Dr. Paul Keifer

Varian & Stanford | Chemist & Researcher

Chemistry, Scuba, NMR, Marketing: How I Excited Atoms For A Living

I found a field that I loved, and it evolved into a great career: Scientific Instrumentation in general, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy in particular. Notably, as for most people, I did not know that NMR Spectroscopy even existed until my 4th semester in college. So don’t assume that you “already know your career options” – they will likely keep changing your entire life! And keep your mind open! (“Change” keeps happening, at least in science and technology. And a fun career will surely change continuously in response to these changes in technology.) Remember your phones, computers, and software as they exist right now; because in 20 years you’ll be able to tell stories about them (“in the good ol’ days, we carried our computers in backpacks, and used keyboards…”), stories that will make 16 year olds roll their eyes at you! (My first post-doctoral job used big 18”x 3” hard-drive platters; 5 MB each!)


When I entered graduate school, we were told in no uncertain terms that “you will not be done when you get your Ph.D. degree – we totally expect you to continue learning the rest of your life”. I have embraced that message. My job activities by the time I was age 50 were things I never even imagined when I was 25. (The same is true for my wife.) I excelled in my career because of my polishing of the following skills: writing, editing, marketing, research, team-building, and collaboration. Let’s talk about how these skills play a role, and how they will ALWAYS be in demand, and how I polished them. NMR Spectroscopy is used to: develop the pharmaceuticals that keep people healthy; make plastics; analyze every food you eat; synthesize every chemical known; understand how your body works (fluids, tissues, metabolites, proteins, MRI, etc.); make petroleum products (gasoline, oil, chemicals); etc... Everything you see or touch around you is made up of chemicals; NMR Spectroscopy is used to analyze it all! (I cannot imagine anything more exciting than that.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_magnetic_resonance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_magnetic_resonance_spectroscopy

​Meet Dr. Paul Keifer

I am a scientist, spectroscopist, and educator with extensive experience in marketing and developing scientific instruments, especially NMR spectrometers. I have worked for two Fortune 500 companies, three major universities, and my own consulting firm. I have over 55 publications (with ~7000 citations) that showcase my writing, editing, marketing, research, team-building, and collaboration skills. I have been very lucky to have enjoyed my career.

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