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Queen Mary Academy

Introducing diverse chemists in organic chemistry

Three female chemistry students working in the lab
Dr Christopher Jones profile picture

Dr Christopher Jones

Senior Lecturer in Chemistry

In collaboration with

  • Aisha Sharif
  • Israt-Zahan Chowdhury

Responding to a need

After completing module CHE202A - Organic Chemistry, students identified the lack of representation of minority ethnic scientists in the module. While there are many ethnic minority students on the course, the chemists that were discussed in the lectures were white European males.

Dr Jones asked two Chemistry students, Israt-Zahan Chowdhury and Aisha Sharif, to research scientists that could be featured during the module, to inspire and motivate students to show the diversity within organic chemistry.

After Semester A exams, both students researched chemists who could be highlighted during the module for the next academic year.

The approach

The students decided to research scientists who had a significant impact on the branch of reduction chemistry. They made a word document, highlighting these scientists, and sent this to Dr Jones. This material will now be used in the slides for this module in the next academic year.

This will make students feel motivated as they will be able to see inspirational role models, demonstrating that to be successful in chemistry, ethnicity or gender does not play a role. In the future, there is an opportunity for students to work alongside other lecturers to highlight a diverse range of scientists who have achieved great things.

Read some of the profiles

Mary Elliott Hill

Mary was a chemist and a teacher. In fact, she was one of the earliest African American women to become a chemist. Along with her husband, they used to specialise in plastics, using Grignard reagents to form ketenes.

Kenichi Fukui

Born in Nara, Japan, he was the first Asian recipient of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Kenichi was co-recipient along with Ronard Hoffman for his roles on orbitals. His interest was in quantum mechanics, in particular Schrodinger.

Michael James Steuart Dewar

Dewar was born in India and went to boarding school in England. He studied at the University of Oxford, where he received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts. In 1951, he was appointed Chair in Chemistry at Queen Mary College University of London. He moved to Florida where he worked with aromatic compounds. He coined the term tropolone and linked it with pi complex and rationalisation of the electronic structure of compexes of transition metals.

Asima Chatterjee

Asmia was born in Bengal. She was the first Indian woman to earn a Doctor of Science from an Indian University. Her main focus of research was on organic synthesis. She carried out synthetic studies on a number of complex indole, and quinoline alkaloids and quinoline, which are heterocycles.

Israt-Zahan Chowdhury

email Israt-Zahan Chowdhury
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