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Modern Lab Instruments Increase the Chances for Success

Mon, 11/05/2012 - 4:39pm
Simon Nunn, Global Marketing Director, Molecular Spectroscopy, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Today’s state-of-the-art laboratory instrumentation is making it easier for young scientists to be successful.

Modern instruments are easier to use and require less training, freeing young scientists up to learn critical, company-specific information such as regulations or standard operating procedures (SOPs), instead of how to operate specific instruments. 

In a quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) environment, for example, there’s a lot of training surrounding how to follow SOPs. As a result, lab managers are more focused on those aspects of training versus the depth of knowledge that you’d need to convert an instrument’s basic output into actionable information. 

As technology improves, instrumentation designers are integrating multiple techniques into one system, meaning today’s young scientists only need to learn one instrument instead of three. This frees them up to spend more time on additional research or learning the particulars of their scientific specialty. In addition, because scientists can conduct their research on one device instead of three, the possibility for error is reduced. 

Although the instruments are easier to use, younger scientists are also connected to their colleagues in newer and faster ways for questions or product recommendations. The younger generation of scientists tend to be more connected via social media and networking than previous-generation scientists. Take the Thermo Scientific NanoDrop product line, for example, which is targeted at the younger user in the life sciences market. There is a strong user community on Facebook for this product. Meanwhile, the slightly older generation is used to more traditional networking methods, such as conferences or technical symposia, both of which require time out of the office (and take away from time spent on research or other tasks). 

More reliable data

Instruments are taking over more and more of the qualitative, subjective analysis, reducing guesswork and ensuring more accurate decisions. 

In qualitative analysis, for example, a scientist may take a spectrum and compare that spectrum to a database of known materials, trying to identify a material based on that fingerprint. There is always some interpretation required there. Thermo has pioneered the development of algorithms in handheld products that remove the necessity for interpretation of spectra, such that advanced instrumentation can be used reliably by field-based military personnel. The company uses similar technology to simply and unambiguously convert spectral data into the compositional information that scientists are looking for. This reduces the burden for scientists and ensures more reliable analysis and data. 

A focus on the chosen specialty

Today’s young scientists have a much broader knowledge base in their scientific disciplines and are typically less specialized in the classical scientific disciplines of chemistry, physics and biology. At the same time, they are learning the applications of their chosen science (ie., chemistry) early on—they may know, for example, that they’re going to pursue material science or pharmaceutical science rather than learning the science and then finding the application later. 

Today, scientists are using instrumentation as a tool to get the job done rather than having to understand the technology behind the device. As a result, they are more focused on their particular problem, the material they're making, whether it’s a polymer packaging material or a pharmaceutical solid dosage form. For today’s scientists, analytical instrumentation is simply a tool or a device that provides insight into the properties and chemical structure of the particular materials they’re interested in. 

As instrumentation continues to improve and evolve, today’s young scientists can focus on the end results they need—and ultimately succeed at their chosen job. 

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