The NSW RACI President's Letter - October 2021

Dear members,


There’s light at the end of the tunnel!  Just like many members, I am looking forward to gradually returning to freedom after being in lockdown for more than three months!  However, we are of course to remain vigilant and continue following public health advice.  With a high vaccination rate, we are hoping to be able to hold the postponed Presidents’ Dinner on 19th November.  We will inform all members via the Newsletter, electronic mails, and the RACI website about this as soon as we possibly can.  Stay tuned!


In this Newsletter, I am excited that Dr Dianne Werden is our Chemist-of-the-Month for October 2021.  I have known Dianne for quite a few years since she took up the role of Secretary of the NSW Consultants and Contractors Group.  Despite the lockdown, committee members of the Group continue to meet online and plan activities for members in the next few months.  This is also a Group that loyally reports their activities and plans to the Branch Committee every month.  In the interview conducted by William Li, we have learnt about Dianne’s unusual career path from chemical testing to pathology testing to an educator in the horticulture and environment area at TAFE.  In my view, Dianne is an excellent example demonstrating the flexibility and readily transferrable skills of a trained chemist.  I’m sure you will be fascinated by Dianne’s experience in the column this month.  Thank you to Dianne and William for taking time to conduct the interview.


I’m equally excited that David Springer agreed to tell us about “A Day in the Life of a Commercial Manager” at Envirolab Services (, and Dr Ruby Campbell “A Day in the Life of a STEMM Leadership Coach” at ProVeritas Leadership Pty Ltd (  (“STEMM” denotes “Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine”.)  A “manager” is a common term, but it may be foreign to those of us not in the industry sector to imagine what is involved in this role.  Thank you, David, for enlightening us in your column with a touch of humour as well.  David is one of most easy-going members I have come across, always willing to help in various matters and actively participate in many RACI events.  My understanding is that David will step down from his Board membership of RACI soon.  Thank you, David, for all your contributions towards RACI!  I have known Ruby after assisting in organising an evening workshop some two or three years ago, during which Ruby conducted an introductory leadership session for RACI members.  Similar to Dianne Werden, it is fascinating to learn about the way Ruby has continuously evolved from an analytical chemist in industry to the present STEMM leadership role.  Thank you, Ruby, for your contribution to the Newsletter, despite your busy work and family schedule.  From all these examples, I would definitely say, “There is something unique among chemists!”


We are continuing to introduce several NSW Group / Section Chairs in this Newsletter including Dr Amandeep Kaur (Chair, Women in Chemistry Group), Erin Humphries (Chair, Early Career Chemists Group) and Dr Lachlan Schwarz (Chair, Riverina-Murray Section).  Amandeep has of course just commenced her role as the 2021 – 2022 Nyholm Lecturer, on top of busy organising events and promoting the Women in Chemistry Group.  We have seen Erin to be actively involved in both the Early Career Chemists Group and the Analytical & Environmental Chemistry Group in recent years.  Together with other committee members, Lachlan is actively promoting RACI to students in the Riverina-Murray region.  We have seen an increase in membership, particularly among students from Charles Sturt University, in recent months.  Thank you all for your contributions during a busy time of your work schedule.


This is my last report for the NSW Branch Newsletter as I will be stepping down from the Presidential role at the end of our annual general meeting on 20th October.  It has been both an honour and a privilege to have served the NSW members a year longer than the expected two-year term.  In my capacity as the President of the NSW Branch, I was given the opportunity to meet with both RACI members and key personnel from several kindred societies.  Despite the impact of Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021, we were lucky to still hold our annual social functions (Fellows and Honorary Life Members Lunch, the Presidents’ Dinner), during which I shared a few of my bad dad jokes!  My apologies!  I am particularly proud to have introduced several new features (introducing new members and NSW Group / Section Chairs, Chemist of the Month, and more recently, “A Day in the Life of …”) in our monthly Newsletter to virtually connect up members.  Thank you to all that have contributed to the vibes of our Newsletter.  In this respect, thank you to William Li for his tireless effort in interviewing the chemists and then providing a write up for each interview.  A unique feature of the Branch Committee in all these years is its membership covering all the way from retirees to early career researchers working in academia, government sectors and industry, all contributing harmoniously, enthusiastically, and collaboratively to serve NSW members.  Thank you all for endorsing my role as the Branch President and all your support in the last three years.  The current President-Elect, Dr Nigel Lengkeek (ANSTO), will take over from me at the end of the annual general meeting, while I will become the Past President in the Branch Committee.  I am certain that the Branch is in good hands under Nigel’s leadership.  Last but not least, I also like to express my gratitude to both the former Branch Coordinator, Claire Jung, and the current Branch Coordinator, Brent Kooyman, for their hard work in running the Branch Office.  I like to again remind that all members are welcome to attend our annual general meeting on 20th October by registering at 2021 NSW Branch Presidents' Dinner (


Best wishes,


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