Real Conversation Starters

Have you ever found yourself hard-pressed to explain your work to someone who doesn’t understand chemistry?

Write your own conversation starter – a quick and simple description of your job. Consider it your personal tag line, a 10-second description of your job. Your conversation starter should be short and use terms that anyone can understand. It should be relatable to everyday life and encourage someone to ask questions to find out more about you.

These are a few examples from fellow chemists who visited the Office of Public Affairs booth at the ACS Spring 2010 National Meeting & Exposition in San Francisco.

Our thanks to all of those who participated.

Sample Conversation Starters

“The best ‘elevator speech’ that I have is to say that I work with governments around the world to eliminate old sources of pollution. The mechanisms that we use are through the United Nations and a treaty called the Stockholm Convention.”
- William F. Carroll, Chair, ACS Committee on Public Affairs and Public Relations, and former ACS President

Ted Gast, President, Arch Paper, LLC, gives a simple explanation of paper chemistry.

“I’m a chemist and I’m discovering how drugs in our water are affecting the growth of our crops.”
- Kyle Butzine

“I’m a chemist and I’m researching how to make faster and better microchips.”
- David Bemis

“I’m a chemist and I help create drugs that help the body protect itself through the immune system.”
- Francine Park

“I’m a chemist who works on really small materials that can help us with fuel technology.”
- Stephen Fordham

“I’m a chemist and I’m interested in making reactions that create new materials in cheaper, safer, and more effective ways and waste less solvents and catalysts.”
- Brett Anderson

“I’m a chemist and I’m trying to create a way to use coffee grounds as a potential source of biodiesel with other diesel sources.”
- Nicole Shamitko

“I’m a chemical engineer and I teach my students how to make new products on a large scale, at the lowest cost, and in the safest way.”
- Kal Sharma

“I’m a chemist that does drug discovery and the drugs that you take are the drugs that we make.”
- Gregory Morriello

“I’m a chemist and I help make the paints people use in their homes, and on things like the Golden Gate Bridge, or railroad cars, or inside military airport fuel tanks.”
- Anne Andrews

Contact Us

Want to offer feedback, ask questions, make a content suggestion, or contact program members?

• Log in to the ACS Network and join a Chemistry Ambassadors discussion, or
• Email

I’m a chemist and I teach people how to learn about the atoms and molecules around them.”
Onofrio (Dick) G. Gaglione
I’m a chemist and I’m working to discover drugs to cure brain cancer.”
- Zuping Xia
I’m a chemist and I use lasers and mirrors to measure the amount of different chemicals in the atmosphere in order to keep us all safe.”
John Frost