Associate Professor, Chemistry Department, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Qualities of an innovative thinker? I believe the most important quality is to be open to the ideas of others and work in teams to solve complex problems. The challenges in the world right now need contributions from so many people, and a single person cannot make a dent. However, by listening to the opinions of others and working as a collaborative diverse team, you can greatly expand on your ideas and truly move mountains.
Picking a problem… To truly dive into a problem, you must love the area you are working in. There have been many times I have wanted to apply for a proposal because it seemed like a good chance for funding, but when I searched inside myself, I knew I could not really put my all into that research area. Therefore, I have passed on certain opportunities to really focus on studies I can be passionate about.
Biggest challenge facing the field? There are countless challenges and the need for so many diverse, strong and excited researchers. Some areas include assessing environmental contamination, optimizing diagnostic and therapeutic analyses, and discovering new endogenous molecules, xenobiotics and disease biomarkers, but the list goes on and on. Additionally, while every new discovery is opening a door to our understanding, they also unveil even more holes in our current knowledge and how novel technologies and analyses are still greatly needed.
Missing from the toolbox? Many mass spectrometrists would love a soft, high-sensitivity ionization source that works for a wide range of molecules and has less ionization suppression than electrospray ionization. This would enable much higher throughput studies for complex samples, while also providing in depth analyses for more molecules.