Its again time for Meet the GCY, this week is the last in our group representative mini series and time to introduce Claire Hobday! Claire is our group rep for the Chemical Crystalography Group (CCG).
Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bath
What do you currently research?
At Bath, I work with porous materials and how we can really understand the adsorption process. I do this through molecular simulation, using both quantum mechanics and simpler empirical force fields. What I want to grasp is how the structure of a material is related to its function, so we can develop better adsorbent materials. I did my PhD at the University of Edinburgh, where I used a combined approach of high-pressure crystallography and computational methods to study mechanical and adsorption properties of porous materials.
What is your favourite thing about being a crystallographer?
Only one thing is such a difficult question. I’d have to say it’s seeing the brilliance of symmetry in a diffraction pattern.
I have worked on cubic, high symmetry porous materials and once they’re in the x-ray beam, the resulting diffraction pattern is dazzling – check out the picture below! And to think from these images we can work out what atoms compose the crystal and how they are connected, is always something which amazes me!
Who, or what, inspires you to do science?
Initially, I was inspired by my chemistry teacher at school. I had the same teacher for six years and he made the magic in chemistry really come alive! I’ve been really lucky that all through my academic life, I’ve had great mentors and been surrounded by amazing research. This really makes me want to do the best I can in my own research. There is also a great satisfaction when you finally understand why something works the way it does – and it was your work that helped reach that conclusion!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone starting out in scientific research?
Make sure it’s on a topic you want to know about! Enthusiasm is the key to doing really great research. When you start out on a project, you might not know all the science behind it, but if you are really interested in uncovering what is going on, that will help you the most!
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’m into running. It’s the perfect way to clear your head after work. Also, if I visit new cities, I always try to get in a run, it’s a great way to see the sights! I’m also really into cooking and like trying out new recipes. I like to think I’m quite adventurous when it comes to cooking and eating, I’ll always try something at least once!