Including an invitation to review articles for the National Research Foundation of Ukraine

Review for Ukraine

The National Research Foundation of Ukraine (NRFU) is kindly inviting you to take part in peer review of project proposals submitted within Calls for Project Proposals.

The NRFU is Ukraine’s only public grant-making agency for fundamental and applied projects in all fields of research and developments. Established in 2018, it made its first competitive awards in 2020 and has continued even during the war, but at a reduced level. The NRFU grant season in 2022 was suspended because of the Russian invasion. In early March 2022, 100% of the 2022 grant budget allocated to the National Research Foundation of Ukraine was redirected to cover the defense needs. Since 2020, it has made 216 competitive grants to Ukrainian researchers.

One of the critical needs of the NRFU at the present time, apart from money, is to expand the number of international experts who are willing to review NRFU proposals. The role of international reviewers is extremely beneficial to a young democracy like Ukraine.

Becoming an international reviewer for NRFU is an easy way for members of the global scientific community to help Ukraine at this critical time by simply doing what they already do well – evaluating proposals. By volunteering as an NRFU foreign expert, you can be sure that you are contributing to the future of research and development of Ukraine by helping to select and support the best researchers for support, not only through the grant support but also by bringing them closer to the global scientific community and its standards.

It is easy to register with NRFU as an international expert in the web-based system at Registration guidelines can be found here.

To get acquainted with the NRFU Procedure of call selection, please follow this: link.

A guide for reviewing call proposals in the NRFU web-based system is available: here.

We hope that you will agree to assist the NRFU, and by doing so to assist Ukraine and Ukrainian research in general, at this critical time.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any additional information: (general questions); (technical questions).

National Research Federation of Ukraine

Rotten wood 

Having been retired for over 20 years after a working life devoted to wood chemistry, I looked forward to reading about the wonders of wood. How disappointing! The so-called wizards of the title seem to be reinventing the wheel. A sodium hydroxide/sodium sulfite mix is essentially that used to produce wood pulp by removing the lignin (present throughout all wood, gluing the fibres together and giving it rigidity) although high pressure and temperature are used commercially to increase the rate of reaction. I acetylated pine sapwood in the 1960s to demonstrate its ability to improve resistance to fungal attack. But nobody considered acetylating a window frame, fence post or transmission pole to increase durability in the field. The latter part of the article is not wood specific, but is more based on cellulose modification. Small wonder the products suffer with the effects of moisture just as paper will fall apart when dropped in water.

Processes to convert wood into useful end products already exist, such as wood pulp, fibreboard, chipboard, plywood and laminated timber. A whole range of paper and board products come from the pulp industry and wood flour is used in linoleum production. It is well-recognised that wood is an excellent structural material. Nothing in the article makes for revolutionary reading and the variation among species in microstructure and in the huge range of interesting compounds found in their heartwood seems to have been ignored. Everything is reduced to simplicity. Trees pump water: really? Wood withstands UV radiation and temperature change: really?

The UK has a proud history of wood research. The Forest Products Research Laboratory was established in the 1920s to look at all aspects of timber usage. It continued until 1988 when it was closed and the remnants moved to the Building Research Establishment. Nevertheless, a huge amount of knowledge was gathered, much of it published, and taken advantage of by timber-based industries. Perhaps the wizards should look to the literature before inventing ‘new’ spells.

Reg Orsler CChem FRSC
Princes Risborough, UK

Fire and icy conditions

I had the good fortune to take a graduate course with Richard Schrock while completing my PhD at McGill University, Canada. It was the most interesting series of lectures that I have ever studied. I clearly remember his sketches of transition metal to carbon double bonds, which were a novelty in the mid-1980’s (and discovered by him, I believe). Little did I know then that he would later receive a Nobel prize.

His comments on ‘how to make things go bang’ brought back the reasons why I did not want to enter academia or industry in the fascinating field of organometallic chemistry. A ‘highlight’ of my McGill research on titanium dicyclopentadienyl sulfur compounds included a significant sodium/toluene fire. The fire destroyed part of another group’s lab and generated lots of black smoke within seconds of ignition. The fire demonstrated what my Glaswegian secondary school chemistry teacher had told me: benzene and toluene burn with a smoky flame.

McGill’s chemistry department was quickly evacuated. Unfortunately, it was mid-winter in Montreal and –20°C outdoors. No chemical related injuries thankfully, but hypothermia was a serious risk among students and staff until the fire brigade brought the fire under control. Two days after the accident, I still had soot behind my ears.

Stephen Morris MRSC
Christies Beach, Australia

Northern delights

I am surprised that the largest life sciences building is planned to be in London’s Canary Wharf. Would a young chemist be attracted to such a location with London’s very high house prices? With its high air pollution, poor tap water quality, extreme public transport crowding and very high summer temperatures? Perhaps if they bought a house outside London they may be attracted by several hours’ commuting every day?

Living further north in the UK, where people pressure is much less, the great outdoors are close at hand, and with concomitant lower stress and reduced cost of living, it would appear to be a no brainer to site new laboratories there. There may be a reason for locating new laboratories in London but I fail to see what it may be.

Colin Gunn
Glasgow, UK


We thank Michael Baldwin for his suggestion that Andrea Sella cover the etalon filter in Classic Kit. We are delighted to reveal that he has already done so – and apologise for not recalling this before we went to press.