The Power List 2015
Arthur J. Schmitt Professor of Chemical Biomolecular Engineering, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Director - Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics Initiative, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA.
Most important lesson It’s not about us – it’s about the students and young colleagues (courtesy of Peter Beak, UIUC).
Encounters with serendipity Yes - in a stunning pedagogical example from the research lab, back in the late ‘90s. We were injecting currents into chemically modified thin films and measuring molecular electrochemical effects on conduction. The whole experiment hinges on making µA current measurements in the presence of a mA (injected current) background. Fortuitously, even though the background was 1000x larger than the signal, the noise in the background was 104 to 105 smaller than the background, so the signal to noise ratio was respectable. It was the exceptional and wholly unanticipated character of the fluctuations in the injected current (near the Johnson noise limit in most experiments) that made this possible.
Most unexpected outcome Leaving UIUC for Notre Dame 25 years into my career.
Eye on the horizon A great deal of my time is spent building the analytical sciences here at ND. We have gone from zero (zilch, the big goose egg) to seven full time analytical faculty from 2006-2015. Norm Dovichi and I have a promise of an additional five hires over the next 5-7 years, so I am very optimistic about the growth, development and future accomplishments of this outstanding group of colleagues (Camden, Dovichi, Go, Hummon, Schultz, Timperman).