Using chemistry to make things better

Research scientist Ryan Lin hopes to use "green chemistry" to improve the environment.
Research scientist Ryan Lin hopes to use "green chemistry" to improve the environment.

Part of Mr Ryan Lin's job involves watching paint dry.

But the research scientist's job is far from boring. He is involved in thinking up new ways of combining chemical ingredients to improve paint products for customers.

The speciality chemicals company he works for, Solvay Novecare Asia Pacific, develops defoamers - used in paint to reduce bubble formation during application. It also develops chemicals for the oil and gas, agriculture and personal care sectors.

"I enjoy developing new products and formulations, and working closely with customers to solve their problems," said Mr Lin, 27, who was hired as a research assistant after graduating in 2013.

He majored in applied chemistry at the National University of Singapore after studying chemical engineering at Nanyang Polytechnic.

He was inspired by Yale University Professor Paul Anastas' work on "green chemistry".

"People associate the industry with harmful chemicals, but I feel this allows me to do good," he said.

He has gained overseas exposure by travelling to meet clients.

"If you stay in the lab, you'll lose touch with where customers are going," he said. "Travelling gives me a sense of what kind of projects I'll be working on, and whether my knowledge is still up to date."

Mr Lin hopes to become a regional research and development manager in time. He said: "The future of this industry is in sustainable chemistry, and I hope I can contribute by using green chemistry to make the environment a better place."

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2015, with the headline 'Using chemistry to make things better'. Print Edition | Subscribe