Chemistry lecturer Lyall Hanton admits to an obsession with science from a young age.
"I had the idea that a chemist would be useful about the home," Hanton jokes, "using their knowledge to get stains out and unblock drains with ease!"
Now, Hanton's current research into the structure and function of molecules combines this original passion for scientific understanding and application. It involves the use of a single crystal x-ray diffractometer, which allows researchers to effectively "see" the architecture of different compounds.
"One of the things we can determine, for example, is where cavities exist within molecules, and then we can look at putting things in these cavities. This could be used for finding safe ways to store hydrogen for powering cars, or for creating compounds that absorb pollution."
It's not only at the molecular level that Hanton is interested in connecting different elements. He also confesses to being an "old-fashioned academic" with an equal interest in research, teaching and community service.
"Teaching is great fun - one of the best parts of the job. Constantly dealing with enthusiastic young people really keeps you on your toes."
But despite professing to being old-fashioned, Hanton will not wear the stereotyped white lab coat to class, a decision based in part on personal disappointment.
"I always thought my lecturers were rushing from the lab to class in their white coats," Hanton explains. "It was quite a let-down when I found out they were wearing them to keep chalk dust off their clothes!"