Professor Gill Reid FRSC from the University of Southampton has been elected by members of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to become president-elect.
This follows an election process in which members of the Society chose between five presidential candidates – the first time in its history to have had more than two candidates standing for election. Gill will take up the role when the incoming president – Professor Tom Welton – completes his term of office in July 2022.
Gill, who is Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at Southampton, will soon end her term as Head of Chemistry at the University. Her successor, Professor Jonathan Essex, was recently announced.
With 175 years of history, and over 50,000 members, Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. Gill is a former member of the RSC board of trustees, currently a member of the Society’s Disciplinary Committee and has been involved in numerous other RSC activities, committees and events since becoming a member over thirty years ago.
“I am both delighted and really looking forward to working with colleagues across the chemical sciences, across the community in the RSC and chemists in the membership,” says Gill. “I think the great thing about the RSC is the range of activities that it’s involved in, and I’ve been lucky to be part of that for many years. And just having an opportunity to influence the direction of the Royal Society of Chemistry and to further the benefits that the RSC brings to the chemical sciences, I’m excited, I’m honoured and really thrilled by the opportunity to do this.”
Professor Mark E Smith, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Southampton said: “It is a fantastic honour for Gill to be elected to the prestigious role, which reflects well on Gill and Chemistry at Southampton. I offer heartiest congratulations to Gill and wish her all the best for a successful term of office.”
Professor Reid acknowledges the incredibly strong list of candidates that were up for the presidency and says she was really delighted to be successful in being elected.
“I hope that the RSC will be able to benefit from the expertise from across the candidates who were up for election because they’re clearly also willing to give their time and energy to support the chemical sciences,” she emphasises. “I’m finishing my term as head of chemistry in Southampton in a month and so it’s timely in that respect – I’m looking forward to the next challenge. For me chemistry has always been the thing that’s motivated me, I care passionately about chemistry. It’s a fantastic discipline and, for me, one of the priorities is bringing young people through.
“When I talk about young people, I’m talking of course at one end of the scale about enthusing children in science, and chemistry in particular, but actually young people in terms of young researchers, students coming through and seeing them flourish – and supporting them to be successful in their careers and to develop into the future leaders,” Gill continues. “This is a big motivator for me and I think, for chemistry, that’s a really important focus for the coming years, as we bring these people through and support them to really develop into the leading chemists of the future.
“Chemistry is a unique discipline in that it both combines the theories and the ideas of the discipline, together with that ability to manipulate atoms and molecules on that very, very tiny scale,” she explains. “That provides huge opportunities to create better materials and bring solutions to some of these really serious global challenges – from energy, environment, sustainability, healthcare, food security.
“These are massive issues and none more evident than at the present time. And I think chemistry is at the centre of that. We read every day about developments coming through in terms of the vaccines, the diagnostics and so on for the current pandemic. But if we look more widely at the other societal challenges of environment, sustainability, energy sources and so on, chemistry is at the heart of that.
“I think one of the things that’s really important is that, to do really good science and to have the biggest impact, we have to work really effectively with scientists and engineers from other disciplines and that I think that multidisciplinary approach is crucial. That’s certainly something that I think if we get right, we can really draw on the very best of the chemistry and chemists to get the best ideas coming together. It’s really important to address these challenges that are out there and to really make progress.”
The remaining candidates standing for election have offered Gill their congratulations.
David Parker, said: “May I be the first to congratulate Gill Reid on her election and wish her every success in her period of service to the RSC.”
Richard Catlow said: “Many congratulations to Gill on her election. Gill will make an excellent president and will, I am sure, rise to the challenge of leading the society during what may be difficult times.”
David Rees said: “Gill will bring many excellent qualities to this important role and will be a great figurehead for the RSC. Congratulations Gill.”