Professor Dwayne Heard, chairman of the RSC Faraday Division Standing Committee on Conferences, is interviewed for Highlights in Chemical Science. Interview by Holly Sheahan.
Interview: Adventures in Borneo
|Professor Dwayne Heard is Head of Chemistry at the University of Leeds, and works in atmospheric chemistry, measuring the concentration of key reactive intermediates. Professor Heard is the chairman of the RSC Faraday Division Standing Committee on Conferences (which oversees Faraday Discussions), a member of Faraday Council and he serves on the board of Chemical Society Reviews.
You work in the field of atmospheric chemistry, looking at the OH radical, and have worked in some exciting places. Which has been your favourite?
I would say Borneo: we were taking measurements in the middle of the rainforest, with monkeys, king cobras, pygmy elephants and lots of leeches. It was certainly an adventure – I had to take three planes and a 4×4 to even get close. I enjoyed it but it was difficult and can be quite stressful. You are there to get the measurements you need, and if you don’t get them, all that time and resources are wasted.
What is the most exciting part of your research?
I think that would be when we get surprising data, like when my group went to Antarctica a few years ago. We expected it to be a pristine environment with very simple chemistry. What we actually found was that halogen chemistry dominates the free radical chemistry even in Antarctica. We expected much simpler chemistry than that, but it was exciting to discover.
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