Matt Hancock
Albemarle Corporation, Senior R&D Chemist

Chemistry B.S., 1999
Ph.D. University of Cincinnati, 2003

Much of my senior year at ISU was spent applying to graduate schools. I was fortunate to receive an internship with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati and worked in the pharmaceuticals division. At the end of my internship I began graduate school at the University of Cincinnati. I began the doctoral program studying organic chemistry under Dr. Allan Pinhas. In March 2002 I received my M.S. and in May of 2003 I received my Ph.D.

In the spring of 2003 I attended the ACS national meeting and was fortunate to interview with several companies on site. In the months that followed I traveled to several follow-up interviews with various companies. The morning of my thesis defense, I accepted a Scientist position with Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA.

Millennium Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company that is considered a pioneer in genomics-based drug discovery. I was hired into the Formulations group in Drug Development. My day-to-day activities mostly involved physicochemical characterization of lead compounds, generation of clinical formulations for lead compounds, and determination of the stability of lead compounds when exposed to various excipients. Working in formulations is a unique opportunity for people with a strong background in physical organic chemistry. The work I enjoyed most was determining degradation pathways and the kinetics of the degradation. I learned a tremendous amount about drug development and working in the pharmaceutical industry.

While employed at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, a scientific recruiter who was looking to fill a Ph.D. Chemist position with a chemical company in the Midwest contacted me. I then interviewed with Albemarle Corporation later that month and accepted a position the beginning of 2005.

Albemarle Corporation is a global specialty chemical company specializing in polymer additives, catalysts, and fine chemicals. I was hired into the Fine Chemicals division, which specializes in the cGMP manufacture of pharmaceutical intermediates and APIs. My current work focuses on the synthetic route and process development of fine chemicals. My day-to-day activities mostly involve evaluating synthetic strategies, lab scale synthesis, collaborating with engineers in the synthesis scale-up, and supervising production campaigns in the plant. Synthetic strategies are transformed from milligram quantity to streamlined processes that produce metric ton quantities of material. The optimization of a process is a delicate balance between raw material costs, operation costs, operation time, safety, and the quality of product.