A chemist (from Greek chēm (ía) alchemy; replacing chemist from Medieval Latin alchimista[1]) is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms. Chemists carefully measure substance proportions, reaction rates, and other chemical properties. The word 'chemist' is also used to address Pharmacists in Commonwealth English.

Chemists use this knowledge to learn the composition and properties of unfamiliar substances, as well as to reproduce and synthesize large quantities of useful naturally occurring substances and create new artificial substances and useful processes. Chemists may specialize in any number of subdisciplines of chemistry. Materials scientists and metallurgists share much of the same education and skills with chemists. The work of chemists is often related to the work of chemical engineers, who are primarily concerned with the proper design, construction and evaluation of the most cost-effective large-scale chemical plants and work closely with industrial chemists on the development of new processes and methods for the commercial-scale manufacture of chemicals and related products.

Metsu, Gabriël - L'Apothicaire - c. 1651-1667
The Apothecary or The Chemist by Gabriël Metsu (c. 1651–67).

History of chemistry

Medeleeff by repin
Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev - author of the first modern periodic table of elements
Antoine lavoisier color
Antoine Lavoisier (1743–94) is considered the "Father of Modern Chemistry".

The roots of chemistry can be traced to the phenomenon of burning. Fire was a mystical force that transformed one substance into another and thus was of primary interest to mankind. It was fire that led to the discovery of iron and glasses. After gold was discovered and became a precious metal, many people were interested to find a method that could convert other substances into gold. This led to the protoscience called alchemy. The word chemist is derived from the New Latin noun chimista, an abbreviation of alchimista (alchemist). Alchemists discovered many chemical processes that led to the development of modern chemistry. Chemistry as we know it today, was invented by Antoine Lavoisier with his law of conservation of mass in 1783. The discoveries of the chemical elements has a long history culminating in the creation of the periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleev. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry created in 1901 gives an excellent overview of chemical discovery since the start of the 20th century.


Jobs for chemists usually require at least a bachelor's degree, but many positions, especially those in research, require a Master of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD.). Most undergraduate programs emphasize mathematics and physics as well as chemistry, partly because chemistry is also known as "the central science", thus chemists ought to have a well-rounded knowledge about science. At the Master's level and higher, students tend to specialize in a particular field. Fields of specialization include biochemistry, nuclear chemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, polymer chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, theoretical chemistry, quantum chemistry, environmental chemistry, and thermochemistry. Postdoctoral experience may be required for certain positions.

Workers whose work involves chemistry, but not at a complexity requiring an education with a chemistry degree, are commonly referred to as chemical technicians. Such technicians commonly do such work as simpler, routine analyses for quality control or in clinical laboratories, having an associate degree. A chemical technologist has more education or experience than a chemical technician but less than a chemist, often having a bachelor's degree in a different field of science with also an associate degree in chemistry (or many credits related to chemistry) or having the same education as a chemical technician but more experience. There are also degrees specific to become a chemical technologist, which are somewhat distinct from those required when a student is interested in becoming a professional chemist. A Chemical technologist is more involved in the management and operation of the equipment and instrumentation necessary to perform chemical analyzes than a chemical technician. They are part of the team of a chemical laboratory in which the quality of the raw material, intermediate products and finished products is analyzed. They also perform functions in the areas of environmental quality control and the operational phase of a chemical plant.

In addition to all the training usually given to chemical technologists in their respective degree (or one given via an associate degree), a chemist is also trained to understand more details related to chemical phenomena so that the chemist can be capable of more planning on the steps to achieve a distinct goal via a chemistry-related endeavor. The higher the competency level achieved in the field of chemistry (as assessed via a combination of education, experience and personal achievements), the higher the responsibility given to that chemist and the more complicated the task might be. Chemistry, as a field, have so many applications that different tasks and objectives can be given to workers or scientists with these different levels of education or experience. The specific title of each job varies from position to position, depending on factors such as the kind of industry, the routine level of the task, the current needs of a particular enterprise, the size of the enterprise or hiring firm, the philosophy and management principles of the hiring firm, the visibility of the competency and individual achievements of the one seeking employment, economic factors such as recession or economic depression, among other factors, so this makes it difficult to categorize the exact roles of these chemistry-related workers as standard for that given level of education. Because of these factors affecting exact job titles with distinct responsibilities, some chemists might begin doing technician tasks while other chemists might begin doing more complicated tasks than those of a technician, such as tasks that also involve formal applied research, management, or supervision included within the responsibilities of that same job title. The level of supervision given to that chemist also varies in a similar manner, with factors similar to those that affect the tasks demanded for a particular chemist.

