Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

Reactions – Len MacGillivray

1. What made you want to be a chemist?

My undergraduate research experience. I grew up using computers, enjoyed the challenges of the sciences, and was raised in a creative (i.e., musical) environment. It all seemed to all come together when I started to perform research.

2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?

The head groundskeeper of Wrigley Field (the home and ‘shrine’ of the Chicago Cubs major league baseball team). A perfect mix of history, sports, escapism, and attention to detail.

3. How can chemists best contribute to the world at large?

Through teaching. Enthusiasm is contagious and we have an opportunity to instil an interest in such a central science for a lifetime.

4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?

To be honest, each grandfather in each generation of my family. I imagine I would get quite astounding insights. From a more ‘historical’ standpoint, Winston Churchill. A strong believer and an effective leader during relatively modern and very difficult times.

5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?

I only trust my graduate and undergraduate students to find themselves around in the synthetic lab. I continue to enjoy the thrill of determining the structure of a solid for the first time.

6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one CD would you take with you?

Book: Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella (basis for the movie ‘Field of Dreams’). Having lived in Iowa, my home is beginning to look like the house in the movie!

CD: ‘Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes’ by Jimmy Buffett (featuring ‘Margaritaville’).

Len MacGillivray is in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Iowa and works on research in the field of supramolecular chemistry, particularly as it relates to the organic solid state.

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