Page 19 - PERIODIC 2016
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A Unique Oxford

                                                    Experience: the Chemistry

                                                    Part II

                                                    The Part II, which has had a very similar format for the past 100 years,
          (in unison) was ’research please’.  Prof   is very much the jewel in the crown of the Oxford Chemistry course.
          pointedly asked who on earth would        It gives students a unique opportunity to carry out original research,
          have us?  The answer was that Geoffrey    enabling them to apply the knowledge and understanding they have
          Young and Dr William Waters were          gained over the preceding three years.  Part II students choose their
          prepared to take us on.                   research project from a wide range of fields – from theoretical and
                                                    computational chemistry to organic synthesis – and spend a whole year
          ‘Well, I do not wish to see you again so   working on a cutting-edge project with world-leading researchers.
          you both better get on with it’ was the
          response.  Years later I was amazed to    The Part II offers an invaluable opportunity to sample life as a
          find at the RSC (where I was pleased to   professional chemist and to develop initiative and critical thinking
          have been voted a fellow) the portraits   skills.  Part II research projects have led to the publication of a great
          of HR Perkins and Sir Ewart hanging       many articles in the scientific literature, and even to significant
          side by side, smiling at me.              advances in our understanding of many areas of chemistry.

          Throughout the next two years,
          whenever the class was practical
          organic, Terry and I ‘assisted’ in the labs
          and made many friends in the research
          groups we joined. Bruce Merryfield
          played a key part in my life because of
          his development of solid phase peptide
          synthesis which led to a lifelong interest
          in affinity chromatography and the
          phenyl boronate based HbA1c test that
          every diabetic knows well.  I did my
          part II with T G Halsall – this ended
          up as a synthetic project with Michael
          Whitehouse and the invention of a new
          method to hydrolyse hindered methyl       Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013), British Prime Minister from 1979
          esters with lithium iodide and DMF.       to 1990, completed her Part II under the supervision of Nobel Laureate
          I made 4-5 grams of diazomethane          Dorothy Hodgkin and worked as an industrial chemist before entering
          at 3 o’clock in the morning with no–      politics.
          one else in the building.  My sister
          could have foreseen what might have
          happened but the fact that quality
          teaching will out meant that all went        How did your Part II shape your career?
                                                       It is almost one hundred years since the first Part II thesis
          If it had not been for the DP, I would       was completed in 1917, and we would love to hear your
          not have worked with the Biochemistry        stories and recollections of how this unique experience
          Department, nor done a post-doc with         shaped your future.  Please get in touch with Susan Davis,
          Corey and Bloch, nor would I have I          Alumni Relations and Communications Officer, Depart-
          have helped the 400 million diabetics        ment of Chemistry, Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
          in the world live more easily with their     Laboratory, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QZ, or
          condition and neither would I now
          have an Oxford DSc!                          email  We will publish a selection
                                                       of your stories in the next edition of Periodic.  Thank you!

                                                            The Magazine of the Department of Chemistry
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