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What Does a Staff Scientist Do?

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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A staff scientist is a key position within many science-based companies and government agencies because this position generally oversees most of the daily laboratory activities. This position is highly complex, and most people who enter this profession have a doctorate degree and years of scientific research experience. A career in this field encompasses both supervisory duties and direct involvement in scientific projects, which requires years of training and experience.

Professional duties vary depending on the company that he or she works for, but general duties may include applying scientific theories and principles, collaborating with other scientists and professionals, assisting in project preparation, and overseeing project details. Leadership skills are usually required to perform most of these tasks because a staff scientist is responsible for many of the team members. He or she also corresponds with upper level professionals in order to report progress, problems, and other laboratory information. Direct involvement with experiments may depend on the skill level of the scientist and the company's job description.

Those who are involved in experiments are usually in charge of explaining information to clients, which may include providing scientific demonstrations of products or experiments and presenting scientific proposals and conclusions. In addition to correspondence and team supervision, a staff scientist is responsible for an abundance of paperwork including evaluations, project designs, project progress, scientific conclusions, and recommendations for future projects. This profession may require that he or she trains other staff members in procedures needed to support ongoing projects.

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There are usually several levels of this position, including associate staff scientist, staff scientist, senior staff scientist, and distinguished staff scientist. These levels best describe the career advancement offered in this profession, and each level is defined by experience and proficiency in the profession. Promotion to each level is usually based on the performance of the scientist in the previous position.

An associate position is usually reserved for those who have recently received all necessary degrees to enter the profession, whereas an actual staff scientist position is primarily based on his or her success as an associate employee. Senior positions are generally based on professional achievement and recognition from the scientific community, which can be acquired after successfully completing his or her own project. A distinguished position is granted when the scientist is recognized as an authority in his or her field of expertise, and this title is generally applied to a select number of professionals.

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