Question: how many new molecules have you found or created?

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  1. Hmm. When I was doing my PhD maybe 30, then when I was doing research after that, another 30. My group of students over the last few years have made a hundred or so, maybe more. It’s cool making a new molecule – it could well be the first time that molecule has existed on the earth. Maybe in the universe.

    Part of the research is making new molecules, to see what they do. Part of it is to find better ways of making known molecules, so that we can make them in large amounts without going bankrupt…

    It’s funny – in many chemical reactions we get the molecule we want, but we also make a bunch of other molecules kind of by accident. Like by-products. Often we don’t work out what those other molecules are, because we’re not interested in them at that moment, or they’re only present in really small quantities, but if you did work out what they are you’d probably discover quite a lot of cool new things about molecules and what they do.