advising on policy and funding for government organisations, including councils
patent law for legal firms.
Chemists can specialise in a number of roles, including:
Analytical chemists determine the structure, composition and nature of substances. They help pharmaceutical industries identify compounds that can be used in drugs, and also identify chemical pollutants in air, water and soil.
Biochemists study biology and chemistry.
Inorganic chemists study chemical compounds other than those in living things.
Materials chemists study, develop and improve materials such as plastic.
Organic chemists study the chemical compounds that make up living things. They mix these chemicals to create new compounds, which are used to develop products such as drugs or plastics.
Physical chemists study the physical characteristics of atoms and molecules in chemicals. Their research may result in new and better energy sources.
Natalie Haverkate talks about life as a chemist – 2.20 mins.
Hi there. My name is Natalie Haverkate and I am a chemist.
I spend a lot of my day in the lab trying to make new chemical compounds.
There are many branches of chemistry, but I work in organic chemistry,
which means that I work mainly with chemicals that have carbon in them.
DNA. So I've just put my safety glasses on as we are in a chemistry lab.
Over here is my bench, and as you can see,
I'm working on a bunch of different things at the moment.
There's a lot of things that kind of half work.
Sometimes you get a little bit of something that works and then a lot of
something that didn't work,
and then you have to try and clean it up. We've just actually sent some
compounds off to the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre to see if some
compounds have any activity against some cancer cells.
I think it's really cool working on something that, you know,
has big sort of world potential impact. Over here,
I've got this reaction set up.
I wanted to make this compound here because that's one of the
fragments that we use to make the final products,
which we know kill cancer cells. I like being a chemist because I love being in
the lab, working with my hands and putting things together.
I love the problem solving aspect of it. So this is the fifth floor computer and
study room, and this is my desk.
People assume you're just nerdy and very introverted.
Is that like a stereotype? I don't know,
but I feel like I don't know anybody like that, so, oh,
this is my chemistry mug.
It's very appropriate for the environment. So I finished high school and then I
did my Bachelor's, which took 3 years,
and then I did a Postgraduate Diploma in Science, which was 1 year,
followed by a Master's, which was another year. And then I finally did my PhD,
which was 3 and a half years. So in total 10 years.
You can do it in a little bit shorter.
I sort of went the long way around. If you're thinking about doing a career in
chemistry, definitely go for it.
It'll be a lot of hard work and you'll really need to persevere.
But if you love problem solving and you love doing practical work,
absolutely give it a go.
may work long but flexible hours, and evenings and weekends when doing experiments
work in laboratories and offices at research centres, universities and chemical-manufacturing companies. They may also do field research.
may come into contact with hazardous chemicals, so need to take safety precautions
may travel nationally and internationally to do research or attend conferences.
Chemists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses) and good hand-eye co-ordination.