Celebrating success: 2011 announced as the International Year of Chemistry

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) announced in 2008 that The International Year of Chemistry (IYC) would be celebrated in 2011. This exciting initiative celebrates success in chemistry hopefully to spark renewed excitement for the future of discovery in chemistry. IYC 2011 is an opportunity to encourage young, enthusiastic scientists, to celebrate the contribution of advancements in chemistry within our society and promote appreciation for women in science. By Ellen Smyth

Previously, the UN designation of an international year of celebration to a scientific discipline has been of considerable benefit in raising awareness about scientific developments. To mark the IYC 2011, a range of events are taking place worldwide to highlight achievements in chemistry. There are multiple opportunities to participate in activities spanning the entire field of chemistry, including a series of global interactive and innovative workshops, talks and conferences. These events target science professionals, budding young scientists, and the public, aiming to inspire and involve as many individuals as possible. One of the events taking place is the “NATA Young Scientist of the Year Awards” in Sydney (Sept 23rd 2011), which provides a national platform for young scientists to showcase their creativity and demonstrate how chemistry is applied on a daily basis . A second event scheduled to take place is a lecture on “Amazing Science Applied Daily” at Imperial College London (Sept 29th2011) where Dr. Emma Meredith from the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association will lead an interactive discussion on how chemistry is implemented in the cosmetics industry .

 The IYC 2011 coincides with the centenary of the award of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry to Marie Curie. To recognise this achievement, Marie Curie has been chosen as the symbol for this year’s 2011 International year of Chemistry. The award, in 1911, was "in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element." Identifying Marie Curie as a symbol for IYC 2011 is ideal as she epitomises two of the key goals of the IYC celebration; reflecting the importance of historical events in chemistry and recognising the significant contributions of women in science. She is an excellent role model for young aspiring female scientists and an integral part of IYC 2011. One such event includes a Marie Curie inspired poster exhibition which will be held at the Research Centre for Materials Science, Nagoya University (July 21st -Aug 31st 2011) ( thanks to a collaboration with The Curie Museum and Curie Institute.
In addition to being awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry when she was working as the first female professor at the Sorbonne University in France, the Nobel Prize for Physics was also awarded to her in 1903.She is one of only two scientists to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in two different fields (the other scientist is Linus Pauling who was awarded the Chemistry and the Peace prizes). To celebrate her achievement a re-enactment play inspired by the life of Marie Curie will be performed at the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in San Juan Puerto Rico by professional actress, Susan Frontczak. The performance will follow the announcement of awards for the 23 Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering at an event entitled "Are women still underrepresented in science?” (August 2nd 2011) 
The IYC 2011 is now at its halfway point and has thus far been a resounding success. On June 22nd school children were involved in a chemistry experiment testing the pH of water at the House of Commons, prior to which Gavin Barwell, a London MP commented that “I am really looking forward to welcoming young people from my constituency to the House of Commons and joining them in taking part in the world’s largest chemistry experiment. It is so important for children of all ages to take part in hands-on science lessons and I am hugely grateful to the Royal Society of Chemistry for organising the event.”

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