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Wednesday 29 November 2017

Alumni return to mark 50 years of chemistry

More than 150 chemistry students and staff, past and present, came to Sheffield Hallam University this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first chemistry degree – with a gold standard event and tours of its new teaching laboratories.

Chemistry teaching at Hallam began because of a need for skilled chemists for Sheffield’s steel and engineering industries.

The president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Professor John Holman, said chemistry is set to play a huge part in the future of the UK's productivity during his key note presentation at the event.

"Chemistry gives us new things that are vital to our own lives and the future," said Professor John Holman, who holds an honorary degree from the University.

"Chemistry drives life sciences, chemistry drives advanced materials and if we want to be at the forefront of innovation in the United Kingdom then we have to do it through chemistry.

He added: "I couldn't be more delighted to be at Sheffield Hallam University to celebrate this anniversary. Why? Because it's a landmark for chemistry, not only in this University but it marks a rebirth of chemistry here. Secondly, I'm an honorary graduate of Sheffield Hallam and thirdly, I'm just such a big fan of the way this University does things so I'm really pleased to be here today."

To mark the anniversary, all chemistry students and staff, past and present, were invited to a keynote presentation and panel discussion on the future of chemical sciences led by Professor Holman.

The event was also attended by the director of the Office for Fair Access, Professor Les Ebdon, a former chemistry lecturer at Hallam and also included tours of the University’s new chemistry teaching laboratory, part of the recently opened £11million Hertha Ayrton STEM Centre. 

Head of the University's biosciences and chemistry department, Professor Susan Laird, said: “The gold anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

"It was fantastic to see so many alumni reuniting with old friends and their lecturers as well as seeing our current students sharing their experiences and taking part in debates around the future of chemical science. 

“Expansion of higher education in the late 1960s led to institutions such as Sheffield College of Technology, the fore-runner of today’s modern university, developing degree courses to equip students with applied technical and analytical skills.

“That tradition has been maintained and our chemistry graduates find jobs in a host of industries and professions, not just the chemical industry, but healthcare, food, pharmaceuticals, teaching and research.”

Professor Laird added: “Although the ethos of chemistry remains, the staff and students of 50 years ago have been amazed by the standard of the facilities in our STEM laboratory, one of the newest chemistry teaching labs in the UK, which demonstrates the commitment of Sheffield Hallam University to the advancement of chemistry education.”

Left to right: Alumni Pamela Chilvers 1981-1985, Maureen Eves 1981-1985, Dr Paul Cropper 1979 - 1988 and Prof David Allen - emeritus professor at SHU from 1969 - present 

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