Boswells Sheep Sales. I was to witness, from a very young age, the essential mating activities that were an integral part of maintaining a herd of dairy cows and orchestrating in October and November the running of around ewes with tups rams , at an approximate ratio of to ensure the arrival of around lambs during a frantic three-week window in March.
While tending to cows calving throughout the year on a fortnightly basis, often in the middle of the night, was more or less routine, the lambing season never failed to reduce myself and my parents to states of utter physical and mental exhaustion, from a combination of lack of sleep and very long working days, for spring was also the time to be in the fields from morning to night sowing wheat, barley and oats, to be followed immediately thereafter by potato planting and the sowing of kale and turnips swedes. In the summer months, I enjoyed nothing more than walking round the acre one for every day of the year farm with my father in the evenings of long light.
He knew all there was to know about the flora and fauna of the countryside. He was also a walking dictionary — a kind of Google before its time — that was useful for me in building up a vocabulary, and when we were engaged in the evenings in solving crossword puzzles in The Scotsman. My vocabulary was also broadened through my friendship with the farmhands, who taught me to swear from a young age. Later in life, my mother reflected that, much to her chagrin, I could swear like a trooper well before I could talk.
During my four years as an undergraduate student at Edinburgh — , I managed to hold my own in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry classes, in the face of stiff competition from many very bright students drawn, in large part, from the east coast of Scotland, many coming from the elite Edinburgh schools. A cohort of English students — who entered the Scottish higher educational system having covered much of the first-year science curriculum at A-level in England — got off to a flying start in their first year, but in subsequent years we Scots started to pull ahead of most of them.
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The chemistry teaching at Edinburgh in the early s was not particularly taxing or stimulating, apart from some excellent lectures given by Tom Cottrell, John Knox, Peter Schwartz and Dai Rees. Organic chemistry, under the leadership of Professor Sir Edmund Hirst, was heavily skewed towards carbohydrate chemistry. A transformation occurred in my third year during a laboratory course in quantitative analytical chemistry.
During his introduction, the somewhat abrasive Dougie Anderson announced to more than of us that we would be pipetting by mouth enough cyanide to kill the whole of Edinburgh! After having made this spine-chilling remark, he went on to state that he had been running the week course for more than a decade and in that time no student had ever completed it. Here was my opportunity, I thought, to apply the multitasking skills I had acquired from working on a mixed-arable farm for a couple of decades.
This achievement earned me my first visit to the office of Sir Edmund who told me that Dr. Anderson would like to offer me a paid position in his research group during the following summer. I jumped at the opportunity. I felt much more at home in this new research environment, where I was given the opportunity to unravel the structural complexities of plant gums of the Acacia genus.
There was little doubt from what was already published in the literature that these acidic polysaccharides — accompanied mysteriously by a small amount of protein — were high molecular weight polyelectrolytes constituted around a branched carbohydrate backbone. I was to continue researching these biomacromolecules well beyond a fourth-year research project into the pursuit of a PhD degree as a postgraduate student. My postgraduate research was to leave me with one lasting impression — namely, that the many gum trees in the Sudan, from whence the nodules I studied came, had never managed to produce between all of them through all of time, two gum molecules which were identical in size and constitution.
After this period of handling highly heterogeneous mixtures, I longed to grow acquainted with a molecular world where homogeneity ruled the roost, at least for a time. Figure 4. Between continuing to work on the farm, and becoming bitten by the research bug, I had to settle for graduating with a BSc Honours Degree in Chemistry and being the top Upper Second, in fifth place overall, in the Class of 45 students.
By contrast, my postgraduate research was a resounding success and I was able to graduate with a PhD degree in just over two years in November , having met the love of my life, Norma Scholan, who had joined the Anderson group as a fourth-year undergraduate research student. Norma made up for my lackluster performance in my Finals by coming top of her class of over 80 Final Year Chemistry students in In the years to come our two daughters, Fiona and Alison, were to graduate in Chemistry — from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, respectively — with First Class Honours degrees just like their mother before them, leaving me the dunce of the family!
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During the first 25 years of my life I had travelled very little and I yearned to go to North America, with enthusiastic support from my parents and somewhat less so from Norma, who had transferred her allegiance to the Biochemistry Department in the Medical School to begin her postgraduate work in steroid biosynthesis, under the tutelage of George Boyd.
Here I would join the Chemistry group, headed up by Ken Jones, one of his own postgraduate students from his Bristol days.
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How times have changed for the better. I suspect he anticipated that I would remain a carbohydrate chemist for the remainder of my professional life but that did not turn out to be the case. In the event, as soon as I set foot in the Jones laboratory, Ken confided in me that come 1st April he would be leaving for Curitiba in Brazil to spend one whole year there on sabbatical leave.
