All chemists like flashes, bangs and smells – in conversation with Professor Richard N. Zare.

Nonprofit research publisher Annual Reviews is fortunate to have the ongoing support of many illustrious researchers that serve on our Boards and Committees. Professor Richard N. Zare is the Chairperson of the Annual Reviews Board of Directors and the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor of Natural Science at Stanford University, USA.

laserRichard was interviewed about his life and work by his former postdoc Dr. Andrew Alexander, who is a reader in Chemical Physics from Edinburgh University in Scotland. Andy prepared a series of short videos from his conversation that vary in length from 2-4 minutes which makes the content highly watchable.

That the pair know each other well is immediately clear through the relaxed and frequently funny tone of the videos which have 13 themes ranging from one entitled “Motorbike Story” through “Mentoring a Research Group” (pictured below, the Zarelab, 2016).


Across the video series, Richard tells self-deprecating stories from his early childhood and young adult years that shape the person he has become today. He also explains his professional path to success as a combination of a series of influential relationships combined with an innate curiosity which he believes is a key component for a productive scientific career.

As Richard says: “Follow your heart – find something you love and throw yourself into it.” Those wishing to dig deeper into his work with Laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) can read his Autobiographical article “My Life with LIF: A Personal Account of Developing Laser-Induced Fluorescence.” If you are interested in seeing some photos of the young Richard and finding out even more about his life then we invite you to read this additional article “The Hydrogen Games and Other Adventures in Chemistry.”