Past pupil Dr. Robert Elmes returned to Kilkenny College this week with colleagues from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and Trinity College Dublin to promote chemistry as an exciting subject to study at University. The ‘Spectroscopy in a Suitcase’ programme is a scientific outreach activity that demonstrates the practical use of analytical chemistry through hands-on experience where students can solve a murder mystery using state-of-the-art equipment such as IR Spectroscopy, UV-VIS Spectroscopy and Mass Spectrometry. Visiting over 150 schools nationwide annually, PhD researchers from 6 Irish Higher level institutions teach students the principles of spectroscopic techniques and demonstrate how chemical technologies can be useful to solve problems encountered in our daily lives. It is coordinated in Ireland by Dr. John O’Donoghue from the School of Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin and is generously funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Royal Society of Chemistry which ensures that it is freely available to schools. 

Robert, who got his first experience of science at Kilkenny College under the tutelage of Mr. Tony Duncan (pictured), Ms. Valda Langrell and Mr. John Poyntz, was a member of the Class of 2003. After spending 8 years at Trinity College Dublin gaining a degree and PhD in Chemistry, Robert has travelled as far away as China and Australia promoting and conducting chemical research. Currently, he is a lecturer and researcher at Maynooth University where his research group are actively involved in cutting edge chemical research to develop new treatments and diagnostic techniques for disease. 

The visit gave Ms Morris’(pictured) students an opportunity to gain an insight in to a career in science and ask questions on other career opportunities available. Overall, the workshop was highly successful with plenty of enthusiasm and engagement and a group of students who might well go on to become the next generation of top Irish scientists.