Kolo Naukowe Flogiston
A chemist in a lab

It is important that those interested in a Chemistry degree understand the variety of roles available to them (on average), which vary depending on education and job experience. Those Chemists who hold a bachelor's degree are most commonly involved in positions related to either research assistance (working under the guidance of senior chemists in a research-oriented activity), or, alternatively, they may work on distinct (chemistry-related) aspects of a business, organization or enterprise including aspects that involve quality control, quality assurance, manufacturing, production, formulation, inspection, method validation, visitation for troubleshooting of chemistry-related instruments, regulatory affairs, "on-demand" technical services, chemical analysis for non-research purposes (e.g., as a legal request, for testing purposes, or for government or non-profit agencies); chemists may also work in environmental evaluation and assessment. Other jobs or roles may include sales and marketing of chemical products and chemistry-related instruments or technical writing. The more experience obtained, the more independence and leadership or management roles these chemists may perform in those organizations. Some chemists with relatively higher experience might change jobs or job position to become a manager of a chemistry-related enterprise, a supervisor, an entrepreneur or a chemistry consultant. Other chemists choose to combine their education and experience as a chemist with a distinct credential to provide different services (e.g., forensic chemists, chemistry-related software development, patent law specialists, environmental law firm staff, scientific news reporting staff, engineering design staff, etc.).

In comparison, chemists who have obtained a Master of Science (M.S.) in chemistry or in a very related discipline may find chemist roles that allow them to enjoy more independence, leadership and responsibility earlier in their careers with less years of experience than those with a bachelor's degree as highest degree. Sometimes, M.S. chemists receive more complex tasks duties in comparison with the roles and positions found by chemists with a bachelor's degree as their highest academic degree and with the same or close-to-same years of job experience. There are positions that are open only to those that at least have a degree related to chemistry at the master's level. Although good chemists without a Ph. D. degree but with relatively many years of experience may be allowed some applied research positions, the general rule is that Ph. D. chemists are preferred for research positions and are typically the preferred choice for the highest administrative positions on big enterprises involved in chemistry-related duties. Some positions, especially research oriented, will only allow those chemists who are Ph. D. holders. Jobs that involve intensive research and actively seek to lead the discovery of completely new chemical compounds under specifically assigned monetary funds and resources or jobs that seek to develop new scientific theories require a Ph. D. more often than not. Chemists with a Ph. D. as the highest academic degree are found typically on the research-and-development department of an enterprise and can also hold university positions as professors. Professors for research universities or for big universities usually have a Ph. D., and some research-oriented institutions might require post-doctoral training. Some smaller colleges (including some smaller four-year colleges or smaller non-research universities for undergraduates) as well as community colleges usually hire chemists with a M.S. as professors too (and rarely, some big universities who need part-time or temporary instructors, or temporary staff), but when the positions are scarce and the applicants are many, they might prefer Ph. D. holders instead.


The three major employers of chemists are academic institutions, industry, especially the chemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry, and government laboratories.

Chemistry typically is divided into several major sub-disciplines. There are also several main cross-disciplinary and more specialized fields of chemistry. There is a great deal of overlap between different branches of chemistry, as well as with other scientific fields such as biology, medicine, physics, radiology, and several engineering disciplines.

Laura Miller at ANL
A chemist prepares a new fuel cell for testing.
Julie Perkins at LLNL
A chemist pours from a round-bottom flask.
  • Inorganic chemistry is the study of the properties and reactions of inorganic compounds. The distinction between organic and inorganic disciplines is not absolute and there is much overlap, most importantly in the sub-discipline of organometallic chemistry. The Inorganic chemistry is also the study of atomic and molecular structure and bonding.
  • Medicinal chemistry is the science involved with designing, synthesizing and developing pharmaceutical drugs. Medicinal chemistry involves the identification, synthesis and development of new chemical entities suitable for therapeutic use. It also includes the study of existing drugs, their biological properties, and their quantitative structure-activity relationships.
  • Organic chemistry is the study of the structure, properties, composition, mechanisms, and chemical reaction of carbon compounds.
  • Physical chemistry is the study of the physical fundamental basis of chemical systems and processes. In particular, the energetics and dynamics of such systems and processes are of interest to physical chemists. Important areas of study include chemical thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, electrochemistry, quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics, and spectroscopy. Physical chemistry has a large overlap with theoretical chemistry and molecular physics. Physical chemistry involves the use of calculus in deriving equations.
  • Theoretical chemistry is the study of chemistry via theoretical reasoning (usually within mathematics or physics). In particular, the application of quantum mechanics to chemistry is called quantum chemistry. Since the end of the Second World War, the development of computers has allowed a systematic development of computational chemistry, which is the art of developing and applying computer programs for solving chemical problems. Theoretical chemistry has large overlap with condensed matter physics and molecular physics. See reductionism.

