Women in chemistry inspire memorial lecture

The role of women in chemistry was the topic of this year’s Bert Halpern Lecture, presented by CEO of the Australian Research Council Professor Margaret Sheil.

Organised by the School of Chemistry, the annual event honours the memory of Professor Bert Halpern of UOW’s School of Chemistry with a public lecture by a distinguished visiting scientist on a subject in chemistry or biochemistry.

Associate Professor Stephen Wilson said Professor Sheil spoke of the funding issues facing women in chemistry as well as giving an insight into her own successes in the discipline.

“The audience really enjoyed her lecture, especially as many people don’t realise that female researchers often don’t get the same amount of financial support as men,” he said.

Associate Professor Wilson said a number of prizes were also awarded to chemistry students in their second, third and honours years of study.

“Lots of people think that because UOW is a small institution it struggles to have large numbers of outstanding students. However, this is not the case,” he said.

“We have some of the very best, very brightest students in the School of Chemistry and it’s great to be able to recognise them with these awards.”

Bert Halpern was a Professor of Chemistry at UOW from 1970-1980. His pioneering studies in amino acid, peptide and protein chemistry impacted across the fields of medicine, biochemistry, chemistry and geochemistry. Among his notable achievements was the development of novel techniques for the diagnosis and study of metabolic disorders and genetic defects. In recognition of his contributions to Science, he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1978.

Professor Margaret Sheil, a former UOW Vice-Chancellor (Research), was Australia’s first female Professor of Chemistry. She is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (FRACI), former president of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry and Australian representative to the International Mass Spectrometry Foundation.

By: Jenna Bradwell

Bert Halpern Lecture 2011 Student Prize Winners:

Peter Beckmann Memorial Prize ( Best Academic Record in Third Year Chemistry for 2010): Stuart Andrews.

Pharmaxis Research Prize (Best Performance in 4th Year Medicinal Chemistry Research Project (CHEM460)): Ilijana Milivojevic.

Bert Halpern Prize (Best Honours Student in Chemistry for 2010): Ruhi Humpries and Leo Stevens.

G.W. Daniels Memorial Prize (Best Academic Record in Second Year Chemistry for 2010):
Bradley Speed.

RACI Student Prize(Best Overall Undergraduate Student in Chemistry for 2010): Geoffrey Pidcock

RACI Analytical and Environmental Chemistry Prize: Tim Buchhorn.

The Larry and Marilyn Hick Award (The Best Published Article by a Postgraduate Student): Martin Paine.


  • Associate Professor Stephen Blanksby, Professor Margaret Sheil and Dr Phil Barker.

  • Associate Professor Stephen Ralph and Stuart Andrews.

  • Associate Professor Paul Keller and Ilijana Milivojevic.

  • Associate Professor Stephen Wilson and Ruhi Humphries.