Royal Society of Chemistry

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The Royal Society of Chemistry
RSC-brand-guidelines-2019 tcm18-246471.svg
The RSC's logo, updated in 2019
Formation1980 (1980) (1841) [1]
Type Learned society
Headquarters Burlington House
  • United Kingdom
50,000+ [2]
Official language
Tom Welton
Gillian Reid
Key people
Helen Pain (CEO)
£65.7M [2]
RSC London Headquarters RoySocChem 5770.jpg
RSC London Headquarters

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is a learned society (professional association) in the United Kingdom with the goal of "advancing the chemical sciences". It was formed in 1980 from the amalgamation of the Chemical Society, the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Faraday Society, and the Society for Analytical Chemistry with a new Royal Charter and the dual role of learned society and professional body. At its inception, the Society had a combined membership of 34,000 in the UK and a further 8,000 abroad. [3] The headquarters of the Society are at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. It also has offices in Thomas Graham House in Cambridge (named after Thomas Graham, the first president of the Chemical Society) where RSC Publishing is based. The Society has offices in the United States at the University City Science Center, Philadelphia, in both Beijing and Shanghai, China and Bangalore, India. [4]


The organisation carries out research, publishes journals, books and databases, as well as hosting conferences, seminars and workshops. It is the professional body for chemistry in the UK, with the ability to award the status of Chartered Chemist (CChem) and, through the Science Council the awards of Chartered Scientist (CSci), Registered Scientist (RSci) and Registered Science Technician (RScTech) to suitably qualified candidates.

The designation FRSC is given to a group of elected Fellows of the society who have made major contributions to chemistry and other interface disciplines such as biological chemistry. The names of Fellows are published each year in The Times (London). Honorary Fellowship of the Society ("HonFRSC") is awarded for distinguished service in the field of chemistry.


The president is elected biennially and wears a badge in the form of a spoked wheel, with the standing figure of Joseph Priestley depicted in enamel, mainly in red and blue, on a hexagonal medallion in the centre. The rim of the wheel is gold, and the twelve spokes are of non-tarnishable metals.

The current president is Tom Welton (2020–2022). [5]

Past presidents of the society have been:

Membership categories and post-nominals

The following are membership categories with post-nominals (designatory letters): [18]


The qualification GRSC (Graduate of the Royal Society of Chemistry) was awarded from 1981 to 1995 for completion of college courses equivalent to an honours chemistry degree and overseen by the RSC. [22] It replaced the GRIC offered by the Royal Institute of Chemistry.


The society is organised around 9 divisions, based on subject areas, and local sections, both in the United Kingdom and overseas. Divisions cover broad areas of chemistry but also contain many special interest groups for more specific areas.

There are 12 subjects groups not attached to a division.

Local sections

There are 35 local sections covering the United Kingdom and Ireland. In countries of the Commonwealth of Nations and many other countries there are Local Representatives of the society and often some activities.


Thomas Graham House - from where the Society's publishing arm operates - in 2014 Thomas Graham House - 2014-10-09 - Andy Mabbett - 03.JPG
Thomas Graham House – from where the Society's publishing arm operates – in 2014

The society is a not-for-profit publisher: surplus made by its publishing business is invested to support its aim of advancing the chemical sciences.

In addition to scientific journals, including its flagship journals Chemical Communications , Chemical Science and Chemical Society Reviews , the society publishes:

Subscriptions to the journals are available individually, or "all-in", under a provision called "RSC Gold". [24]

Burlington House

Burlington House
Location Piccadilly, London W1, England

The London offices of the Society are in Burlington House, Piccadilly. Events are hosted here for the public, RSC member groups and external organisations including regular lectures on the chemical sciences. The free lectures take an interesting look at the chemical aspects of a wide range of topics from curry to the enjoyment of music.

The events have attracted notable science writers such as Philip Ball, Antony John Williams, and John Emsley to give public lectures.


The Royal Society of Chemistry has been resident at Burlington House since 1857 (at which time it was known as the Chemical Society) – at the heart of which is the RSC's Library and Information Centre which itself dates back to 1842. Over the years, the library for the RSC has received many gifts from notable fellows including Michael Faraday. The library became a centre for information on the chemical sciences during the 1st and 2nd world wars when extensive use was made on the chemical reference material available.

Library and information centre

The society has a large library covering mainly chemistry-based subjects, including online access for members, housed at the Chemistry Centre at Burlington House. It is part of the Chemistry Centre and is a resource for RSC members, although the public are also welcome.

