I have a PhD in Chemistry from my work in Oxford and Harvard. I did a post-doc with Nobel Prize winner J-M Lehn in Strasbourg then went to work in industry first with ICI (at the time UK's large chemical company) where I became a senior manager then as Research Director at a coatings company called Autotype. In both companies I travelled the world interacting with top companies and gaining experience in a wide range of industries and was a regular speaker at conferences. Because I loved combining academic science with industrial needs I was made Visiting Professor at the School of Mechanical Engineering at U. Leeds. Finally I went independent, which gave me the chance to learn lots of new science and to develop my ideas of bringing good science to life via software, apps and app-linked books. I have especially enjoyed being called in to corporations around the world as a troubleshooter using my own app-based approach to help solve problems
Check out my profile and publications via my official ORCID research ID: 0000-0002-7369-4408
Why I write programs and apps
Making something that others want to buy is very hard work. Doing it without good theory is even harder. So in my life in industry I've always tried to use whatever "good enough" theory could help me through the development and production processes. Usually this has meant writing a program or an Excel sheet. More recently it has meant writing apps. Now I'm independent I have more time to explore useful science and bring it, via apps, teaching and consulting, to those (including myself) who need it.
Steven Abbott TCNF Ltd
Setting up my own company it seemed sensible to capture my range of skills: Technical software, Coating/Printing, Nano-expertise and Formulation as Steven Abbott TCNF Ltd.
Although TCNF followed some predictable paths - solubility and HSP, coating and TopCoat - other things happened by accident.
- One day I wanted to formulate a microemulsion, got frustrated by my lack of knowledge and the inadequacies of most surfactant theories. Now I teach surfactant science via my Practical Surfactants apps.
- Another day I got frustrated with the over-use of dynes to understand adhesion and now I teach adhesion science around the world (and on-line) using the Practical Adhesion apps.
- I certainly didn't expect to write any books, but Nanocoating: Principles and Practice (co-authored with Dr Nigel Holmes) has proven to be popular, my Adhesion Science book Adhesion Science: Principles and Practice is now out as well as my free eBook Surfactant Science: Principles and Practice which you can download from this site in one of 3 common eBook formats. I was delighted to find that the book had been downloaded over 1,000 times in the first few weeks and has created lots of great feedback.
- I gradually realised that books on their own are over-rated and that apps on their own don't give a chance to tell a coherent story: combining the two is a very powerful way to get ideas across, hence I had to learn how to create book/app combinations.
- I became an expert in formulations for skin delivery in pharma and cosmetics through a chance encounter with, and complete disagreement with, a distinguished computational chemist.
- I became passionate about using smart high-throughput techniques for formulation development after, by chance, being invited to speak at a conference in Stockholm and chatting to a stranger over a coffee.
- At the same conference a question after my talk revealed my total ignorance about PSAs - and over coffee and lunch I got an instant tutorial by a world expert on the subject.
Reinventing my ways of working
Like many in my generation I'd assumed that YouTube and Twitter were fripperies I could do without. But the power of (short) videos is immense ("If it's not on YouTube it doesn't exist") so I've had to teach myself how to create videos and my YouTube channel is steadily growing. The network effects of LinkedIn and Twitter are awesome, so although I've always been LinkedIn I started Tweeting relatively recently.
As an investment for the future all my apps will soon be on GitHub allowing others to re-purpose the apps and, hopefully, improve them for me to incorporate back into this site.
Finally, my website was showing its age and had to be re-purposed, especially by becoming mobile-friendly via Responsive Design. Thanks to Bootstrap and also to Mark Abbott at Fingertip Scientific the new site gave me an excuse to start a blog. Given that I have no shortage of opinions on the inanities of bad science and the power of good apps, I won't run out of things to say. But even the new site wasn't enough. So with the excellent team at Three&me in Ipswich a whole new site which is more sustainable for the long term was created.
The "AbbottApps" name emerged over a few beers at a coating/webhandling conference in Prague and was a good idea at the time. The name tried to spread to my other apps, but was never convincing. So now AbbottApps remains with the webhandling elements, co-created with Dr David Roisum and others, and the Practical Science designation is used for my own creations.