2. Inorganic chemistry
Chemists in this field focus on elements and compounds other than carbon or hydrocarbons.
Simply put, inorganic chemistry covers all materials that are not organic and are termed as non-living
substances – those compounds that do not contain a carbon hydrogen (C-H) bond.
Compounds studied by inorganic chemists include crystal structures, minerals, metals, catalysts,
and most elements on the periodic table. An example is the strength of a power beam used to
carry a specific weight or investigating how gold is formed in the earth.
Branches of inorganic chemistry include:
1. Bioinorganic chemistry (study of role of metals in biology)
2. Coordination chemistry (study of coordination compounds and interactions of ligands)
3. Geochemistry (study of the earth’s chemical composition, rocks, minerals & atmosphere)
4. Inorganic technology (synthesizing new inorganic compounds)
5. Nuclear chemistry (study of radioactive substances)
6. Organometallic chemistry (study of chemicals that contain bonds between a metal and
carbon – overlaps into organic chemistry)
7. Solid-state chemistry/materials chemistry (study of the forming, structure, and
characteristics of solid phase materials)
8. Synthetic inorganic chemistry (study of synthesizing chemicals)
9. Industrial inorganic chemistry (study of materials used in manufacturing. E.g.: fertilizers)
The study of the physical properties of molecules, and their relation to the ways in which
molecules and atoms are put together. Physical chemistry deals with the principles and
methodologies of both chemistry and physics and is the study of how chemical structure impacts
physical properties of a substance. An example is baking brownies, as you’re mixing materials
and using heat and energy to get the final product.
Physical chemists would typically study the rate of a chemical reaction, the interaction of
molecules with radiation, and the calculation of structures and properties.
Sub-branches of physical chemistry include:
1. Electrochemistry (study of the interaction of atoms, molecules, ions and electric current)
2. Photochemistry (study of the chemical effects of light; photochemical reactions)
3. Surface chemistry (study of chemical reactions at interfaces)
4. Chemical Kinetics (study of rates of chemical reactions)
5. Thermodynamics/Thermochemistry (study of how heat relates to chemical change)
6. Quantum Mechanics/Quantum Chemistry (study of quantum mechanics and how it
relates to chemical phenomena)
7. Spectroscopy (study of spectra of light or radiation)
3. Organic chemistry
The study of carbon compounds such as fuels, plastics, food additives, and drugs. An opposite of
inorganic chemistry that focuses on non-living matter and non-carbon based substances, organic
chemistry deals with the study of carbon and the chemicals in living organisms. An example is
the process of photosynthesis in a leaf because there is a change in the chemical composition of
the living plant.
Organic chemists are often the ones who devise experimental methods to isolate or synthesize
new materials, or to study their properties, and usually work and research in a lab. Some
examples on the work they do include formulating a conditioner that keeps hair softer,
developing a better drug for headaches and creating a non-toxic home cleaning product.
The branches of organic chemistry involve many different disciplines including the study of
ketones, aldehydes, hydrocarbons (alkenes, alkanes, alkynes) and alcohols.
1. Stereochemistry (study of the 3-dimensional structure of molecules)
2. Medicinal chemistry (deals with designing, developing and synthesizing pharmaceutical
3. Organometallic chemistry (study of chemicals that contain bonds between a carbon and a
4. Physical organic chemistry (study of structure and reactivity in organic molecules)
5. Polymer chemistry (study of the composition and creation of polymer molecules)
The study of life or more aptly put, of chemical processes in living organisms. Biochemists
research includes cancer and stem cell biology, infectious disease as well as membrane and
structural biology and spans molecular biology, genetics, mechanistic biochemistry, genomics,
evolution and systems biology.
Biochemistry, according to many scientists can also be explained as a discipline in which
biological phenomena are examined in chemical terms. Examples are digestion and cellular
For this reason biochemistry is also known as Chemical Biology or Biological Chemistry.
Under the main umbrella of biochemistry many new sub-branches have emerged that modern
chemists may specialize in solely. Some of these disciplines include:
1. Enzymology (study of enzymes)
2. Endocrinology (study of hormones)
3. Clinical Biochemistry (study of diseases)
4. Molecular Biochemistry (Study of Biomolecules and their functions).
4. Analytical Chemistry
Analytical chemistry is the study involving how we analyze the chemical components of
samples. How much caffeine is really in a cup of coffee? Are there drugs found in athlete’s urine
samples? What is the pH level of my swimming pool? Examples of areas using analytical
chemistry include forensic science, environmental science, and drug testing.
Analytical chemistry is divided into two main branches: qualitative and quantitative analysis.
Qualitative analysis employs methods/measurements to help determine the components of
substances. Quantitative analysis on the other hand, helps to identify how much of each
component is present in a substance.
Both types of analysis can be used to provide important information about an unidentified
sample and help to identify what the sample is.
5. THE IMPACT OF FILIPINO AND FOREIGN SCIENTISTS ON WORLD SCIENCE
As a nation, we are not publishing as many scientific papers as many of our neighbors do. Yet,
individual Filipino scientists, here and abroad, are making significant contributions to world
science. How much are our scientists contributing? How do their contributions compare with the
best of the world? What impact has Filipino scientists made on world science?
There are numerous measures of the impact of the scientific work of a scientist. An analysis of
the various metrics used in the evaluation of a researcher and his work is the topic of a recent
Nature magazine special. One is the number of papers he has published, especially in peer-reviewed
journals. An often-used gauge of the quality of work is the number of his publications
in high-impact, i.e. frequently cited, journals. Another measure is how often his publications are
cited by others. There are arguments against the use of any of the measures currently being used,
since there are inherent difficulties in the proper assessment of the impact of one scientific
For one thing, the number of papers a scientist has published is a measure of his output not
necessarily the quality of his work. We all know of several individuals in the past who had
published only a small number of papers, but whose work is still remembered to this day. One
example is Francis Crick of the double-helix fame, who did seminal work not only in molecular
biology but also in protein crystallography, but who published only 87 several times fewer than
the output of a number of scientists I know. Further, the number of papers in which an individual
has published as a co-author does not necessarily reflect his true contribution to science.
Indeed, a major difficulty arises from the question of authorship. There is no problem when there
is only one author. In a paper with multiple authors, proper attribution of credit is often not
straightforward. What did each author contribute to the project and how can it be quantified?
One could think of a measure that is somehow related to the order in which the authors are listed.
But there is no uniform convention in the listing of authors. Sometimes, the listing of authors is
done alphabetically this is especially true in the old days. These days, the first-listed author is
supposed to have contributed more to the project and the last-listed author (the senior author) is
supposed to have been the originator of the idea behind the project. That is not always the case.
More and more, we see papers where two or more of the authors are noted as having contributed
equally to the work. Further, more projects are collaborations of several independent groups, so
that the listing of authors is often the result of negotiation and does not necessarily reflect the
contribution of the individual authors.
And there is an inherent difficulty in judging the quality of a paper that was published in a high-impact
journal. A journal factor is based on the number of times the articles in that journal are
cited by others, so that it represents the average impact of all the articles which appeared in that
journal and is not a measure of the impact of any individual article. The impact factor is so
misused that the European Association of Science Editors has recommended that journal impact
factors be used only and cautiously for measuring and comparing the influence of entire journals,
but not for the assessment of single papers, and certainly not for the assessment of researchers or
research programs either directly or as a surrogate.