Benedict W. Hazel
London based Theoretical Chemist turned Software Engineer
Hello! I am Benedict, based in Wimbledon, London. I am a manager at a large, international IT consultancy working as a software engineer and technical team leader, a profession I have been working in since late 2012.
Although my work involves a wide variety of technologies, I specialise in the Microsoft .NET platform, including ASP.NET, and Microsoft Azure.
My IT career actually followed my life hobby as my academic background is in chemistry! I hold a masters degree and PhD in inorganic and theoretical chemistry from the University of Sheffield.
Away from work I am involved in music and amateur operatics and, to a limited extent, some sport including fitness and Taekwondo.
I have always been interested in computers since the age of 6 when my family bought our first computer with Windows 3.1. I discovered programming when I was 11 with BBC BASIC and Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 when I was 12, still one of the greatest Christmas presents ever!
I specialise in the Microsoft .NET platform, including ASP.NET for the web, and Microsoft Azure cloud but happily work with many difference technologies. On a daily basis I use and develop on Windows, macOS and Linux and have had experience with development for mobile platforms such as iOS and Android.
Recently I have started to transition away from full-time development work and take on more technical team leadership roles.
My other IT interests include game development and some dabbling in low-level programming with x86 and ARM assembly! More recently I have started to combine my scientific background and IT interest to develop a deeper understanding of and build skills in quantum computing, an exciting and pioneering new field!
Away from work, and talking of games, I do enjoy some unwinding time on the Xbox One although my skills leave rather a lot to be desired!
Personal Skill Highlights
Colours correspond to:
I became interested in chemistry aged 12 and went on to complete a masters degree and PhD at the University of Sheffield.
During my academic studies and research I specialised in inorganic and theoretical chemistry, a polar opposite to when I first arrived at university as an organic chemist vowing never to go into physical chemistry. My PhD was in applied molecular quantum theory, about as physical as you can get!
It was during my PhD that I got deeply into programming, mostly in my own time but with some as part of my research investigating quantum dynamics of molecules. It was this programming experience which led me to pursue a career in software engineering.
Big Squares (PhD Research)
Properties of Metallomacrocycles with d6 Metal Centres
Supermolecules are to molecules and the intermolecular bond what molecules are to atoms and the covalent bond.Jean-Marie Lehn, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 1990, 20, 1304
My PhD Research Overview
Metallomacrocycles are examples of cyclic supermolecules, effectively made up of smaller molecules and a large central cavity. In this case they are organic linker units and metal-centred complexes. They are often referred to as Molecular Squares as the metal complexes form the corners and are linked together via the organic compounds which are usually linear.
The metallomacrocycles I studied contain two metals, ruthenium and rhenium, each on two opposite corners. They are linked together by an interesting C-shaped molecule called quaterpyridine which incorporates the ruthenium corners into its structure. The quaterpyridine also changes the overall shape of the metallomacrocycle into a bowl which results in a more rhombic central cavity. This cavity can accept small guest molecules which can also affect the overall metallomacrocycle structure.
It is these "host-guest" interactions between the metallomacrocycle and small guests that I studied using quantum molecular modelling. This is a computational technique for simulating the molecules and their interactions on the computer.
The two papers in the other popup sections below contain information about the metallomacrocycles I studied. The first is an introduction to them and the second is one I co-authored and presents of some of my research. Both papers are co-authored by Prof. Anthony Meijer and Prof. Jim Thomas, my PhD supervisors.
