'Having studied science at university, I tried to broaden my reading and was influenced by writers such as Somerset Maugham, James Baldwin, John Steinbeck, Albert Camus and many others, but no special book stands out. Perhaps because of the current media spotlight, I particularly remember Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which I first read in the lull between the end of my finals and the posting of the results.
This epic tale of the triumph of good over evil certainly took my mind off chemistry. I warmed to the reluctant hero, Frodo, and the wise yet 'human' wizard, Gandalf, who cares nothing for the temptations of power. I noted the human frailties of many of the characters, the ability of evil to subvert even the well-meaning and, of course, the ultimate triumph of good - even as evil is in the ascendant.
As well as being a splendid adventure, it is a powerful reminder that one should be true to one's self and mindful of others, whatever the circumstances - attitudes I have tried to maintain throughout my career, notwithstanding the occasional siren voice!'