Yesterday, I was invited to offer a class to freshman chemistry
majors. Instead of lecturing what I thought they should know,
we did something different. We asked: what are your
questions and concerns?
The whole class involved fielding their questions. This
entry includes several of their questions and a short
summary of our discussion.
Q: Which fields in chemistry are relatively new
and unexplored in terms of research?
- energy sources: biofuels, new processes from non-food
sources; nuclear ; ’smart roofs’
- food: nutrition, nutriceuticals; safety, toxicology
- future cities: nanotechnology for sustainability ;
choices for a reduced ‘carbon foot-print’
- human health: genomics and disease prevention;
public health ; fast, accurate tests
- water and air: desalination and electrified nano
filters ; reducing disease sources ; complex
photochemistries of NOx and aerosols
- raw materials: biodegradable plastics ; conservation
and recycling of scarce resources ; sustainable designs
decomposing unsustainable chemicals
Q: What opportunities are available for chemists
outside of a research lab?
- Referred the class to a page in Nov., 2012, The
Q: Will jobs in chemistry be sent overseas?
- This is not a problem; this is an opportunity.
Let em explain why. We live in a globalized,
mostly open, free market economy.
- General conditions were set up by a series of
negotiated “free trade agreements.” [eg, NAFTA]
Jobs move to where they make the most economic
sense. Lower wage jobs move to locations where
it makes economic sense, to lower wage locations.
- Globalized economies result, affecting nearly
all business areas.
- Build on strengths of the US: available
capital, markets, free enterprise, rule of law,
entrepreneurial spirit, educational system.
- DYNAMIC SITUATION RESULTS: Learn
foreign languages, work in multicultural
environments and programs, apply for and seek
internships, learn to become adaptable
Q: What kind of start up company would be
the best to start if you are a chemist?
- Today’s WSJ had a great example —
entrepreneur Mark Denton