Agriculture Career of the Month:
Research and Development Scientist


ADMEvery day, the 30,000 people of Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) turn crops into renewable products that meet the demands of a growing world. And every month, ADM is proud to provide a glimpse into the wide variety of careers that a college education can prepare you for in the agricultural field.

This month, we take a look at the career path for a Research and Development Scientist.


What's the Job Description?
As a Research Scientist I, you're expected to master the daily operation of complex workflows involving high-throughput screening technology for catalysis development. Doing so involves performing experimental protocols, running analytical assays and recording the results.

One recent college graduate working as a Scientist I actually started working at ADM as a summer student in a technician role, moving to the Scientist I position after graduation. She told us that she enjoys being able to develop methods of analyzing new samples that almost no one has looked at previously; recently, she’s really enjoyed working with different pieces of equipment to get them into working order, with standardized methods and seeing just how much information we can get out of them.

"I love being able to work on a project from all sides, where I’m posed with a challenge [to] develop the method of making a new product and doing all of the analysis on that product, make up batch samples and continue on working to scale up a process to make it viable for plant operations," she said -- just an example of the day-to-day work that a Scientist I encounters.

How Much Can I Make?
The average starting salary for a job like this is around $36,000.

What's the Career Path Like?
Your initial responsibilities as a Scientist I involve running equipment for experiments and tracking data and variables for results. As you get more experience in the position you can move further into data analysis, helping you learn more about prioritizing data and about ADM as a company. Our Scientist I tells us that she feels fortunate to work with many different groups and scientists, while still learning at least one new thing every day; she also said that it’s great to have the time to really focus on a project, but be able to switch between many different projects -- this way, her brain never gets bogged down from monotony.

After becoming proficient in the wide array of duties as a Scientist I, you have the opportunity to become a Project Lead -- running experiments, working directly with business units who need lab work, and more. And the next step is to become a Scientist II; in that position, you'd lead projects, come up with new opportunities for business groups, give presentations of your ideas and results, and generally add value to the research being done in the lab. Beyond that, you can work up to a Scientist V.

Scientists at these higher levels also have the opportunity to move into a Group Leader position, a progression in which they handle their own projects as well as overseeing other scientists' results and bringing new projects and technologies into the fold.

What Are the Job Requirements?
All candidates for a Research Scientist position should have at least a BS in chemistry or related science (and experience working in an analytical lab is a plus). In addition, applicants are expected to have successfully completed laboratory courses in analytical instrumentation with experience with HPLC and GC-MS.

As you'd expect, it's important that you have the ability to execute complex scientific experiments and document results; ADM is also looking for candidates who have knowledge and experience with a wide range of analytical instrumentation (especially HPLC, GC-MS, LC-MS, FT-IR, NMR, and UV-Vis), and a knowledge of hazardous material and hazardous communications requirements and procedures.

Finally, you'll need to be able to work productively as part of a team that includes Chemists, Tech Leads, Project Coordinators and Technicians.

Find out more about working at ADM.

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