International Year of Chemistry, 2011

UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

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International Year of Chemistry 2011

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Contact Detail

Dr Alison Foster Ideas Activities
  • Senior Curator, University of Oxford Botanic Garden
    Oxford, UK
  • Email
  • Sector:

  • Organizations:

    University of Oxford Botanic Garden
  • IYC Interests:

    Increase the public appreciation and understanding of chemistry
    Encourage interest of young people in chemistry
    Generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry
    Celebrate the role of women in chemistry
  • Web Site:


I worked as a research chemist in the pharmaceutical industry for over 10 years before deciding to change career to horticulture. Whilst working as a glasshouse horticulturalist I planned a new medicinal plants area that is in the Walled Garden area of the Botanic Garden. I have written a short book(let) to go with the new area explaining the stories behing the medicinal plants including the chemical structures of the drugs that derive from the plants.

The Botanic Garden is a fantastic place to engage the public with the natural world including the chemistry that occurs in the plants. I have led several guided tours about the chemistry in plants - colour, scent, taste as well as medicinal properties. There has been overwhelming interest in these with many interesting questions being asked by the public.

IYC is a great opportunity to use gardens and other visitor attractions to get a postive message out about chemistry and what it does for us.

As senior curator, my role is to coordinate and plan the public education programme, to build strong links with University science departments relevant to plants and horticulture and to create some modern interpretation of our plant collections.