Careers in Chemistry

We wouldn’t be here today without our distinguished clients, so let me introduce them to you. On my immediate left is Peter Brickell, VOC research chemist at Environment Canada and Peter is an alumnus. Next to Peter is Karen Johnson, teach at – chemistry science teacher at – within the Toronto District School Board. Likewise an alumnus. Next to Karen is Nan Li – Dr. Nan Li – a major scientist at Sanofi Pasteur study at York( equivocal) and we’re very happy to have you now. I didn’t study at York University as well. Next to Nan is Kevin Nickson, an alumnus, overseer Core Lab at Gamma-Dynacare Medical Laboratory And next to Kevin is Joanna Vatavu, associate advocate in the Technology and Intellectual Property Department at McMillan LLP.Also an alumna So I’m gonna begin, get us started, and then certainly if there are any questions, raise your hand and I’ll, you know, try to get as many questions from the storey as possible ask So I’d like to ask all of the panelists and we’ll start with Peter because you’re on my immediate left so I get to pick on you If you could just tell us a little bit about yourself and the labor that you do, that you currently do, and how you got there. So how did you get from graduating from university to where you are now.Were there any pivotal moments? People who engendered you? Anything that sort of spurred you on and moved you forward in your job. Peter? I’ll try and start off with a – answer first question first, which is something that I do. I’m called a VOC research chemist with federal government departments, Environment Canada, and what that stands for is volatile organic compounds. I basically design, structure, take on the field and use for calculations, instruments that measure hydrocarbons and other volatile substances in retrace positions in the environment. The main reason for that has to do with measuring things that will be producers of photochemical fog and lots of nice sizzling days like this contribute to a lot of concern for about smog in the town, and that’s the basic function I fulfill now It’s a very broad job.I work under a small lab group of three beings so everyone various kinds of does a bit of everything and you’ll get that feeling I guess as I talk a little bit more. And how I went here is a long story. I’m a little of an imposter. I don’t have a chemistry degree. I am a York alumnus. I studied biology at York and I started off my very first job was working as a sales rep selling industrial chemicals and how did I get that job? A friend of mine had a company where the sales reps came from that target and heard that there was a job for us at the chemistry sales representative, so I implemented and went that job I guess that’s an answer to networking sometimes I did that job for about a year and didn’t really induce to be a Salesman so i left that. Spent some time make photography which is my other – my other ardour part-time and objective up – actually I’m – I guess I’m various kinds of a posting child for the Career Centre because after all that I “re coming back”, examined on the job board at the Career Centre and realized a chemistry job affixing and made a phone call from the Career Centre, had a phone interview and get a real interview later and then I was into a consulting undertaking – an environmental consultant and I did that for six years.It’s a very much a jack-of-all-trades type of job. It was a small company. I started out labor the lab then into do the projects, entreat on projects for quality monitoring frequently, things like that. And after six years of that, I was looking for a change and one of the people in our company had moved on to the federal government and let me know that there was a chemistry position coming up in a related field to what I’ve been doing at a consulting company. So I applied for that and here I am, 19 years later, still working in chemistry and many related things Thank you Peter. Karen? Well, as Sandra said, I’m a chemistry professor, teaching for over 10 years. I will say nothing more, I don’t want you to date me. Most of those – that years, I’ve been with the Toronto District School Board except for a two- year stint where I was head of science at an international school in Singapore. It’s been 10 times since I’ve been back. I’ve been at local schools called North Toronto – best clas in the city – where I’m working as the – one of school curricula rulers for science.I help to support the leadership team at our academy, support the staff, and I suspect in a nutshell, I’ve just been you are familiar with, I’m one of the persons who graduated from university , not with the intention of being a teacher. In fact I wanted to be a doctor when I graduated from not Mac. Sorry not York. I graduated from Mac with a biochemistry unit and when I didn’t get in, I thoughts,’ Oh crap, what am I going to do now ?’ And fortunately, I was a TA in the chemistry lab, doing my undergraduate years. I had done innumerable tutoring voluntary opportunities so I thought you know, what am I good at? What do I actually enjoy? And realized really, was chemistry. In fact, I repute I was a little chemist from I was born. I was one of those – used to mix my soup, my liquors, my yogurt – everything with mingling. So upon assessing my skills and what I really loved, it was really chemistry. And even if they are I didn’t get in medical clas, I candidly can say over 10 years later, I has not been able to regretted my select, my decision.In terms to seeing how I actually got my firstly place, I’m not quite sure but it’s networking again. I went back to my old high school after I was rejected and I wanted to volunteer and I volunteered for a year at my aged high school. Got some learn know-how which again, I really loved to apply to York at this time and UofT. I espoused York and 10 years later, I am( unclear) head of science at North Toronto Thank you Dr. Nan Li? Okay, so as you witness, I’m not really an alumni with the York University and different from the other panelists, I’m a first-generation immigrant, so I arrived in canada when I was 21 after I got my undergrad magnitude in China and I suspect my busines track is kind of, fairly straightforward.I