The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table, so it seemed appropriate that this year’s Eckersley lecture should reflect Mendeleev’s marvellous monument to the elements. This year’s speaker is Dr Peter Wothers, a Teaching Fellow in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and Director of Studies in Chemistry at St Catharine’s College. A fantastically engaging speaker, Peter has a keen interest in the history of chemistry and has amassed a significant collection of early works on the subject, and so is doubtless the right person to further our understanding of the most iconic image in science.
Peter is involved with the Chemistry Olympiad, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, setting challenging papers for Sixth Form students, and is Chair of the Steering Committee for the International Chemistry Olympiad. Working with colleagues and teachers across the country, he created the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge with both an international online competition and a demanding written paper aimed at 6.1 (year 12) students in the UK. He is the author of numerous textbooks intended to bridge the gap between Sixth Form and University level chemistry, including Why Chemical Reactions Happen with James Keeler. Peter is heavily involved in promoting chemistry to young students and members of the public, including presenting the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, The Modern Alchemist, in 2012. He was awarded the 2011 President's Award by the Royal Society of Chemistry for his out-reach activities, and in 2014 was awarded an MBE for services to chemistry.