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W. Graham Richards’ “A Scientific Life”

Amongst his many and significant contributions to chemistry, Graham Richards helped found the MGMS some 40 years ago. Graham recently let us know that his autobiography is now available in paperback, hardback, and Kindle format.

The cover of "A Scientific Life" by Graham Richards, depicting models of DNA and a metallic ball-and-stick model of naphthalene.
The cover of “A Scientific Life” by Graham Richards, depicting models of DNA and a metallic ball-and-stick model of naphthalene — one of the earliest ray traced images in molecular graphics. It graced the cover of the Journal of Molecular Graphics (before it became the Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling).

“A Scientific Life” is a great read, going from Graham’s earliest challenges like how he overcame polio as a child, and later dealt with the tragic loss of his beloved wife; to his career at Oxford, and periods working in Paris, Stanford, and Berkeley; to how he helped catalyze a dramatic shift in UK universities’ approach to their scientific discoveries and commercial opportunities; and how he helped raise £60 million to build the very impressive Chemistry Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford. Graham was instrumental in launching one of Oxford’s first start ups, Oxford Molecular, which at its peak was valued at nearly £450,000,000. Graham supervised some 58 Oxford research students (myself included), and 24 postdoctoral researchers, and hosted 21 sabbatical visitors. He is still very much active, and hasn’t quite retired. 

It is very funny in places (the poor paraplegic corgi who helped secure scientific funding made me laugh out loud…), but most of all highlights Graham’s role in how computers have transformed molecular science.

— Garrett M. Morris

Note: Graham will be giving the Keynote, ‘The Origins of the MGMS’, at the MGMS@40 Meeting on Friday, 24th September 2021.