Tuesday 22 September 2020

Prof. Andrew Dove

“A Sustainable Future with Plastic”, Professor Andrew Dove, University of Birmingham.

Due to the environmental impact of their improper disposal, there is growing pressure to rethink our use of, and dependency on, plastics – especially single use plastics. Indeed, since the build-up of plastics in the ocean was highlighted by the BBC’s Blue Planet II in late 2017, there has been a backlash against their use with some even demanding the creation of a plastic-free world. While plastics pose undeniable environmental challenges, they also enhance our lives and contribute to global progress. Their lightweight nature, excellent barrier properties and ductility help reduce carbon emissions and food waste thus providing a potential net positive to the environment. This talk will discuss these concepts as well as focus on how Chemistry can help create a sustainable future with plastic through improved materials and chemical recycling.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Elizabeth Driscoll, University of Birmingham.

Since the turn of the century, rechargeable batteries are found everywhere in day-to-day life: smart phones, laptops and (more recently) electric vehicles. The chemistry underpinning all these applications, makes use of Li-ion batteries. Although 30 years on from the initial design of this technology, the push for more efficient energy storage devices remains heavily in the spotlight for both consumer devices, transport and large-scale grid applications. The current challenges posed with increased interest and uptake, whilst lithium reserve poses future limitations, requires understanding the application’s requirements whilst mitigating the advancing climate crisis. In this talk I will cover how these batteries work using a Jenga to show the shuffling motioning, in addition to some key characteristics such as rate of charge and degradation, whilst relating the application back to electrochemical and redox potentials. The remainder of the lecture will then cover where research efforts are currently focusing, from high power applications for EV to Na-ion batteries, before concluding with the recycling efforts at the University.

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Dr John Snaith


Chemistry is the cornerstone in the continuing search for new medicines. Since the efforts of William Henry Perkin to synthesise the antimalarial quinine in the mid nineteenth century, chemists have used their skills to prepare compounds for the treatment of disease. This talk will start with a brief review of the treatment of ailments through the ages, and from there go on to look at the work of Perkin which led others to the discovery of the sulphonamide antibiotics. The many roles played by chemists in the modern drug discovery process will be considered, looking at how chemical synthesis, natural product isolation, and genome data are used to generate promising compounds, and how these are developed into successful drugs.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Professor Richard Tuckett,


No spin or soundbites here – it’s time to get to grips with the greenhouse effect, global warming, ozone depletion and climate change, and discover how such environmental issues influence United Kingdom and International Policy. Perhaps all may not be a simple as it seems. You will be made aware of the problems that face the planet. Rest assured, we are in good hands, our politicians are scientifically literate .

Richard Tuckett has just retired as Professor of Chemical Physics at the University of Birmingham, he now holds an Emeritus position. His research area is high resolution gas-phase spectroscopy and reaction dynamics, especially of molecular cations created by tunable vacuum-UV radiation from a synchrotron. Recent studies have centred on long-lived greenhouse gases, leading to a subsiduary interest in atmospheric chemistry, climate change and energy consumption. He has talked extensively on this subject throughout the UK. His views might seem controversial to some, others have said they are plain common-sense. You choose!

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff (University of Nottingham)


Sir Martyn Poliakoff is a Research Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham where he teaches green chemistry. Originally an inorganic chemist, he has researched in many different areas and his published work involves more than 50 different elements. In recent years, Sir Martyn has become well known for his collaboration with videomaker Brady Haran, making the Periodic Table of Videos on YouTube, www.periodicvideos.com

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Dr Tom Smith, CarnDu Limited


“Remember, Remember the 5th of November ….” A pyrotechnical extravaganza of colour, light and sound, bangs, whistles, explosions and sparks. Or yet another quiet evening at home?

Tuesday 19 January 2021

Prof. Julie MacPherson, University of Warwick

“The Wonders of Element 6 Carbon”

In this talk the many different allotropes of carbon will be explored, two of which have been the subject of fairly recent Nobel Prizes (Graphene in 2010 and Fullerenes in 1996) from synthesis to applications. The use of materials such as carbon nanotubes, graphene and diamond goes hand in hand with some of the latest developments in science and (nano)technology which will also be showcased here.

Our speaker, Julie MacPherson works on the development of new electrochemical-based sensors (based on diamond, nanotubes, graphene and nanoparticles) for a variety of different applications in healthcare, pharmaceutical analysis and environmental science (often in collaboration with industry).

