The Sceptical Chymist | Reactions – Banglin Chen


Banglin Chen is in the Department of Chemistry at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and works on porous metal-organic framework materials for gas storage, separation, sensing and heterogeneous catalysis.

1. What made you want to be a chemist?

I was greatly motivated by my high school chemistry teacher Yang Zhicai who was very enthusiastic and had a deep understanding of chemistry. I started wondering of how I could develop useful chemicals/materials some day because of my fascination with the magical power of chemistry and its ability to produce infinite numbers of new chemicals from simple raw materials.

2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?

When I was in College, I wanted to be a politician who might help poor people. If I were not a chemist, I would surely be a Christian Preacher.

3. What are you working on now, and where do you hope it will lead?

Now we are exploring new materials for gas storage and separation (H2, CH4, CO2, C2H2, C2H4 etc), and heterogeneous catalysis. I hope that we can discover one or two practically useful materials, not only just develop science.

4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?

Alfred Werner. I want to know how imaginative he was. I wonder if he forsaw the significant impact of coordination chemistry on the modern chemistry.

5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?

About three years ago to synthesize a lovely chiral mixed-metal-organic framework, although I enjoy checking crystals with my postdocs/students almost everyday.

6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one music album would you take with you?

I would bring my Bible and Hymns of Life with me. Being a Christian is the most important and meaningful thing in my life.

7. Which chemist would you like to see interviewed on Reactions – and why?

Michael O’Keeffe. One of the very few scientists I have ever known who dedicates himself to science.

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