Graduate returns to Department of Chemistry after 50 years away

A graduate from the Department of Chemistry who finished her degree more than 50 years ago has paid us a return visit.

Zoe Smallwood and Pat MooreOne of our PhD students, Zoe Smallwood, gave Pat Moore, who graduated in 1965, a tour of her old department.

Pat's first stop was lecture theatre one, where she remembered the first lecture of her degree, given by George Porter, then our Professor of Physical Chemistry.

Lord Porter won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1967 for the research he conducted here into flash photolysis. The main thing Pat remembered him saying was, simply: "Just don’t worry too much." 

While exploring our recently renovated undergraduate labs, Pat told us that students used to do all their washing in benzene rather than acetone – a practice that is definitely no longer standard! She noted that although the layout of the labs has remained very similar, it was great to see so much modern equipment being used by undergraduates.

Throughout the department, Pat was able to see some of the research being conducted by our fourth year students in the form of their posters. She said: "I’m absolutely blown away to see how well the students are able to present such high-level research."

She added that, in her time, research was often kept within a group, and that it was great to see science communication being developed as part of the course.

At the end of the tour, Zoe asked Pat what she thought of chemistry as a degree now. She concisely stated that chemistry is a great degree, not just for those wishing to pursue science, but for anyone looking to gain useful skills: "Even Angela Merkel was a chemist before she was Chancellor of Germany."