Reactions – Rachel O’Reilly


1. What made you want to be a chemist?

I was always interested in science even at primary school and developed a real passion for chemistry at about 14. It was also the only thing I was better than my older sister at! Then at university I did Natural Sciences and realised just how interesting and exciting chemistry was. I really enjoy the creative aspect of synthesis and this is really want started my love of chemistry.

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

I would be a geologist as I have always had an interest in paleontology and earth tectonics. I think there is so much still to learn about the earth and its history so it would be an exciting and challenging career and also a great chance to see the world.

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

I hope we can contribute by helping solve some of the technological and environmental problems we currently face. Hopefully we can also engage with the public to encourage curiosity and the development of scientific knowledge.

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

I would like to have dinner with Vincent van Gogh I love his work and would be fascinated to hear his views on modern art and how the world of art has changed since his lifetime.

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

It was just before Christmas I helped a student with the column chromatography of a radical initiator and it went wrong – they have not asked for my help again!

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

Difficult question as I love to read but I think I would have to take a book by one of my favourite authors John Fowles – probably The Magus. As for a CD I guess The Killers Hot Fuss would keep my spirits up – but I would prefer to take my iPod if possible

Rachel O’Reilly is in the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge University, and works on the design and synthesis of functional polymer micelles and nanoparticles for applications as delivery vehicles.

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