Last updated June 30, 2017


As well as this blog, I also blog (occasionally) as part of my day job. My posts over at the Sceptical Chymist can be found here. In the early days, it was all about the titles of the posts being song parodies. OK, that’s not all it was about.

Commentary article (with Jeffrey Seeman)

Wrong but seminal (2016)

Publishing the wrong interpretation of experimental data can result in an immediate horde of chemists feeding on the error like vultures. On rare occasions, this phenomenon can open up an entire new field of science — and the structure of ferrocene is a case in point.

Jeffrey Seeman very kindly asked me to join him in writing this article about scientific discoveries that turn out to be wrong, but have a major impact on their field nonetheless.

Book review

The science of silliness (2015)

A review of What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe.

5-year anniversary feature at Nature Chemistry

Super-sized self-assembly (2014)

Each editor at the journal picked their favourite paper from the first 5 years; this was mine.

SciAm essay

A Nobel Gathering
(2013, subscription req’d)

I was invited to write the introduction for the SciAm feature published to coincide with the 2013 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting dedicated to chemistry. You’ll need to be a subscriber to access the essay, but my unedited first draft can be found here on the blog.

Story Collider piece

Science in the blood

This was a slightly revised version of the blog post I wrote about my Dad for the #IAmScience carnival that was doing the rounds. The illustration (by Joe Wierenga) that accompanies the essay at The Story Collider is just awesome.

Thesis article

Carbon-based curiosities (2009, subscription req’d)
Diamonds may be forever, but are some other forms of carbon merely passing fads? Stuart Cantrill considers why carbon often seems to be a chemist’s best friend.

Milestone articles

An iron-clad structure (2014)

In 1951, Peter Pauson and his student Tom Kealy set out to make an unusual hydrocarbon called pentafulvalene, in which two cyclopentadiene rings are joined together through a carbon–carbon double bond. Although this particular target eluded them, their experiments resulted in the formation of a remarkably stable compound made of carbon, hydrogen and iron — a compound that arguably started a revolution in organometallic chemistry.

A shift in expectations (2008)

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is one of the most powerful analytical techniques in modern chemistry — a window into the world of molecules that can provide information about their structures, dynamic behaviour and how they interact with one another.

Meeting report

Lindau 2009: Eyes on the prize (2009)

For six days during the summer of 2009, hundreds of young researchers gathered in Germany on the shores of Lake Constance to take part in the 59th Meeting of Nobel Laureates at Lindau — this year dedicated to the topic of chemistry.


At Nature Chemistry, one person generally takes the lead in writing each editorial and then the rest of the team chime in with their suggestions. It’s very much a team effort, but these are the ones I took the lead on. These should be free to read.

2017: A chemical century
2014: Take five
2013: All you can tweet
2011: Chemistry’s year | A great question | The art of abstracts
2010: The buck stops here | Cover story | Football crazy, fullerene mad | All a-Twitter about chemistry | Where are the champions?
2009: Chemistry 2.0 | Meeting matters | Who’s better, who’s best? | So long sulphur | Hello 112 | Good on paper

Research highlights
(You probably need to be a subscriber to Nature Chemistry to access these)

2015: Tales from the cryptates | Falling to pieces faster | Huge hexagons
2014: Targeted tubes | Running rings around rings | Triple-clipped links | Bang go the complexes | Metals in the middle
2013: Structural snapshots | Tangled tetrahedra
2012: An iron-clad analogue | Trapping technetium | Alive with light | Protecting polyynes | The big indoors | On the right track | Shape-shifting sensors | Microfluidics for microcapsules | Attoreactor arrays | Switching spin | A photo finish
2011: One-way traffic | Tearing apart triazoles | Water behind walls | Simple sorting solution | Rounding up radon | Insist on cis | Light repairs | Wind-up shuttles | A diet to dye for
2010: Bent into shape
2009: A helter-skelter shuttle | Revealing the ribosome | DNA in 3D
2008: Green fluorescent protein | Weighing up the evidence | Cage closed | Working on water | Ringing the changes | Aromatics stack up

Not to mention quite a few research highlights during my time at Nature Nanotechnology.

Other random stuff around the web

A case study as part of the ‘Changing expectations‘ project carried out by The Royal Society.
A short alumni profile at the University of Birmingham.
An interview with Science Watch about Nature Chemistry.