Chemists in the Real World

Cynthia Huddle

 


Cynthia Huddle,
Editorial Scientist

Chemical Abstracts Service
B.S., Chemistry, 1979

 

 


Cynthia Huddle joined Chemical Abstracts Service with her Bachelor’s degree in chemistry. After beginning a Master’s program she decided to look for chemistry jobs outside of the lab. Thirty-four years later, she’s exactly where she wants to be.

“My first five years were in technical positions,” Huddle says. “The next eight were in a management position, and the remainder was spent in technical positions. I have found that I am happiest in technical positions where I can fully utilize my knowledge of chemistry.”

Today, Huddle is primarily responsible for the indexing and registration of organic chemical substances reported in current chemical literature sources. She loves that she works in a multicultural environment with people from all over the world and that the culture and the content continually offer opportunities to learn.

“Every journal article and patent that crosses my desk has the potential to teach me something new about chemistry,” she says. “I have been able to learn from other chemists through reading ACS journal articles and attending national ACS meetings.”

Huddle is an editorial scientist at CAS.

What's a typical day on the job like?

My typical work day includes production tasks (using chemical structure drawing software to record organic substance information found in chemical literature for input to the CAS Registry database), training tasks (teaching new employees how to use internal database building tools and how to apply CAS policies that determine what information from the chemical literature is to be recorded in the Registry and CAPlus databases), problem solving tasks (research and consultation with coworkers to reconcile conflicting or incomplete information reported in chemical literature to ensure quality data within the Registry and CAPlus databases), and customer relations tasks (answering questions from customers and correcting errors or omissions in the Registry and CAPlus databases). The percentage of time I spend on each aspect of my work varies widely, but averages 50% production, 25% training, 15% problem solving and 10% customer relations.

Are there any apps/software/instrumentation/tools that you can't live without?

Most of the software that I routinely use was internally developed to meet the unique database building needs of the Editorial staff of CAS. I also use commercially available spreadsheet and PDF editing software.

Describe your work environment.

I have my own office and work at a computer with dual monitors.  All my work is accessed and completed electronically.

Does your job follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule?

I typically work 40 hours each week, but do need to work extended hours to complete larger or more complicated assignments within the required time-frame. The environment is most often fast paced.

What is your best productivity trick?

I like to set personal challenges to exceed previously attained productivity "bests".

What's the best career advice you've received?

Take personal responsibility for the quality of work that leaves my office. If sub-standard work comes into my office, that work should meet or exceed standards when it leaves my office. 

Do you have any special talents or traits that make you a great fit for your job?

I am very detail oriented and can hone-in on necessary information very quickly.

What essential habit do you have now that you wish you'd started much earlier?

I keep a spreadsheet log of important activities that I've completed.

What is your favorite ACS resource?

I would have to say that I enjoy C&EN, particularly since I can access it electronically on my tablet.