I don’t know where others sit in the chemical industry, but the view from my chair seems encouraging. The market is abuzz with activity. The chemical industry and the people who run it are, well, rather stodgy. So to see lots of rfq’s flying around the ether is encouraging.
Every day I wake up and thank whomever will listen that I did not go into pharmaceuticals. There is a vibrant world outside of pharma and I’m glad to be in it. Those of you in pharma, I’m honestly happy for you. I’m relieved that so many bright people dig that brutal business. But for me, I’m glad I let that bus go right on by. The public corporation GMP life is not for me.
I have a PhD and a post doc in asymmetric organic synthesis. It was interesting at the time and admittedly hard to let go of, but I have few regrets today. If I’d have stayed in academics, I be teaching my 18th year of 2nd semester organic or (*gulp*) general chemistry and doing battle over meager and diminishing departmental budgets. That is, if I had survived student evaluations. What dipshit thought of student evaluations as a tenure and promotion metric? The little punks should be grateful to be sitting in the classroom. Well, ok. That was a bit harsh.
I think the best part of having a background in synthesis is that you become very mechanistically oriented. Latent and blatant functional groups bristle and are pregnant with possibility. The ability to make a good stab at what happens when two molecules interact is a very powerful thing and I’m grateful for what little I can do. And if you think that is false modesty, just try to go back and make sense again out of ligand field theory or lanthanide chemistry. Chemistry is a big field and much of it remains unfamiliar.