Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tom Swan is awarded a Morrell Fellowship at The University of York

Tom Swan receiving his Morrell Fellowship at The University of York.
Also pictured with Tom Swan from left: Harry Swan (MD of Thomas Swan), Joy Parvin  and Gayle Pook.
Tom Swan’s huge support for CIEC and the Children Challenging Industry project has been instrumental in their continuing success over the last 18 years. He is a passionate believer in educating everyone about the importance of science and the scientific industries and in particular to educate and inform the new generation who will work in these industries. He has recently been honoured with a Morrell Fellowship from the University of York.

Named in memory of John Bowes Morrell who was at the forefront of the campaign to create a university in York, the Morrell Fellowships are a means of recognising the community of benefactors who have made the most significant contributions to the fabric and life of the University.

The following is part of the citation delivered at the ceremony:

Tom Swan is the chairman of Thomas Swan & Co, from Consett, County Durham, which was listed as one of the Top 20 World Innovators by a leading American publication - this is a remarkable achievement for a family run UK company.

In the 1980s, Thomas Swan expanded into semiconductors, fungicides and new techniques for metal coating which removed the need to use to dangerous solvents - this early recognition of the need to move to environmentally friendly processes won the company the 2003 Chemical Industries Association Green Chemical Technology award.

Over the years, Tom has chaired many commissions, associations and advisory bodies, including being elected World President of the Society of Chemical Industry. 

One of Tom's passions is to educate the general population, and the future workforce, as to the benefits of science in general and the chemical industry in particular.  This passion drew him to York in 1996. 

Working with CIEC led to development of the "Children Challenging Industry" programme.  As part of the programme children visit industry sites and this has a significant impact in changing their views of science.  Feedback from children and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive with comments such as “It was a fantastic tour.  I want to work here when I’m older!” and “I enjoyed all the activities hugely.  It has made me think a lot more about science and how important it is.”   

With Tom's generous support over the last 18 years this programme has enabled 35,000 primary children and 10,000 teachers from 1250 schools to interact with the chemical industry.

Since 1996 Tom has been active in all that CIEC does, giving his personal time as well as financial support.  It is therefore with significant gratitude and pride that the University of York recognises Tom Swan as a Morrell Fellow. 


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Want girls to go into STEM careers? Dorothy Hodgkin is a great example from the recent past.

A recent report by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) says women, disabled people and ethnic minorities are all under-represented in the STEM industries. Apparently girls (or their parents) are more likely to choose medicine, law or teaching if they enjoy science rather than careers in science, construction and engineering.

Here at York we are very proud that Dorothy Hodgkin, the crystallographer who discovered the structure of insulin, spent so much of her 'retirement' in the Chemistry Department working with Guy and Eleanor Dodson and their colleagues. Dorothy would have been 104 yesterday.

Dorothy Hodgkin was born in 1910 and studied chemistry at Oxford which launched a stellar career during which she confirmed the structure of penicillin, discovered the structure of vitamin B12 followed by the structure of insulin. In 1964 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry.

During this time Dorothy also married and had three children - a role model indeed for anyone who thinks a career in science is not for them. After all - during the early '30s it was not usual for young women to study science and certainly most unusual to carve out a world class career.

The Dorothy Hodgkin building at The University of York

Dorothy Hodgkin and Guy Dodson at York

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Asthma sufferers are neither managing their condition nor being managed well by health professionals

A rather shocking report on deaths from asthma shows that asthma sufferers are not understanding their own condition and also that their GPs and consultants are possibly not taking asthma symptoms seriously enough.

Use of preventative inhalers can be patchy which results in over-reliance on reliever inhalers - which means that the condition is not being managed as well as it should. The consequence is that asthma attacks may become more frequent or more severe.

Look at this BBC article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27257911 for more about the report.

For your 14-16s look at Breathing Made Easy. This CIEC resource will help your students understand the science and basic management of asthma.

Breathing Made Easy helps students understand asthma, its diagnosis and treatment. Through role play, practical work and demonstrations, students investigate lung structure and function, peak flow and breathing, and look at the medicines used in the treatment of asthma.

Breathing Made Easy is also available through the NSLC STEM resource library: