Reactions – Stuart Rowan


1. What made you want to be a chemist?

I didn’t choose chemistry, chemistry chose me. I know it sounds a bit corny, but at high school chemistry was the only thing that came naturally.

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

I have no idea what I would do. One dimensional? Not me! Come to think of it I wouldn’t mind owning a whisky distillery, which of course would have to be Scottish.

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

Robert the Bruce. Why? I would love to hear him tell his story. Alternatively one person who would just be fun to hang out with (based on the stories) would be Rabbie (Robert) Burns, you have to remember I am Scottish, so that probably has a lot to do with these choices.

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

About six years ago. One of my colleagues Chris Weder and myself went into the lab to see if we could use diimide reduction to convert poly(p-phenylene ethynylene)s to poly(p-xylene). It was an easy reaction and it worked first time! We published the paper in Macromolecules soon after.

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

This is a difficult one as my choices change depending on my mood. At the moment I would pick a Radiohead CD, probably ‘the bends’. My book would be ‘Survive on a Desert Island’, this is probably not what you’re asking but I would need all the help I can get if I was going to survive long enough to listen to ‘the bends’. If I wasn’t allowed to take that book I would probably take “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins and hope my genes were selfish enough to help me stay alive.

Stuart Rowan is in the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and works on utilizing non-covalent interactions to access new responsive and dynamic supramolecular polymers and materials. Using this concept his group works in a diverse range of areas including biomaterials, metal-containing polymers for sensors and optical materials, surface organized nanoscaffolds and re-healable plastics.

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