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Research School of Chemistry
RSC History
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History of the Research School of Chemistry

Institute of Advanced Studies

Picture of the RSC library The Research School of Chemistry (RSC) was founded in 1967. The beautiful and technically efficient building (later named the Birch Building) comprises 120,000 square feet and with its furnishings, cost $2,794,000. The intention in setting up the School was to provide a 'centre of excellence' equipped to the most modern standards, and competitive to any centre in Europe or the United States. The original building consisted of a core, chiefly composed of service laboratories, especially those which required temperature control, with an outstanding ring of laboratories and offices. The research work was planned around physical facilities and the availability of appropriate staff to utilise them. Much of the selected research was of special difficulty or offered long-term characteristics that were appropriate to a research dedicated institution.

Within its core were laboratories for analysis, low temperature work, toxic preparations, radioactive synthesis and measurement, a fire-proof laboratory and laboratories containing separation equipment (gas-liquid and steady state partition chromatography), spectrometers (for ultra-violet, infra-red, nuclear magnetic resonance, electron-spin resonance) and mass spectrometry and a laboratory for microbiological chemistry.

From the outset the School was concerned not only with in the results of pure research, but in providing a very advanced training ground appropriate to people, many of them from abroad, who would eventually work in other universities, in research institutions such as CSIRO, or in industry. Additionally, the fields of research originally selected were those of a fertile and developing nature and with foreseeable long-term interest in the Australian environment. Strong emphasis was placed on inorganic chemistry, on substances of biological interest (insect chemistry, antibiotic chemistry, plant chemistry), on synthetic chemistry which could be applied in many directions, and on aspect of solid-state chemistry and photochemistry.

Picture of the Craig Building, RSC With its high level of instrumentation and the associated experts on its staff, RSC exerted a catalytic effect in making both instrumental services and experts available outside the School for research and teaching purposes.

The founding staff comprised two Professors, three Senior Fellows, five Fellows, eighteen Research Fellows and sixteen Scholars. The founding Dean was Professor Arthur J. Birch, MSc Sydney and Manchester, DPhil Oxon, FRAIC, FRIC, FAA FRS and the other founding professor was David P. Craig, MSc Sydney PhD DSc London, FRAIC, FRIC, FRS

The second construction, the Craig Building, was opened in 28th February 1994 to afford further accommodation for the Physical and Theoretical Group, the Biochemistry Group, and to accommodate an expanding IT Unit.

Currently, the staff comprises fourteen Professors, four Senior Fellows, three Fellows, twelve Research Fellows, twenty-three Postdoctoral Fellows and forty-eight Graduate Scholars.

Birch Lecturers   |   Craig Visiting Professors