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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 11:22 GMT
Scientist's quantum leap home
Keith Hughes
Keith Hughes says he realised a career required an education

A north Wales scientist who left school with three O levels has been appointed to a top university post.

In an echo of the early academic record of Albert Einstein, one of the greatest geniuses of all time, Keith Hughes did not show a great aptitude for learning at school.

When he left Y Felinheli school, near Bangor, at 16 hating science, he could have had little idea that one day he would be a lecturer in theoretical and quantum chemistry at the University of Wales, Bangor.

Dr Hughes, 35, has also been awarded one of only four Ramsay Memorial Fellowships for 2003-2005.

This enables him to devote most of his time to conducting research in his chosen field of quantum mechanics, seeking answers to questions about chemistry at the most detailed molecular level.

Quantum theory has proved to be the most successful and accurate method for predicting outcomes of experiments.

It is all a far cry from his days as a paratrooper in the army.


After four years in the Paras he travelled to Australia doing a number of jobs before returning home to study science and technology at Coleg Menai.

He has never looked back.

"Within weeks I was hooked into chemistry," he said.

After completing a chemistry degree at Bangor, he took a PhD at the university and was appointed as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Texas in Austin.

Dr Hughes, who is married with a young son, said: "I am in my element teaching and researching chemistry and am delighted to be able to move back to the area with my family.

The university's head of chemistry, John Macdonald said: "Keith's return to north Wales represents, in effect, a reverse brain drain.

"We are delighted to have him in the department and recognise that his presence in, and commitment to, the north Wales region is a huge asset."

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