Royal Society of Chemistry Theatre

The Royal Society of Chemisty Theatre

2019 has been designated by UNESCO as the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT), marking the 150th anniversary of the Mendeleev periodic table, which is an iconic image and a vital tool to all who learn and work in science, at all stages of their learning and careers. 

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is celebrating the IYPT in its dedicated theatre, with presentations concentrating on ‘Exploring the weird and wonderful world of the periodic table’ on the first day, and ‘Elements of our future world’ on day two. The RSC’s two keynote speakers will also be reflecting on the theme.


Take a look below to see the confirmed speakers and topics so far.

Keynote speakers banner

Helen Arney

Helen Arney

Science presenter and geek songstress




Andrea Sella

Andrea Sella

Mercury - Should you be afraid of The Element of Science?



Wednesday 30 October

Exploring the weird and wonderful world of the Periodic Table 

10.15 - 10.30 Welcome
10.30 - 11.00 Mining the scrapheap
11.00 - 12.00 Super Heavy
13.00 - 13.45 Mercury - should you be afraid of the element of science?
14.00 - 14.30 Astro Chemistry
14.45 - 15.15 Cleaning up waste from Nuclear processing?
15.15 - 15.45 How to write an effective funding application

Thursday 31 October 

Elements and our future world

10:15 - 10.30 Welcome
10.30 - 11.00 Recovery of Gypsum and chalk
11.00 - 11.30 Rare earth metals and magnet recycling 
11.30 - 12.00 Lithium Ion Battery recycling
13.00 - 13.45 Science presenter and geek songstress
14.00 - 14.30 F-block chemistry
14.30 - 15.00 TBC

Wednesday 30 October

10.15 - 1.30


Welcome, Phillip Broadwith, Chemistry World

10.30 - 11.00

Prof Jason Love

Mining the scrapheap

Professor Jason Love, Professor of Molecular Inorganic Chemistry, University of Edinburgh

Modern technologies depend on metals from across the periodic table and their recycling is crucial for an environmentally benign and societally beneficial circular economy. This session will highlight metal recycling from electronic waste with a focus on the recycling of gold and separation of the rare-earth elements.

11.00 - 12.00

Kit Chapman

How to create an element

Kit Chapman, Freelance writer

To celebrate the 150th year of the periodic table, Kit will explore the edge of known chemistry and reveal how teams around the world are racing to create the latest elements.

13.00 - 13.45


Mercury - should you be afraid of the element of science?

Professor Andrea Sella, UCL

This talk will explore how mercury came to underpin the sciences, and why it is one of the key indicators of change to our planet


14.00 - 14.30

Dr June McCombie

The Chemical Cosmos

Dr June McCombie, Senior Research Officer, The University of Nottingham

Using telescopes to explore the boundaries of our universe and the chemistry taking place there 

Chemistry plays a crucial role in controlling the evolutionary cycle where stars are formed from vast clouds of gas and dust, then age and then die either simply by cooling down or in the spectacular brilliance of an exploding star. We will take a look at how astrochemists explore this cosmos using the tools of a chemist and an astronomer.

14.30 - 15.00

Sarah Wilson Sellafield

70 years of Nuclear Processing

Sarah Wilson, Technical Manager, Sellafield Ltd


A brief review of the nuclear processing methods which have been carried out over the past 70 years and a look at what the future holds. Including the challenges of reprocessing, the wastes produced and how those wastes can be reused.

15.00 - 15.30

Julie Franklin

How to write an effective funding application

Julie FranklinCareer and Professional Development Adviser, Royal Society of Chemistry. 

Finding someone to fund your ideas is crucial for all scientists. Just having a good idea isn’t enough, you have to sell your vision to the funder. This session will show you how to write grant proposals to access research and business funding.



Thursday 31 October

10.15 - 1.30


Welcome, Phillip Broadwith, Chemistry World

10.30 - 11.00

Recovery of Gypsum and chalk

David Sevier, Carbon Cycle


11.00 - 11.30

Rare earth metals and magnet recycling




11.30 - 12.00

Lithitum Ion Battery Recycling




13.00 - 13.45

Helen Arney

Keynote: Science presenter and geek songstress

Helen will be mixing songs and stand-up in a unique take on the Periodic Table. Expect witty tunes about her favourite elements, and some of the less popular ones that might need a bit of a make-over... And, of course, she’ll be singing her new version of Tom Lehrer’s “Elements” - from Hydrogen to all the way Oganesson. 


14.00 - 14.30

University of Manchester

Uranium: Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde of the Periodic Table?

Professor Steve Liddle, Professor and Head of Inorganic Chemistry; Co-Director, Centre for Radiochemistry Research, The University of Manchester 


This talk will deliver a brief history of the actinides and how they fit into the Periodic Table, discuss how the Periodic Table is ‘wrong’, debate perceptions of uranium, right and wrong, regarding its role in nuclear technologies, and cover how molecular chemistry can address Legacy nuclear waste challenges.