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Organic Chemistry Introduction

What Organic Chemistry Is and What Organic Chemists Do

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Benzene is an example of an organic molecule.

Benzene is an example of an organic molecule.

Chad Baker, Getty Images
Organic chemistry is more than simply the study of carbon or the study of chemicals in living organisms. Take a look at what organic chemistry is, why it is important, and what organic chemists do.

What Is Organic Chemistry?

Organic chemistry is the study of carbon and the study of the chemistry of life. Since not all carbon reactions are organic, another way to look at organic chemistry would be to consider it the study of molecules containing the carbon-hydrogen (C-H) bond and their reactions.

Why Is Organic Chemistry Important?

Organic chemistry is important because it is the study of life and all of the chemical reactions related to life. Several careers apply an understanding of organic chemistry, such as doctors, veterinarians, dentists, pharmacologists, chemical engineers, and chemists. Organic chemistry plays a part in the development of common household chemicals, foods, plastics, drugs, fuels... really most of the chemicals part of daily life.

What Does an Organic Chemist Do?

An organic chemist is a chemist with a college degree in chemistry. Typically this would be a doctorate or master's degree in organic chemistry, though a bachelor's degree in chemistry may be sufficient for some entry level positions. Organic chemists usually conduct research and development in a laboratory setting. Projects that would use organic chemists would include development of a better painkilling drug, formulating a shampoo that would result in silkier hair, making a stain resistant carpet, or finding a non-toxic insect repellent.

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