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September 03, 2013

Comments

Hi,

First up, thanks as always to everyone at STR for your ministry. I just wanted to respond to something from this September 3 show. It's not even on the topics of the show, just something that kind of bugged me. Greg mentioned his conversation with a recent college graduate in chemistry, and as an aside he said that degree was "even less relevant to life, I mean to getting a job". I teach college chemistry, and I just wanted to correct this impression. Chemistry has traditionally been a very fruitful career path, both in terms of employment rate and average salary, both for those with BS degrees and those who go on to graduate school for MS and PhDs. This is a year old, but a quick search found this article from the American Chemical Society, which has a chart tracking overall US unemployment rate vs the unemployment rate for members of the ACS (which is our professional society). In 2011 chemistry unemployment hit an all time high of 4.6%, but this was at a time when the national unemployment rate was twice that. Another aspect of the economics of chemistry is that the US chemical and pharmaceutical industry has always enjoyed a trade surplus with other nations, even in times when other industries have suffered from high trade deficits.
And this, btw, is really just focused on those chemistry students who go into chemistry. A lot of students use a chemistry degree as their entry into medical school, pharmacy school, and other careers in the medical sciences. These are also traditionally strong career paths, though recent changes in health care laws under the Obama administration may have an impact on these career paths in the future.
Sorry to be a bit pedantic, but this hit my buttons a little bit, as someone who often advises chemistry students on their future career decisions.
OTOH, I should note that Greg's presentation of the problem of chiral molecules was pretty good. Since I teach organic, this is a topic I teach every semester, and many students struggle with it.

Anyway, thanks again for the ministry.

Bruce

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