All the above major areas of chemistry employ chemists. Other fields where chemical degrees are useful include astrochemistry (and cosmochemistry), atmospheric chemistry, chemical engineering, chemo-informatics, electrochemistry, environmental science, forensic science, geochemistry, green chemistry, history of chemistry, materials science, medical science, molecular biology, molecular genetics, nanotechnology, nuclear chemistry, oenology, organometallic chemistry, petrochemistry, pharmacology, photochemistry, phytochemistry, polymer chemistry, supramolecular chemistry and surface chemistry.

Professional societies

Chemists may belong to professional societies specifically for professionals and researchers within the field of Chemistry, such as the Royal Society of Chemistry in the United Kingdom, or the American Chemical Society (ACS) in the United States.

Honors and awards

The highest honor awarded to chemists is the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded since 1901, by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

See also


  1. ^ "the definition of chemist".

External links

Boots UK

Boots UK (formerly Boots the Chemists Ltd), trading as Boots, is a health and beauty retailer and pharmacy chain in the United Kingdom, Ireland, other territories. The parent company, The Boots Company Plc, merged with Alliance UniChem in 2006 to form Alliance Boots. In 2007, Alliance Boots was bought by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Stefano Pessina, taking the company private, and moving its headquarters to Switzerland, making it the first ever FTSE 100 company to be bought by a private equity firm. In 2012, Walgreens bought a 45% stake in Alliance Boots, with the option to buy the rest within three years. It exercised this option in 2014, and as a result Boots became a subsidiary of the new company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, on 31 December 2014.

Boots is one of the largest retailers in the UK and Ireland, both in terms of revenue and the number of stores. They have 2,500 shops across the United Kingdom and Ireland ranging from local pharmacies to large health and beauty shops. Their shops are primarily located on the high streets and in shopping centres. It sells many health and beauty products, and also provides optician and hearing care services within shops and as standalone practices. Boots also operates a retail website and since 1997 it runs a loyalty card programme called the Boots Advantage Card.


In chemistry, a colloid is a mixture in which one substance of microscopically dispersed insoluble particles is suspended throughout another substance. Sometimes the dispersed substance alone is called the colloid; the term colloidal suspension refers unambiguously to the overall mixture (although a narrower sense of the word suspension is distinguished from colloids by larger particle size). Unlike a solution, whose solute and solvent constitute only one phase, a colloid has a dispersed phase (the suspended particles) and a continuous phase (the medium of suspension). To qualify as a colloid, the mixture must be one that does not settle or would take a very long time to settle appreciably.

The dispersed-phase particles have a diameter between approximately 1 and 1000 nanometers. Such particles are normally easily visible in an optical microscope, although at the smaller size range (r < 250 nm), an ultramicroscope or an electron microscope may be required. Homogeneous mixtures with a dispersed phase in this size range may be called colloidal aerosols, colloidal emulsions, colloidal foams, colloidal dispersions, or hydrosols. The dispersed-phase particles or droplets are affected largely by the surface chemistry present in the colloid.

Some colloids are translucent because of the Tyndall effect, which is the scattering of light by particles in the colloid. Other colloids may be opaque or have a slight color.

Colloidal suspensions are the subject of interface and colloid science. This field of study was introduced in 1845 by Italian chemist Francesco Selmi and further investigated since 1861 by Scottish scientist Thomas Graham.

George Smith (chemist)

George Pearson Smith (born March 10, 1941) is an American biologist and Nobel laureate. He is a Curators' Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, US.

Henry Eyring (chemist)

Henry Eyring (February 20, 1901 – December 26, 1981) was a Mexican-born American theoretical chemist whose primary contribution was in the study of chemical reaction rates and intermediates.

Inorganic chemistry

Inorganic chemistry deals with the synthesis and behavior of inorganic and organometallic compounds. This field covers all chemical compounds except the myriad organic compounds (carbon-based compounds, usually containing C-H bonds), which are the subjects of organic chemistry. The distinction between the two disciplines is far from absolute, as there is much overlap in the subdiscipline of organometallic chemistry. It has applications in every aspect of the chemical industry, including catalysis, materials science, pigments, surfactants, coatings, medications, fuels, and agriculture.

John Buddle Blyth

John Buddle Blyth (1814 – 24 December 1871) was a Jamaican-born chemist who was the first professor of chemistry at Queen's College Cork in Ireland. With August Wilhelm von Hofmann, he was the first to report photopolymerisation which they observed when styrene became metastyrol after exposure to sunlight.

