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What do chemists do? Find out on Khan Academy!

2015-11-12 18:15:50 GMT

Many students take chemistry classes, but they aren’t sure how their classroom knowledge might translate into careers in the real world. That’s why we’ve launched our “Meet the chemistry professional” series. We found people working in fields such as medicine, epidemiology, and software engineering, and with cool hobbies ranging from rock climbing to dog training:

Syud Momtaz Ahmed, industrial scientist and tabla player

Andrew Chadeayne, inventor and coonhound trainer

Colin Fuller, software engineer and outdoor enthusiast

Mary O’Reilly, science illustrator and comic strip writer

Rachel Price, engineer and bike-traveler

Jared Roop, forensics/analytical chemist and Cardinals fan

Monica Shah, epidemiologist and bicyclist

Karen Wheeler, physician and long distance runner

George Zaidan, science media jack-of-all-trades and rock climber

We asked each person to share what they work on, how they became interested in chemistry, and what they do for fun. We also asked them to give one piece of advice for people interested in chemistry, and we got some great responses! A few advice snippets that I’d like to share:

“Develop an excellent understanding of the fundamentals. More often than not, the ‘smartest’ person in the room is the one who actually understands everything in a freshman chemistry book.” - Andrew Chadeayne

“Understanding chemistry involves a lot of building mental models and understanding what details are ok to abstract away and what details are important. That’s something that’s useful for many things, like the software development that I do nowadays. Chemistry is great, no matter what you end up doing.” - Colin Fuller

“Chemistry has applications in many careers, so don’t feel limited in scope by the core areas that you study in school. It is also important to gain experience to truly understand how chemistry applies in different settings.” -Monica Shah

“Do what feels right, not what (you think) other people (might) want you to do.” - George Zaidan

We hope you enjoy getting to know these folks, and we look forward to adding more interviews to this series. If you have a chemistry-related career you’d like to learn more about, or if you know someone whom we might include, please let us know in the comments below!

- Yuki, Khan Academy Chemistry Fellow