When a child says he or she wants to grow up to be a scientist, chances are chemistry is to thank for that. Between mad scientist kits and cartoon characters, children’s idea of science is typically tied up with their idea of chemistry: lab coats and mixing together a bunch of materials in test tubes and beakers.
This is why chemistry is one of those sciences that – at first glance – seems out of this world. You’d think that all chemists do is create explosions and inventions that can end up shaking the world.
Unfortunately, the reality is not as exciting as that. Chemistry involves a lot of math and long equations. Also, since it deals with the very basic building blocks of matter – atoms and elements – a lot of the things you will be working on can’t even be seen, let alone serve as exciting entertainment. In real life, chemists spend a lot of time toiling away in a laboratory, doing research that can seem mundane compared to what people normally expect.
What most people don’t realize, however, is that chemistry has a great deal of practical, real-life applications. A solid understanding of chemistry is vital in so many sectors, many of which would not usually be associated with the long hours spent toiling over long chemical chains and equations.
Here are some exciting fields where you can make great use of educational background in chemistry:
Food science and nutrition
Only one simple fact of life is needed to underscore the importance of food science and nutrition: we need food to survive. The food we consume plays a huge part in how our body functions and performs. It’s no wonder then that people think of a “proper diet” as a solution to any health and body problem that they may have.
Although nutrition is commonly thought of in reference to losing weight, it is about so much more than that. The term “nutrition” actually refers to the process by which the body breaks down and uses the contents of the food we eat. This process involves a good deal of chemistry since digestion itself depends on chemicals in our stomachs being used to break down food.
The applications of nutrition are thus not limited only to the next fad diet that springs up. Knowledge of food science and proper nutrition concepts are necessary for people with health issues, who may have to avoid certain foods to keep their bodies in check. Elite athletes also have to watch what they eat in order to ensure their body always performs at its best. And all of this comes down to understanding the chemistry behind what we eat.
Medicine and pharmacy
Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a doctor to be in the business of taking care of other people’s health. One of the most important sectors in health care is the pharmaceutical sector, which is responsible for developing medicines, drugs, vaccines, and vitamins that help people get well and stay healthy.
Because pharmacy essentially deals exclusively with different chemicals and their effects on the body, a solid knowledge of chemistry is a prerequisite. You would have to know how the human body will react to these chemicals, and how you can improve existing therapies to make them more effective at treating illness without bringing on some dangerous side effects.
Naturally, this work entails countless tedious hours spent in labs. However, the work you’ll be doing can definitely end up helping people and saving their lives. You might even get to do some groundbreaking work: like discover a new cure for a disease or medicine that improves the lives of sickly people. And in times like these, this might be one of the most important and needed jobs out there.
If you’re a fan of shows like CSI and Sherlock, perhaps a career in the forensic sciences could be in your future. Forensic science is one of the most important aspects of criminology or the study of crime. It involves applying scientific techniques during a criminal investigation to help solve crimes. Although TV shows make the work seem fun and cool, in reality, the job demands a lot of hardcore chemistry knowledge.
Although you don’t see much of it on TV, a lot of forensic work takes place in the lab: testing different samples to identify whether or not it can count as a significant piece of evidence, performing toxicology analyses, mass spectrometry, and many more. In order for you to know what you are doing, you would need to understand the processes behind these chemical tests. This is where a chemist course could come in handy.
Sure, the work may not be as glamorous in real life; test results usually don’t come out in the same day, nor do we have high-tech supercomputers to run scans in a matter of minutes. But you can be assured that the work you do is incredibly important, and will contribute to helping make the world a better place.
To learn more about the possible career opportunities that await a graduate of a STEM course, visit the Edukasyon.ph blog.