The Award was established in 1981 in honour of Arthur J. Birch, MSc (Sydney & Manchester), DPhil (Oxon), FRIC, FRACI, FAA, FRS, to pay tribute to his extensive contributions to the Research School of Chemistry from its founding in 1967. The Birch (and Craig) Lectures are highlights in the School's calendar year.
The aim of the visit of the Birch Lecturer is to enable eminent chemists to deliver a series of lectures on their research and to interact with School students and staff.
Birch Lecturers are chemists who are at the peak of their international career. The accompanying list of former lecturers is testament to the superb quality of honoraries who have visited the Research School, fifteen of whom are Nobel Laureates.
The program for the Birch Lecturer will normally include the Birch Lecture (suitable for a general chemistry audience), one or two more specialised research seminars, the Birch Dinner, and occasionally an Academy Lecture (suitable for a wider audience that may include government decision makers). The award is allocated on an annual basis and the Birch Lecturer will spend about one week in the School.