Dr Alan Soper has been awarded the highest possible position for an STFC scientist, that of Senior Fellow.

His current research focuses on understanding molecular-level structures and dynamics in structurally disordered systems, specifically liquids and glasses.

He is also the world expert on the structure of water and in recent research he has used neutron scattering and other techniques to characterise the structural transformations in amorphous ice and supercooled water and to explore their relevance to the phase diagram of water [Soper, Molecular Phys. (2008) 106 2053].

The human body is more than 60 percent water. Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, and bones are about 22 percent water. Within this context, investigations into water's structure can reveal how cells transfer ions around the body and how water clusters around proteins.

Other recent work has included investigations of solvent interactions, peptide fragments, polymer mixtures, water in confined geometry and intermediate range order in glasses

More broadly, his research shows how really detailed information can be obtained on the distribution of molecules around another molecule and also the orientations of its neighbours. This means that chemical interactions in liquids can be studied – something only possible before in crystallised materials.

Dr Soper is chair of the prestigious Gordon Conference on water and aqueous solutions and is the designer of Nimrod instrument on the ISIS Second Target Station.