This totally unexpected piece of breaking news, although quite a shock for me at the time, was to work to my advantage in the long run. It was good early experience for me in helping Walter run and mentor a medium-sized research group. Communications between Canada and Brazil were dependent on the back and forth delivery of airmail letters, with a complete turnaround of information taking about three weeks, by which time the news was often obsolete.
We were quickly relieved of this frustration when the Canadian postal service was brought to a halt by strikes for months on end. This breaking news, coming out of the Dupont Laboratories in Delaware, flew in the face of all the teaching I had experienced as an undergraduate student at Edinburgh, where I had been led to believe that, while making five-, six-, and seven-membered rings was commonplace, large-sized rings were a totally different kettle of fish.
I also realized that these macrocyclic polyethers — or crown ethers as Pedersen had called them — shared some of the constitutional features OCCO repeating units with the sugars. Of course, it was easier said than done, for I was only one pair of hands with many other things on my mind.
One of them was to return to Edinburgh in the Fall of to say goodbye to the farm — for my parents had decided that after my leaving for Canada it was simply too much for them to handle on their own — and the other was to get married in Glasgow in the presence of close family members to Norma on 8th October We returned to Canada the next day via Montreal, my newlywed wife occupying her time during the flight by completing mountains of immigration paperwork.
Norma had completed research for her PhD degree, like myself in just over two years, but not without a never-to-be-forgotten incident following the decision that I would type the manuscript on my portable Olivetti typewriter. It was approaching midnight and I was typing the last few pages of her thesis. Norma decided I needed a cup of coffee and duly set the cup down on the table next me.
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The next time I triggered the carriage return it hit the cup fair and square on its side and propelled most of the contents right over the stack of typed pages. Norma retired to a corner of the room sobbing her heart out. After a kiss and a cuddle, I sent her off to bed and then stayed up all night, retyping much of the thesis by the following morning. When disaster strikes, it is best to waste no time in putting the experience to rest. Saul Wolfe, in particular, took me under his wing and transmitted to me the importance of being on top of the current literature.
He brought to my attention the teachings of Kurt Mislow at Princeton on the importance of applying molecular symmetry to stereochemistry. Mislow had just introduced the concept of topism for analyzing the topic relationships between atoms and ligands in molecules. Amongst other attributes, it rendered the interpretation of NMR spectra a much easier task and helped to save me the embarrassment of coming to a wrong conclusion more than once.
I had the opportunity to travel down to Princeton with Saul to meet this sage of stereochemistry. There were other opportunities to listen to lectures by the intellectual leaders of their time in organic chemistry, among them the famous Harvard professor and synthetic chemist par excellence, R. Woodward, whom I recall holding an audience in the palm of his hand in Ottawa for more than three hours. Winstein was considered by many to be the intellectual leader in physical organic chemistry at that time and would almost certainly have been the recipient of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry had he not died very suddenly of a heart attack, at age 57, in November of that same year.
What I recall most vividly about the MacCrae lectures was the manner in which Winstein launched into a minute diatribe against H.
Brown, reflecting the bitter controversy that raged between them for years over classical HCB versus non-classical SW carbocations. Saul Wolfe was a pupil of the highly influential and renowned carbohydrate chemist, Ray Lemieux, for whom I had acquired an enormous respect after hearing him give a series of remarkable named lectures Purves, if I recall correctly at McGill University, which ultimately led me to write a monograph on the Stereochemistry of Carbohydrates.
I set out on this mission with the support of Ken Jones, who had returned from Brazil, without realizing the responsibility one assumes when writing a book!
It had been my bible from my Edinburgh days and so I decided that I would approach Dr. Eliel at the end of his inspirational talk and ask him if he would be kind enough to look over and comment on my manuscript. I sent him the manuscript and within a very short space of time it came back plastered in red ink. This experience taught me that having my manuscripts scrutinized by experts wherever possible would save me no end of embarrassment in the fullness of time.
kessai-payment.com/hukusyuu/application/sip-suivi-de.php On this occasion, no doubt, Ernest saved my bacon: he and his wife Eva were to become close friends of myself and Norma for the rest of their lives. As the s came to a close, Norma convinced me that it was time to return to Old Blighty, where we would give some thought to raising a family. Three months later I heard the good news that I had, after all, landed this prestigious fellowship, as one of the successful candidates had decided not to accept the offer.
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We decided it would be practical to ship our goods and chattels across The Pond and enjoy an ocean liner experience onboard the West German flagship Bremen during the week before Christmas. Five days after leaving New York we arrived in Southampton to be greeted by thick fog, which made the drive north to Edinburgh, stopping off in Sheffield on the way, all the more challenging. There were several reasons for going to Sheffield.