1. What made you want to be a chemist?
It was the combination of scientific rigor and the creativity involved in chemistry that really appealed to me. We get to make new things and understand what they are and how they work which I really enjoy. Plus it turns out I’m not particularly good at maths which was the other area I was considering as I entered university.
2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?
If I had the talent and ideas, I’d have liked to have been a novelist.
3. How can chemists best contribute to the world at large?
By being good chemists and developing the science and looking at what it can be applied to and how we can engage with other disciplines.
4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?
It’d be interesting to talk with someone at the discovery edge when perceptions of the world were changing. Sir Joseph Banks comes to mind as he was faced with cataloguing such vastly different flora and fauna to what was hitherto know.
5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?
I still run samples on the single crystal diffractometer whenever called to. This is usually for project students and on group trips to synchrotron facilities. I try to keep away from doing any synthetic experiments which I’m sure everyone else in the lab appreciates.
6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one CD would you take with you?
The one book would probably be Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves which is a sort of academic horror tale. If nothing else it would take me a stint on a desert island to fully absorb all the jokes in the footnotes. Music-wise it’d have to be a best-of Pixies compilation.