationwide. There was much discussion about what the future is for chemistry in Australia and in our universities.

One of the recurring issues that arose was the need for chemists to work together to educate the public about chemistry in order to improve our public image. At present the words most members of the general public associate with chemistry are negative (e.g. grey goo, genetically modified, toxic). There is a general perception that chemicals are bad for you. How many times do you see products labelled 'chemical-free' as a marketing ploy? Of course with the issues in many of our sporting codes, recent interest has been focussed on peptides as a class of chemicals that are particularly evil. (Personally, I was pleased to see Essendon relegated to 9th place on the AFL ladder as it meant my team made the finals after all!) Many people don't realise that the term 'peptide' simply refers to a string of amino acids linked together and without them life as we know it wouldn't exist. As a community of chemists we need to work together to improve the public image and understanding of chemistry and point out the good it has done (and is still doing) for our society.

With this in mind, it was particularly pleasing to see and speak to the large numbers of students at the University Open Day in September who were interested in studying chemistry and the even larger number of people who enjoyed the hands-on chemistry demonstrations running outside the Chemistry building throughout the day. One of the key factors in improving the image of chemistry is having more people understand what it really is, and that 'chemicals' include everything from the water we drink to the plastic cup or glass we drink out of, to the soap we use to wash that up with, so if more students do first year chemistry and get that basic understanding things can only improve.

One of the particular challenges we face in attracting students is that there is no clearly identified career path at the end of a Science degree with a Chemistry major. Our graduates end up in so many places, doing such a diverse range of things. Having plenty of detailed examples illustrating where a degree in Chemistry might lead is key to helping students (and at Open Day often more importantly, their parents) understand what a Science degree with a chemistry major leads to, so I encourage you, as our alumni, to get in touch if you'd like to share your career path with a new generation of potential chemists*.

Chemistry is so often seen as the 'enabling science' on which other, potentially more exciting areas (nanotechnology and biotechnology are two examples) rest, but I think it is time to turn the tables and see it as the 'essential science', without which those areas wouldn't exist at all.

*If you would like to share your career path please contact Anne Woods.

Kind regards,
Kate Jolliffe  |  Head of School |  School of Chemistry

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New Nanoscience Institute
The Institute, due for completion mid-2015, will house a state-of-the-art national nanofabrication facility, providing advanced research capability, in addition to comprehensive research and teaching facilities. Read more here.
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A Week in New Zealand
"I think that one of the best things about academic life is the opportunity to travel, meet new people and talk about science! In August I was able to spend a week in New Zealand doing just that." Read more about Dr Liz New's NZ conference here.
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Success from Failure
"I want my students to be actively engaged in class, instead of sitting back passively and listening to a lecture". Sally Sitou from the University's Media and Communications Office profiles A/Prof. Adam Bridgeman. Read more here.
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Chemistry, Venice, and La Bella Vita

"Walking through Piazza San Marco every day, especially in the foggy winter mornings before the tourists were up and about, was a truly special experience." PhD candidate, Ms Jessica Stanley, talks about her opportunity to spend twelve months of her PhD researching at the University of Ca' Foscari in Venice, Italy. Read more here.

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Scholarship and Prize Recipients
On Thursday 16 May 2013, the School of Chemistry held its annual student scholarship & prize awards ceremony and luncheon. A full list a recipients can be found here. Photos from the day can be found on Facebook.
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63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
PhD candidate, Ms Lara Malins, was selected to attend the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting which was held from 30 June to 5 July, 2013 on the beautiful island of Lindau, Germany. Lara was one of 8 researchers from Australia to attend, and one of about 600 young scientists internationally. Lara tells us about her trip here.
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Hans C. Freeman Lecture
In 2013 the Foundation for Inorganic Chemistry was honoured to have as their guest speaker, Professor Ken Raymond. Read more here.
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2013 Open Day
Check out the photos from the 2013 Open Day held Saturday, 31 August 2013. View photos here.
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Sydney University Chemical Society

Everyone with an interest in chemistry is welcome to join the Society. For more information please visit the SUCS website or check out our facebook group (Sydney University Chemical Society).

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'Sticky Tape' for Water Droplets Mimics Rose Petal
Dr Andrew Telford talks about a new nanostructured material with applications that could include reducing condensation in airplane cabins and enabling certain medical test without the need for high tech laboratories. Read more here.
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Synthetic Drugs of Abuse
"The past few years have seen a paradigm shift in recreational drug use throughout the world. There has been a sudden explosion in the availability of many synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of cannabis but are without complete characterisation". ChemNEWS profiles Prof Michael Kassiou.
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Check out what our staff and students have been achieving during 2013. Please visit here.
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Upcoming seminars*
Friday, 8 November | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Dr Jack Clegg, University of Queensland, Australia
Wednesday, 13 November | 11pm | Chemistry LT4
Professor Mark Biggs, University of Adelaide, Australia
Friday, 15 November | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor Lyle Isaacs, University of Maryland, USA
Wednesday, 20 November | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Dr Alister Page, University of Newcastle
Wednesday, 20 November | 5:30pm | Chemistry LT2
The Le Fèvre Student Lectures, The University of Sydney
Friday, 22 November | 2pm | Chemistry LT2
Dr Kathryn Fairfull-Smith, Queensland University of Technology
Wednesday, 27 November | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor H. Bernhard Schlegel, Wayne State University, USA
Friday, 29 November | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Associate Professor Keith Stubbs, University of Western Australia
Tuesday, 3 December | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Dr Alex Bissember, University of Tasmania
Wednesday, 4 December | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Dr Drew Evans, University of South Australia
Friday, 6 December | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor Gary Ka-Leung Wong, Hong Kong Baptist University
Friday, 13 December | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Dr Leonora Velleman, Deakin University


Chemistry seminars are held throughout Semesters 1 and 2 on Wednesdays and Fridays (check seminar page for times). If you would like to be notified of these weekly seminars and other weekly chemistry news and events please email Anne Woods and she will add you to the electronic mailout. Alternatively you can visit our Seminars page or our Upcoming Seminar page. Seminars are also advertised on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages.


To keep up-to-date with the latest news and events in the School of Chemistry visit ChemNEWS and EVENTS.


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Donations can be made to the following funds by using our online donation form.

To find out more about these funds please visit:

The School of Chemistry would like to take this opportunity to thank Alumni and Friends for their very generous donations. Your support continues to make a profound impact on our various programs. To view our current list a donors please click here.


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The past few years have seen a paradigm shift in recreational drug use throughout the world. There has been a sudden explosion in the availability of many synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of cannabis but are without complete characterisation. Read more here.


Dr Jim Eckert returns with his fascinating articles on the history of the University, and in particular, the School of Chemistry. To read more please visit the School's History page.






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