Chemists in the Real World

David Lopez

 

David Lopez, Research Scientist I

Albany Molecular Research
B.S., Chemistry and Biology


Lopez received the ACS Scholars Award Scholarship as an undergraduate, and has been able to attend National ACS meetings, which he says are a great opportunity to listen, learn, and “meet a number of great people.”

David Lopez doesn’t love his job just because of his coworkers—but they certainly help! “I work with some very talented chemists who are willing to help the younger chemists,” Lopez says. “Many of the people I work with have vast experience working in the industry. In addition, they have some really entertaining stories to tell!”

Thanks to a recruiting email from Albany Molecular Research, Lopez took an industry job immediately after earning his Bachelor’s Degree in 2012. “The aspect I enjoy the most about working as a drug discovery chemist is developing new and creative ways to overcome challenges,” he says. “I find it to be very rewarding to be able to help advance the team’s progress and advance the project.”

Today at Albany, he’s responsible for the synthesis, purification, and characterization of novel drug targets.

What's a typical day on the job like?

My day begins at 7 AM by checking and responding to emails, countersigning notebooks, and preparing new notebook experiments (5%). By 7:30 I am setting-up reactions, monitoring experiment progress, working-up reactions, purifying compounds, and analyzing data (60-70%). Depending on the chemistry, a significant amount of time can be spent researching published literature and discussing chemistry with senior chemists in order to develop new synthetic approaches (+10%). I spend most of the afternoon continuing to work on chemistry. Other daily responsibilities include preparing progress presentations, meeting with supervisors, and attending meetings (15%). [4-5:30 PM]

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

NMR/LCMS data access, combiflash chromatography, and email.

Describe your work environment.

I work in a three-chemist lab with adjoining desk section shared with another chemist (the senior chemist has an office adjoining the lab). In my lab I have the standard equipment needed to conduct synthetic chemistry or have access to the necessary equipment/instruments.  

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

I am a salary employee and work 45 hours/week. The environment is fast paced.

What is your best productivity trick?     

Planning and organization.

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

Find what it is that you truly enjoy doing and find a way to get paid to do it.

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

I believe my work ethic, inquisitive nature, and determination to overcome challenges help make me a good fit for my job.

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

I wish I would have developed the habit of reading scientific papers on a regular basis.  In addition, I wish I would have started the habit of using SciFinder or other literature database search engines to explore and read about useful chemistry.

What is your favorite ACS resource?

My favorite ACS resource is the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) database.