1. What made you want to be a chemist?
I think when I realised that not quite understanding what was going on is half the point! I was lucky enough to have some inspirational teachers along the way, through school and university, to nudge me in the right direction.
2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be — and why?
I’d love to make my own wine, hopefully an ambition I may still fulfill later in life. It seems like a great mix of chemistry and working with your hands — both things I used to enjoy about being in the lab. And of course lots of tasting.
3. What are you working on now, and where do you hope it will lead?
Well, as I’ve just started at Nature I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of people in the organic chemistry and chemical biology communities and seeing what they’re up to!
4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with — and why?
After serious consideration and whittling down a shortlist, I would say Ernest Hemingway. You know you’re getting a great character, incredible stories and a solid drinker. It’s the perfect, heady combination.
5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab — and what was it?
My last experiment in the lab was using a photoacid to mediate a conformational relay. It ended up being photographed and was used to promote the work, thus fulfilling my lifetime ambition as a hand model.
6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one music album would you take with you?
Choosing one album is an almost impossible choice to make because I listen to a lot of music, but if I was stuck with The Lyre of Orpheus/Abattoir Blues by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for the rest of my days I think I’d be okay with it. For a book I’d have to go with something from my favourite author, Haruki Murakami, probably The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. Murakami has such a unique and vivid writing style that so many of his novels would be an ideal companion to a desert island.
7. Which chemist would you like to see interviewed on Reactions — and why?
Daniele Leonori — I never got around to asking these questions while we were both at Manchester.