Commentary

  • Commentary |

    The question often arises as to who may have deserved a Nobel Prize but was not awarded one. Rarely is this discussion extended to who should have received more than one Nobel Prize, but in the field of organic synthesis there are some compelling candidates.

    • Jeffrey I. Seeman
  • Commentary |

    As compared to the drug discovery process, the development of new 18F PET tracers lacks a well-established pipeline that advances compounds from academic research to candidacy for (pre)clinical imaging. In order to bridge the gaps between methodological advances and clinical success, we must rethink the development process from training to implementation.

    • Michael G. Campbell
    • , Joel Mercier
    • , Christophe Genicot
    • , Véronique Gouverneur
    • , Jacob M. Hooker
    •  & Tobias Ritter
  • Commentary |

    Imagine a class without lessons, tests and homework, but with missions, quests and teamwork. Video games offer an attractive educational platform because they are designed to be fun and engaging, as opposed to traditional approaches to teaching through lectures and assignments.

    • Ronald A. Smaldone
    • , Christina M. Thompson
    • , Monica Evans
    •  & Walter Voit
  • Commentary |

    Chemistry education and research in Africa is challenging — a fact that is clearly reflected by publication metrics. Yet this is far from the full story on a continent that has youth on its side, a cultural link to chemistry through its strong interest in plants and indigenous medicine, and an increasing number of ways forward.

    • Berhanu Abegaz
  • Commentary |

    The practice and overarching mission of chemistry need a major overhaul in order to be fit for purpose in the twenty-first century and beyond. The concept of 'one-world' chemistry takes a systems approach that brings together many factors, including ethics and sustainability, that are critical to the future role of chemistry.

    • Stephen A. Matlin
    • , Goverdhan Mehta
    • , Henning Hopf
    •  & Alain Krief
  • Commentary |

    Of all the things humans can bestow names upon, new chemical elements are about the rarest. Our group of periodic table experts attempts to read the tea leaves and predict the names for elements 113, 115, 117 and 118.

    • Shawn C. Burdette
    • , Philip Ball
    • , Kat Day
    • , Eric R. Scerri
    •  & Brett F. Thornton
  • Commentary |

    Publishing the wrong interpretation of experimental data can result in an immediate horde of chemists feeding on the error like vultures. On rare occasions, this phenomenon can open up an entire new field of science — and the structure of ferrocene is a case in point.

    • Jeffrey I. Seeman
    •  & Stuart Cantrill
  • Commentary |

    The Sustainable Development Goals adopted at a UN summit in September 2015 address many of the great challenges that our planet faces this century. Chemistry can make pivotal contributions to help realize these ambitious goals, but first it must undergo major changes in its priorities, approaches and practices.

    • Stephen A. Matlin
    • , Goverdhan Mehta
    • , Henning Hopf
    •  & Alain Krief
  • Commentary |

    Developing cleaner chemical processes often involves sophisticated flow-chemistry equipment that is not available in many economically developing countries. For reactions where it is the data that are important rather than the physical product, the networking of chemists across the internet to allow remote experimentation offers a viable solution to this problem.

    • Ryan A. Skilton
    • , Richard A. Bourne
    • , Zacharias Amara
    • , Raphael Horvath
    • , Jing Jin
    • , Michael J. Scully
    • , Emilia Streng
    • , Samantha L. Y. Tang
    • , Peter A. Summers
    • , Jiawei Wang
    • , Eduardo Pérez
    • , Nigist Asfaw
    • , Guilherme L. P. Aydos
    • , Jairton Dupont
    • , Gurbuz Comak
    • , Michael W. George
    •  & Martyn Poliakoff
  • Commentary |

    Research efforts related to the Hofmeister series of salt ions have waxed and waned during its long and storied history. The past few decades have, however, witnessed a renaissance in its study, and the importance of the related solvation science is becoming ever more apparent.

    • Pavel Jungwirth
    •  & Paul S. Cremer
  • Commentary |

    An open-source approach to the problem of producing an off-patent drug in enantiopure form serves as an example of how academic and industrial researchers can join forces to make new scientific discoveries that could have a huge impact on human health.

    • Michael Woelfle
    • , Piero Olliaro
    •  & Matthew H. Todd
  • Commentary |

    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.

    • Roderick G. Eggert
  • Commentary |

    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?

    • Matthew R. Hartings
    •  & Declan Fahy
  • Commentary |

    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?

    • C. N. R. Rao
  • Commentary |

    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.

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

    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.

    • David K. Smith
  • Commentary |

    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.

    • Keith J. Watson
  • Commentary |

    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?

    • Michelle Francl
  • Commentary |

    Scientists worldwide are urged to communicate their research to the public, but what is the best way to judge the effectiveness of their efforts? Using our YouTube chemistry channel as an example, we highlight the unexpected difficulty of measuring the 'impact' of such outreach activities.

    • Brady Haran
    •  & Martyn Poliakoff
  • Commentary |

    Traditional scientific conferences can be costly and time-consuming, and certainly aren't 'green', with participants travelling long distances to attend. Are there advantages to meetings held in the virtual world, and can they really offer equally satisfying — or even better — experiences compared with the real world?

    • Christopher J. Welch
    • , Sanjoy Ray
    • , Jaime Melendez
    • , Thomas Fare
    •  & Martin Leach
  • Commentary |

    New web-based models of scholarly communication have made a significant impact in some scientific disciplines, but chemistry is not one of them. What has prevented the widespread adoption of these developments by chemists — and what are the prospects for adoption over time?

    • Theresa Velden
    •  & Carl Lagoze
  • Commentary |

    Each year since 1951, young researchers and Nobel Laureates have gathered on the shores of Lake Constance for a unique scientific conference. In 2009 the meeting was dedicated to chemistry, and Laureates and students all came away enriched by their experiences.

    • Martin Chalfie
  • Commentary |

    The Nobel Laureate Meetings held on the German island of Lindau bring together some of the world's brightest young minds with those individuals who have reached a pinnacle of scientific achievement. The impact of this unique event on all the delegates — especially the young researchers — is far-reaching.

    • Jeffrey R. Lancaster
  • Commentary |

    The concept of the chemical bond has been around for quite some time and there are many models that try to explain what is going on in that hazy world of electron density that glues atoms together. But molecules that challenge our notion of just what a chemical bond is continue to be reported, often presenting us with more questions than answers.

    • Henry S. Rzepa
  • Commentary |

    The Cambridge Pre-University Qualification (Pre-U) offers a fresh approach for the teaching of a number of subjects — including chemistry — to 16–18 year olds. Pre-U courses were first implemented in the UK in September 2008, and are expected to eventually become international qualifications.

    • C. S. McCaw
    •  & M. A. Thompson
  • Commentary |

    Online courses administered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign show that it is possible to create an effective network of professors and students from across institutional and national borders all learning together — even in conceptually challenging subjects such as organic chemistry.

    • Jeffrey S. Moore
    •  & Philip A. Janowicz