Benevolent fund

The staircase at the Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, designed by the partnership of Robert Richardson Banks and Charles Barry, Jr. RSC Staircase.jpg
The staircase at the Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, designed by the partnership of Robert Richardson Banks and Charles Barry, Jr.

The Chemists' Community Fund, the working name of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Benevolent Fund, supports the members and their families during difficult times, through advice and guidance, financial and volunteer support. [25] It dates back to 1920 when the Institute of Chemistry (later the Royal Institute of Chemistry) established it as a memorial to its members who died in the First World War. It had an aim "to help necessitous persons who are, or have been, Fellows or Associates of the Institute, their wives or children, and the widows and dependent relatives of deceased Fellows and Associates" through voluntary contributions from members. The Fund's ethos of "members helping members" stems from the Institute of Chemistry's Council raising money for members in need from other members prior to the fund being formed. [26]

In 1960, the benevolent fund introduced a volunteer visitor system, where members were asked to visit applicants, beneficiaries, elderly and housebound members in their area. Each local section was also appointed a fund representative. [26]

A major review of the fund to modernize it took place in 2003–2004, forming a new strategy document that is updated every three years. It underwent another review in 2014 with the aim to widen its reach to include the prevention of poverty and provide a more holistic support wider than financial assistance to Royal Society of Chemistry members and their families. [26]

The Benevolent Fund Grants Committee, formed of volunteer members of the Royal Society of Chemistry, oversees the fund and meets every three months. [26]

Prizes and awards

The RSC awards a variety of prizes and awards each year that include awards for excellence in any area of chemistry, in specialist areas or for achievement at particular stages of a chemist's career. [27]

Medals are awarded centrally by the RSC and by the divisions of the organisation. There are also awards that are administered by RSC interest groups.

The centrally awarded medals include the Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prizes which are awarded to a British chemist who is under 32 years of age for promising original investigations in chemistry [28] and the Corday-Morgan medals which consist of three separate awards made for the most meritorious contributions to experimental chemistry (including computer simulation). [29] The Tilden Prize, previously known as the Tilden Lecture, consists of three awards annually to scientists in mid-career for advances in chemistry.

Previous winners of the Harrison-Meldola Prize (known as the Meldola Medal and Prize prior to its merger in 2008 with the Edward Harrison prize) include Christopher Kelk Ingold (1921, 1922), Cyril Norman Hinshelwood (1923), R.H. Stokes (1946), D.H. Williams (1966), and J. Evans (1978).

Corday-Morgan medal recipients include Derek Barton (1949), Ronald Sydney Nyholm (1950), Frederick Sanger (1951), John Cornforth (1953), Rex Richards (1954), and George Porter (1955).

The Faraday Division annually awards the Marlow Award for contributions to physical chemistry or chemical physics by members of the Faraday Division under the age of 32. [30] Recent recipients include Andrew Orr-Ewing, (1999), Jonathan A. Jones, (2000), Helen Fielding (2001), Jonathan Essex (2002), Daren Caruana (2003), Jonathan Reid (2004), Julie Macpherson (2005), Fred Manby (2006), and Alessandro Troisi (2007).

#RSCPoster Twitter Conference

The RSC operates an annual Twitter conference. [31] [32] [33] The event is held entirely online over 24 hours. The aim of its unique format is to remove the environmental and financial costs of attending a traditional scientific conference, and help researchers share their work and network across disciplines, wherever they are in the world. [34]

Coat of arms

The RSC has its own coat of arms. Two forms exist: the full coat of arms has lion and unicorn bearers, and the Latin motto "Pro scientia et humanitate" (For the sake of knowledge and for the benefit of mankind). The smaller version uses just the central shield, which is similar to that in the Royal Institute of Chemistry's arms.

Other resources

The Interactive Lab Primer is a site developed to provide tips to a variety of chemical experimentation skills. [35] The site covers basic lab safety tips, demonstrates primary lab techniques, introduces a couple common lab apparatus in lab, and provides other references.

The society's ChemSpider is a database of chemicals and chemical properties.

The society operates a blue plaque scheme, "Landmarks of Chemistry", erecting plaques at places associated with notable chemical events or people. [36] Recent plaques are hexagonal.

Related Research Articles

Royal Institute of Chemistry

The Royal Institute of Chemistry was a British scientific organisation. Founded in 1877 as the Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain, its role was to focus on qualifications and the professional status of chemists, and its aim was to ensure that consulting and analytical chemists were properly trained and qualified. It awarded qualifications: AIC indicating full training, and FIC (fellow) indicating professional competence.

