A question may arise as what chemists are for, what research areas they deal with and what disciplines are to be studied in order to get this qualification and good career prospects. The answer is rather simple and obvious. One of the fundamental activities of chemists is to rearrange the atoms of known substances to produce new products. For example, chemists have developed previously unknown synthetic fibers such as Kevlar and are currently working on developing newer fibers. They are also developing new plastics that can lead to the production of many new items previously unavailable because no natural product could do the job. Chemists are developing new alloys to design stronger and lighter buildings, automobiles, and everyday items. They are developing special fuels to increase engine efficiency and heat output and also to lessen the strain on natural resources. Chemists are also working on the development of drugs for curing diseases. They are involved in biochemistry, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering. For example, they are producing new bacterial strains that can synthesize useful products such as human insulin or interferon. Environmental chemists try to understand how uncontaminated surroundings work and what is happening to a chemical species in the environment, to detect and identify the nature and source of pollutants including radioactive chemicals that pose great danger to human health and the environment.
Based on these main directions students of the Chemistry Faculty of the BSU can major in the following specialities: 1) general chemistry (researcher chemist), 2) pedagogics (teacher of chemistry), 3) ecology (chemist-ecologist), 4) chemistry of drugs (pharmaceutical chemist) and 5) radiation chemistry (chemist-radiologist). Chemistry students learn how to analyze problems and apply them to real-world situations. In order to learn this, they must have the proper background. To learn chemistry, students need to understand algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, as well as be able to work in scientific notation and perform unit conversions. In introductory chemistry classes, students learn about the parts of the atom and how atoms form bonds with other atoms. Stoichiometry is an important concept to understand. Students learn how matter reacts in predictable ways so that they can balance chemical equations, and about the different states and how matter transforms itself from one state to another. Students investigate solutions, gases, acids and bases, kinetics, atomic as well as electronic structures. They also study thermochemistry and physical chemistry, where they find out the relationships between matter and energy. Students learn about the periodic table and practice of carrying out chemical reactions. This occurs in laboratory settings where they get to experiment with various chemicals, carry out reactions, study the resulting compounds, and analyze the data. Students learn how to use the physics and biology of various reactions in order to perform biochemical, organic, or analytical chemical experiments. Moreover, they learn to use computers for modeling purposes, and also learn how to use chemical laboratory equipment such as mass spectrometers and titrating devices.
Chemists can find work in almost every field. They can work in research and development for private industry, government, or academia. Chemists can also get a teaching job in a high school environment teaching chemistry. Chemists are employed in the private industry in a variety of capacities. They can work in technical service, sales, marketing, production and quality control. This can be for biotechnology (e.g., nanotechnology, genetic engineering), chemical engineering (e.g., new polymers), or food safety (e.g., spoilage and preservation) companies. Petroleum and mining companies will also employ chemists for exploration and extraction of oil, natural gas, minerals, and ores from rocks. Government agencies will hire chemists for a wide range of activities. They can be involved in hazardous waste materials disposal and environmental assessment. Chemists can also work in the medical industry where they collaborate with doctors, pharmacists, and microbiologists to come up with new drugs for diseases such as cancer, HIV, or influenza. A degree in chemistry can lead to education in other fields such as environmental science, food technology, pharmacology, technical writing and biomedical research. It can also serve as a stepping-stone for a career in business, medicine, dentistry or patent law. Chemists can also find work as forensic scientists and work in a crime lab.
Now letís discuss some aspects of the above mentioned specialities in more detail.
1. Why do you think this direction is so important for chemistry?
2. For what reason is the major part of scientists involved in chemical engineering?