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Chemistry: Organic Chemistry In Our Everyday Life With Dr María Paz Muñoz From University of East Anglia

9th December 2020 @ 11:00 - 12:00



There was once a time when chemists thought “organic” referred only to things that were living, and that life was the result of a spiritual “life force”.

We now know that this “life force” has a name: CARBON, the common denominator in all living things and the star element in Organic Chemistry, the branch of chemistry devoted to the study of carbon and compounds that can be made by strings of carbon atoms and other elements.

Organic molecules are everywhere, from molecules present in things that we eat, we drink or smell, to cosmetics, medicines and energy materials. They also include natural products made by living organisms and even molecules in our own bodies, as part of the building blocks of DNA, proteins, etc.

The term “organic” in everyday language connotes “living,” but organic compounds do not have to be produced by living things, or even by things that once were alive; they can be produced artificially in a laboratory and we call this Organic Synthesis.

In this lecture Dr María Paz Muñoz, Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at UEA, will talk about a selection of organic molecules around us, from small molecules, like methane or urea, the first organic molecule made in a lab, to polymers and bigger molecules used in the pharmaceutical industry to treat Parkinson’s disease or cancer. Each molecule will be connected with a familiar chemistry concept.

María will talk about electronic transitions – the origin of colour (UV-vis spectra), different functional groups (alkanes, alkenes, aldehydes, carboxylic acids, alcohols, amines, aromatic rings, etc) and types of isomerism (E-Z isomers in alkenes, optical isomers, chiral centres and enantiomers) and she will introduce simple organic reactions (oxidation, isomerization of alkenes and aromatic chemistry) and synthesis of chiral molecules, with mention to Nobel prizes won in the area, and show how Organic Synthesis allows chemists to access products that are scarce in nature but with important applications for humans.



Our events are designed so that a group of students can take part from a classroom or students and teachers can take part as individuals, either from school or from home. This means that sessions will continue irrespective of possible school closures.



Lecturer Profile (Please Click): Dr María Paz Muñoz 

Suitable for: Year 12/13 students studying Chemistry and interested in real world applications of organic Chemistry. Teachers and members of school staff, as always, are welcome too, particularly where you are joining as a group along with your students.

Preparation or Pre-Reading: No pre-reading or preparation are required.

The IT Setup: The event will be run on Bluejeans and participants will be able to join using laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. If you are joining as a school group, we recommend connecting with one device and projecting on to a whiteboard. You will be able to interact with the university via a microphone and/or typed comments and questions. Full details will be sent to those who have registered (see below) prior to the event.

Booking a Place: This is free for schools and colleges. If you would like to take part in this event, please register your interest using the link to the registration form below:




9th December 2020
11:00 - 12:00
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