Reactions – Andrew Weller

1. What made you want to be a chemist?

Nothing that exciting! I was good at it at school and my chemistry teacher – Mr Colvin – was a truly inspirational (and ever so slightly mad) person. He instilled in me the beauty of the subject.

2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?

My dream job (apart from what I do now) would be running a bike shop / coffee shop. Two of my passions in life.

3. How can chemists best contribute to the world at large?

We can contribute so many levels, but energy, new functional materials and healthcare are the three areas that chemists have made, and will continue to make, major contributions that fundamentally change peoples’ lives. Being a chemist is very exciting. Enthusing the next generation of scientists to the joy of discovery and knowledge.

4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?

Neil Armstrong. Talking to the first man to walk on the moon would be inspirational.

5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?

It has been a long time since I did anything really serious (2002), but I did get a paper out of it. I am in and out of the lab almost hourly sometimes and I still get a massive kick out of my (very talented) co-workers “nailing” that important new structure or isolating a very sensitive complex.

6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one CD would you take with you?

Book: I am going to cheat: I would take Lord of the Rings, but smuggle in between the pages Dawkin’s Blind Watchmaker. Both books had a profound impact on me: the first just blew me away with its scale and vision; the second simply changed forever the way I viewed the world.

CD: Difficult. From Elvis in Memphis – he was the king and this is him at his best, or the best of Johnny Cash. I would cheat (again) and burn a CD with both of these on.

Andrew Weller is in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and works on the synthesis, characterisation and reactivity of low coordinate late transition metal organometallics. This work has impact of catalysis, structure and bonding and new energy vectors.