Message from the President - September 2020

Written by Danny Wong 


Dear members,

I continue to learn that there was a very high rate of membership renewal in the past couple of months.  The kind support from members during this difficult time signifies their trust and confidence in RACI!  For this, thank you to all NSW members!  You will be able to acquaint with several new members by reading their recent interviews in this newsletter.  The NSW Branch and its groups will continue to roll out activities and events online to engage with members until it is safe to return to face-to-face functions.  In this regard, both the Pharmaceutical Science Group and the Early Career Chemists Group (formerly the Young Chemists Group) have taken the lead in organising quite a few well received online technical and information sessions in recent months.  These groups have already put in place more online sessions covering various topics in September (please see ‘Upcoming Events’ for details) and I like to encourage many members to participate.  Similarly, the Analytical and Environmental Chemistry Group is hosting their first online session entitled “Microplastics in the Environment” (please see ‘Upcoming Events’ for details), a very topical area at the moment that should also appeal to many members.

All members would have noticed a different format that RACI has now adopted in delivering our monthly newsletters.  Instead of embedding a pdf file in an electronic mail, all items in a newsletter will now appear directly in the electronic mail with an individual clickable link.  In this way, members will be able to read more about a particular item after clicking the corresponding link.  We hope this new format makes the newsletters more engaging and more readily accessible to all members.  Please provide any constructive comments on the new format so that RACI can continue improving on this service.

We were all shocked to hear about the huge explosion caused by ammonium nitrate in Beirut, Lebanon, in early August.  A number of RACI members, including the Past President of the NSW Branch Committee, Honorary Associate Professor Roger Read (UNSW) and Associate Professor Stewart Walker (Flinders University), have provided CNN comments on the chemistry involving ammonium nitrate.  You can read about this at

In my September report, I like to convey congratulations, on behalf of the NSW Branch, to Dr Michael Gotsbacher, a Research Fellow from the School of Medical Sciences (Pharmacology), The University of Sydney, for being awarded the RACI Archibald D. Ollé Prize!  This is an annual national award presented by the NSW Branch to commemorate Archibald Ollé, who was very active in the chemical and scientific community of NSW in the first 40 years of the 20th century.  This prize is awarded to an RACI member of the “best treatise, writing or paper” on any subject relevant to the interest of RACI.  Accordingly, the judging panel has assessed Michael’s nomination based on his work entitled “Reverse chemical proteomics identifies an unanticipated human target of the antimalarial artesunate”, published in ACS Chemical Biology in 2019 (DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.8b01004). I am glad to report that Michael has already agreed to deliver a short seminar based on this work during the upcoming annual general meeting of the NSW Branch on 15th October.  Well done, Michael!

Speaking of the annual general meeting, we will be conducting the meeting this year online via Zoom, making it possible for members from regional areas to join in without travelling to Sydney.  The Branch Office will provide Zoom details after members have pre-registered to join us in the meeting.  Within the Branch Committee, apart from the President, President-Elect and Immediate Past President, all other positions will be declared vacant and NSW members are encouraged to make nominations or be nominated for these positions (Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, Elected Members) by sending your nominations to the Branch Office ( no later than 2pm Thursday, 14th October.  Please feel free to contact me if you like to have any information (e.g. how the Branch Committee works, meeting frequency) that will help in making your decision to stand for any of the positions.  As I mentioned in previous newsletters, to get the most of your membership is to be involved.  Therefore, I like to urge all members to seriously consider standing for any of the positions.

At last, the weather is slowly turning warmer as Spring approaches.  Nonetheless, all members are reminded to stay safe by maintaining social distancing and washing hands frequently.  If necessary, please remember to wear a facemask too.


Danny Wong

RACI NSW Branch President


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