Senior Product Specialist, PerkinElmer, Toronto
B.Sc.(Hons Chemistry), Dalhousie University, 1983.
M.Sc. (Chemistry), Dalhousie University, 1987.
My early education in chemistry started when I was 7 years of age, but did not really start seriously until I hit the ripe old age of 8. What started my journey was when my grandmother gave me a copy of The Essentials of Chemistry by Graham and Cragg printed in 1956. The image of the laboratory production of HCl on page 177 is still burnt into my memory. Working as a lab technician during my high school years inspired me significantly but the real challenges began when a Dalhousie University chemistry professor (Jim Pincock) offered me a synthetic chemistry research project two months after I started my undergraduate degree. After working in that lab for 3 years I shifted from synthetic chemistry to photochemistry, the area in which I eventually focused as a graduate student with Don Arnold at Dalhousie University.
After graduate school, I accepted a position at Ocean Chem Group as a Senior Analytical Chemist and this was my first taste of the outside world! A culture shock it was! Long gone was my graduate supervisor’s quote “I don't care how long it takes, just make sure it is correct” and replaced with “...just send the results”. There was lots to learn in the environmental field but I could not resist the offer to work with PerkinElmer! I started in direct sales but was keenly interested in the Product Specialist (Chromatographer) position that I accepted several years later. During the late 90's, I was promoted to Senior Product Specialist and even dabbled for three years as a product specialist manager. As I passed my 20 year anniversary with PerkinElmer, I still enjoy the traveling, and the daily interactions with customers and colleagues.
Chemistry in action
…...are you pondering what I'm pondering? The real cool thing about being a chemist is that you can use your training to answer many important questions. The questions may be intellectual such as “What compounds do ladybugs use as a defense pheromone?” or perhaps questions of commercial importance “What is the source of trichloroanisole in millions of dollars worth of white wine?”. In addition, I use fun but safe chemistry experiments such as the electrolysis of aqueous sodium chloride (Hooker cell) to interest kids in scouts groups and elementary schools. Every day brings new challenges; solving them one at a time is extremely rewarding.
You cannot go wrong studying chemistry as it leads to many opportunities. I could not imagine a day without chemistry; from helping understand the fragrant bouquet from a fresh bowl of strawberries in the morning to the organoleptic analysis of vicinal diketones of a fine IPA with family and friends in the evening. Chemistry is everywhere.