President’s column

Good news to share

Good news to share

Tēnā koutou,

"It’s pleasing to have so much good news to share, but we also must be mindful that these are tough times for many members of our Institute."

The successes of our members and Fellows demonstrate the quality and impact of New Zealand’s chemists. We are delighted that Distinuished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble has been awarded the prestigious Davy Medal of the Royal Society, acknowledging her outstanding contributions to the field of organic chemistry and the myriad applications of this chemistry to the life sciences. This very worthy accolade marks accomplishments such as the development of trofinetide, the first drug to treat Rett Syndrome and the spin-out company SapVax producing lipidated peptides for self-adjuvanting cancer vaccines. For more information see and the item on Dame Margaret’s award in this issue of Chemistry in New Zealand.

NZIC was privileged to host Professor Gill Reid, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in Wellington and Christchurch. Gill was visiting Wellington for the the ICCOC-GTL17 conference ( in late August, an international conference on coordination and organometallic chemistry, specifically focussed on germanium, tin and lead, organised by Robin Fulton and other NZIC members. Gill met with members of our Wellington Branch and spoke about the diversity, inclusivity, environmental and excellence goals of the RSC, which are very much in keeping with our vision for NZIC. Gill presented a seminar at the University of Canterbury, also available online. Building connections with the RSC (and other chemistry societies) will grow the impact and influence of NZIC. In addition to many NZIC members also being RSC members, we are linked through the relatively new initiative of Commonwealth Chemistry ( Commonwealth Chemistry is a federation of chemistry societies and institutions from Commonwealth countries. The second Commonwealth Chemistry Congress was held in May this year in Trinidad and Tobago. Sarah Masters (a member of the CC Executive Board) and Sally Gaw attended on behalf of the NZIC.

Another excellent way that we are connected with the RSC is through the Easterfield Award. Sir Thomas Easterfield was the inaugural Professor of Chemistry at Victoria University College, the first Chairman of the NZ section of the Royal Institution of Chemistry, and one of the early Presidents of NZIC. The Easterfield Award is for chemists in the first 12 years after beginning their independent career. We are delighted that the Easterfield Award tours of the UK are starting up again after a hiatus during Covid times. Bill Hawkins (Otago) is setting off in October to visit and speak at Bristol, York and Edinburgh for his 2019 award. Anna Garden (Otago) will travel in 2024 for her Easterfield 2021 award tour.

It’s pleasing to have so much good news to share, but we also must be mindful that these are tough times for many members of our Institute. The financial constraints on the economy and education are impacting organisations and programmes involving chemistry and chemists. For example, several universities are in the midst of restructures that are (or may be) affecting jobs in chemistry departments. We have tried to contribute positively to the decisions by underlining the central importance of chemistry as a fundamental and applied science. Please reach out to let us know about cases where we can support members and the discipline of chemistry. Our best wishes are with all those affected by these restructures. 

The ongoing review of NCEA and the school science curriculum has also been occupying members of NZIC and SCENZ. There are concerns that chemistry is undervalued and that diminishing physical sciences in the school curriculum will have long-term consequence to New Zealand’s pipeline of scientists and science-competent citizens. Through the Royal Society Te Apārangi, we will join other societies to push for better representation of chemistry to our tamariki through the education system.

The Otago Branch is organising our next NZIC conference, which is booked for 24-28 November 2024 in Dunedin. Please mark the date in your calendars and plan to attend. Being able to join our fellow New Zealand chemistry colleagues and support our student members and other early career chemists is a huge privilege and provides a local flavour and relevance that distinguishes this conference from overseas meetings.

Kia ora rawa atu,

A close-up of a signatureDescription automatically generated

Joanne Harvey

Good news to share

Continue Reading