I enjoy puzzles, word games and mysteries. Always have. Every morning, I do the crossword and Sudoku (try this one) in the daily local newspaper. Yes, I still subscribe to a newspaper…don’t judge me. Whenever I go on a long flight, I always have a book of puzzles and games to help pass the time, as well as my iPhone full of apps. There is something very gratifying about being able to complete a puzzle. The harder it is, the more determined I am to solve it and the more satisfaction I get out of the challenge. I am proud to say I have yet to meet a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle that I have not been able to finish – almost always without the help of Google or Siri!
I also like mystery novels. Given a choice of books to read, I will almost always opt for the whodunit. Even when I was young, I read every Hardy Boys book, rooting for Frank and Joe to solve the crime and feeling just a little smug if I was able to unravel the clues before they did.
That’s probably the main reason I love science...it’s basically trying to figure things out about the world in which we live. What’s in that sample? How much of it? Where did it come from? The world is full of puzzles and mysteries big and small just waiting to be solved. Whether in the field of health care, forensics, energy, materials, the environment…so much has been discovered yet so many things remain unknown, waiting for the right person or the right tool to reveal their existence. And for almost 60 years, science has gone beyond Earth and into space. Think of all the cool stuff that has been done on Shuttle missions and the International Space Station. Even unmanned spacecraft, such as Rosetta’s comet lander Philae and the Mars rover Curiosity, are doing scientific experiments. They both contain an impressive array of instrumentation, including mass spectrometers! When you consider all of the great things science has done for humankind, it’s hard not to love it.
So naturally, when it was time to pick a career, I chose…law enforcement. I was going to be a police officer or an FBI agent and solve crimes, so my first year of college was spent as a criminal justice major. After the first semester, however, I was bored stiff and felt I needed something more. Luckily, I took a course on forensics and was intrigued. After speaking to the professor, I switched my major to chemistry and I was officially on my way to becoming a scientist sleuth.
Funny how things don’t always work out the way you expect, though. After getting my Master’s Degree in Analytical Chemistry, I worked for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in one of their testing labs but only for a year. During that time, I was tasked with automating certain analyses using laboratory robotics, which I absolutely loved. That led to a technical marketing job in private industry and I eventually drifted away from hands-on chemistry.
Regardless, I still love science. I have worked for laboratory instrumentation manufacturers ever since the DEA gig so I get to use my chemistry background and interact with some really smart scientists that are doing amazing things. To give you an idea about how much of a science geek I still am, I got a huge thrill at ASMS 2015 when I had the opportunity to meet Alexander Makarov in person. I did not ask for an autograph but I was sorely tempted.
And if you still doubt that I love science, consider this: I am married to a chemist!