Monday, December 6, 2010

What Makes a Good Analytical Chemist?

What makes a good analytical chemist? This was a question I was asked recently while giving a course on method validation. The question was somewhat of a challenge to answer ‘off the cuff’, however, it lead to an interesting excercise amongst the course delegates and to the formulation a number of attributes that would make a good analytical chemist. These include; intellectual curiosity, a passion for science, self-confidence, solid work ethic, drive, committment, good time management, perseverance, determination, patience, self-motivated and a strong desire to succeed. Additionally it was felt that a good analytical chemist needs to work and think independently, work well with others and be a good problem solver and understand that problem solving is a process, not something memorised. A few days later, after some deliberation I added to the list of attributes and believed that a good analytical chemist needs to be knowledgeable in all areas of chemistry, and able to integrate their knowledge across all areas of science, within and beyond chemistry. Good quantitative and reasoning skills and an ability to grasp difficult concepts and reduce them to an understandable foundation I feel are vital attributes. As we all know problems arise in the laboratory and a good analytical chemist needs to be an excellent problem solver. Communication in terms of good oral and written communication skills is vital as the analyst needs to be able to articulate their knowledge and thought processes to others. I’d be happy to hear your views!