Dear alumni,

The recent effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been profound for the world and for each of us.

Some of us have lost loved ones, and we all worry about key and essential workers among our families and friends who look after our communities. Our thoughts remain with them and with those who encounter this novel coronavirus.

Equally as profound in this global crisis are the positive acts of kindness, charity and forbearance we witness. The School of Chemistry has been active over the last few months and we have already achieved much of which we can be proud.

chemistry ppe donations

Soon after the campus operations were restricted, amid the national lockdown measures, researchers made hand sanitiser and lab groups donated PPE to the NHS and Birmingham City Council, quickly collected thanks to all our postdocs and PIs and through the efforts of Technical Manager Katherine Webb and Building Manager Richard Petford.

Throughout the lockdown colleagues have mostly worked from home, logging on to their desktops remotely. Some have additionally participated in outreach initiatives including the national programme for schools ‘I’m a Scientist – Stay at Home’, which ran from April to July. Over the summer the University also hosted ‘Lockdone’, a series of events for students and staff including scientific talks, wellbeing and personal development.

At the time of writing, we are beginning a phased re-opening of Haworth Building, and research activities are underway already, with John Wilkie supporting PhD students. Staff have been working hard on constructing academically rigourous and interesting virtual learning for Autumn Term, with John Snaith and Phil Craven taking the lead. These teaching innovations cap a successful academic year that has seen a doubling of our research income, ensuring our ability to attract academic talent and diversify our areas of expertise.

return to campus

In this issue, I am delighted to introduce to you two new Birmingham Fellows, Dr Maria Chiara Arno and Dr Andy Jupp. I know they will both adapt quickly to the varied challenges of the new academic year and augment the School’s creativity in teaching and research.

As well as the successes of our staff and students I must add a big thank you to the 16 chemistry alumni who have kindly volunteered with the School over the last academic year. This includes mentors, offering careers advice and professional expertise, guest speakers and 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

Our alumni community increased following the recent Graduation Celebration held online in late July. All our latest graduates have shown resilience and determination in completing their courses, and we are immensely proud of their achievements. We wish them all the very best over the coming year.

I would like to wish you and your families good health.

Professor Rachel O’Reilly
Head of the School of Chemistry

Read the 2020 Chemistry Alumni Newsletter here.