All chemists work with simple forms of matter to either reach a greater understanding of the chemical itself, uncover the elements of unfamiliar substances or create entirely new chemical compounds for use in a variety of applications. Chemists typically specialize in one of the sub disciplines of chemistry, the most prominent of those being biochemistry, neurochemistry, nuclear chemistry, and theoretical chemistry. There are even those involved in forensic chemistry who work with law enforcement to establish evidence in criminal investigations. Some of the sub disciplines are interrelated because of the complex and widespread nature of the field.
Biochemists work only with those chemicals and reactions that occur in living organisms. Also known by its longer name, biological chemistry, the field covers all types of biomedical research. Biochemists delve deep and experiment with organic matter on a cellular level to produce new technologies in genetic engineering, pharmaceutical drugs, DNA therapies and even agricultural products. Human insulin, prenatal diagnosis of genetic conditions, DNA testing, and improvements in crop yield were all a result of the work of biochemists. Neurochemists are biochemists who specialize in the area of neurochemicals, molecules and other elements present within biological nervous systems.
Another subfield, nuclear chemistry, deals specifically with radioactivity and other properties and processes of nuclear matter. Nuclear chemists study the effects of radiation on living things in order to create medical treatments which will counteract or prevent negative outcomes on the cellular level. They may also aid in the development of new technologies to create or harness radioactive power. A nuclear chemist working at a power plant, for example, might study which chemical compound allows for the safest storage of radioactive material or investigate new and more efficient ways of extracting nuclear power.
Theoretical chemists explore scientific ideas and theories in an attempt to more fully explain chemical reactions. Scientists in this field work with advanced subjects like quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics, statistical thermodynamics and quantum mechanics in order to develop solid theories which can be applied in industrial, medical and nuclear applications. The theories they formulate underlie modern technologies like DNA analysis, advanced medical treatments and new alternative fuels.