Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

Reactions – Guru Row

Guru Row is in Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and works on aspects related to chemical crystallography and materials design which include topics like charge density analysis in molecular crystals, in situ cryo-crystallography, polymorphism and co-crystals in pharmaceuticals.

1. What made you want to be a chemist?

Well it is an interesting story. I started as a physicist, did my masters in solid state physics and appeared for interview in the physics department at the Indian Institute of Science. I was elected to work with Professor K. Venkatesan (who worked with Professor Dorothy Hodgkins as a post-doctoral fellow and was involved in the structure determination of Vitamin B12), who has just moved from University of Madras and had joined the department of organic chemistry as a crystallographer. So, I ended up getting my PhD degree in organic chemistry and then on became a chemist!

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

I would have been a student of physics and maybe I would have ended up as a macromolecular crystallographer rather than a chemical crystallographer.

3. What are you working on now, and where do you hope it will lead?

Currently, I am working on the evaluation and importance of intermolecular interactions in molecular crystals by charge density analysis. Professor Gautam Desiraju and myself with our students have developed a new methodology (SBFA) which allows for the transfer of charge densities of fragments called synthons from one molecule to the other. We believe that this work will have a major impact in understanding mechanistics of binding of drugs in macromolecules.

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

Of course with Professor Albert Einstein, both of us are vegeterians.

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

This was a couple of weeks ago when one of my students had a difficulty in mounting a hygroscopic crystal in a Lindemann capillary. I will be regularly helping my students when they have difficulties in solving or refining crystal structures.

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

I always like to have and read and reread Alice in Wonderland, every time I read it, I come up with new thoughts. I am not a music fan, however I like to listen to old Hindi movie songs.

7. Which chemist would you like to see interviewed on Reactions – and why?

No one in particular, I believe every chemist would have interesting stories to tell as they work in the laboratory with chemicals and interesting students.


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