Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crazy busy, but...

Do check out Lisa Balbes' Reddit AMA here on alternative jobs in chemistry. 

Here's an unusual one from the questionnaire:
Hi Lisa, 
Thanks for this AMA. I completed my PhD in organic synthesis in June of this year from a top tier program. Prior to completing my doctorate, I worked as a medicinal chemist at a large pharmaceutical company. The thing is, I don't want to go back to laboratory work. I enjoy working outdoors and doing field work. I am also known as a very good writer and I do enjoy writing quite a bit. Are there any potential career pathways that you may be be able to recommend based on my strengths and interests? Thank you so much.
Ph.D. in organic synthesis + field work + outdoors..... natural products extraction?  


  1. Atmospheric chemists need people to synthesize standards to be able to quantify measurements made of volatile organic compounds and organic aerosols in the atmosphere. This could easily be coupled with actually making field measurements yourself during a major campaign.

  2. I tried looking for that myself. I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist. Field sampling, attaching instruments to smokestacks, chemical inspection, and geology/petroleum jobs exist, but they don't pay what organic chemists get. You could try to look for something specialized like chemical weapons inspection through the UN or federal government. The USGS might have some volcanology positions, but they are few and far between, and you likely don't qualify. Your best bet is to find a lab that you can tolerate near good outdoor recreation; if you hate the lab, try to get into sales/business.