I was born and raised in London. I didn’t live near the coast and I certainly never knew anybody – sailor, scientist or otherwise – who had much to do with the oceans. So I have often reflected that it is strange that I’ve been so strongly drawn to the seas from a young age. Nowadays I live and breathe them, seven days a week! Why am I so intrigued by the oceans and what do they mean to me?
One answer is complexity. The oceans contain a myriad of living organisms, and witnessing so many unique creatures interacting with each other provides endless fascination. As a chemist, I will never cease to marvel at the multitude of different atomic combinations which allows this incredible system to exist and live. The most complex molecules that man can create pale in comparison to what nature can do!
I am also interested in the unique challenges and opportunities that the oceans represent. Looking at the bigger picture, the oceans provide millions of people with food, contain vast reserves of metals and minerals, and are even inspiring new medicines. To me, this means a responsibility for us all – figuring out how to make use of the oceans whilst still preserving and protecting them is a huge challenge for humanity. From a personal perspective, I believe the oceans are worth caring for and I want to contribute to that in whatever small way I can. Luckily this is a very enjoyable challenge, and I have been able to learn many interesting skills in pursuit of this goal both at work and in my spare time.