John Ross (chemist)

John Ross (October 2, 1926 – February 18, 2017) was a scientist in Physical Chemistry and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University.

Unraveling the mechanisms of complex chemical reactions, Professor John Ross opened new avenues in physical chemistry through the development of groundbreaking methods to study complex reactions within intact systems. His theoretical and experimental studies in statistical mechanics and chemical kinetics proved new means to reveal details of biochemical reactions taking place far from equilibrium and involving many chemical species.

List of chemists

This is a list of chemists. It should include those who have been important to the development or practice of chemistry. Their research or application has made significant contributions in the area of basic or applied chemistry.


Richard Abegg (1869–1910), German chemist

Frederick Abel (1827–1902), English chemist

Friedrich Accum (1769–1838), German chemist, advances in the field of gas lighting

Homer Burton Adkins (1892–1949), American chemist, known for work in hydrogenation of organic compounds

Peter Agre (born 1949), American chemist and doctor, 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Georgius Agricola (1494–1555), German scholar known as "the father of mineralogy

Arthur Aikin (1773–1855), English chemist and mineralogist

Adrien Albert (1907–1989), Australian medicinal chemist

John Albery (1936–2013), English physical chemist

Kurt Alder (1902–1958), German chemist, 1950 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Sidney Altman (born 1939), 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Faiza Al-Kharafi (born 1946), Kuwaiti chemist and academic. She was the president of Kuwait University from 1993 to 2002, and the first woman to head a major university in the Middle East.

Christian B. Anfinsen (1916–1995), 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Angelo Angeli, Italian chemist

Octavio Augusto Ceva Antunes (1731–1810), British scientist

Anthony Joseph Arduengo, III, American chemist

Johan August Arfwedson (1792–1841), Swedish chemist

Anton Eduard van Arkel (1893–1976), Dutch chemist

Svante Arrhenius (1859–1927), Swedish chemist, one of the founders of physical chemistry

Larned B. Asprey (1919–2005), American nuclear chemist

Francis William Aston (1877–1945), 1922 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Amedeo Avogadro (1776–1856), Italian chemist and physicist, discovered Avogadro's law

Ocean chemistry

Ocean chemistry, also known as marine chemistry, is influenced by turbidity currents, sediments, pH levels, atmospheric constituents, metamorphic activity, and ecology. The field of chemical oceanography studies the chemistry of marine environments including the influences of different variables.

Organic chemistry

Organic chemistry is the chemistry subdiscipline for the scientific study of structure, properties, and reactions of organic compounds and organic materials (materials that contain carbon atoms). Study of structure determines their chemical composition and formula. Study of properties includes physical and chemical properties, and evaluation of chemical reactivity to understand their behavior. The study of organic reactions includes the chemical synthesis of natural products, drugs, and polymers, and study of individual organic molecules in the laboratory and via theoretical (in silico) study.

The range of chemicals studied in organic chemistry includes hydrocarbons (compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen) as well as compounds based on carbon, but also containing other elements, especially oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus (included in many biochemicals) and the halogens.

In the modern era, the range extends further into the periodic table, with main group elements, including:

Group 1 and 2 organometallic compounds involving alkali (lithium, sodium, and potassium) or alkaline earth metals (magnesium)

Metalloids (boron and silicon) or other metals (aluminium and tin)In addition, contemporary research focuses on organic chemistry involving other organometallics including the lanthanides, but especially the transition metals zinc, copper, palladium, nickel, cobalt, titanium and chromium.

Organic compounds form the basis of all earthly life and constitute the majority of known chemicals. The bonding patterns of carbon, with its valence of four—formal single, double, and triple bonds, plus structures with delocalized electrons—make the array of organic compounds structurally diverse, and their range of applications enormous. They form the basis of, or are constituents of, many commercial products including pharmaceuticals; petrochemicals and agrichemicals, and products made from them including lubricants, solvents; plastics; fuels and explosives. The study of organic chemistry overlaps organometallic chemistry and biochemistry, but also with medicinal chemistry, polymer chemistry, and materials science.

Peter D. Mitchell

Peter Dennis Mitchell, FRS (29 September 1920 – 10 April 1992) was a British biochemist who was awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of the chemiosmotic mechanism of ATP synthesis.


