I am delighted to introduce myself to you as Head of the School of Chemistry, succeeding Jon Preece.  I’ve been at Birmingham for the last 18 months and in that time I have seen the School really gear up for transformation – which I am enthused to lead over the years to come!

This School continues to produce amazing research and train brilliant young scientists.  We are building on the example of Nobel Prize-winning Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart FRS, who opened the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory here on campus in May, and it is my intention that the inspiration he provides kickstarts an era of excellence to come.

Mentoring new talent has been a joy for me throughout my career – the passion that emerging researchers have for making new discoveries and really pushing the boundaries of science gives me great hope for the future of our field. As you will see from our newsletter, we are actively seeking new mentors for our students so please do get involved.

My own career has focused on polymer science, researching in California, Cambridge and Warwick before joining Birmingham. I work at the forefront of precision synthesis, creating novel soft materials with advanced properties and functions. These materials can include developing printed fuel cells for use in fabrics as wearable electronics; non-invasive dyes that act as tunable probes for imaging and sensing; and nanoreactors that mimic nature, employed in healthcare applications to deliver specific molecules.

It’s my privilege to introduce this latest edition of the School’s newsletter, in which we reflect on the last academic year, and also introduce the 3 new lecturers who will join us at the start of this academic year – Tim Barendt, Josh Makepeace and Hamish Yeung.

As well as the successes of our staff and students I must add a big thank you to the 25 chemistry alumni who have kindly volunteered with the School over the last academic year. This includes 9 mentors, 9 people offering careers advice and professional expertise, at least 2 guest speakers and 2 graduates featuring at Open Days as Alumni Ambassadors. Thank you, you've made a real impact here! If you'd like to get involved too, please get in touch with our Alumni Relations Manager, Grace Surman on eps-community@contacts.bham.ac.uk

A great part of the wonderful community spirit we have here in the School has undoubtedly come from the presence and commitment of the late Professor Roy Johnson, who sadly passed away in August 2019. I know many of you will have wonderful memories of Roy, and I’ve been humbled by the messages of support and sympathy I’ve been able to pass on to his family.  We will pay forward his dedication through making our research and teaching efforts the best they can be, and it is with this pledge toward progress that I wish you a wonderful year to come.

With very best wishes,

Rachel O’Reilly
Head of School

Read the 2019 Chemistry Alumni Newsletter here.