Rob Stansfield

Philomorph with a sense of adventure and lots of curiosity


In my ’20s I fell in love with the methods by which we are able to discover and visualize the three-dimensional structures of molecules using X-Ray and neutron diffraction. Crystallography, at the intersection of chemistry, mathematics and computing, fit my academic and professional aspirations, my skills and my nature, like a glove.

My Ph.D was in X-Ray crystallography of small molecules; my post-doc in protein crystallography; and my research position at the Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France, combined instrument development, software development, and service crystallography.

The diffraction equation


chemical crystallography

I worked on the crystal structures of organometallic complexes when “FGAS” – Professor F. Gordon A. Stone – was head of the inorganic chemistry department in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, in the UK.

Prof. Stone wrote an autobiography published as one of a series by the American Chemical Society. The book is “Leaving No Stone Unturned : Pathways in Organometallic Chemistry“, F.Gordon A.Stone, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC 1993, from the series “Profiles, Pathways, and Dreams: Autobiographies of Eminent Chemists”, Jeffrey I.Seeman, Series Editor.

edge-bridging isomer
face-bridging isomer

Illustrated are two isomeric forms of triruthenium carbonyl clusters with face- and edge-bridging pentalene ligands from publication A2.

protein crystallography

Post-doctoral work in the Department of Biochemistry (now the School of Biosciences) at Sheffield University, UK, under the direction of Prof. Pauline Harrison, on the structure of horse spleen apoferritin (ferritin without its iron core).

a) Eight apoferritin subunits form a channel around each end of three axes of 4-fold symmetry, in a molecule formed of 24 identical subunits. The crystal space group is F432 !

b) The second diagram shows six apoferritin subunits around one of the four axes of 3-fold symmetry. Both these diagrams come from the letter to Nature, B8 below.


neutron crystallography

Work done at the Institute Laue Langevin, Grenoble, France as a “Physicien” in the Diffraction group in the 1980’s.

I was co-responsible for the development of the Neutron Diffractometer D19 equipped with a Position Sensitive Detector for protein crystallography.

The work, all of which I loved, included developing the instrument, hosting scientists who visited to perform diffraction experiments, and pursuing original research.

Scroll to Top