Earlier this month the 2013 Chemistry World science communication competition reached its conclusion. Now in its second year, the competition attracted around 100 entries from every corner of the world. The quality of the entries was outstanding and we are delighted that so many chose to take part and share their interpretations of openness in science. Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry.

We whittled the entries down to a shortlist of 10, and these finalists were invited along to the Royal Society of Chemistry’s London office, Burlington House, to attend a prize giving event organised by one of our sponsors (AkzoNobel). They were also asked to pitch their stories to the audience, which included members of the press, representatives of industry and a selection of academics.

I was one of the judges, along with some very illustrious names: Adam Hart Davis, Quentin Cooper, Lesley Yellowlees, Philip Ball, Samantha Tang, David Jakubovic (chair).

After much deliberation the decision was as follows:

In first place was Tessa Fiorini, with ‘Connecting the dots: the birth of modern chemistry through openness’, an article about Antoine Lavoisier. Fiorini argued that Lavoisier is hailed as the father of modern chemistry thanks to his open approach to science and his ability to connect the dots rather than because of his own discoveries.

Out first runner up was Elizabeth Tasker with ‘Tunnelling through barriers to explain the impossible’. Elizabeth is currently an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, and her article is in support of multidisciplinarity.

The second runner up was Debbie White with ‘A day in the office’. Debbie has added an element of mystery to the competition this year as she has requested to remain anonymous and write under a pseudonym. When you read her story you’ll understand why…

Tessa Fiorini receives her prize from Robert Parker

Fiorini is from Malta so her decision to travel for the day paid off when she received a certificate from Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and a cheque for £500. The runners up received cheques for £250 and £100, respectively. In addition, Fiorini be travelling to Sweden to visit AkzoNobel’s surface science laboratory and then to Newcastle to visit the facilities of our second sponsor, Procter & Gamble.

All three entries will be published in the May issue of Chemistry World and we will work with Fiorini once she is back from her trip to write and publish a summary of her experience.

The theme of the panel discussion was ‘Future proofing the UK’s chemistry using industries’, with Clive Cookson, science editor of the Financial Times, moderating the panel of Ian Shott (Technology Strategy Board and Chemistry Growth Partnership), Carol Boyer-Spooner (chief executive, Chemistry Innovation), Andrew Burgess (chief scientist, AkzoNobel), Tony Ryan (pro-vice chancellor, University of Sheffield) and David Jakubovic (open innovation director, Procter & Gamble) taking part. The AkzoNobel event was a day-long affair that continued with a panel discussion and the award ceremony for the UK science award 2014. This year the accolade was awarded to John Goodby from University of York, UK, for his work on liquid crystals. He’s being profiled in the April issue of Chemistry World so keep an eye on our website to read about his career and achievements.

The panel advocated closer working relationships between industry and academia as a way of accelerating innovation and unlocking sustainable technologies. The experts saw this combination of entrepreneurial spirit and academic capability as playing to the UK’s strengths and thus as a means of securing growth and future-proofing chemical companies and the users of chemicals.

A great day was had by all and I’d like to thank AkzoNobel and Procter & Gamble for sponsoring the competition and the ceremony, an event which just keeps getting better and better.

I’d also like to thank the judges for their time, invaluable comments and excellent sense of humour.

And finally, thanks again to all those who took part. It was a pleasure reading your entries and we hope to hear from many of you again next year.

Bibiana Campos Seijo

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