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The Biotech Job Title You've Probably Never Heard Of

4/18/2017 2:58:31 PM

The Biotech Job Title You've Probably Never Heard Of April 27, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Sometimes technology creates new jobs. For example, before the iPhone exploded onto the scene, was there such as thing as an “app developer?” Before the World Wide Web went mainstream, was there such a thing as a web developer? Web content manager? Search engine optimization expert?

In some cases, the name changes for reasons that might be more political in nature, or that more precisely (or broadly) describe a job. A decade ago, there was “data mining,” although one wonders what the equivalent was thirty years ago. Statistician? Now a “data miner” is more likely to be called a “data scientist.”

So, here’s one that most life scientists probably haven’t heard of: Chemometrician.
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What Is It?

The Independent, in an article, “The 10 weirdest job titles in the UK, revealed,” says it is “a scientist or statistician that specializes in Chemometrics, which is the use of mathematical statistics in the design of experiments, and the evaluation of the resulting data.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, chemometrics is a multidisciplinary area, one that applies data analysis&mdashwhich means statistics, mathematics, machine learning, computer sciences, data science—onto various chemical and/or molecular areas, which can apply to chemistry, biochemistry, medicine, biology, molecular genetics, genomics, chemical engineering, etc.

A 2012 article in the Journal of Chemometrics—who knew?—titled “Process analytical technology: a critical view of the chemometricians,” notes a related term is “process analytical technology (PAT),” which is “a system for designing, analyzing, and controlling manufacturing through timely measurements (i.e., during processing) of critical quality and performance attributes of raw and in-process materials and processes, with the goal of ensuring final product quality.”

An article in AutomationWorld notes that Lloyd Colegrove, data services director at Dow Chemical (DOW), says, “I don’t like the term Big Data because it’s meaningless to me.” And so at Dow, his team that uses analytical techniques in R&D and for laboratory quality assurance go by the title “chemometrician.”

Pay, Training & Jobs

Getting a handle on the pay for a chemometrician isn’t that easy, probably because it’s a specialized job title. SimplyHired indicated the average salary for a Senior Chemometrician is $54,478, with the high range around $112,654 and the low at $26,345. Which is odd, because another SimplyHired page gave the average for a Chemometrics job average salary at $69,656, with a high of $124,602 and the low at $38,940. provides the salary for a Chemometrician job posting at SmithKlineBeecham in Collegeville, PA as $85,000.

That seems to be more in line with what someone with that kind of background would likely make. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that Computer and Information Research Scientists have a median pay in 2015 of $110,620. And according to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a Data Scientist is $113,436.

One job posting in the Middle East was looking for someone with an MS or PhD in Chemistry or related disciplines, with a minimum of five years’ experience in a related occupation involving infrared/near infrared spectroscopy, PLS modeling / chemometrics.

Another position, Senior Chemometrician (Sensors/NanoFibers) for CyberCoders in Salt Lake City, UT, calls for an M.S. or higher in Chemometrics, Applied Mathematics or a related field. The required skills for the job include “Chemometrics, Linear Multivariate Methods, Multivariate Classification Methods, Non-linear Multivariate Methods, Dynamics Modeling, Matlab, Trace Analysis” and others.

Chemical company BASF lumps Statistician, Chemometrician and Data Scientist in together. As such, they want someone with a PhD in Applied Statistics, Chemometrics, Biostatistics or related fields. Or, it says, “a background as engineer or natural scientist with a strong focus on using statistical methods and data science.”

It does appear that the academic programs in chemometrics typically fall under university chemistry departments, sometimes in Environmental and Biomedical Aspects of Chemistry, or industrial chemistry.

Svante Wold

The word “chemometrics” was invented by a Swedish chemistry professor, Svante Wold, at Umea University, Sweden in 1971. He used it on a grant application, writing, “Chemometrics, the art of extracting chemically relevant information from data produced in chemical experiments.”

The term grew a bit more solid in usage—although it’s not exactly a household word—later in the decade when he was invited to a meeting at the University of Arizona (Tucson) for a symposium on chemistry and computers for the Office of Naval Research. He met one of his idols, chemistry professor Bruce Kowalski, who was working on pattern recognition of chemical data.

Kowalski asked him what he was doing and Savante answered “Chemometrics.” Kowalski responded, “What’s that?”

Wold explained that it was basically the same thing Kowalksi was doing, but “much less advanced.”

As the story goes, shortly before Wold returned to Sweden, he and Kowalski and a group of other scientists went to a Tex-Mex restaurant in Seattle. There, Wold wrote, “after a number of tequila shots, we decided to form The Chemometrics Society.” It has since become The International Chemometrics Society. LINK

And now you know. Chemometrics.

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