Herman Cho

Senior Research Scientist

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


B.A., Chemistry, Amherst College

Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Herman Cho received his Ph.D. in chemical physics and completed two post-docs before joining Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Twenty-one years later he is at the same institution enjoying “the intellectual stimulation of scientific work, including the day-to-day tasks of problem-solving, building tools and instruments, writing software, data analysis, etc., as well as the deeper, long-term thinking that goes into pondering nature's mysteries.”

Cho’s primary responsibility at PNNL is to conduct independent, grant-funded research; his work focuses on radiochemistry and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Cho values national ACS meetings “as a vital way to learn what is going on in the field of chemistry and reconnect with colleagues outside my areas of specialization.”

Today, Herman Cho is a Senior Research Scientist at PNNL. This is how he works.

Getting a good night's sleep and maintaining fitness and good health.

Typical day on the job:

  • Planning/running experiments: 30%
  • Writing (grants, papers, reports, presentations, etc.): 30%
  • Computer-centered work (software development, data analysis, calculations): 25%
  • Meetings: 10%
  • Training and education: 5%

Work environment:

My employer is a U.S. Department of Energy multi-program laboratory within the Office of Science. I have a private office and multiple labs where I conduct my scientific work.

Work schedule:

I typically spend 60 hours per week working, both at my workplace and at home. I do not receive overtime pay. The work is self-paced, but expectations for productivity are high, both from my managers and from my funding sources.

Tools you can’t live without:

Instrumentation: NMR spectrometers and associated equipment

Software: Too many apps to enumerate and they are all essential!

Best productivity trick:

Getting a good night's sleep and maintaining fitness and good health.

Best career advice you’ve received:

I remember not specific advice I received from mentors, but the compelling examples they set as career scientists, which I still try to emulate.

Skills or talents that make you a good fit for your job:

Perseverance and curiosity.

Essential habit you wish you’d started earlier:

The ability to stay focused, goal-oriented, and disciplined.

Favorite ACS resource:

ACS journals and meetings are indispensable resources for my work.