Pharmacists, also known as chemists (Commonwealth English) or druggists (North American and, archaically, Commonwealth English), are health professionals who practice in pharmacy, the field of health sciences focusing on safe and effective medication use. Pharmacists undergo university-level education to understand the biochemical mechanisms and actions of drugs, drug uses, therapeutic roles, side effects, potential drug interactions, and monitoring parameters. This is mated to anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. Pharmacists interpret and communicate this specialized knowledge to patients, physicians, and other health care providers.

Among other licensing requirements, different countries require pharmacists to hold either a Bachelor of Pharmacy, Master of Pharmacy, or Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

The most common pharmacist positions are that of a community pharmacist (also referred to as a retail pharmacist, first-line pharmacist or dispensing chemist), or a hospital pharmacist, where they instruct and counsel on the proper use and adverse effects of medically prescribed drugs and medicines. In most countries, the profession is subject to professional regulation. Depending on the legal scope of practice, pharmacists may contribute to prescribing (also referred to as "pharmacist prescriber") and administering certain medications (e.g., immunizations) in some jurisdictions. Pharmacists may also practice in a variety of other settings, including industry, wholesaling, research, academia, military, and government.

Physical chemistry

Physical chemistry is the study of macroscopic, atomic, subatomic, and particulate phenomena in chemical systems in terms of the principles, practices, and concepts of physics such as motion, energy, force, time, thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics, analytical dynamics and chemical equilibrium.

Physical chemistry, in contrast to chemical physics, is predominantly (but not always) a macroscopic or supra-molecular science, as the majority of the principles on which it was founded relate to the bulk rather than the molecular/atomic structure alone (for example, chemical equilibrium and colloids).

Some of the relationships that physical chemistry strives to resolve include the effects of:

Intermolecular forces that act upon the physical properties of materials (plasticity, tensile strength, surface tension in liquids).

Reaction kinetics on the rate of a reaction.

The identity of ions and the electrical conductivity of materials.

Surface science and electrochemistry of cell membranes.

Interaction of one body with another in terms of quantities of heat and work called thermodynamics.

Transfer of heat between a chemical system and its surroundings during change of phase or chemical reaction taking place called thermochemistry

Study of colligative properties of number of species present in solution.

Number of phases, number of components and degree of freedom (or variance) can be correlated with one another with help of phase rule.

Reactions of electrochemical cells.

Quantum chemistry

Quantum chemistry is a branch of chemistry whose primary focus is the application of quantum mechanics in physical models and experiments of chemical systems. It is also called molecular quantum mechanics.

Richard Barry Bernstein

Richard Barry Bernstein (October 31, 1923 – July 8, 1990) was an American physical chemist. He is primarily known for his researches in chemical kinetics and reaction dynamics by molecular beam scattering and laser techniques. He is credited with having founded femtochemistry, which laid the groundwork for developments in femtobiology. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1970. Among his awards were the National Medal of Science and the Willard Gibbs Award, both in 1989.

Bernstein suffered a heart attack in Moscow and died shortly afterwards in Helsinki, Finland, aged 66.

Robert Robinson (chemist)

Sir Robert Robinson (13 September 1886 – 8 February 1975) was a British organic chemist and Nobel laureate recognised in 1947 for his research on plant dyestuffs (anthocyanins) and alkaloids. In 1947, he also received the Medal of Freedom with Silver Palm.

Saul Winstein

Saul Winstein (October 8, 1912 – November 23, 1969) was a Canadian chemist who discovered the Winstein reaction. He argued a non-classical cation was needed to explain the stability of the norbornyl cation. This fueled a debate with Herbert C. Brown over the existence of σ-delocalized carbocations. Winstein also first proposed the concept of an intimate ion pair. He was co-author of the Grunwald-Winstein equation, concerning solvolysis rates.Richard F. Heck, who earlier in his career had undertaken postgraduate studies with Winstein, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


A scientist is someone who conducts scientific research to advance knowledge in an area of interest.In classical antiquity, there was no real ancient analog of a modern scientist. Instead, philosophers engaged in the philosophical study of nature called natural philosophy, a precursor of natural science. It was not until the 19th century that the term scientist came into regular use after it was coined by the theologian, philosopher, and historian of science William Whewell in 1833. The term 'scientist' was first coined by him for Mary Somerville, partly because the term "man of science", more custom at that time, was clearly inappropriate here.In modern times, many scientists have advanced degrees in an area of science and pursue careers in various sectors of the economy such as academia, industry, government, and nonprofit environments.

Theoretical chemistry

Theoretical chemistry is a branch of chemistry, which develops theoretical generalizations that are part of the theoretical arsenal of modern chemistry, for example, the concept of chemical bonding, chemical reaction, valence, the surface of potential energy, molecular orbitals, orbital interactions, molecule activation etc.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.