Dr Ian Watt - research
I attempt to apply the methods and rigour of physical chemistry to the complexities of organic and biological reactions. The aim here is a useful understanding of the relationships between structure, reactivity and environment.
Quantum mechanics and ab initio calculation offer a general approach here, but is not yet genuinely predictive for complex reactions in the condensed phase. Such methods have their place, but the search for both qualitiative and quantitative understanding always calls for carefully designed experiments. My work usually involves the selection or synthesis of compounds whose molecules have particular structural features, then the development or exploitation of appropriate analytical methods to determine rates, products, and equilibria under controlled conditions. We then seek useful empirical relationships between molecular structure, reaction conditions and reactivity, with reaction mechanism providing the link between what we observe at the macroscopic level and what is going on at the molecular level.
It all comes down to asking worthwhile and interesting questions and then designing the right experiments to answer them. If that sounds a bit precious, click on the link below to get a feel for the practicalities......