got my PhD and then I stayed in – I got my PhD in Edmonton from University of Alberta and I stay in Alberta council board as a facility administrator, trying to decide whether I should stay as a university professor or you know, substitution career and I figure perhaps, Ishould try industry. So I communicate a resume to a small biotech company. I want some challenge. I extended there for about 3 month and have figured this is not what I demand and my friend Dr. Tran( equivocal) who was a panelist from last year refer me to the current company.So Sanofi Pasteur is the largest vaccine company in the world. So it’s part of Sanofi family which is – we have about more than a hundred thousand employees worldwide So what I do in Toronto is that I belong to buy chemistry radical for analytical R& D. So what we do is that in order for us to liberate material like inoculations or doses to evaluation in clinical contests and in people’s limbs, it is essential to do a series of testing and for us, we just develop the most up-to-date test and so that we can ensure the quality, refuge, you know, efficacy of all this material that’s going to babes and human beings. So as you know that vaccine as you administer into healthy parties, so it make it more – even more challenging, interesting So that’s what I do right now and I’m really enjoying.I’m glad that I have the opportunity to come here and share this story with you. Thanks Thank you Nan. Kevin? I finished my position and then I have a job now as a research assistant with one of the profs and she “ve told me”, “Well, you’re so good working in the lab. Why don’t you work in the lab? ” And I said, “Well sure, where? ” And we searched out some areas and I gave resumes in everywhere and finally property a position at a small medical testing laboratory and from there through amalgamations and buyouts, I’ve been there for 30 years, to one of the largest – if not the largest – medical testing busines in The americas. We process millions of tests every single year on your blood Wo when you go to the doctor and get your blood pump, then one of our occupations comes along and picks up the blood and makes it to our testing facility which is now in Brampton, and measure your test and communicates the research results back to the doctor.Through the Bachelor of Science that I came here, I was able to move into a – well, from an entry-level position up to a administration situation fairly quickly, noting that, you are familiar with, I had received the necessary tools now, from York, to develop and help with project management, product, quality assurance – things that are all needed, especially in these days of monetary limiteds and that. And from there I’ve taken over now on the the core laboratory overseer at night at Gamma-Dynacare Joanna? So I’m a lawyer which may sound moderately odd having done a chemistry undergraduate, but like eighty percent of first-year chemistry students, I wanted to go to med institution and when that didn’t pan out, then I applied to law school and get in and I don’t regret my decision either. I’m really, so pleased to see you both with what I do and I truly loved it, and they mentioned I’m in the intellectual property group, so I deal with copyrights, trademarks and patents, and I consider where a chemistry undergrad really comes into play is in patent law, because if you’re patenting a chemical invention or a drug or something like that, then “youve been” need to know the chemistry behind it.So the other day, I was just doing something you know, where I needed to know( doubtful) an aqueous solution. I signify, to someone who hasn’t make chemistry, you know, they’re just scared of the language straight off. So “youve been” need to know that Even if you don’t go into, say intellectual property, regulation is such a vast area that – and I reckon because a discipline position actually gives you the skills and be critical for thinking and analytical sciences that you need in law, because statute is also, you know, it’s interpreting case law and statutes and it’s the same sort of skills time applied to( doubtful ). If you have any other, sort of, a matter of that, then I is absolutely answer I want to follow up with what you simply has spoken about. Many students I interact with at the Career Centre often query – they come in and they’re asking, “How important is my major? ” “How important are the courses that I’m taking in defining my profession policy options and my career footpath. So, and sometimes they’re faced with, oh should I – I’m in chemistry right now but I’m thinking of switching over to biology. Is that going to destroy my occupation options and my the opportunities of going into medical clas or whatever it may be. so I’m wondering if the panelists could sort of speak to that So for rule school you don’t – that doesn’t really matter.You pretty much can have an undergrad in anything, but if you want to pursue patent law then – which is also very specific and very specialized, so you were able to either do chemical patents and that’s very, very specialized area. A pile where you need a chemistry undergrad and it’s very valuable and people are seeking People who have a chemistry undergrad and want to do constitution at the same time, or you were able to got something – I think there’s something, biochemical or if you want to go in that area so, yeah. But in other respects I necessitate, I don’t think law school has any requirements, at least not when I applied in terms of courses that “youve got to” take Yeah again, it depends on which province you want to go into. The realm that I is entered into, because I had biochemistry, I soon found out and governments are wonderful They change regulations on you as you’re going through. When I started in my situate, I was fine as a bachelor science. They said, that’s great, and then the government came along and Ministry of Health and said, “Well, to continue working in a medical laboratory, you have to have a technologist diploma” Okay great.So I went through, took it at night, and because I had the bio chemistry background, thunder, in one year of nighttime directions, I had my technologist certificate and then I went on and I said okay