Neil wins President's Prize

Anyone who watched Periodic Videos will know the importance (and cult hero status) of Neil Barnes.

Neil is a senior technician in the School of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham.

Since we started making videos, Neil has been the guy who sets up, carries out and cleans up most of the experiments.

But what you do not see on camera is that Neil is also a key part of coming up with ideas and planning the whole process.

When I'm not around, Neil spends many hours plotting future videos, dreaming up new experiments, and building devices to make them possible.

This week Neil was recognised for his role with the Royal Society of Chemistry President's Award.

Professor Sir John Holman, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “Neil brings together two things that are very important to me personally... 

"The first is technical skills. Skilled technicians are vital for the success of the chemical sciences and Neil has shown their importance as a research technician in physical chemistry at the University of Nottingham.

"The second is outreach: as chemists we all need to do our bit to inspire the next generation of chemical scientists, and Neil has helped bring the excitement of chemistry to thousands of young people around the world by supporting Sir Martyn Poliakoff so expertly with his brilliant Periodic Videos.

“For me it feels just right to be presenting this award to Neil Barnes who has brought these two priorities together so fittingly.”

Jonathan Hirst, Head of the School of Chemistry, said: “Our technical staff are the cornerstone of much of the School’s activity. Neil has supported and inspired many students and colleagues in the School, and much more widely through social media.”

Professor Poliakoff said: “Neil is a key person in the success of our videos.  His enthusiasm, knowledge of chemistry and silent acting skills have made him a super-hero of chemistry.  He is an excellent ambassador for chemistry, for Nottingham and for the role of University Technicians.  And he is fun to work with!”

Pictures courtesy of