Statements of Excellence in Chemistry
I want to help you get accepted to Graduate School in Chemistry
As someone with a PHD in Religion and Ethics and a historian of the Developing World, I believe that we can all now agrees that the ideal future requires 100% sustainable sources of energy and product feedstocks in adequate amounts to support a high standard of living for all. Which new pathways and technologies based on chemistry, we will emerge to transform our situation for the better. We seek to hold the chemical industry accountable, at the same time that we understand and share their perspectives about energy, oil, natural gas, and coal. These have served as the major raw material feedstocks and energy sources for driving reactions and separations. The industry is now shaping its transformation to sustainable energy and is developing new materials and solutions for energy supply and conversion. I enjoy being involved in considerations of mass and energy balances, capital investment and resource requirements of key alternative energy and feedstock technologies. It is a special pleasure to be of assistance to those applicant who clearly have much to give to our struggle to make realistic progress toward sustainable chemistry in both the short and long term. I am confident that this is where we must place our greatest investment.
The Humanitarian Side of Chemistry
Chemistry may seem like a narrow subject to an outsider, but having a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry actually lends itself very well to creating a future career in the humanitarian field.
If you’re diving in to the humanitarian arena directly after your first degree, the easiest method of finding work is to become a volunteer or intern. You may have already carried out some work of this kind as part of a study abroad program or completed some other practical field work of this kind. Or you may already have some experience working as a chemist, but desire to take things in a different direction and help others in need through your work. Either way, you now have a lot of different options. Let’s look at a few of these now.
Working to Improve Water Quality
Water quality is a huge problem in developing countries, and widely affects the health of poorer populations all over the planet. According to World Water Day 2010 statistics, 2.5 billion people live without improved sanitation. More than 70% of these people live in Asia. Since then, the figures don’t seem to have improved very much, with almost 1.4 million people in Latin American and the Caribbean area still without water access, according to water.org, where it is also stated that there are over 2.4 million people in a similar situation in Africa and more than 3.1 million people in Southeast, East Asia and Oceania. How can this be? There are more people with a mobile/cell phone than have access to a toilet.
So as you might imagine, your chemistry knowledge and skills could well be in demand in this area. Focusing on a Masters in Hydrology and Water Management could help you become one of the top experts in this field in the world and turn your love of chemistry into a long, effective career right in the middle of the developing world where people can benefit from it the most.
The University of Idaho (uidaho.edu) offers a Water Resources & Professional Science Masters (PSM), where you’d study environmental water quality, drinking water and human health, communications theory in natural resource management, plus many other useful modules.
Other Environmental Areas of Focus
The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville runs an M.Sc. in Environmental Sciences – Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, a two-year program that prepares students for work in governmental agencies, consulting firms and educational institutions, as well as the nonprofit section – so your options won’t be limited.
Once you’re in the door and working for one of these organizations, your responsibilities might include laboratory research and analysis, solid and hazardous waste management, groundwater pollution control, water management or restoration environment engineering.
The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that the employment rates for environmental scientists and specialists are projected to rise by 15% through 2022 (faster than average), meaning there are plenty of opportunities to be had. However, happily consider that the US might not be the area with the highest demand for graduates of Masters Programs in this particular field.
Mining, Chemical Weapons & Health
Can’t stand water? Fair enough. What about mining? Or working for an organization like the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, winner of the Nobel Prize. In 2009, there was an NGO coalition meeting that attracted members from 29 NGOs from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, East and West Europe and North America, like the Organization for Defending the Sardasht Victims of Chemical Weapons, Society for Chemical Weapons Victims Support and Amman Center for Peace and Development, all of which use volunteers in their good work.
Prefer to get involved in health or biochemistry? A degree or diploma in laboratory technology, and Doctors Without Borders may need you as a laboratory technician to identify the different types of diseases they come across, train local technicians, and many other humanitarian tasks when you’re on assignment.
Inspiring Individuals &Chemists Without Borders
In 2004, a retired chemist in California came up with the idea of creating a group called “Chemists Without Borders”, and he later co-founded this group with Steve Chambreau, a chemist from the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base in Cali. They wanted to highlight and celebrate working to find solutions to humanitarian challenges. Chemists Without Borders now primarily focusses on the quality and arsenic levels of Bangladeshi water sources.
However, there are a myriad of ways chemists can aid in environmental remediation after natural or man-made disasters. One example is using biochar, or horticultural charcoal, to remove harmful pollution and improve soil quality. Ted Wysocki is a materials and process chemical engineer who works at South Meadows Farm and Research Center in Massachusetts in the US. He states that pyrolysing agricultural waste to make biochar can be used to absorb and break down pollutants, and it’s almost as effective as activated carbon in this regard. Farmers can produce and use biochar to absorb radioactive nucleotides and therefore prevent plants from exposure to them.
Industrial pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls, dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans can be captured and concentrated. But that’s not all: when they reach high levels, colonies of microbes can be added to the biochar and break down the toxins. Why not get involved with the UK Biochar Research Centre, based at the University of Edinburgh, where they are looking at how biochar functions in the soil environment. Or you could get in touch with the team studying biochar at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, USA.
Another inspiring chemist that is working for humanitarian causes is Sarah Green, a chemistry professor at Michigan Technological University in the US is currently serving as a Jefferson Fellow with the US State Department and the Agency for International Development. She stated in an article in Chemistry World (rsc.org/chemistryworld) that more chemists are needed to work with government and non-governmental aid organizations, and that people with a chemistry background and an international viewpoint are extremely valuable.