Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Peter Hore

Fellow and Tutor, University Lecturer in Chemistry, Professor of Chemistry

I came to Corpus in 1983 as only the second Chemistry tutor in the College's history, having previously been a Junior Research Fellow at St John's College (Oxford) and a Royal Society European Programme Fellow at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. I studied Chemistry (MA and DPhil) at Oxford and did A-levels at a comprehensive school in Cornwall. I was awarded the titles of Reader in 1997 and Professor in 2002.

At Corpus, I am the senior Chemistry tutor and give tutorials across the whole of the Physical Chemistry syllabus-about a third of the Part I Chemistry course-usually with one or two undergraduates at a time. In the Chemistry Department, I have lectured on a range of subjects in Physical Chemistry including thermodynamics, kinetics, quantum mechanics and nuclear magnetic resonance and currently run courses on rate processes and time-dependent quantum phenomena. I also supervise undergraduate practical work in the Physical Chemistry teaching laboratory and run a research group that always includes one or more Chemistry Part II students.

Although by training and inclination a physical chemist, my research has included areas such protein structure and folding, photosynthesis, magnetic sensing in birds, development of spectroscopic and data-processing techniques, and the effects of human exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields.
A major project in my research group at the moment concerns the magnetic compass sense of migratory birds. Although it has been known for 40 years that birds perceive the Earth's magnetic field and use it to orient themselves, the fundamental biophysical detection mechanisms remain obscure. In collaboration with colleagues in Oxford and various universities around the world, we are investigating the possibility that there is a magnetically sensitive, light-induced chemical reaction in the birds' retina that could allow it to detect the direction of the Earth's field. This work includes computer simulations of free radical reactions, spectroscopic measurements of the magnetic sensitivity of model chemical systems and isolated photo-active proteins, and studies of the growth of plants and the behaviour of European robins in magnetic fields.
My research is currently funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the EMF Biological Research Trust (a UK medical research charity), and the US government agency DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

More information on my research can be found here.

The carotenoid-porphyrin-fullerene molecule we used as a proof-of-principle to establish the feasibility of chemical magnetoreception and to give insight into the structural and dynamic design features required for optimal detection of the direction of the Earth's magnetic field. [Nature, 453 (2008) 387-390]


Recent research articles
Chemical magnetoreception in birds: the radical pair mechanism, C. T. Rodgers and P. J. Hore, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 106 (2009) 353-360.

Chemical compass model of avian magnetoreception, K. Maeda, K. B. Henbest, F. Cintolesi, I. Kuprov, C. T. Rodgers, P. A. Liddell, D. Gust, C. R. Timmel and P. J. Hore, Nature, 453 (2008) 387-390.

A pre-existing hydrophobic collapse in the unfolded state of an ultrafast folding protein, K. H. Mok, L. T. Kuhn, M. Goez, I. J. Day, J. C. Lin, N. H. Andersen and P. J. Hore, Nature, 447 (2007) 106-109.

Multiple subsets of side-chain packing in partially folded states of α-lactalbumins, K. H. Mok, T. Nagashima, I. J. Day, P. J. Hore and C. M. Dobson, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 102 (2005) 8899-8904.

A more complete list can be found here.

Undergraduate and graduate textbooks
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, P. J. Hore, Oxford Chemistry Primer 32, Oxford University Press, 1995.

NMR: the Toolkit, P. J. Hore, J. A. Jones and S. Wimperis, Oxford Chemistry Primer 92, Oxford University Press, 2000.