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Richard D. Smith

Battelle Fellow and Chief Scientist, Biological Sciences Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA

Qualities of an innovative thinker? I think it is the step that follows the birth of the idea, concept, or invention, and achieving an effective balance between having confidence in it, and simultaneously being open to challenges to it, both from yourself and from others as it matures.

Picking a problem… For me, it is typically the result of a problem or challenge being faced in the Lab. The need to do something better, or differently, stimulates thinking about the challenge(s), how things work, and doing what I think of as “running simulations in the mind,” where I consider the viability of possible solutions.

Most exciting development or trend? To me, the most important emerging development across our field is the effective integration of different data types, and particularly those involving larger and larger data sets. This is beginning to be done in conjunction with the application of advanced data analysis approaches, such as those involving Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.  The challenges are still significant, but the rewards will be staggering!

Missing from the toolbox? Generally missing is the ability to take the incredibly effective tools and measurement capabilities we now have and easily design complex manipulations or e.g., sample handling steps, that extend beyond one analytical platform, and sometimes even within a given platform.

Controversial opinion? That those in our field are increasingly reluctant to openly question something; a data set, a publication, a widely accepted concept. Sometimes this is due to a fear of being “wrong,” peer pressure, or simply a desire to avoid a possibly uncomfortable discussion. I believe it is healthy for our science when to do so, as well as for each of us individually; and when you are wrong, and we all are sometimes, you benefit from a better understanding of the issue at hand!

Part of the Power List 2021

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Welcome to our annual celebration of the world’s most influential analytical scientists!

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Part of the Power List 2019

The Top 100

This year we’ve returned to our Top 100 format for The Power List, showcasing the tremendous range of talent, ingenuity and leadership present across all corners of analytical science on a global scale.

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Part of the Power List 2017

The Magnificent Tens

The Magnificent Tens
After 2016’s celebration of women in analytical science, we return to the Top 100 for 2017.
But there’s a twist. This summer, we asked you to nominate scientists in ten categories – from the stars of separation science, to omics explorers, to the mentors training the next generation.

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Part of the Power List 2013

100 most influential people

That’s the question we posed to ourselves – and then to you – over two months ago, ahead of open nominations and a painstaking judging process. Here, without further ado, we celebrate the answer.

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