The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) has played a pivotal role in advancing the field of chemistry in Australia since its establishment in 1917. Born out of a growing recognition of the importance of chemistry in the nation’s development, the institute evolved over the decades to become a leading voice in the scientific community. 

At the time of establishment, the RACI was known as the Australian Chemical Institute and in 1932 incorporated under Royal Charter, with a further amendment granting the prefix ‘Royal’. The use of the title ‘Royal’ solidified the Institutes role in promoting excellence in the chemical sciences and acknowledging its contribution to the scientific community.

With the rapid industrialisation and economic grow of Australia, the RACI responded by fostering collaboration among chemists, disseminating knowledge, and advocating for the significance of chemistry in the progress of the nation, it was instrumental in providing scientific expertise into national strategies.

Since its inception the RACI has actively championed education and professional development in chemistry with programs such as the International Chemistry Quiz in over 20 countries globally. The emphasis on education led to the establishment of Accreditation of university chemistry programs, ensuring high standards in chemical education and training.

As we enter a new era, the RACI continues to evolve, adapting to the changing landscape of science and technology. Through its communities, it actively engages with issues such as climate change, renewable energy, and healthcare, ensuring that chemistry remains at the forefront of addressing global challenges. The Institute also places a strong emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion, striving to create an inclusive environment for all those with an interest in scientific endeavour.

Throughout its history, the RACI has been a driving force in advancing the chemical sciences in Australia. From its early days of fostering collaboration to its modern role in shaping national priorities and promoting sustainability, the RACI remains a cornerstone of the scientific community, contributing to the growth and recognition of chemistry in the nation and beyond. 

Our History/ Timeline

The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) stands as a venerable institution with a rich history deeply intertwined with the development and progress of chemistry in Australia. Established on August 14, 1917, the RACI emerged during a pivotal period marked by the First World War and the burgeoning importance of scientific knowledge. Its founding was a testament to the recognition of chemistry as a crucial discipline in advancing industry, technology, and the overall well-being of the nation.


Prof David Masson was the driving force behind the establishment of the Australian Chemical Institute (ACI) in Sydney in September 1917. The ACA/AAC&M (Australasian Chemical Association/Australasian Association of Chemists and Metallurgists) represents and promotes the science industry workers’ welfare to advance their case for better salaries.


Until the 1920s, the majority of Australia’s chemical industry is in the hands of tradesmen and industrial pioneers, who have a sparse scientific background or little opportunity to study chemistry. Members of ACI are becoming increasingly frustrated by the imperial attitude and lack of support for a charter from the Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland.


In 1923, ACI is incorporated under the Companies Act (NSW) and Masson becomes the first president (1923–1924). The first student members are accepted in late 1923, and by 1925 there are regulations setting new standards for membership admission. By the end of the decade membership has grown to 842. State branches begin to flourish, and in 1927 the Victorian Branch establishes its office at Kelvin Hall in Melbourne.


The Royal Charter is granted – the catalyst for a new lease on institute life. The ACI National Office is relocated in 1934 to Melbourne and the Australian Chemical Institute Journal and Proceedings is brought to life.

1939 - 1945

During World War II, the institute is involved in establishing a register of professional chemists for the Department of Defence that provides information on qualifications, skills and experience. From state branches, special interest groups develop their professional activities. In the 1940s the institute is in the vanguard encouraging educational institutes to raise academic standards. Employers grant workers increased study leave and the institute recommends the first scale of minimum salaries for all professional chemists.


The provision of a supplemental Royal Charter allows the use of ‘Royal’ in RACI from 1953.


The RACI Council holds its first national convention to raise the professional profile of chemistry and the chemical industry. At the same time, the state branch–based active groups start to evolve into national divisions to advance global scientific interests.


Some 700 delegates attend the 3rd National Convention in August of 1966, an event that marks the beginning of the institute’s jubilee year celebrations in 1967. The program includes both macro and micro scientific topics, which increases interest.


Analytical Chemistry and Industrial & Engineering Chemistry form divisions in 1969.


Chemistry in Australia becomes the flagship publication for members in July 1977.


The institute is restructured. The Royal Charter is replaced by the Victorian Incorporations Act and the institute becomes RACI Inc. Australia-wide.


RACI celebrates 100 years of connecting chemists across academia and industry. The centenary  publication, A Century of Bonds, is launched at the centenary congress.


The Royal Australian Chemical Institute embarks on a revitalization journey as 2023 unfolds, signalling the initiation of a comprehensive renewal process. This transformative endeavour underscores the institute's commitment to adaptability and progress, aiming to enhance its mission, functions, and overall impact within the evolving landscape of Australian and global chemistry.

Past Presidents

The RACI is honoured to have had at its helm distinguished leaders in the chemistry profession. 

