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Meet your tutors

Congratulations on getting an offer to study with us! From crystallography to climate change, our academics investigate chemistry which affects all of our lives. We wanted to give you a chance to find out more about them.

Andy Parsons has worked with us for over 25 years! He is our Head of Admissions, and teaches across all of our courses.

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For any support or guidance on completing your journey to York, we're always close at hand.
+44 (0)1904 324000

Kicking off my career

At school, chemistry was always my first love, along with football! I enjoyed the practicals (my teacher did some memorable bangs and flashes demos), the problem-solving, and the relevance of chemistry to our everyday lives. I was the first in my family to go to university. I had no idea what career I wanted, but I knew it would involve chemistry.

I specialised in organic chemistry. It's a fascinating topic, with applications ranging from medicines, to food and drink, to cosmetics. I did my PhD in organic synthesis, working with one of the UK's leading chemists, Professor Sir Jack Baldwin. Working in his group was inspirational, and I was really proud to develop a new synthesis of kainic acid, a natural neurotoxin with important biological activity. It was my Eureka moment!

Chemistry can be radical

I got my first academic job at York in 1993, and I've been here ever since. During this time, I established a research group that specialised in developing cleaner and greener methods to make biologically active compounds, using radical reactions.

At that time, many people thought radical reactions were too unpredictable, and they couldn't be tamed to efficiently make useful products. My colleagues and I believed otherwise. Today, radical reactions are routinely used in synthetic labs.

I have always loved teaching

It's a real privilege to talk about a subject I love. I remember as a student being introduced to retrosynthesis, one of my favourite topics. I found the logical processes of breaking down complex molecules into simpler and simpler structures really compelling. I'm lucky enough to teach it now in 2nd Year, as well as advanced retrosynthesis in 3rd Year.

I believe that enthusiasm is key, and I always like to innovate. Importantly, I try to make my teaching fun and memorable - whether this is through acting out chemical mechanisms, wearing T-shirts linked to course material, or singing songs (not that I can sing!). I'm thankful for the good reactions I get from my students, despite the wide range of puns I employ.

Chemistry F Block teaching labs

Building a career

I'm extremely lucky in my job: not only do I get to enthuse you about the wonders of organic chemistry, but I also have opportunities to take on totally different projects and learn new skills.

I was the lead for some of our major building work, including our undergraduate teaching labs. It was really eye-opening working alongside the architects and having an input into the designs. I'm really proud of what we achieved, and still get a buzz when I show visitors around the lab.

An admission

I've been the Admissions Tutor for the last 15 years, and I love chatting to people about what chemistry at York has to offer. If you've been to one of our Open Days, you might have seen me ask a blindfolded guest to sniff and identify everyday chemicals – great fun!

I am passionate about communicating chemistry, and recently gave a TEDx talk. I spoke about the misleading scientific information commonly used in advertising: I get really frustrated when I see products claiming to be ‘chemical-free’.

Watch on YouTube

Learn about the organic chemistry behind perfume, medicine, brewing and sport on our free online course, Exploring Everyday Chemistry.

Freedom of information

I was inspired to develop a free online course to share chemistry even more widely. Exploring Everyday Chemistry looks at the chemistry behind perfumes, antibiotics, brewing and sport. It's designed to help students make the transition to university, and has attracted over 20,000 learners in just five years. I've been amazed by the response - it has been rated one of the top 21 FutureLearn online courses for students, and over 50 of our 1st-Year chemists have mentioned the course in their UCAS application.

I'm currently busy working on the organic chapters for a fourth edition of Chemistry3. This is the UK's leading introductory undergraduate chemistry textbook - a must-have page-turner (not that I'm biased!). You'll receive a free copy when you arrive at York.

It's good to talk

I look forward to welcoming you in the Autumn, but if you have any questions in the meantime, then do get in touch. We’re always happy to discuss your course, our research, or anything else you want to know about.

Join the club

Contact us

For any support or guidance on completing your journey to York, we're always close at hand.
+44 (0)1904 324000