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Changing Science, Changing Scientists: How Technology Has Changed The Role of an Analytical Chemist

Published online at Technology Networks
by Ruairi J. Mackenzie

In this article Ruairi Mackenzie speaks with ACD/Labs' Andrew Anderson about Anderson's unique vantage point into how technology affects the analytical chemistry field. Read on for a discussion of how the day-to-day life of a chemist has been changed by technologies like AI and automation and how budding chemists can get their skillset up to scratch to handle the changing face of analytical science.

RM: How has the role of a chemist today changed from five years ago?

AA: ...a changing factor [in pharmaceutical organizations] is artificial intelligence, where you have machines prescribing what to make.

... What that then implies is if you’re having machine learning applications or artificial intelligence applications prescribing what to make and how to make it, presumably that process can be very fast with the speed of computers and other factors.

Where the bottleneck moves to is in how to make things in parallel and in high throughput. The next technological innovation is in high throughput experimentation. ... The rate of going through that traditional trial and error process to arrive at a drug development candidate is much faster if you utilize the combination of artificial intelligence for design, artificial intelligence for reaction planning and then automation tools for high throughput and parallel experimentation.

The final thing you’ll want to have is what I’d call no loss fidelity decision support interfaces. What a lot of companies are also investing in is looking across, from design to execution to task, all of the data that is generated during those discrete unit operations in the scientific process to be able to present that data in a holistic fashion to decision makers.

From my perspective what that means for the scientist is in addition to their chemistry knowledge and their biology knowledge, their pharmaceutical knowledge they also need to be able to deal with a lot of data. Part of their job transitions from being a chemist to almost being like a data scientist or a data engineer.

Read the complete article online here.