A Chemistry Professor Shares his Grief and his Favorite Recipes: A Conversation with David Smith


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Welcome to The Academic Life! In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Professor David Smith’s path to becoming a chemistry professor
  • Why he’s passionate about making science inclusive and representational
  • His husband’s death
  • Being an academic and a single parent
  • How sharing stories about food and cooking dinner helps him process his grief
  • A discussion of his book Tw-eat: A Little Book with Big Feelings and Short Recipes for Very Busy Lives

Today’s book is: Tw-eat: A Little Book with Big Feelings and Short Recipes for Very Busy Lives, written by David Smith during the Covid lockdown. In it, Professor Smith tells the story of his husband Sam dying, leaving him a single parent to a young son. Cooking and a love of food have been helping them get through things together. Tw-eat is his first book, presenting 100 of his favorite recipes, many of which he has shared on Twitter. He believes cooking should be simple: a few clear instructions, a good picture of the finished dish, and dinner on the table with a minimum of effort. His recipes are presented in the simplest possible form, offering a fresh new approach to cooking. Alongside the recipes, he shares the story of his family, and explores the emotional resonance of what we eat.

Our guest is: Dave Smith is Professor of Chemistry at University of York, UK, where he carries out research into smart nanomaterials and nanomedicines, publishing around 200 papers. He is a passionate educator, giving outreach lectures to UK school students and through his own YouTube chemistry channel. Chemical and Engineering News named him as one of the Top 25 chemists to follow on Twitter, and he has received the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Corday Morgan Award and a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship. He has written and lectured on the representation of LGBT+ scientists and was shortlisted for the Gay Times Barbara Burford Award for activist work representing LGBT+ individuals working in STEM. After the death of his husband from cystic fibrosis, Dave became a single parent, and has advocated for both carers and fathers in STEM. He is the author of Tw-eat: A Little Book with Big Feelings and Short Recipes for Very Busy Lives.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, co-producer of the Academic Life.

Listeners to this episode might also be interested in:

  • Tw-eat More: A Little Book with More Big Feelings and Short Recipes for Very Busy Lives by David K. Smith
  • Professor Smith’s research
  • Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer, by Heather Lende
  • Heal Yourself with Writing, by Catherine Ann Jones
  • Self-Care for Grief: 100 Practices for Healing During Times of Loss by Nneka M. Okana
  • This Will All Be Over Soon, by Cecily Strong
  • The NBN podcast on The Aftergrief

You are smart and capable, but you aren’t an island and neither are we. We reach across our mentor network to bring you podcasts on everything from how to finish that project, to how to take care of your beautiful mind. Wish we’d bring on an expert about something? DM us on Twitter: The Academic Life @AcademicLifeNBN.

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251 episodes