Who got that job?

February 11, 2005

Guy Grant Research associate, Unilever Cambridge Centre for Molecular Informatics, department of chemistry, Cambridge University

Job advertised in The Times Higher , March 19, 2004

Guy Grant is in the enviable position of having a wealth of research data and of teaching some of the best students he has ever come across.

As a computational chemist, recent advances in computing have placed him in the happy position of having too much data.

"Computational chemistry and molecular modelling give a detailed understanding of chemical reactions," Dr Grant said.

"But recently, Linux-based computer clusters have dramatically improved productivity, giving access to serious computing that is relatively cheap.

What should we do with all the data? How do we manage the data sets?"

Moving to Cambridge from Oxford University was a good opportunity for Dr Grant to build a research group from scratch. After surviving a "typical competitive interview" with 12 representatives of the university and college, he is settling in and making comparisons with Oxford.

"The most interesting thing is that I get access to very good students.

They are generally better than at Oxford and the average level is higher," he said.

Dr Grant believed this was largely due to differences in the tutorial system. "In Oxford, tutorials are taught in spite of the course syllabus set by the university, which leads to a schizophrenic existence for students. Tutorials are very theoretical and students do a lot of reading and self-teaching.

"In Cambridge, things are a bit more centralised, with work set from lectures for tutorials. Students are served well, fewer drop out and they know where they stand."

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