Symposium Celebrates the Contribution of Women in Chemistry

Posted on: 21 November 2013

Trinity College Dublin’s School of Chemistry celebrated the varied achievements of female chemists in a half-day symposium supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry and the College’s Equality Fund.

The goal of the event, entitled ‘Past, Present and Future: The Multiple Roles of TCD Women Chemists,’ was to inspire younger researchers to take the personal steps that would make the difference to them furthering their careers.  Four of the speakers were former doctoral graduates of the School, who had gone on to use their skills in a variety of ways.

Opening the symposium was Professor Christine Cardin, a senior lecturer in TCD School of Chemistry until 1992. Now the Professor of Crystallography at the University of Reading, Christine talked about her latest research into the 3D interaction of metal- complexes with DNA, and about how gender and family can affect career outcomes.

Professor Polly Arnold, from the University of Edinburgh, treated the audience to a snapshot of her cutting-edge and internationally recognised work, which is adding new fundamental understanding to the chemistry of spent nuclear fuel. Dr Mary Kelly, Chairperson of An Bord Pleanála, revealed how her scientific training acted as a platform to her leading roles in the Environmental Protection Agency and in the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation.

Dr Elise Champeil’s first encountered the School of Chemistry as a visiting Erasmus student. She described how her studies took her from France to Dublin and back again, before she assumed her current position as Associate Professor in Forensic Science at John Jay College in New York. Dr. Yvonne Traynor explained how investing in herself and grasping new opportunities led to her becoming Head of Global Quality at Henkel. The speakers were joined by Trinity’s ERC Research Professor Valeria Nicolosi and Assistant Professor in Chemistry Paula Colavita in an open panel discussion chaired by Professor in Systems Eileen Drew.

Associate Professor and Head of Chemistry at Trinity, Sylvia Draper, was delighted by the diversity of personalities and chemistry captured by the speakers. She said: “The talks gave us an insight into the careers of some really remarkable women and put into context each of their chemistry successes. From the first graduate in the School in 1908 right up to modern day we are losing scientifically educated women from the workforce and missing out on the unique contribution that they could have made.

“This symposium was a small step in motivating the next generation of researchers in the School to continue in a chemistry-oriented career and in particular to promote women’s lifelong participation in science at the highest level.”