I’m a scientist interested, broadly speaking, in how the structures of materials influence their physical properties, and how to manipulate materials to control their behaviour. I also have a keen interest in communication of science to the wider public and in how different ways of thinking – scientific and otherwise – can affect the way we see the world and interact with it. I previously spent almost 8 years studying at Cambridge University, UK, then held research positions there and at NIMS, Japan, and Liverpool University, UK. After a short time out I’m now working as a Glasstone Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK.
I was born and grew up in Bedford, where I was educated at St John Rigby Lower School and then Bedford Modern School (1996-2004). I read Natural Sciences at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge University (2004-8), taking Materials Science, Physics and Chemistry in earlier years before specializing in Chemistry in the fourth year. My Part III (Masters) project was with Simon Humphrey working on porous coordination polymers.
I moved across the city centre to the Materials Science and Metallurgy Department to do a PhD (2008-12) with Tony Cheetham, working on the synthesis and structure control of dense, lithium-based coordination polymers. After submitting my thesis I stayed to pursue post-doc research (2012-14), working on battery properties and structural transformations of coordination polymers, as well as managing the lab’s move to the new department building in West Cambridge.
In early 2014 I moved to Japan to work at the National Institute for Materials Science, NIMS, in my first independent research position, studying coordination polymers in a wide range of aspects, from the fundamental processes of their crystallization to their use as nanomaterials in batteries and sensors. At NIMS I was part of the International Center for Young Scientists, ICYS, led by Kenjiro Miyano and the World Premier International Research Center Initiative, International Center of Materials Nanoarchitectonics, MANA, led by Masakazu Aono and Yoshio Bando, which gave me access to some great equipment, people and ideas.
In the summer of 2016 I spent two months as an Honorary Visiting Researcher at the University of Liverpool, UK, working with Andrew Cooper’s group to study the formation of organic molecular crystals using X-ray diffraction. I then took a couple of months out and came back to the UK properly to do some work-life rebalancing and get married.
For three years from October 2016, I’m working at the University of Oxford as a Glasstone Research Fellow, associated with Andrew Goodwin’s group in the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory. Alongside continuing some existing projects, I’ll be tapping into their expertise to investigate the crystallography of flexible materials under pressure, temperature and electric fields. I also hold an Extraordinary Junior Research Fellowship at the Queen’s College.
When I’m not doing scientific research I enjoy science outreach, table tennis, playing guitar and getting outdoors – running, cycling and walking the family dog, Whisky, are great excuses to get away and clear my thoughts! I love cooking, eating and travelling; I’ve been very fortunate to have had several opportunities to experience new languages, cultures and cuisines, and while I was in Japan I blogged about my experiences outside the lab here. For my sins I’m also a supporter of the Scottish rugby team and Arsenal FC…