Professor Chick Wilson, Professor of Physical Chemistry & Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Science.
I’ve been at the University since October 2010 and my role involves rushing around a lot while trying to find pockets of time to do the part of my job which is research. The other part of my job involves some teaching and some admin, as well as trying to develop the research across the Faculty of Science but also across the University.
What would you most like to achieve while at the University?
I’d like to help develop our sustainable chemical technologies area into a larger, more industry facing entity which would have substantial leverage outside the normal academic environment in which it has been so successful.
What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?
Believe in what you’re doing.
Who was your most influential teacher or educator, and why?
My careers teacher at my secondary school, Mrs Sheila Ogilvie, who plucked me out of that school and forced me to go to university (and told me which bus to take to get there). It was probably the most influential thing anyone ever did for me because if it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t have gone to university and my career would’ve been totally different.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to play football for Hibernian Football Club who are a very poor football club that just about manages to hang on in the top flight of Scottish football, which itself is very poor. My ambition in those long ago days was to earn £100 a week as a footballer – it seemed like unimaginable riches.
What was your first job?
I stacked shelves in our local Spar around the corner from my house on the south side of Glasgow.
What’s your favourite book and why?
My favourite book is The Silmarillion by Tolkien which is the history of Middle Earth from its creation by Eru Ilúvatar until the Third Age in which Lord of the Rings is set. It allows the imagination to run much wilder than his other books because it paints a bigger picture of the imaginary world that he created. Unfortunately it wasn’t finished during his lifetime so it was edited by his son and published posthumously, but because it is incomplete there are lots of places where you can put your own imagination into it.
When are you happiest?
Walking along canals. I hate walking up hills, it’s far too tiring. You get all sorts of interesting thoughts walking along canals, including some about work I have to confess, but also about other things one might want to do in life.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
It’d have to be someone I think I could have a conversation with and not someone I was in awe of because they were famous. In fact, I’d like to meet Sheila Ogilvie again and explain to her how much of a difference she made to my life.
What one superpower would you like to possess?
I would love to be able to make time slow down. Sometimes I feel that in the three or four days leading up to a holiday I’m already rushing about like a mad thing so if I could move about 10 or 100 times faster... my goodness, what I could achieve!
Tell us your favourite joke.
It’s difficult to tell you my favourite joke, because it’s very, very long. About half an hour in fact. So I can tell you the first line and the last line, which by the way is cutting the legs off my comic career.
The first line is “There was this cornflake called Kevin” and the last line is “…and I’ll tell you the ending later because it’s a cereal”.