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