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Chris Byrne

BSc, PhD

Subject: Chemistry

Hi, and welcome to the wonderful world of chemistry… I’m sure that we’ll form a positive and productive relationship as you work your way through this course.

Chemistry was always my chosen subject from the tender age of 7 when I was given a little-used chemistry set by a friend of my parents. While I knew little of what produced the marvellous mixtures of colours, smells and reactions that occurred in my parents’ kitchen – my first laboratory – I was utterly convinced that this was where my future career would take me. So I read Chemistry at London University during the swinging sixties, gaining a BSc (Hons) in the subject at the end of the decade, before continuing student life as a PhD student for another three years as I investigated the synthesis and uses of a  rather  out of the way group of organic compounds.

Settling on helping to produce the next generation of chemists I then began my teaching career in Oxford. And there I remained for 35 years, teaching O Level, GCSE and A Level Chemistry to, I estimate, somewhere in the region of 3000 different students.

During that time I was also involved in the pastoral side of the school as a tutor and then a Housemaster; coached school hockey and cricket teams; and constructed the school timetable for 20+ years in the pre-computer days of enormous pieces of card, pencils and erasers.

Since retiring a few years ago I have done some one-to-one tutoring as well as some cover teaching, but the extra freetime has given me more chances for some of my other interests which include watercolour painting, languages (the surfaces of Latin, Italian and German have been scratched so far), badminton, walking and gardening.

A couple of years ago we decided to abandon the academic atmosphere of Oxford and move to The (frozen) North where our children and their families are located: so grandchild-sitting can now been added to the list of ‘other interests’.

I know that chemistry can appear a rather daunting prospect in the early days of study, but, taken a step at a time, and with the important facts  committed to memory to act as a framework for what follows, it should soon begin to click into place, and its importance as a subject that has  connections to so many aspects of our lives becomes obvious.

I hope that between us we will be able to make sense of those ‘… colours, smells and reactions’. 

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