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Chemists: Unsung Innovators

Posted on October 25th, 2017 by in Chemistry

Chemistry flasks

In many people’s minds, the classic image of the chemist is still someone in a lab coat standing over a burner, while chemistry itself tends to evoke thoughts of equations on chalkboards and fluids in beakers. But the reality is that these images are a bit outdated and don’t say much about what chemists actually do. Chemistry helps provide the world with food, medicines, sustainable processes and an array of products that have been household staples for years, along with new ones that are changing the way we live.

Today’s chemists are steeped in state-of-the-art technology. They are developing exciting new technologies, while also relying on advanced technology to do their work. In fact, in a recent Reaxys survey of chemists, 84% of participants agreed that being technologically savvy was critical for career progression. 80% of those surveyed also felt that innovation is being held back by a focus on applied research, but in a new Chemistry World article, Lee Cronin of Glasgow University said the idea that chemists aren’t innovating is “nonsense.” He points to the industry’s image problem as the main culprit, suggesting that it isn’t widely understood what innovation in chemistry now looks like.

Respondents to the survey also acknowledged the image problem and fear that it’s harder to attract new talent to the chemistry field when there is a belief that most innovation is happening elsewhere. Cronin suggests, though, that the adoption of digital tools could help address these problems by enhancing communication and collaboration.

Check out the Chemistry World article Chemists don’t think their field is innovative enough to discover more about insights learned from the Reaxys survey.

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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