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More than a decade of dedication to chemistry honoured

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Published on 30 August 2023

Associate Professor Mark Gray
Associate Professor Mark Gray

Having joined the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) during his freshers’ week back in 1992 at the University of Sheffield as a chemistry undergraduate, Associate Professor Mark Gray has never looked back, and has since held a variety of roles with the society to reach its highest level of membership – a Fellow (FRSC). Other holders of the role included the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.

Mark’s exceptional achievements in advancing chemical sciences alongside his dedication to the various RSC member networks for the last 15 years has now been honoured with the RSC Long Service Award. 

The Associate Professor in Medicinal Chemistry, at the University of Sunderland, says: “It’s a huge honour to achieve this award and to be recognised by your peers. I hope that the work I’ve been involved with has helped inspire at least one young person to follow science as their career path.” 

Professor Michael Young, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), at the University of Sunderland, said: “We’re delighted to congratulate Mark for this very well-deserved award, which acknowledges his many years of service to the RSC, reflective of his dedication to the advancement of chemistry as a discipline.”

Having graduated in 1995, Mark then headed to the US to complete a PhD at the University of Massachusetts and then onto a Post Doctoral Research role at the University of Texas.

He returned to the UK and in 2005 took up a lecturers’ role at Sunderland. Since that time he has been teaching organic chemistry, thermodynamics, physical organic chemistry, bioorganic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, rational drug design, and molecular modelling. His research interests include synthetic chemistry, physical organic chemistry, bioorganic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, rational drug design, and molecular modelling.

Mark has been active on RSC committee roles since 2008. He currently sits on the Member Networks Committee, is Chair and an Academic Representative of the North East Regional Steering Group.

He has previously held roles as Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Committee Member of the Newcastle and North East Coast Local Section between 2010 and 2019.

RSC activities that stand out for Mark, over the years, he says, are initiating the RSC sponsored seminar series at Sunderland and an annual astrochemistry seminar in conjunction with the Sunderland Astronomical Society. Both events were put on hold due to COVID-19, but Mark hopes to start these back up again soon.  

He explains: “The astrochemistry sessions were particularly nice as they had an astrochemistry seminar followed by an observing session at the Washington Wetlands Trust. Between the chemistry, the astronomy, and the wildlife and scenery at the wetlands there was enough going on to appeal to a wide audience.

“One other activity that proved to be particularly popular was a visit to the poison garden at Alnwick Castle. We did a tour of the gardens and had a talk by John Emsley on the chemistry of poisons.”

In addition to his RSC roles, through the Society Mark also holds the title of Chartered Chemist (CChem) and Chartered Scientist (CSci).