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Vol. 35 No. 1
January-February 2013

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/indexes/Conferences

Role of Chemistry Research in National Development

The Institute of Chemistry Ceylon (ICHEMC) organized an International Conference on Chemical Sciences on 20–22 June 2012 at Waters Edge, Capital City, and Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Colombo. The theme of the conference was the “Role of Chemistry Research in National Development.”

The major aim of the conference was to discuss how chemistry can meet global challenges such as clean air and safe water, healthy food, and dependable medicine from plants/natural products. Consequently, the conference brought together chemists, environmentalists, food scientists, educators, and scientists from other field to exchange ideas, discuss the role of chemistry research in national development, and to foster research collaborations.

Chief Guest, Professor Tina Overton of the University of Hull, UK, lighting the oil lamp to inaugurate the International Conference on Chemical Sciences.

The 41st Annual Sessions, 71st Anniversary Celebrations and the Annual Dinner at which the new President of ICHEM, Dr S. Mohandas, was inducted were also held alongside the conference. The inauguration ceremony on 20 June was attended by 324 participants. Attendees of the international conference on chemical sciences and the 41st annual sessions were from all regions of Sri Lanka, representing 89 different institutions of higher education. International participants were from India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Fiji Islands, Australia, Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, UK, USA, and Canada.

Among the participants were 46 young scientists who received grants through the IUPAC FSC program to cover the cost of conference participation. The National Science Council of Sri Lanka also supported 22 local participants.

The international conference was sponsored by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, IUPAC, Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), and the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, as well as by local industries, institutions, past students, and members of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon.

The chief guest at the conference was Tina Overton of the University of Hull, UK and the Guest of Honor was John Dyke. The participation of these speakers was made possible by a grant from OPCW.

IUPAC sponsored the participation of two keynote speakers at the workshop on “Some Non-Standard Ways of Developing Deep Understandings and of Assessing Understandings of Students of Chemistry”: Mei-Hung Chiu of National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, and Robert Bucat of The University of Western Australia, Perth.

Mei-Hung Chiu: "We use multiple choice questions not with just one level, but two."

In the interesting and fruitful workshop session, Chiu and Bucat explained their research findings in relation to student psychology. Participants were given hands-on exposure to the teaching and learning resources described in the lectures. The participants were told that in teaching, language, gestures/wordings, visualization, and reality are the most important factors in determining whether students understand a theory/concept or principle.

The main conference featured plenary speeches by distinguished chemists from the UK, USA, Australia, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. In addition, there were seven keynote speeches on topics such as natural products, environmental chemistry, food science, chemical education, and new technological developments. A total of 100 oral and poster papers were presented.

W.S. Fernando received the Distinguished Service Award for tireless and noteworthy service promoting the aims of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon. It is notable that this year, a very young chemist, Ms PKV Ranji of the Open University, was awarded The Kandiah Award for Basic Chemistry. Bright Chemists at the College of Chemical Sciences, ICHEMC, were awarded prizes and bursaries.

Schoolchildren who were winners of various chemistry competitions organized for schools by ICHEMC were also presented with awards. This outreach program has reached far and wide: winners were from Bandarawela, Galle, Matara, Jaffna, Vavuniya, Kalmunai, Ibbagamuwa, and Ruwanwella.

The enthusiasm with which sessions were attended was reward enough for the organizers. The only drawback was that parallel sessions, as always, meant that choices had to be made and some lectures missed. It is hoped that the links formed in Colombo will be enduring and fruitful.

Professor S. Sotheeswaran <sotheeswaran@hotmail.com> was chair of the organizing committee; he is immediate past president of the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon.


 

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