John Cort, Senior Research Scientist
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
- B.A., Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA; Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle
For John Cort, it started simply enough: He just liked organic molecules. Fortunately, molecules lie at the heart of some of the biggest challenges in drug discovery, biofuels, and more.
Cort earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry focusing on the structure and properties of biologically active peptides. After a post-doc, he joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
“I enjoy thinking about atoms and molecules and using NMR spectroscopy to understand their structures and properties,” Cort says. “But I also like the idea that that by pushing scientific understanding forward, I am helping to make the world a better place… It is simply satisfying to learn new things and answer questions about nature.”
Cort says that the professional exposure of ACS has been beneficial—his work has been covered in C&E News—and that he values the research presented at ACS regional and national meetings.
Today he’s a senior research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
NMR spectrometers, most common components of a biochemistry and molecular biology lab, and many different software programs.
I have my own office with a door and window, and several shared laboratory spaces.
I work a standard work week. On top of that, I usually work on my computer at home or come back to the lab to keep experiments running in the evening or on weekends. Sometimes it is relaxed, other times it is fast paced and stressful. Overtime is not required formally, but it is required from a practical standpoint
I try to tell myself "do it now" when I think of something that needs to be done. I also have found a way to make doing most of my work seem enjoyable to me rather than a dreaded chore.
I remember not specific advice I received from mentors, but the compelling examples they set as career scientists, which I still try to emulate.
I simply enjoy thinking about structures of molecules.
I've become better at filtering information that I need to remember from that which I don't. I've also developed the skill of speaking with authority about those topics in which I actually have some degree of expertise.
The ACS journals, particularly the back issues. If you have a molecule you’re interested in, it’s important to understand the literature and know what’s already been done. I’m old enough to remember going to the library—it’s a mile away!—to look for back issues. ACS makes it so easy to search old issues of JACS and more.
I've become better at filtering information that I need to remember from that which I don't. I've also developed the skill of speaking with authority about those topics in which I actually have some degree of expertise."