Alumni Services

June 2014

This month's eclectic mix of publications includes a study of the plants at Cambridge University Botanic garden, a self-help book that promises to make you happy and the story of a 10 year old and the mysterious village in which he lives.

Gwenda Kyd

Author Gwenda Kyd
Edinburgh degree Chemistry 1989, PhD 1994
Book Molecules, Medicines and Mischief

Molecules, Medicines and Mischief is based on the Chemicals from Plants Trail at Cambridge University Botanic Garden, with text by co-author of the Trail, Gwenda Kyd and photos by Mo Sibbons. Plants contain a huge array of chemical compounds but, even so, the chemical world and the natural world can seem distinct. The aim of the book is to help bridge the gap by highlighting some of the interesting and useful chemical compounds which exist in plants and some of the uses we can put them to.

However, its not a book about chemistry. Rather its a collection of facts and stories about the 26 plants on the Trail, including chemistry but also covering history, botany, folklore and more. Hopefully, anyone with a curious mind and an interest in plants will find out something new. The book is illustrated by around 130 photos of the plants or related to the stories about plants including flamingos, Sumo wrestlers and an anteater!

The plants covered include some used for food such as garlic and carrots and medicinal plants such as foxgloves and willow. The striking feature is the diversity of uses a single plant can have. Taking birch as an example- the bark can be used for writing on and contains anti-cancer compounds, the wood has been used to build an aeroplane and the oil is used in the leather industry and forms the basis of the smell of Imperial Leather soap. Other plants in the book link together Marilyn Monroe and pizza, Leonardo da Vinci and hair dye and Colombian criminals and an anti-travel sickness drug.

Amir Lakha

Author Dr Amir Lakha
Edinburgh degree Pain Management 2007
Book Heads You Win, Tails You Win

This book will show you how to be a winner in life - all the time! You can be a winner when you win or everything goes in your favour but you can be a winner even when things don’t go as planned. This book is about human nature! It will demonstrate to you how easy it is to be happy, wealthy and wise.It is possible for problems and happiness to co-exist. Life is a school where everyone is learning all the time from birth onwards; Life is a stage where everyone plays various roles and Life is a game whereby the quality of your interaction with other human beings determines your success and happiness. After reading and understanding the contents of the book you will feel that you are winning in the journey of life and will experience that level of contentment and tranquillity that money or medication cannot achieve.

Gerry Rose

Author Gerry Rose
Edinburgh degree MBA 1987
Book The Mole Man, Part I

On the surface, the village of Umbridge is perfect: a proud and happy place where the sun always shines, where the houses and gardens look immaculate, and where children go to a good school and can go on to university to study Law or Medicine or History or English or the Classics (whatever they are). But beneath the surface, Umbridge is home to a dark, mysterious secret. Twelve years ago, a tragedy occurred that shook the village and, although they hardly ever talk about it, no one has forgotten the unexplained disappearance of a six-year-old boy. Now, the mystery is about to resurface, and the proud and happy people of Umbridge - including 10-year-old rascal Benjamin Crew - must face their biggest challenge since losing the Best Village in Bloom contest. A page-turning tale of mystery, mud and mayhem!

Alan Watson

Author Alan Watson
Edinburgh degree Zoology 1976
Book The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance-related Injury

Musical performance requires a high degree of physical skill yet until recently, musical training has paid little attention to the considerable demands is makes the mind and body. This book presents singers and instrumentalists with accurate information on the physical processes that underlie their craft in a form that is accessible to both musicians and to the health professionals who treat performance-related medical conditions.