Nature Chemistry Insight – Chemistry beyond the bench

The designation of 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry by the United Nations offered our community an opportunity not only to celebrate its successes, but also to look critically at the challenges it faces.



Chemistry beyond the bench p669




Sex and the citadel of science pp670 - 673

Michelle Francl


One hundred years on from Marie Curie being awarded her second Nobel Prize there has been only a handful of female scientists who have received the call from Stockholm. Why are women still under-represented? A lack of ability or passion, or could it be that we create labs into which women don't quite fit?

Subject term: General chemistry

Communicating chemistry for public engagement pp674 - 677

Matthew R. Hartings & Declan Fahy


The communication of chemistry to wider society is difficult because of 'chemophobia', its inherent complexity and its lack of unifying grand themes. To engage with citizens about the benefits and related dangers of the field, chemists must improve their dialogue with broader sections of the public — but how?

Subject term: General chemistry

The two faces of chemistry in the developing world pp678 - 680

C. N. R. Rao


Chemistry creates both agony and hope in less-developed countries — although it may provide solutions to many of the problems faced there, the lack of expertise and poor infrastructure renders research extremely difficult. What challenges must scientists overcome and what can be done to improve matters?

Subject term: General chemistry

From crazy chemists to engaged learners through education pp681 - 684

David K. Smith


As well as teaching students what we know, it is becoming increasingly important to teach them how we think. We must take a scientific approach to science education and experiment with teaching methods, including context-led work and media-rich resources, to foster active and independent student engagement.

Subject term: General chemistry

The changing landscape of careers in the chemical industry pp685 - 687

Keith J. Watson


Changes in the chemical industry over the past decade — ranging from globalization to an increased focus on speciality chemicals — threaten to leave the aspiring industrial chemist unprepared. This Commentary discusses those changes and outlines strategies to enter the job market as well equipped as possible.

Subject term: General chemistry

Minerals go critical pp688 - 691

Roderick G. Eggert


The spectre of insecure supplies of some mineral raw materials could hinder the development and deployment of new technology. This Commentary discusses and analyses the reasons behind the potential insecurity, how markets are responding, and what roles government should play.

Subject terms: General chemistry | Materials chemistry

Getting physical to fix pharma pp692 - 695

Patrick R. Connelly, T. Minh Vuong & Mark A. Murcko


Powerful technologies allow the synthesis and testing of large numbers of new compounds, but the failure rate of pharmaceutical R&D remains very high. Greater understanding of the fundamental physical chemical behaviour of molecules could be the key to greatly enhancing the success rate of drug discovery.

Subject terms: Medicinal chemistry | Organic chemistry | Physical chemistry

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