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Dr Mark S. D. Read, National Nuclear Laboratory

“Nuclear Energy: Modelling the Chemistry”

Dr Mark Read from the National Nuclear Laboratory will give an overview of Electricity Generation from Nuclear Energy and the fundamental links with the University of Birmingham’s Physics Department. A brief history of the UK Nuclear Industry will lead to the current climate and thoughts for the future as the UK Government commits to reducing CO2 emissions 80% by 2050 whilst electrifying our transportation.

This lecture will also explore the important role that chemistry has to play throughout the nuclear fuel cycle, from purifying UO2 and fabricating fuel pellets to reprocessing, recycling spent fuel and the safe immobilisation of High Level Waste. The second part will show how computational chemistry is employed to simulate the nuclear fuel crystal lattice and how the fuel performance and aging effects may be predicted. So for those that thought that Nuclear Energy was only in the realm of Physics and Engineering – Dr Read is here to dispel those and other myths!

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Dr Maryjane Tremayne, University of Birmingham

“A-Level Revision: Mathematics In Sixth Form Chemistry: Building Confidence”

Dr Maryjane Tremayne teaches on a number of undergraduate modules including thermodynamics, kinetics, computational chemistry, organic molecular materials and solid state techniques. She has also taught ‘mathematics for chemists’ for a number of years and has recently established a new online fundamental maths for chemists module involving a range of innovative approaches to e-assessment and feedback for students.

This presentation will focus on revising some of the key mathematical skills required for A-Level Chemistry. This will include skills and topics such as calculating and converting units, significant figures, decimal places, standard form, the Avogadro number, percentage yields, calculations using algebra, logarithmic functions, using and constructing graphs to determine chemical quantities, determining uncertainties and the Arrhenius expression.

A range of example questions will be shown, demonstrating the use of some of the key skills outlined above. The presentation will also include a brief illustration of how mathematical concepts such as trigonometry and calculus are key extensions to undergraduate chemistry.

Maryjane is a Lecturer in Physical and Structural Chemistry and has research interests in organic solid state chemistry, molecular crystallography, powder diffraction and evolutionary algorithms. She has published over 40 research papers in scientific journals and books, and solved over 50 molecular crystal structures from powder diffraction data following the development of new techniques for determination. She has given presentations around the world on both structure solution from powder diffraction data and the application of evolutionary algorithms to crystallography.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Dr Peter Hoare, Newcastle University

“Advanced Level Revision: Transition Metal Chemistry And Aqueous Ions”

This online presentation will focus on revising some of the key properties and reactions of the Transition Metals as required for the majority of the current Advanced Level Chemistry specifications, e.g. electron arrangements, multiple oxidation states, redox reactions, formation of complex ions, aqueous ion chemistry and catalytic properties.

It will be an interactive presentation, with the audience using any device with an internet connection and a browser (e.g. PC, laptop, tablet, iPad, iPhone or Android) to answer questions about transition metals throughout the lecture using the OMBEA platform. Full details of how to access OMBEA will be provided in advance of the lecture. The questions are chosen to illustrate key points or student misconceptions, based on the speaker’s extensive experience of teaching and examining this topic over three decades

There will also be a few chemical demonstrations to illustrate key points about Transition Metal chemistry and a PDF of revision notes covering the whole topic will be provided in advance of the session.

Details of a useful online learning resource, developed by the speaker in collaboration with a worldwide research database, and peer-produced by end of Year 12 chemistry students for a summer Nuffield Research Placement Project, will also be provided.

The speaker, Dr Peter Hoare, is currently a STEM Outreach Officer in the SagE Faculty at Newcastle University, but prior to his appointment in 2009, was a chemistry teacher for 20 years in a high achieving Northumberland High School. He is also an A-level Chemistry marker, since 1995, for one of the major UK examining boards, for whom he currently marks an Advanced Level Paper.

Download a copy of Dr Peter Hoare’s Revision Notes Pamphlet:

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Dr Adrian Wright, Senior Admissions Tutor, School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham.

“University Applications – Writing Personal Statements And Preparing For Interviews”

Personal statements within UCAS applications are your opportunity to describe yourself, your passion for your subject and why you would make an excellent student.

Dr Wright will use his many years of experience to describe what makes a good personal statement and how to decide on what to include.

For those applying for courses with interview selection, he will also cover how to prepare for interviews and what interviewers are really looking for.

Dr Adrian Wright is the Senior Admissions Tutor and Reader in Inorganic Chemistry at the School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He has over 10 years experience in University Admissions, both at subject level and across the University.