Research

 
 
 

Research


My research fits with and makes a major contribution to the strategic plans of at least three Schools (Chemistry, Physics and Electronics & Computer Science) and I have been instrumental in initiating many new activities across the University (e.g. coherent soft x-ray generation and e-Science activities, which are outlined below and described in more detail in my CV).  I strongly believe that Chemistry should not be handled as a self-contained area but rather linked to related academic fields as well as industry, where applicable.


My current research covers two main themes in experimental and e-Science.  I use cutting edge laser technology to probe molecular structure, developing novel techniques (non-linear surface spectroscopy, coherent soft x-ray scattering) and exploiting them to uncover the behaviour of small and large molecular systems at interfaces and as isolated molecules.  This work is relevant over a wide range of scales from global scale atmospheric chemistry to the structure and function of protein complexes and nanotechnology.  With the nanoscale x-ray basic technology project we are addressing one of the biggest challenges in modern physical chemistry: structure determination of large, biologically important molecular systems.


I am a leader in the UK e-Science activity, effectively bridging the gap between experimental science and computer science.  My work in this area takes a holistic approach to the provision of digital end-to-end support of chemical research from the laboratory to dissemination and publication.  As part of the CombeChem project, I initiated the concept of Publication @ Source to highlight the need for the capture of the experimental context (the metadata) with the experimental data. This is essential to ensure that the modern concepts of the Semantic Web and Grid can be effectively applied both to enhance scientific investigations and to produce data that can be found and reused with confidence.  This work is resulting in a radical change to the research and publication processes in Chemistry. The CombeChem project has resulted in over 60 publications to date and rated tending to outstanding and internationally leading by the EPSRC (see www.combechem.org) and is continuing as a Platform grant.  It is also making a significant impact on the national and international scene (academic and industrial), resulting in positive press coverage, linking my group with IBM, and making links with projects in the USA (University of California-  PRIME Project, University of Indiana - eCrystals) and Australia (Australian National University and University of Sydney). 

 

Interdisciplinary work is an approach I have been championing and supporting for many years, and continue to do so.  An interdisciplinary approach is essential for addressing major scientific problems.  My strengths lie in having the vision to identify challenging and significant scientific issues as well as choosing, motivating and running a successful interdisciplinary team, pivotal in producing the science to research these issues.