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Nuclear Chemist

Assess radioactive materials to find out their useful properties.

What does a Nuclear Chemist do?

Nuclear power and sugar have a lot in common. Use them in small, controlled quantities, and they can provide sweet power. Use them in large quantities, however, and they can be deadly. As a Nuclear Chemist, you study nuclear compounds to determine how to harness their power safely and effectively.

A sterile, white laboratory is your home away from home as a Nuclear Chemist, and the experiments you perform depend heavily on the work your employer does. For example, if you work for a nuclear power company, as a Nuclear Chemist, you might conduct experiments to determine what compounds produce the most power with the smallest amount of waste. If you work for a weapons company, you might find out which compounds produce the most heat and destruction.

Nuclear compounds often produce nasty waste when they’re smashed together, and you might conduct experiments to determine how long that waste remains dangerous. You might take a piece of metal exposed to nuclear waste and measure how much radiation comes off it as the days pass. Entering that information into the computer helps you determine how long that sort of metal must be stored before it’s considered safe to handle. Of course, you wear protective gear during these experiments to reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous materials.

All of your experiments must be explained to your Supervisors, who may not understand complex chemical terms. In your writings, you strive to be clear and complete, using small words and diagrams to explain your points. When you feel like using bigger words and really showing off, you write technical articles about your research for chemistry trade journals.