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Staff Newsletter - july 2018


Welcome to your new-look Staff@Chem Newsletter for summer 2018. We hope you enjoy reading it.

Please be aware, we are trialling this newsletter format and would welcome your feedback. It is still under development so if you experience any issues in viewing it, please let us know. Contact us on

Chemistry All Stars join Race for Life

Personnel administrator Emma Graham organised a Chemistry All Stars team to take part in this year’s Race for Life earlier this month. They ran to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. Emma says: "The race was good fun, though rather hot!" Find out how much they raised here.

New Head of Department announced

Dr James Keeler, our Director of Teaching, is to become our new Head of Department, it was announced last week. He will succeed outgoing HoD, Professor John Pyle, as from 1 October. Read the full news story here.

Calling all Cricketers

As in previous years, there will be a departmental cricket team again this summer. Research Fellow Matthew Dunstan, the team captain, says: "I expect our matches will begin in May. Contact me (at if you're interested in playing. Everyone is welcome, no matter what experience they have!" See how how the team fared last year.

Thanks for helping at the Open Days

Many thanks to everyone who helped out with the recent University Open Days, whether you volunteered on the Chemistry information stand, welcomed prospective undergrads and their families into the building, or helped set up and run the sample lectures here. We had a lot of positive feedback so our gratitude to everyone who, on behalf of the department, helped make our visitors feel welcome – they really appreciated it. Read more about this year's Chemistry Open Days.

Hello... and goodbye

Among recent staffing changes, the department is saying 'goodbye' to three colleagues who are retiring with 119 years of service between them! Read more here

Knighthood for Chris Dobson

Congratulations to Chris Dobson who was awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June for his contributions to Science and Higher Education. Chris's work has helped bring vital advances in our understanding of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Head of the Department of Chemistry Professor John Pyle says: "I am sure everyone joins me in congratulating Chris on this well deserved honour - a recognition of his fantastic contribution to science." Read the news story here.

Take four breaths...

Lunchtime Pilates sessions and guest speakers on topics from mindfulness to career development are just a few of the activities organised by Wellbeing Advocates Kathleen Pickett and Richard Turner as part of the University Wellbeing Strategy. 

Career development workshop provides roadmap to new skills

Over 30 support and research staff attended a Professional and Career Development support session in March to learn more about University opportunities for personal and professional development. Find out more about the session here.

New Data Champions

We have two new Data Champions in the department: Tina Mohammadi, a postdoc in the Knowles Lab, and Ennio Lavagnini, a PhD student in the Hunter Group. They join postdoc Sergio Martinez Cuesta (Balasubramanian Group) and postgrad Quentin Peter (also in the Knowles Lab) as local experts on research data management and sharing who can provide advice and training if needed.

The scientist who sheds light on stars

Professor Daan Frenkel has received an unusual 70th birthday present: an asteroid named after him. Daan, whose birthday is later this week, is a world-leading scientist, recognised as such by honorary fellowships in several national academies of science. Now - and fittingly for a researcher who has shed light on the state of carbon in stars - his name graces the asteroid 12651 Frenkel, as designated by the International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Centre. Congratulations and happy birthday, Daan.

News in brief

Royal Medal for Shankar and David

Professors Shankar Balasubramanian and David Klenerman have jointly been awarded a Royal Medal by the Royal Society for their co-development of DNA sequencing techniques transforming biology and genomic medicine. 

Medal for pioneering ozone research

The Royal Society is also honouring John Pyle this year. He has been awarded the 2018 Davy Medal for his "pioneering leadership in understanding the depletion of the ozone layer". Read more here.

Not drowning but waving

When not working as assistant to Shankar, Jo Lockhart likes to swim. She's training for the European Open Water Masters Championships and recently took part in the inaugural Broads Swimming UK 11.5k Marathon Swim. Read more.

Green Lab staff go for gold

Staff who have just won Gold for their efforts to make their lab more sustainable are encouraging others in the department to follow suit.

Noise subsides as doors open

After listening to months of banging, drilling and whistling, we're delighted that the Chemistry of Health building is close to finished. It was officially handed over in June and staff were offered tours of this fantastic new facility, which will create more much-needed space for research. The official opening will be later this year. Find out more here.

The chemistry of cake

This wedding cake was made for a theoretical chemist whose fascination with her subject started here. "When we brought Susannah to the annual Science Festival, we only ever got as far as the Chemistry department and then we would spend all day here," says her mum. Find out who the bride is here.