Professor Patricia Forbes, incumbent of the Rand Water Chemistry Research Chair in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pretoria (UP), was not only recently elected to the Professional Standards Board (PSB) of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), she has also been made a Fellow of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI).
Her list of impressive achievements does not end there. Prof Forbes was also awarded the prestigious Chromatographer of the Year 2019 award by the Chromatography Division of SACI.
This is the first time that a member from outside the United Kingdom has participated in the PSB, which serves to advise the RSC Council on strategic developments in professional and employment practices. The RSC is over 175 years old and has more than 54 000 members from around the world. Prof Forbes said that her involvement in the management structure of this prestigious society “is exciting and will allow me to contribute in a tangible manner to shaping the future of the chemical sciences. Chemistry is vital in our everyday lives and provides an important facet towards solving many global challenges, including environmental pollution, energy production and the need for novel pharmaceuticals to treat medical conditions”.
Prof Forbes has been acknowledged locally, as she was made a SACI Fellow, for her strong leadership and excellence in the profession of chemistry, as well as for her volunteer service to the chemical community. There is currently a total of 38 SACI fellows.
It is no coincidence that she won the prestigious Chromatographer of the Year award for 2019. Prof Forbes leads an extremely dynamic research group dealing with various environmental monitoring challenges. Chromatography is an important analytical technique used to separate the chemical components of complex samples in order for them to be correctly identified and quantified. The award is in recognition of both her research publications on applications of new chromatographic techniques to challenging environmental monitoring problems, and for her contributions to promote chromatography in South Africa.
Prof Forbes has a passion for teaching the next generation of chemists and she believes in encouraging students to develop an understanding of key fundamental concepts via active and inquiry-based learning. To this end she developed an educational spectrophotometer (called the SpecUP), which students can assemble from a kit and then use to generate analytically useful results. Prof Forbes was the recipient of the Chemical Education award of the South African Chemical Institute in 2014 for this project, which has been rolled out to numerous institutions throughout Africa. The SpecUP project was awarded the prestigious international Wharton QS Reimagine Education Award for Presence Learning in 2015 and she received the University of Pretoria Teaching Excellence and Innovation Laureate award in 2016.