Thinking of the first day you walked through the Merton Lodge arch as a Junior Research Fellow, what was your first impression?
I felt quite overwhelmed that I was going to start life in Oxford living in such an extraordinary place. I remember having a lovely room with a big window in St Alban’s Quad. It was a dream come true to have that space to myself and to be nurtured in such an extraordinarily supportive academic environment. It was quite magical, really.
Do you have a particular ‘Merton memory’ that stands out?
Yes. As a very young academic at the time, I enjoyed talking to the Emeritus Fellows and learning from their experiences. There was one particularly lovely man, Alec Cooke (Emeritus Fellow in Medicine), who came to dinner frequently and was particularly fun to talk to. He often spoke of his wife Vera, who had sadly died a few years previously. He told me that he had met her at a fancy dress party, and when I asked what she was dressed as, he replied: ‘A question mark!’
Tell us something about yourself that we would not know.
I did the first year of my undergraduate studies at the University of Liberia, reading Physics. I then moved to Princeton University in the United States in my second year.
What tips would you give your younger self to prepare for the career you’ve achieved?
I would recommend being more patient. Ideas often take a long time to be taken seriously, to be tested and to yield something of value.
Describe Merton in three words.
Vibrant; warm; quirky.