Chemistry Week: Let us discover chemistry research funders worldwide 

Written by: Amrita Chowdhury

The history of chemistry week 

National Chemistry Week is celebrated to create public awareness and to promote the importance of chemistry in our life. Celebration of chemistry takes place at different times of the year depending on where you live in the world. The American Chemical Society launched National Chemistry Week in 1987. This annual event is celebrated during the third week of October in the U.S and Canada [1]. On the other hand, the Royal Society of Chemistry in the U.K. celebrates Chemistry Week from November 7 to 16 in 2022. This is also an annual celebration and this year the theme of the celebration is “Sustainability” [2]

Given the importance of chemistry to the world around us, it would seem only fitting to have multiple celebrations for this important subject multiple times throughout the year.  

Chemistry research and its importance 

Chemistry is the natural science of substances, their chemical properties and molecular arrangements. Chemistry, as a fundamental building block of many applied research disciplines, has made it possible for us to enjoy the many things that we take for granted in our daily lives, including [3]

  • Energy – our ability to generate and store electricity has made it possible to power a whole range of devices, from pacemaker batteries to electric cars 
  • Food and agriculture – chemistry is involved in almost all parts of the food production chain, from soil science, food packaging, to even the refrigeration needed to prolong the shelf-life of many foods 
  • Technology – the very screen that you are using to read this blog post, is only possible because of chemistry and the work of chemists 

These discoveries took immense time, energy, effort and importantly, funding. Along with the dedicated efforts of researchers and scientists, funders around the world help make the advances possible. During this Chemistry Week, let us take this opportunity to look at some funders around the world dedicated to chemistry research and supporting the careers of chemists. 

Funders dedicated to chemistry research 

When it comes to chemistry research funding, national research funders usually come to mind. In addition to the national funders, many learned societies and foundations around the world support chemists and chemistry research.  

One of these is the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). The RSC is the oldest chemical society in the world and its primary goal is to advance research in the chemical sciences. The Society funds prizes and awards, public engagement activities, training programs, research grants, and travel grants for chemists at all career stages. Funding is available to member chemists worldwide, with some funding programs requiring the research to be conducted in the U.K. 

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is another learned society with an extensive funding program supporting its members. ACS provides research funding and awards recognizing scientific achievements and educational excellence globally. 

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation is dedicated to the mission of advancing the science of chemistry, chemical engineering and related sciences to improve the human condition. The Foundation funds grant and award programs for the recognition of exceptional educators and researchers in the field of chemistry. The foundation also funds special awards for women and minority scientists and engineers. 

Fonds der Chemischen Industrie (FCI), based in Germany, is the funding agency of the Verband der Chemischen Industrie. FCI provides funding for chemistry students, postdoctoral fellows and university lecturers working in Germany. 

Merck, better known for its business operations in healthcare, life sciences and bioelectronics, also supports researchers worldwide with a research grant program. This program funds chemistry researchers, including those working on “Chemistry in the cloud – rapid synthesis through automation”. 

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) is responsible for setting the standard for chemical nomenclature and terminology, including the naming of new elements in the periodic table. The organization funds awards and research grants to support chemistry researchers worldwide. 

For biochemists, the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) is an umbrella organization for biochemistry societies and supports the careers of biochemists at all career stages, with an emphasis on early-career researchers, with travel grants and awards.  

General foundation funders supporting chemistry research 

In addition to specialty funders of chemistry research, many other foundations support researchers in multiple disciplines, including chemistry. Funders that support researchers worldwide include the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC), a U.S.-based non-profit organization founded by the U.S. Olympic Committee, the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The Partnership seeks to protect the integrity of sport and supports the world´s top scientists and innovators working in anti-doping research with research grants

In Germany, the Volkswagen Foundation advocates sciences and the humanities through “exploration”, “understanding research – evaluation and science practice”, “societal transformations” and “science in society”. The Foundation provides generous funding support to Germany-based researchers in all disciplines, including chemists, through multiple programs. 

For women researchers, the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard-Foundation, based in Germany, is a dedicated funder. The Foundation promotes science and research by supporting women researchers in chemistry, life science, physics and medicine, specifically graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.  

The Hertz Foundation is a U.S.-based non-profit organization, and supports the most promising innovators in science and technology in the U.S. with the Hertz PhD Fellowship.  

Governmental and inter-governmental funders supporting chemistry research 

As mentioned earlier, national funders play a dominant role in funding chemistry research. Some prominent funders include the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), a part of the European Union´s research funding program, Horizon Europe and is the EU´s flagship funding program for doctoral education and postdoctoral training. A key aspect of the MSCA is the support for knowledge exchange through mobility across borders. Funding mechanisms in the MSCA include postdoctoral fellowships for postdoctoral training, staff exchanges for knowledge exchange and further training, and COFUND programs. European recipients for the MSCA fellowships may conduct their research at eligible research institutions worldwide, while non-European recipients must conduct their research in Europe.  

The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), based in Italy, is a global science academy with the mission to support the advancement of science in developing countries. The Academy provides research funding in the form of research grants, fellowships, prizes and awards, and funds for scientific exchange and conference organization.  

In the United Kingdom, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main government funder for chemistry research conducted at its universities and has an extensive funding portfolio for researchers in the U.K. 

In the U.S., the National Science Foundation (NSF), a U.S. federal agency, is the provider of some 25% of all federally funded basic research grants in all disciplines. The NSF funds fellowships, research grants and equipment grant mostly to U.S.-based researchers and U.S.-based projects, however, some awards are open to applicants worldwide. 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine of the U.S. provide independent, objective policy advice. The Fellowships Office of the Academies administers predoctoral, postdoctoral, and senior fellowship awards on behalf of the government and private/foundation sponsors. Some fellowships are available only for U.S. citizens, others are open to applicants worldwide but are to be carried out at host institutions in the U.S. 

Chemistry research funding: fundings for better chemistry research to advance the world 

At scientifyRESEARCH, we believe that fair research funding competition requires funding information to be available to all eligible researchers. In turn, a fair research funding competition will ensure that the most promising research will be carried out, to help us advance the UN’s sustainable development goals.

This year, to celebrate Chemistry Week, we created a new research funding list dedicated to chemistry and chemists. This list will be continuously updated to provide you with the latest funding opportunities worldwide. To keep yourself updated with the latest research funding information from funders around the world, sign-up for our grant alerts or our monthly newsletter. We look forward to supporting you in your research, by alerting you of open funding calls one research grant at a time.

References 

[1] American Chemical Society Website, accessed on November 4, 2022.

[2] Royal society of Chemistry Website, accessed on November 4, 2022.

[3] What has chemistry ever done for you – Australian Academy of Science Website, accessed November 4, 2022.


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