I am a Professor of Catalysis in the Department of Chemistry. Before this, I was a lecturer of organic chemistry at King’s College London, which (in)famously decided to curtail its Chemistry degree programme in 2003; prompting the move from WC2R to SW7, along with a promotion to senior lectureship.
Imperial is unlike anywhere else I have ever worked (Leeds, Oxford, King’s College). The collaborative culture is often touted but it is certainly not over hyped. Over the past decade or so, I have enjoyed particularly fruitful collaborations with chemical engineers, picking up new skills and knowledge that will have a profound influence on my career. My involvement with The Pharmacat Consortium deepened my appreciation of the importance of working across the physical science-engineering disciplines, and how to apply blue-sky thinking to solving real-world problems.
With the recent move to the new Molecular Sciences Research Hub (MSRH) at our White City Campus, Chemistry research at Imperial College is given an opportunity to rejuvenate its infrastructure and facilities. In 2017, I decided to seize the opportunity to establish the Centre for Rapid Online Analysis of Reactions (ROAR), supported by an EPSRC strategic equipment grant of £2.78M, with further contributions by Imperial and industrial partners, offering state-of-the-art facilities to enable data-centric research in synthesis. Combine this with the donation by Agilent of analytical instruments valued at £4M, the MSRH is set to become a desirable destination for Researchers working in the chemical sciences.
Following the success of ROAR, I launched a successful bid for an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in “Next Generation Synthesis & Reaction Technology”. The CDT will capitalize upon the unprecedented investment to educate a new generation of researchers equipped to respond to future research challenges and opportunities created by the data-revolution.
As I embarked on my journey as an ‘Established Researcher’ (read: old fogey…), I pray that I shall never lose the wonder and excitement in the pursuit of science, and the ability to seize every opportunity that life bestows upon me. As a naïve undergraduate student arriving in the UK thirty years ago, I never would have imagined the incredible highs and the lows that awaited me. All being said and done, I will not change anything. Non, je ne regrette rien.