Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point?
I’m a pharmacist by training but completed my PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at UCL. I’d say I identify myself now as a Drug Discovery Scientist. I enjoy having the academic freedom to test ideas and see if we can create any meaningful change. Cancer is a fascinating topic as I started my career as a Cancer Chemist but my current interest largely lies more specifically in the anti-infective area. My research aim is to discover drugs and take them towards clinical developments and hope they might one day eventually used to save lives.
What is a typical day like for you, and how has this changed from when you’d commute to the office?
I wake up at 6am everyday and do my morning prayer. I then prepare breakfast for everyone. Before lockdown I used to drive my kids to school and then make my way to Waterloo campus, arriving at 9:30am after a 90-minute commute. I try and use my commute to answer emails as on average I receive over 100 a day that need an answer from me!
Since lockdown I try to stick to the same routine and get up early and make breakfast. I’m probably actually doing even more work than before! I’ve set up my home address as a King’s address so I can get compound deliveries here for the COVID-19 project I am working with Public Health England.
What do you think people in the School would find most surprising about you?
I used to play cricket at semi-professional level, got hired by different clubs to play short tournaments. I was at a good level until I was 32; nowadays the mind says I can do a few things but the body doesn’t agree – essentially I’m not at that level anymore.
How have you adjusted so far to working from home?
It’s very difficult to stay motivated when you lose that daily human contact. It is a bit of an alien environment but I’m trying to stay positive and stay busy.
How have you been staying connected with friends and family?
I’m talking to every member of family every day, give them a call to see how they’re coping. One positive element is that I’m more in touch with them than I was before; I do believe that this current crisis helps you to realise how important family is. We are overworked and so consumed by our research and teaching that we ignore or just don’t have time to spend real quality time with family.
What’s your typical morning coffee order?
Very strong black coffee as soon as I wake up, before any food. I always drink 3 cups of coffee a day although my daughter is trying to limit this!
What advice would you give to yourself to your 18 year old self?
I’d say focus on your goals, what exactly do you want to do with your life? When I was 18, I was doing too many things that probably ‘felt right’ but maybe weren’t. Identify what your dreams are and believe in yourself. And FOCUS (I wasn’t hugely focused at that age).
Your favourite season... Summer, I love the sunlight. Bright sunny day cheers up the mood!
Your favourite book... Counte of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This book had an impact on me when I was a teenager and I still enjoy reading it to this day. My son is now 17 and I gave him the book and he thoroughly enjoyed it; was great to be able to discuss it together.
You'd spend an hour cooking... Vegetable biryani. Kids love it but my wife is not a big fan. And I cook lots of pasta for my kids. I really enjoy cooking! As a chemist, cooking comes easily to me because we essentially spend time cooking different things to make a compound.