Aber academic recognised for outstanding contribution to chemistry

02 December 2014

A J S “Bill” Williams
A J S “Bill” Williams

An Honorary Teaching Fellow at Aberystwyth University has been named as one of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 175 Faces of Chemistry.

175 Faces of Chemistry is a celebration of individuals, both past and present, who have helped shape chemistry and science in general.

Other individuals to have been listed include Joseph Priestley, who is mostly known for his discovery of oxygen, Marie Curie who was the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes in different scientific fields, and Michael Faraday, the chemist and physicist who contributed significantly to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.

A J S “Bill” Williams has been specifically recognised for the work he did educating more than 80,000 schoolchildren during his long career at Aberystwyth University from 1950-2011.

Born in 1920, Bill started his career as an RAF pilot and flying instructor before joining Aberystwyth University in 1950.

He explains; “After nearly six years in the RAF, university was the greatest intellectual excitement. July 1950 was indeed a great month because I graduated with a first class honours in Chemistry from Aberystwyth and was also made assistant lecturer in organic hhemistry.”

“I started holding public displays and demonstrations in 1969 when the Faculty of Science launched a Schools’ Lecture Service. Since then, and alongside colleagues at Aberystwyth, I have given around 800 lectures and demonstrations to schoolchildren.”

In 1990 and in response to a Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) initiative to boost interest in science among 10-12 year olds, Bill devised the demonstration lecture ‘Science and Energy’ and was joined on tour by Dr James Ballantine, a Reader in Chemistry at Swansea University

Dr Ballantine (1934–2013) has also been listed as one of the 175 Faces of Chemistry.  An outstanding chemist, Dr Ballantine had an impressive career as a teacher, academic and researcher and stands out as a lifelong promoter and communicator of chemistry.

The 175 Faces of Chemistry was launched by the Royal Society of Chemistry’s (RSC) in 2012 to celebrate their 175th anniversary in February 2016.

The RSC will profile 175 different scientists who represent diversity in its broadest sense.

The objective is to celebrate the diversity of individuals within the community who have helped shaped the industry and identify role models and ambassadors for the future generation of chemists.

In recognition of his services to science, to young people and to the Royal Society of Chemistry, Bill has received an MBE, the Michael Faraday Award Lecture, the B D Shaw Bronze Medal (University of Nottingham) and the RSC Silver Medal.

More information can be found on Bill’s profile on the RSC website: http://www.rsc.org/diversity/175-faces/all-faces/ajs-bill-williams-mbe-frsc-0

More information can be found on the 175 Faces of Chemistry here: http://www.rsc.org/diversity/175-faces/

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Esther Eckley
Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs
Aberystwyth University
01970 621571 / ese6@aber.ac.uk