The transition from chemistry undergraduate to research scientist is one which comes as a rather abrupt shock to many students of organic chemistry
The synthetic organic chemist’s companion
Chichester, UK: Wiley-Interscience 2007 | 198pp | ?26.50 (SB) ISBN: 978-0-470-10707-2
Reviewed by Mike Porter
The transition from chemistry undergraduate to research scientist is one which comes as a rather abrupt shock to many students of organic chemistry. I remember well my first few faltering steps in the research laboratory, and the realisation that three years of practical classes had barely prepared me at all for a ’real’ lab. Recrystallisation and distillation I could do, and maybe a steam distillation ... but what was this technique called flash chromatography? I knew about calcium chloride drying tubes, but nothing about gas cylinders or inert gas techniques. And while I was perfectly happy to set up a reaction on a fifty-gram scale, fifty milligrams would have been a struggle.
Fortunately, like most people, I had the assistance of experienced and (generally) patient co-workers to help me find my feet - but how much easier it would have been for all concerned had I possessed a copy of this little book by Michael Pirrung.
The book is designed to give helpful information through the entire process of planning, executing and analysing the results of a synthetic procedure - starting from literature searching, through handling standard and specialised reagents, to workup, purification and even cleaning the glassware. In addition to the techniques which would be found in any practical textbook, there are numerous hands-on tips of the type one normally learns only with extensive lab experience.
The author states that his aspiration for this book is to find it, with several tabbed pages, on chemists’ lab benches - and I think that his aspiration will be fulfilled. The book is one I would recommend to those starting off their research careers, but it contains a wealth of information which will be useful to even the most experienced chemists.