CBU Chemistry researcher Edward Cross graduated with BSc (Honours) – Chemistry from CBU in 2010, followed by a MSc in Micro- & Macro-molecular Sciences (Chemistry) from University of Prince Edward Island in 2013.
Edward is currently employed as a Researcher in Green Mining Technologies at CBU’s Verschuren Centre for Sustainability and Energy in the Environment (VSCEE) through a partnership between the VSCEE and Yava Technologies Inc. His research focuses on the isolation of high-profit, value added products through the use of novel environmentally-friendly mining processes. These technologies eliminate the need for traditional mining practices that are high cost, inefficient and release significant amounts of pollution into the environment.
Prior to beginning my position at the VSCEE, Edward worked for two years in the Department of Chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel conducting research projects in conjunction with local industry. This was an excellent opportunity to catch a glimpse of differences between academic and industrial research, and served as a springboard for him when transitioning into his current position.
The majority of Edward’s background lies in catalysis and materials science, particularly with regards to creating biodegradable plastics and understanding their properties. Edward also has significant experience in developing catalysts used to speed up chemical reactions.
Initially, Edward chose to pursue chemistry because he always was interested in it, and consistently did well in high school and first year courses. As his education progressed, Edward became more interested in green chemistry, and how we can develop technologies that lessen our impact on the environment. Now, in his current position, he gets to see first-hand how this occurs. Every experiment Edward conducts on the lab bench eventually translates into a commercial-sized process.
“Seeing that process grow from the initial ideas or a few scribbles on a piece of paper to a full-scale operation is an incredibly rewarding feeling because you’re really making a difference.”
Pursuing an education in chemistry options up many potential career pathways because it can pair well with many other disciplines. We are often led to believe that a chemistry background means you are restricted to working in a lab running chemical analysis day-in and day-out. This is not the case at all, and although working as a lab technician is a career could be a very rewarding, there are many other options available that may not be as obvious.
“You can pair a chemistry degree with a BBA or MBA and serve as a liaison between the marketing and science fields. Maybe you start a craft brewery with some chemical engineers and brew beer for a living? With a chemistry degree, there are many exciting options out there for you!”
In Edward’s experience: once you get beyond your first year of a chemistry degree a lot of what you learn is conceptual. Obviously, there are some things you have to commit to memory, but for the most part the challenge is understanding concepts and being able to apply them to a problem or situation. As a result of this, what you learn in one course is often very helpful in another that may be in a completely different field of chemistry. “These critical thinking and problem solving skills will serve you well in any career path you decide to take. If you’re considering chemistry, CBU has an excellent chemistry program that I would argue it is one of the best in Atlantic Canada.”