well there’s an advanced one. I took that one the next year. So I got as high as I could in the technologist but it was all because I had streamlined into biochemistry as opposed to a broader subject locate I don’t know how to answer the question because – but from my own experience my bachelor-at-arms is in chemistry and my PhD is in chemistry but specializing, kind of interdisciplinary between biochemistry and chemistry, and now I work in bio chemistry platform, but I wield a good deal on biophysics as well, and for our summer student co-op student, a good deal of entry-level people, they have a background, either chemistry, biology, biochemistry, laboratory drug, pathology – all kinds of things.So we are looking at quality of the person or persons not consequently what it is you studied in school so, managerial practice is also very important. So yeah whatever you feel Karen. I’m a chemistry educator. I guess you have to be – you have to know chemistry to teach the course. My background being bio chemistry. I’ll say something for a stat just about its consideration of the question that we’ve been having within the chemistry coaches will go to PD hearings or PA discussions I ponder , not all, I don’t know what it is at York but at least in learn , not a good deal of chemistry professors are actually pure chemist, and I know the Science Reachers of Ontario requires pure chemist So with all the jobs, you are familiar with, insecurity I predict, in teach, if you have a pure chemistry degree, you’ll be desired So continue that in brain but I – you know, what I tell my students is keeping yourself – we’re living – every progressing in a society, I entail, alterations are so rampant so don’t lock yourself, really into anything.I think back in the 1990′ s there was a book I was saying to Peter, that came out that said – they work in – people at that time in the 90′ s would go through five or so business I’m sure it’s more now. So maintaining yourself resilient. Directions are always available I’m gonna guess with chemistry or online courses, I don’t go for those but you know, even if you know, in terms of you know, what your students main concern as to what they should or not be taking, precisely being open, and yes they may be doing something today but tomorrow take another course if they need to I just wanted to follow up on what you just said about chemistry teachers Would the same logic relate to say, biology professors or math teachers.So they crave – a math teacher – they’re the government is looking for people who major in math ideally? This is just along the science teachers when we have our cross that they’re just concerned with all the safety. Place of – I’m sure you’ve heard the news, lots of accidents have been happening in laboratories. You know, students getting hurt, and any time a student gets hurt, the board is liable and one of the – I’m sure it’s a political move is somehow maybe blame the educator? Maybe they’re not skilled fairly in knowing about the chemistry, knowing about the substances that are actually engaged in ventures So that’s why there’s the pull for really having pure chemists and real pharmacists Somebody who understands how these substances direct rather than just having a generalist, for example ., especially at the elderly level. Grades 11, 12 I suspect -and same with a biology grad although it says chemist over there on the signed, we have to say that specialization where I’m working now is not terribly crucial and I, having worked in marketings, technological auctions or counter auctions and in environmental consulting known authority chemistry.The BSC seems to be important if you’re having the science degree rather than, maybe a more general position is helpful, but I’m racking my abilities to think if I know of any colleagues who are pure chemistry graduates. There are currently biochemists, there are molecular biologists, there are physicists. There’s a wide range. The one thing I’ll say about the government as far as units and opportunities, high levels of your unit can be very important depending what you want to do. In our experiment neighbourhood, only probably classify, the people who work there, there’s parties we announce technicians. In fact that’s underrating them. They do a huge variety of work. Then there’s health professionals scientists: the chemists, biologists and physical scientists and then what they call the research scientist. So if you aspire to be a research scientist to do a lot of independent research, you perfectly expect PhD and it’s quite a separate career stream, federal government departments from any of the others, which may or may not require specific – often it’s – will be worded something like a degree in atmospheric chemistry or equivalent degree in the physical sciences or equivalent its own experience and so that’s where I came in.I had biology magnitude but acted in chemistry, all my working life. So I recall the exact specialization is not critical. I don’t think you’d be cutting off opportunities by taking one versus another but perhaps the overall grade stage if you’re thinking of going on to grad school and you might want to think about how that relates to the job opportunities that are out there So I think if I were to sum up, I think what the panelists are saying is that first of all, it depends on what your goals are, what you aspire to be and what you hope to do and that will often dictate what level of education and what directions you’ll need to take and that sort of thing, but too I think what the panelists were saying, it’s more than time your education it’s also what else – what are the other things that you bring to the table? So, your knowledge, your interest, your angers, your experience from previous production, from volunteering, from working with professors and that kind of thing and your drive and your – being at the right place at the right time sometimes.Somebody talked about networking and knowing parties and so forth. So it’s a number, it’s not just your stage but it’s a number of different things. I study I’ll follow up to that question and I’ll ask some questions from the flooring In words of the current work that you’re doing, how much