Fraser Stoddart

Sir James Fraser Stoddart is a British-American chemist who is Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry and head of the Stoddart Mechanostereochemistry Group in the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University in the United States. He works in the area of supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology. Stoddart has developed highly efficient syntheses of mechanically-interlocked molecular architectures such as molecular Borromean rings, catenanes and rotaxanes utilising molecular recognition and molecular self-assembly processes. He has demonstrated that these topologies can be employed as molecular switches. His group has even applied these structures in the fabrication of nanoelectronic devices and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS). His efforts have been recognized by numerous awards including the 2007 King Faisal International Prize in Science. He shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Ben Feringa and Jean-Pierre Sauvage in 2016 for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.

Chartered Chemist (CChem) is a chartered status awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in the United Kingdom, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) in Australia, by the Ministry of Education in Italy, the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon (IChemC), Sri Lanka, and the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria in Nigeria.

The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) is both the qualifying body in Australia for professional chemists and a learned society promoting the science and practice of chemistry in all its branches. The RACI hosts conferences, seminars and workshops. It is the professional body for chemistry in Australia, with the ability to award the status of Chartered Chemist (CChem) to suitably qualified candidates.

Martyn Poliakoff English chemist

Sir Martyn Poliakoff is an English chemist, working on gaining insights into fundamental chemistry, and on developing environmentally acceptable processes and materials. The core themes of his work are supercritical fluids, infrared spectroscopy and lasers. He is a research professor in chemistry at the University of Nottingham. His group comprises several members of staff, postdoctoral research fellows, postgraduate students and overseas visitors. As well as carrying out research at the University of Nottingham, he is a lecturer, teaching a number of modules including green chemistry.

Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) is an award conferred by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in the United Kingdom.

Graham John Hutchings CBE FRS FIChemE FRSC FLSW is a British chemist, Professor for Research at Cardiff University.

Prof Charles Kemball CBE PRSE FRS FRSC FRIC was a Scottish chemist who served as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1988–91) and as President of the Royal Institute of Chemistry (1974-6). He pioneered the use of mass spectrometry. and was a leading expert in heterogeneous catalysis.

Saiful Islam (professor)

Saiful Islam is a British chemist and professor of materials chemistry at the University of Bath. His research uses advanced computer modelling techniques to gain atomic-scale insights into new materials for clean energy applications including lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries and perovskite solar cells. He was a 2013 recipient of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.

Paul Attfield

(John) Paul Attfield is a Professor of Materials science in the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions (CSEC).

Sir John Stranger Holman is an English chemist and academic. He is emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of York, senior advisor in education at the Gatsby Foundation, founding director of the National STEM Learning Centre, Chair of the Bridge Group, past president of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and President of The Association for Science Education (ASE).

Sharon Ashbrook

Sharon Elizabeth Marie Ashbrook is a Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of St Andrews. Her research is focused on the application of multinuclear solid-state NMR spectroscopy techniques as well as the combination of these techniques with first-principles calculations to investigate structure, order and dynamics of solid state materials.

Susan Elizabeth Gibson is a British research chemist, Professor and Chair in Chemistry and Director of the Graduate School at Imperial College London. Gibson is an expert in chemical synthesis and catalysis.

Mary Jean Garson is an organic chemist and academic in Australia. She currently works for the University of Queensland.

Lorelly Wilson is a British chemist, educator and founder of Chemistry with Cabbage, hands-on workshops to inspire students to study science. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to education.

Rachel O'Reilly is a British chemist and Professor at the University of Birmingham. She works at the interface of biology and materials, creating polymers that can mimic natural nanomaterials such as viruses and cells. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Rebecca Jane Miriam Goss is a professor of organic chemistry at the University of St. Andrews who won the 2006 Royal Society of Chemistry Meldola Medal. She is known for combining synthetic biology and chemistry for medicinal purposes.

Helen H. Fielding is a Professor of physical chemistry at University College London (UCL). She focuses on ultrafast transient spectroscopy of protein chromophores and molecules. She was the first woman to win the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prize (1996) and Marlow Award (2001).

Laura Gagliardi Italian theoretical and computational chemist

Laura Gagliardi is an Italian theoretical and computational chemist and Richard and Kathy Leventhal Professor of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. She is known for her work on the development of electronic structure methods and their use for understanding complex chemical systems.

Matthew John Fuchter is a British chemist who is a Professor of Chemistry at Imperial College London. His research focuses on the development and application of novel functional molecular systems to a broad range of areas; from materials to medicine. He has been awarded both the Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prize (2014) and the Corday–Morgan Prizes (2021) of the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2020 he was a finalist for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists.


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Coordinates: 51°30′32″N0°08′20″W / 51.5089°N 0.1390°W / 51.5089; -0.1390