30 March 2005

New £10 million chemistry building is the focus for centenary science celebration

Dr Richard Roberts, a Nobel Prize Winner and University graduate, officially named the University’s new £10 million chemistry building on Tuesday 15 March 2005, as the Richard Roberts Building. The ceremony at the landmark building on Brook Hill, which has recently received an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects, also included the unveiling of a unique DNA double helix sculpture.

Richard Roberts (left) with the Vice-Chancellor

Whilst in Sheffield, Dr Roberts also delivered a lecture to mark the University’s centenary year. The lecture,entitled 'Friends and Foes – the unseen bugs who share our planet' focused on microscopic life and how it helps and hinders human life. The lecture discussed how some bugs are ‘friends’ that we couldn’t survive without, whereas others cause diseases. He delighted the audience with a surprising explanation of just how many microscopic passengers we carry around with us every day.

Dr Roberts received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1993, for his discovery of split genes. This disproved the long-held theory that genes are made up of continuous segments of DNA. His first degree was a BSc in Chemistry at the University, which he completed in 1965. He went on to be awarded his PhD from the University three years later.

Dr Roberts said, “It’s delightful to have been welcomed back to my alma mater to name such a wonderful facility. Chemistry is essential to all branches of science, and to learning more about the world in which we live. I am thrilled that the University of Sheffield is investing in chemistry, and am certain that this facility will help shape the careers of some of the finest scientific minds of the future.”

Professor Richard Jackson, Head of the Department of Chemistry, said, “It is an honour to welcome Dr Roberts back to Sheffield to open the building, which will allow us to further develop the world class teaching and research for which the Department is well known.”