Last day..bring it on!
GCSEs and A-levels – Wootton Bassett School, Royal Wootton Bassett (I was there before it was ‘royal’) – 1998-2003
Loads of kitchens (including Heston Blumenthal’s “Fat Duck), ICIQ in Tarragona, Spain and Econic Technologies, London.
Lecturer (Inorganic chemistry)
Kingston University, London
Favourite thing to do in my job: Favourite thing to do in science: Use it to cook well/show-off
A very happy person, with a great job but too many hobbies, with an incredible wife, great family and friends.
Trying to make it as an academic
An chemistry lecturer. In Inorganic Chemistry (the best kind of chemistry). This probably sounds like a lot of what I do is teach chemistry, and it is a big part. Its a part that I enjoy more and more about the job. I love thinking of ways to explain tricky concepts and having an excuse to be publicly enthusiastic about a random chemistry concept like molecular orbital theory. Oddly none of my friends or family want to hear me talk about that so it is a rare opportunity.
However, two main ‘life pathways’ for chemists tend to be either going into an industrial/company position after a PhD or doing ‘Postdoctoral’ research positions. I did both and decided that what I love doing is inventing. An actually being a chemistry lecturer involves lots of this. A large part of my job is doing research, and trying to think of and propose ideas to solve problems that will fund such research. I am really interested in trying to use a fundamental scientific understanding of the way things work to try to help solve some of the big issues we face: Diagnosing and treating diseases, making clean energy, using waste resources to make new resources to list but a few. These are very big goals, you can’t expect to ‘solve’ anything overnight.
My Typical Day
12 mile cycle to work to give some lectures and fiddle in the lab then 12 mile cycle home to cook dinner for my lovely wife.
My days are either pretty full of teaching based tasks – planning lectures, workshops, writing exams and marking assignments, or they are filled with playing around in the lab, getting my research up and running, which sometimes involves coming out of the lab and writing a proposal to apply for money to go back into the lab. I tend not to be in one place for very long and spend the whole day rushing around the university from my office, to lectures, to the lab and to workshops. I love being busy.
What I'd do with the prize money
Make Andy’s Marvellous Chocolate Laboratory a temporary reality
For many years now I have been delivering a lecture/demo on the chemistry of chocolate to schools and the public. It started as an outlet for my own craving to stay in the game of science and food but over the years I have come to realise that chocolate is genuinely a wonderful vehicle for teaching all kinds of scientific concepts. I use it to explain the terrifying sounding concept of ‘polymorphism’. This is pretty advanced to be honest, but people are much less worried by it when they are eating samples of chocolate and it has always gone down well. Given the array of scientific concepts that chocolate can be used to explain: viscosity, emulsions, polymorphism, phase changes, aromas….and the rest, I would love to host a day at my university where we invite local schools, I rope in some new and old colleges (on my list is a chocolatier, some chefs and a food scientist I hope) and we plan a day of experiments and demonstrations involving chocolate that cover a wide range of scientific concepts. When I was talking about this with one of my current colleges (and a previous and very succesful ‘I’m a scientist”) she said: ” It would be like Andy’s marvellous chocolate laboratory.” So thats what I would aim for.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Chemist chef climberyst (its a climber and a cyclist, but I only had three words)
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Go and work in Spain
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My brother, Einstein and Hawking
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Absolutely never….well, a fair bit for never wearing uniform and ‘absence’
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Two of my best friends; Avi and Tom.
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Campervan trip through australia
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. That I could dedicate myself to working on something genuinely and purely helpful to this planet and everything that lives on it. 2. That I knew almost everything in there was to know 3. That I could travel everywhere, anytime and spend as much time as I liked doing what I like (playing guitar, reading, climbing, cycling and traveling)
Tell us a joke.
I thought I should probably find a chemistry joke but all the goes ones Argon and there are alkynes of bad ones out there. We should take all these bad jokes and Barium-all in the sea.