About CSci

  • Laurence Harwood
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Laurence Harwood
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
South East
First Degree: 
BSc Chemistry
Works For: 
Reading University
MA (Oxon), BSc, MSc PhD (Manch)
Pet Hates: 
Anything sticky. Sand in my shoes
Burning Ambition: 
To fly in a spitfire
To fly!
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
An artist
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
Mr Good, my first chemistry teacher at the City School, Lincoln
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
Knowing that when we synthesise a novel compound, it is the first time it has ever existed; working with able young people and seeing them develop; the chance that I might actually make a (positive) contribution to society/mankind
What would you change? 
The fact that people in positions of power with no scientific training seek to control science in the UK according to their agendas
What qualifications did you take at school? 
O"" levels (9 - not particularly good grades)' ""A"" levels (Chemistry A, Biology A, Physics A), ""S"" level (Chemistry distinction)
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
BSc Chemistry - because I was already a chemistry geek
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
I have TWO Masters degrees and PhD!!
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
University Professor
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
We work at the forefront of synthesis in areas as diverse as peptide synthesis and ion selective ligand design and synthesis
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
I hope that some recent patents filed will result in a revolution in the way that peptides are chemically synthesized and also underpin the reprocessing of americium from spent nuclear fuel
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Going for a run at lunchtime
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
. A classical academic pathway. After my PhD I spent 2 years as a postdoctoral worker at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris (where I became fleunt in French) 1978-80, held an SRC Advanced Fellowship at Manchester Universit 1980-83, Lectureship at Oxford and Fellowship of Merton College 1983-95, Chair of Organic Chemistry at Reading University 1995-present
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
I deal particularly with biochemists and others in the life sciences
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
What is the starting salary for someone in your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? Lecturer starting salary ca £32K p.a.; professor first level ca £50K p.a.
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
It will tackle increasingly complex challenges at the biological interface
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
Variety - travel, consultancy, expert witness work
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
dogma that peptides can only be synthesized by extending from the nitrogen terminus of the chain. This has the potential to revolutionise peptide synthesis. In my academic life in general: co-authoring a book on Experimental Organic Chemistry which has become something of a ""best seller"", having sold > 30,000 copies since it first appeared in 1989
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
An excellent standard of living but I work long hours
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
My children (10 year old twin boys) think I'm a geek but are always excited when I take them to work and they are proud that I have written books and give public lectures
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Gardening, wine, butterfly collecting (on Ebay - not in the field), running.
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
As an academic, I value having professional qualifications alongside my academic ones
What is the value of professional bodies? 
They should act as the arbiters of excellence within their discipline
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
CPD is important in any professional walk of life - not just science. The revalidation process I have just undergone was a little bit of a paper filling exercise. I understand future revalidations may be more frequent but have a lighter touch. As an active academic in the university system I have no problems in carrying activities that qualify me in the revalidation exercise
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
In the current climate ""Don't become an academic!"" More seriously, because the UK is now part of Europe, I would urge people to learn a second, European, language
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
Mentoring is critical for Early Stage Researchers. I am beyond help…….
How would you define “professionalism”? 
The ability to carry out one's trade to a high level of competence in an open minded, unbiased and receptive manner
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
I would go into industry and not become an academic
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