Self-Assembled, Kinetically Locked, RuII-Based Metallomacrocycles: Physical, Structural, and Modeling Studies
Paul de Wolf, Phil Waywell, Matt Hanson, Sarah L. Heath, Anthony J. H. M. Meijer, Simon J. Teat, Jim A. ThomasChem. Eur. J., 2006, 12, 8, 2188-2195
By using a “complex as ligand approach,” the metal-ion-templated self-assembly of heterometallic teteranuclear metallomacrocycles containing kinetically locked RuII centers is described. Depending on the metal-ion template employed in the self-assembly process, the final macrocycle can be kinetically labile or inert. Electrochemical studies reveal that the kinetically inert macrocycles display reversible RuIII/II oxidation couples. The crystal structure of a kinetically inert Ru2Re2 macrocycles reveals a structurally complex palmate anion-binding pocket. Host–guest studies carried out with the same macrocyle in organic solvents reveals that the complex functions as a luminescent sensor for anions and that binding affinity and luminescent modulation is dependent on the structural nature and charge of the guest anion. Computational density functional theory (DFT) studies support the hypothesis that the luminescence of the macrocycle is from a 3MLCT state and further suggests that the observed guest-induced luminescence changes are most likely due to modulation of nonradiative decay processes.
Research Contributions Paper
A Self-Assembled Luminescent Host That Selectively Senses ATP in Water
Haslina Ahmad, Benedict W. Hazel, Anthony J. H. M. Meijer, Jim A. Thomas, Karl A. WilkinsonChem. Eur. J., 2013, 19, 16, 5081-5087
Metal-ion-directed self-assembly has been used to construct kinetically inert, water-soluble heterometallic Ru2Re2 hosts that are potential sensors for bioanions. A previously reported metallomacrocycle and a new derivative synthesised by this approach are found to be general sensors for bioanions in water, showing an “off–on” luminescent change that is selective for nucleotides over uncharged nucleobases. Through a change in the ancillary ligands coordinated to the ruthenium centres of the host, an “off–on” sensor has been produced. Whilst this host only shows a modest enhancement in binding affinities for nucleotides relative to the other two host systems, its sensing response is much more specific. Although a distinctive “off–on” luminescence response is observed for the addition of adenosine triphosphosphate (ATP), related structures such as adenine and guanosine triphosphate (GTP) do not induce any emission change in the host. Detailed and demanding DFT studies on the ATP- and GTP-bound host–guest complexes reveal subtle differences in their geometries that modulate the stacking interactions between the nucleotide guests and the ancillary ligands of the host. It is suggested that this change in stacking geometries affects solvent accessibility to the binding pocket of the host and thus leads to observed difference in the host luminescence response to the guests.
I am musical and have played several instruments and sung throughout my life. I primarily sing tenor these days and am involved in a local choir and some amateur operatics with a Gilbert & Sullivan light opera company.
It all started when I was 4 when I started playing the piano as an alternative to gym! Over the years that was followed by the recorder, both descant and treble, flute, a short stint on the 'cello which confirmed I am a wind player and finally teaching myself the alto saxophone!
I have also written some music, both classical and modern, one album of which is available on numerous streaming services!
Sport & Leisure
I have never been that sporty and many I know would testify to that! Taking up squash at school was a great way to avoid the cold afternoons of football and at University I went to Sports Fair to pick up freebies! That is until 2008 when I discovered Taekwondo, signed up and never looked back! Within 4 years I had attained my 1st Dan black belt!
I also have a great passion for board and card games, playing frequently with friends. We had a very active group at my first job in Oxfordshire often visiting Thirsty Meeples, the first board game cafe in the UK.
My Taekwondo Journey
Date Milestone September 2008 Start training Taekwondo at Sheffield University club; "London 2012, Here I Come!" December 2008 Pass my first grading from white to yellow belt. April 2010 Elected to position of publicity officer of SU club and grade from green belt to blue tag. April 2011 Elected to position of secretary of SU club. November 2011 Become captain (acting) of SU club, risking causing a rupture in the space-time continuum. December 2011 Give obligatory captain's speech at SU club Christmas meal! April 2012 Grade from red belt to black tag. August 2012 Watch 12 hours of Taekwondo at the ExCeL during the London 2012 Olympics. October 2012 Grade from black tag to 1st Dan black belt. October 2015 Brush shoulders with the high and mighty of the Taekwondo world, including Team GB members, at a Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester! Current Getting back into the martial art after some time out and aiming for 2nd Dan black belt.