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What are the pragmatic applications of physical chemistry?

  1. Jan 13, 2005 #1
    Sorry for my overall ignorance, members.

    What career options does Physical/quantum chemistry degree/ Ph.D give you as a general?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2005 #2


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    Teaching. Otherwise, forget it --- you know too much chem for physicists to be comfortable around you, and too much physics to be hired as a chemist.
  4. Jan 13, 2005 #3
    I would have to agree. In industry, P chem is not very useful at all. Maybe for some computational chemistry (which a lot of P chemists turn to), but thats it about it. Finding a job as a specialist in P Chem other than academic positions is extremely tough. Organic chem specialists is and will always be in the greatest demand in industry. Other fields of chemistry that might have greater success in searching for careers not in academia are analytical and inorganic.
  5. Jan 13, 2005 #4
    Do you see any evidence of computational chemistry establishing the same kind of own turf that computational biology/bioinformatics has? Ie. own programs, chairs, etc...
  6. Jan 13, 2005 #5

    So can i conclude that most physical chemists out there are academic?

    Considering it looks like a facinating subject, its pretty sad...:(
  7. Jan 13, 2005 #6


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    "Sad" is the word for it --- people need p-chemming done they hire physicists and get "sad" chem, or hire inorganickers and get "sad" physics. Lousy PR sometime in the past --- "Honk if you passed P-chem" bumper stickers aren't just campus jokes --- they're an attitude toward the field.
  8. Jan 13, 2005 #7

    Yes I do. Computational chemistry is very new. Most schools and universities don't even offer courses on the subject. Right now I work at a pharmaceutical company that has its own division dedicated to comp. chem. This past summer at the ACS meeting in Philadelphia, comp. chem. also had their own section. Comp. chem. will be huge in the future. I also, forgot to mention combinatorial chemistry. Combi chemists will also seem to be in demand in the future.

    Yes. I would say 95-99% of P chemists are in academics. However a P chemist who specializes in reaction rates and designing syntheses I can see as having a better chance of finding a job in industry. Also there is a whole field of study dedicated to Physical Organic Chemistry which would be useful in industry.
  9. Jan 14, 2005 #8


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    There's some limited scope for a theoretical chemist in industry. I believe there are places that may use chemists to do simulations of protein folding, or structure determination through energy minimization, or modeling enzyme-substrate compatibilty, etc. - all mostly in the biological/pharmaceutical field.
  10. Nov 11, 2009 #9
    Its been a few years since this thread was made. Any changes in the projected demand for physical/computational chemists?
  11. Nov 11, 2009 #10


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    One possible answer to the topic question for which some programs fail to satisfy is, "Study and Development of Colloids". That idea is not very specific, but educational programs for Chemistry majors seem to put too small an emphasis on colloids. Students might do a couple of laboratory exercises about colloids and never deal with them again throughout their programs. They continue on to some spectroscopy or organic research and such courses, but not do much if anything with sols, gels, emulsions, or dispersions. (Maybe chemical engineering does put some emphasis there, but not sure - probably so). In the consumer and industrial world, some people need to study and create blends which are pastes, emulsions, like you might find as paste waxes, adhesives and glues, cleaners and polishes for painted surfaces, paints, handmoisturizing lotions, hair shampoo, hair conditioner, floor wax/polish preparations,... other things.

    Some chemistry graduates do nearly nothing with colloids unless they find colloid related work in industry employment.
  12. Nov 12, 2009 #11
    physical chemists do find work in industry. i work with two organic postdocs and they were lamenting that the petroleum industry has no use for organic chemists while they are glad to hire physical chemists. my dad is a physical chemist and has worked in industry for over 25 years now.

    and it's true that computational chemistry is blowing up. it has tons of applications and as the science progresses i believe computational methods will become a standard workhorse for many different fields
  13. Nov 12, 2009 #12


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    Yeah I agree with ChemHopeful here. It's not like p-chemists and theoretical chemists are out there flipping burgers. True, they might not be working on exactly what they got their degree in, but outside of very applied or engineering research, that's always going to be the case.

    Also, let's just point out that it's not merely about your skills but how you market them. You can't rely on the prospective employer to realize what skills you have and how they may be useful. You've got to market yourself!
  14. Dec 7, 2011 #13
    Once again bumping out of interest :)
  15. Dec 8, 2011 #14


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