ORC Seminar Series

“Blogs, Log and Pods -The Future of Laboratory Notebooks”

Speaker: Professor Jeremy Frey, School of Chemistry, University of Southampton

Date: Wednesday 15th October 2008

Time: 2pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre B, Building 46


Keeping good laboratory notes is an essential but difficult research skill. Ensuring that you can understand the notes sometime later, share these notes with collaborators, find all the related data and re-use it, is often a desire that is hard to meet. Students writing up their thesis discover it can be hard to locate information recorded a year before, supervisors need to modify a graph but can't find the original data as the student has left! Much of the data is electronic but the paper laboratory notebook is still the most common way to keep the research record and yet it frequently does not meet these needs. In my talk I will describe and explore the techniques we have developed to use different types of electronic laboratory notebook software and demonstrate how the use of blog and repository technology enables us to achieve major gains in the quality of the laboratory record, facilitates sharing and curation of all the data.


Jeremy Frey was educated at Leighton Park School in Reading and obtained his Chemistry degree at Balliol College Oxford (prox. acc. in the Gibbs Prize 1979). He obtained his DPhil in 1982 for work on experimental and theoretical aspects of van der Waals complexes, in the Physical Chemistry laboratory, under the supervision of Prof. Brian Howard. A NATO/SERC post-doctoral fellowship (1982-84) took him to the University of California Berkeley & Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, to work with Prof Yuan Lee on molecular beam studies of reaction dynamics. In 1984 he took up a lectureship in the School of Chemistry at the University of Southampton, where he is now Professor of Physical Chemistry and Head of the Structure & Materials Section.

Summary of Research Interests

Professor Jeremy Frey is committed to a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to chemical research. The interactions with the Schools of Physics, The Opto-Electronics Research Centre (ORC), Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) have been particularly fruitful. He is an associate member of the Southampton Statistical Science Research Centre (S3RI). His research is based on the use of laser spectroscopic techniques to probe molecular structure reactivity and dynamics and organization in a variety of environments from single molecules, molecular beam kinetics and photochemistry, to the study of interfaces and surfaces with interfacial non-linear spectroscopy. As part of his current research he is involved with the UK e-Science programme, as PI of the CombeChem project (http://www.combechem.org) looking at the ways in which e-Science and Grid infrastructure can be developed to provide support for and carry out chemical research, for example in Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs) with the Smart Tea Project (http://www.smarttea.org), generating and applying a “Semantic Chemical Grid” and applying Web 2.0 & Social Network ideas with Chemical Blogs and related technologies. Fundamental to the ideas of “Publication @ Source” for scientific data is his work on the interaction of e-print repositories with chemistry in the work on the e-Bank & e-Crystals projects (http://ecrystals.chem.soton.ac.uk).

His most recent laser research, involving higher order non-linear effects, is as the PI of a Basic Technology project to generate a nanoscale ultra short pulse of x-ray source using ultrashort-pulsed lasers and fibre technology aimed at probing the shape of single large molecules of biological significance, such as enzymes, using x-ray scattering (http://www.phys.soton.ac.uk/xray/) and x-ray spectroscopy.


In 1993 in collaboration with Prof Steve Meech (UEA) he was awarded the Diawa Prize to work with Prof Yoshihara at the Institute of Molecular Science, Okazaki, Japan. In 1996 he was awarded the Corday-Morgan Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the RSC JWT Jones fellowship took him to Columbia University, New York, and Flinders University, Adelaide, on Sabbatical in 1996. In 2004 he held a visiting fellowship at the Centre for Mathematics and its Applications, at ANU, Canberra.

Jeremy Frey is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and served on the Chemistry in Britain (now Chemistry World) Editorial Board, as a member of Faraday Council, and as a regional member of RSC Council. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Institute of Physics, the AAAS and a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. He was the chair of the UK e-Science User Group and is a member of the JISC VRE advisory board and has served on several OST e-Research strategy advisory groups. He is a member of the EPSRC and NERC Colleges and the EPSRC e-Infrastructure Strategic Advisory Team (SAT).





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