I joined Professor Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson's group at Imperial College in the summer of 1979 right after I completed my year's postdoctoral work at UCLA. There were 12 people, 3 Ph.D. students and 9 postdocs, in Wilkinson's group at that time. The group was truly international with students and postdocs from around the world. I was the only postdoc from the Orient.
Working with Professor Wilkinson was indeed an intriguing and rewarding experience. He was very dedicated to research. Every day, he would visit into the laboratory at least twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, to
discuss research ideas and progress with everyone of his students and postdocs. He up-dated the chemical literature daily. I still clearly remember the first day I reported for duty. When I walked into his office, he was sitting in his chair
concentrating on the chemical journals he was reading. For a professor of his stature, this was rather unusual. He was prolific with research ideas. Whenever, he came up with research ideas, he would immediately write them down on index cards and then hand them out to us during his daily tours of the laboratory. Each one of us would collect at least two to three index cards from him everyday.
Professor Wilkinson also cared about his students and co-workers very much and would go out of his way to help them if needed. For instance, during the summer of 1982, I wanted to return to work in Hong Kong, however, at that time, there were no academic positions or chemistry related jobs available in Hong Kong. So I decided to study the one-year M.Sc. program in Management Science at Imperial College before returning. Unfortunately, the tuition fee and living cost in London were very expensive. Even with my wife working full-time, I still had to secure a part-time job to make ends met. So I consulted Professor Wilkinson, hoping that he could arrange a part-time demonstrator post for me in the Chemistry Department. Instead, he offered me a half-time postdoc salary so that I could study full-time for the next 12 months. I studied full-time for the M.Sc. Management Science course without having to work in the laboratory and received half-pay as a postdoc. I am really indebted to Professor Wilkinson. Without his support, I could not have completed the M.Sc. course. Professor Wilkinson passed away peacefully in the summer of 1996 (aged 76). To me, he was a good mentor and a true friend. I shall miss him.
Professor Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson in a relaxed mood, one morning near his office at Imperial College (1990)
Prof. Rick Wong joined the Department in 1989. Currently, he also serves as the
Vice-President of Research and Development.
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