What are some things chemists do?

Some chemists study chemical reactions, such as the scientists who monitor the ozone that protects us from the sun, and the molecules that destroy the ozone layer in the atmosphere. Other chemists create new kinds of molecules, either to cure diseases like cancer, or to make new plastics, or new fibers for the latest fashions.

Vicki Finkenstadt is a chemist who went to school on a basketball scholarship, and became a chemist to work on making plastics from corn starch. Mario Molina won a Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on the decomposition of ozone. Dianne Gates studies how to clean up radioactive waste, such as that from the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was hit by the tsunami in Japan. In studying how nuclear material is spread by weapons, she worked with explosives experts to set off a small bomb and examine the dispersal patterns of the debris.

Ean Warren works for the USGS in Menlo Park, California, where he studies the chemistry of ocean “dead zones” and how microbes once made a house explode. Lucy Yu is a food chemist who studies the natural antioxidants in whole wheat muffins, and how to make healthier pizza crusts with more dietary fiber.

Joseph Francisco worked to discover how to make new superconducting materials before deciding to become a professor of chemistry. Haile Mehansho studies nutrition to find out how to eliminate problems that cause mental retardation and stunted growth. Katherine Glasgow researches plastics for new products. Bernard Gordon is president of his own chemical company, which designs water-degradable fishing line, to reduce the environmental impact of sport fishing. Louis Rubens designs plastic foams, and the reactions that create the gases in the foams.

There are millions of other examples, since chemistry is a very broad field.