Larbert High School; Heriot-Watt University
BSc, PhD, DSc
1988-1994 Lecturer in Physical Chemistry, University of East Anglia; 1994-2006 Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry then Reader and Professor in Chemical Physics, University of Nottingham;
ScotCHEM Professor of Chemical Physics, Heriot-Watt University
Heriot-Watt University (http://www.hw.ac.uk) is based in Edinburgh and is the 8th oldest higher education institute in the UK. It was established in 1821 as the Edinburgh College of the Arts, the first Mechanics Institute, to teach the technical arts to all and was the first UK institute to admit women to higher education courses. Notably, the first lecture in the college was on Chemistry!
Favourite thing to do in my job: I really enjoy designing experiments to test out my ideas then seeing them work!
I study aspects of how chemistry controls the evolution of the modern Universe; an area known as Astrochemistry.
Molecules control the modern Universe. They help stars and planets form; they control the size of stars; and they seed the Universe with the potential for life. Take a look at – http://www.stars-r-us.org – to get a little more information. My research group focuses on aspects of how small molecules are formed on and in icy dust grain and how these molecules are returned to the gas phase where they can be most readily observed. Have a look here – http://www.astrochemistry.hw.ac.uk – for a little more detail.
What I'd do with the prize money
Give it away...
I’d probably donate the prize money to the Heriot-Watt University Student Chemical Society with the proviso that it is used to support activities in which our students reach out to schools across Scotland and perhaps more widely.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Chemistry and Maths
What did you want to be after you left school?
Go to University
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Everyone gets into trouble sometime...
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Shelf stacker at Tesco!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
A decent steak and bottle of wine!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Driven Californian Highway One!
Tell us a joke.
A bad one... BREXIT!