Brief synopsis of research:
My research is concerned with the field of ‘supramolecular’ chemistry, which means chemistry beyond the molecule. Traditionally, chemists have designed individual molecules for a certain task, for example, drug molecules. However, Nature often uses groups of different molecules to achieve a specific task, such as cell walls, which are made up of large numbers of relatively simple molecules that assemble into a complex structure that performs a vital task in the body. I work at the border of organic and inorganic chemistry designing and synthesizing (relatively) simple molecules that self-assemble into complex three-dimensional structures that can perform useful functions. These functions include use as the active components in solar panels and clean-up of environmental contaminants.
What does it mean to be Killam Laureate?
Becoming a Killam Laureate is a great honour, as it means I’ve joined a prestigious family of professors, post-docs and students doing interesting and important research. The Killam Postdoctoral Fellowships provide a generous stipend for two years, as well as funding for travel and conference attendance. Having two years guaranteed funding is really important for me, as it means I can pursue more ambitious research, knowing that I don’t have to have results within one year. Having funding for conferences will allow me to travel and tell people about the research we’re doing here.
Why did you choose the University of British Columbia?
I chose to come to UBC for several reasons: firstly, my supervisor, Prof. Mark MacLachlan works here and he is an incredibly enthusiastic professor doing some really cool research, that I wanted to get involved with (as exemplified by his winning the Killam Research and Mentoring prizes, as well as several other awards). Secondly, UBC has a great chemistry department, and there are some great facilities allowing us to do interesting experiments that would not be possible elsewhere. Thirdly, I’d heard (and it’s true!) that Vancouver is a great place to live – I particularly like the “outdoorsy” feel of the place, and importantly for me, there is great rock-climbing just down the road at Squamish.
For more information on Nick and his research please watch his YouTube video