1. What made you want to be a chemist?
I liked to set things on fire and make pretty colours. It was also the thing that I was best at at school so it seemed sensible to continue with it.
2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?
That’s easy – run a coffee and cake shop. I could quite happily spend all day baking and would love to have the time to experiment with new flavour combinations and textures. I also love to meet new people and chat.
3. How can chemists best contribute to the world at large?
Chemists should continue to strive to make things that will help people, be it health, energy or environmentally related. However, I think the main thing is the people should do chemistry (and science in general) because they want to know why things happen. Essentially that is how science began and why new ideas form.
4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?
This is quite tricky, probably someone like Michael Faraday, Richard Feynman, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg. I would also like to meet my Grandad; he died before I was born and sounds like a good bloke. His wife lived until she was 89 and was still running for buses!!
5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?
Around February/March 2004. I was looking at the collisional depolarisation of rotational angular momentum in OH radicals.
6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one CD would you take with you?
I would probably take the Bible. I am not religious but was sent to church when I was wee so have read bits. It would be nice to read the whole lot. It is very long and given the number of people who get solace from it it might help keep me sane. The CD is quite tricky. If I had to pick one it would be If You’re Feeling Sinister by Belle and Sebastian.