On October 28, 2017, the Toronto CIC Local Section had the pleasure of working with the Women in Chemistry Toronto group in hosting Professor Polly L. Arnold from the University of Edinburgh for the 2017 E. Gordon Young Lectures.
Arnold is a leading researcher on f-block chemistry, as well as an advocate for equity and diversity in STEM. Her work in uranium chemistry is of particular interest as debates over the advantages and safety of nuclear power continue in the public sphere, especially in Ontario.
Arnold gave academic lectures hosted at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University, in addition to a public lecture held in Toronto. She began the public lecture detailing the current problems and challenges in treating and disposing of nuclear waste before discussing how her research group aims to model nuclear waste mixtures by synthesizing actinide-oxo complexes. Her lecture perfectly highlighted the importance of fundamental research, as she explained that she first started her research program out of curiosity for the f-block elements before noticing how well her chemistry paralleled and applied to nuclear waste products.
As part of her public lecture, Arnold also highlighted her advocacy for gender diversity in STEM fields. Supported by the 2012 Rosalind Franklin Prize from the Royal Society, she produced the short-film “A Chemical Imbalance” as a call to action for simple changes to achieve equal opportunities for minorities in STEM.
The Toronto CIC Local Section would like to acknowledge the CIC Chemical Education Fund and the E. Gordon Young endowment for financially supporting this lecture series.