Steven Bottle  2021 - 2022

Vicki Gardiner  2019 - 2020

Peter Junk  2017 - 2018

Paul Bernhardt  2014 - 2016

Mark Buntine  2012 - 2014

D. G. Wood  2010 - 2012

R. O. Watts  2008 - 2010

I. D. Rae  2006 - 2008

G. Simpson  2004 - 2006

D. Edmonds  2002 - 2004

J. W. White  2000 - 2002

1917-1923 *

1923-24 Sir David Orme Masson  

1924-25 Charles Edward Fawsitt  

1925-26 Edward Henry Rennie  

1926-27 Arthur Brand Chater  

1927-28 Ernst Johannes Hartung 

1928-29 Harry Bowley  

1929-30 Ernst Johannes Hartung  

1930-31 W E C Baudinet 

1931-32 W E C Baudinet  

1932-33 Ernst Johannes Hartung  

1933-34 Sir David Orme Masson  

1934-35 Sir David Orme Masson  

1935-36 Robert Kenneth Murphy  

1936-37 James Arthur Prescott  

1937-38 Norman T M Wilsmore

1938-39 Thomas Gilbert Henry Jones  

1939-40 Sir Albert C D Rivett  

1940-41 Stuart Wortley Pennycuick 

1941-42 Roy William Harman  

1942-43 Leslie William Phillips  

1943-44 E. S. Edmiston  

1944-45 R. T. D. Williams  

1945-46 William Ralph Jewell  

1946-47 Sir Wilfrid Russell Grimwade 

1947-48 Valentine George Anderson  

1948-49 Sir Albert C. D. Rivett  

1949-50 Sir Herbert William Gepp  

1950-51 Stewart Byron Watkins 

1951-52 Isaac Herbert Boas  

1952-53 Arthur Edgar Leighton  

1953-54 Francis Thomas Meehan 

1954-55 P. A. Berry 

1955-56 Noel Stanley Bayliss 

1956-57 F. N. Lahey  

1957-58 I. W. Wark  

1958-59 L. W. Weickhardt

1959-60 C. E. C. Nicholls 

1960-61 C. E. C. Nicholls

1961-62 H. E. Dadswell  

1962-63 J. R. Price  

1963-64 J. R. Price  

1964-65 G. M. Badger             

1965-66 B. J. F. Ralph

1966-67 E. Barraclough 

1967-68 A. L. G. Rees  

1968-69 R. L. Martin

1969-70 L. E. Smythe

1970-71 T. B. Swanson 

1971-72 G. A. Barclay

1972-73 B. O. West

1973-74 W. E. Ewers

1974-75 E. C. M. Grigg 

1975-76 J. A. Allen

1976-77 S. F. Cox  

1977-78 A. J. Birch

1978-79 D. O. Jordan 

1979-80 D. H. Solomon

1980-81 H. A. Grayson

1981-82 A. R. H. Cole

1982-83 D. E. Weiss

1983-84 J. R. Warby

1984-85 A. L. J. Beckwith

1985-86 J. H. O'Donnell 

1986-87 T. H. Spurling

1987-88 R. F. Ryan

1988-89 P. R. Wilkinson

1989-90 D. W. James

1990-91 J. W. Hosking

1991-92 F. P. Larkins

1992-93 G. A. R. Johnston

1993-94 D. V. Clark

1994-95 G. A. L. Paul

1995-96 B. N. Noller

1996-97 C. L. Raston

1997-98 D. St C. Black

1998-99 G. A. George

1999-00 W. R. Jackson

Original and Foundation Members

The following list comprises members who were granted Membership in 1932 or earlier, along with the respective year of their admission. The selection of 1932 is deliberate, as it marks the year in which the Institute was incorporated by Royal Charter. Notably, those members admitted during the years 1917-1919 are recognized as "original members" and are listed in bold.

It is worth noting that several members accepted after 1932 were previously "Students" of the Institute for a number of years preceding that date. Regrettably, their inclusion in this list has proven impractical due to the challenges associated with verifying "Student" enrolments during that particular period.

Allen E. 1929

Baragwanath G. E.  1928

Barlett J. R. H. 1918

Bryson A.  1927

Cassidy N. G.  1928

Chadwick H.  1927

Challinor A. R. E.  1928

Cresswick J. A.  1919

Easton T. W. 1930

Firkin T. M. 1932

Hambly A. N. 1932

Howard A.  1931

Jones G.  1926

Jones T. E.  1926

Knight L. C.  1932

Lamb A.S.  1928

Leeton F. J.  1932

Lugg J. W. H.  1929

Shipway C. H.  1930

Smythe C. A.  1929

Weickhardt L. W.  1932

Williams H. R.  1927