of – actually, let me change the question So in addition to that, what additional sciences would you say, skills, resources, tones or lore would you suggested that students try to gain if they were interested in coming into – that you’re currently involved in So if they were – wanted to do what you do, what opinion would you say – would you utter that in terms of what they should be – might want to be considering next point.Peter? I predict I would encourage people exactly to be generalists and this is my own personal view because I work in a small group. My other talents have been really important Maybe not to career advancement in the job but in terms of opportunities to do say, some of the more interesting work I’ve been having to do a lot of traveling, a great deal of fieldwork and the project captains are looking for people who can not only lope a gas chromatograph let’s say, but can also re-wire the push if it breaks when you’re on board ships in the middle of the Arctic ocean, for example. We do a lot of work in remote residences but exactly, beings have a broad group of knowledge , not necessarily extremely be concentrated on the chemistry only.Perhaps you’re working exclusively in a lab environment. It’s not quite as important, but I still think it originates you most versatile and in this day of economic vary and downsizing and doing the same, more or less beings having vast skills and abilities’ pretty important So in my example, things that I educated myself – awfully, very basic electronics from high school, electronics book and it’s proving to be moderately helpful and in determine, you know basic prepare and instruments. Photography, I do photography on the side and cure students to do – we present postings at technical meets on at work so I can prepare a poster that’s sort of aesthetically delighting and maybe facilitates get the point across. Just a entire variety of things. I formerly read a quote that( unsure) Heinlin says, “Human beings should be able to change change a napkin, scheme an assault, butcher a hog, conn a ship, scheme a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, provided a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, behave alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, slope dung, program personal computers, concoct a tasty dinner, fighting efficiently, die gallantly, ” and the final excerpt, “specialization is for insects.” Now Robert Heinlen, the science fiction writer.So that’s my personal view and this is what’s cured me get some of the working that I wanted to be involved in the kind of work I like Teaching occupations – I know the news again saying there are absolutely no belief professions That’s not true because people are retiring I guess, but you have to find a way to distinguish yourself. I’ll tell you a little story.We hired a brand-new – because I’m the head of science – we, you know, I’m part of the interviewing team. We hired a new discipline teacher – this, simply a few months ago. One of our current science educators had retired in December, and what stimulated her special or different, she – the space she transported her – broaden her resume It’s a chemistry post and it was a little bit juvenile I concluded, but it certainly was artistic and attention-grabbing. You know, “shes had” her resume all wrapped up and to include them in an Erlenmeyer flask and that’s how she delivered her resume at our academy At first I believed – and it was in pink very, right It’s pink and it’s in an Erlenmeyer flask, but I retained. So right off I wanted to see, and then only ever, she’s a very creative person.In this again, they are students We need innovative schoolteachers. We need yes – I’m a chemistry teacher, but you need to have different ways of teaching chemistry so the person or persons or the student who has absolutely no interest in clues, you can bring that alive to them. As you can see, I’m very enlivened Well, that’s how I am in my classroom so my minors – oh, one of the thing that I ever get is that “Miss, you don’t look like a chemistry teacher. You don’t act like a chemistry schoolteacher, because you know, the glasses are not there and the lab coating is not – there’s like , no let’s get – low blow stuff up too but you are familiar with, it’s feeling and ingenuity and finding a way to distinguish yourself. You know, don’t ever shy away from your peculiarity. You it is necessary reach yourself stand out. When they say there are no tasks, soul has to teach their children, somebody’s retiring. So yes, we are not able to be hiring thousands and thousands of schoolteachers this year, but you could be that one by characterize yourself Okay, I have a different perspective because of job nature that I’m doing, because my company’s really big so sometimes “youve been” rely on the team to deliver, so – but regardless of what is one person or team, I conclude a better quality is very important.You’re very surprised that where reference is hold a telephone interview or face-to-face interview, you can very easily distinguish one person from the rest of them. It’s hard to put into words, I don’t know how to describe it, but I would encourage you to look around. It’s good to do good academy from quizs on your routes, but too to look around, learn from parties around you to see what good quality that those people process and what persuasivenes you have, because actually meet your strength more visible is really important. Just make a weakness not observable. Make a backbone really stand out that really goes to show and all the – you know, their relationships with parties, either for interrogation or move forward for creation, and for the type of work I’m working on – you think a PhD-level scientist is supposed to be specialized, but I certainly have to learn everyday. I see more than a year ago I finished this control training with York Schulich – you know, handling centre.So precisely to be – able to – you have to grow constantly. Those like – not “youve finished” your PhD, you’re at top, that’s not absolutely no truth to the rumors Regardless what rank you have to learn always is not simply from journals but truly.

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