Colinda van Tilburg has already worked with us for 11 years. She started as an organic chemist, but after 10 years she became an analytical chemist. At the celebration weekend she talked to and danced with a lot of colleagues. One of the advantages of working in a service department: you know almost everyone at Mercachem!
How long have you been at Mercachem?
I have been at Mercachem for almost 11 years.
What is your function?
I am group leader of Analytical Chemistry at Mercachem.
Isn’t there a funny story, that you are a now group leader of Analytical Chemistry?
Actually there is! When was student, I said, “don’t do analytical chemistry, it is boring!” and now I am group leader of the analytical department and I like it very much... Haha...
So, I chose organic chemistry, but after 10 years working as an organic chemist I fell pregnant and wasn’t allowed to work in the lab. I was temporarily moved to the analytical department. I love the diversity of that work and before I had to move back they asked me to stay, so I did. But I am very happy I have knowledge of organic compounds. For many analytical chemists, they are numbers instead of structures. This organic chemistry knowledge became very handy when searching for new methods and solutions.
What are your responsibilities at Mercachem?
I take care of all the analytical equipment, such as NMR, LCMS, GCMS, and SFC instruments. This means we take care that the organic chemist can use the equipment for open access, develop new methods, and undertake troubleshooting and small repairs.
How has the analytical department changed in recent years?
There have been a lot of changes over the last 11 years. In the first nine years, there were no analytical chemists at Mercachem, so taking care of the equipment was an additional job for someone. The department started with two people 11 years ago, after 3 years we became three, and finally we are now a group of seven. The amount of equipment has at least doubled; the work flow is even greater. Nowadays, we have 25 LC systems and perform much more varied analysis, such as solubility, DSC, and impurity calculations.
For several years we have had a medicinal chemistry department at Mercachem. Has anything changed for the analytical group?
For this group, we have four types of standard tests that we run every two weeks: kinetic and thermodynamic solubility, lipophilicity, and permeability. But we also do derivative analysis of these tests, if they are needed, such as solubility with higher concentration or with other solvents or skin pampa. In the past we only performed these tests for specific projects.
Are you attending scientific conferences to learn about new equipment, etc.?
Of course, last year, we attended HPLC 2017, which was a large conference on everything related to LC. We gave also a talk (about prepLC) and presented a poster (about SFC). We attend USER meetings, where we meet other users of the same equipment and learn about and share new methods or new equipment. Vendors are also invited to tell us about their new columns for LC/GC/SFC.
What do you like most of working at Mercachem
I love the dynamic of the work; none of my days are the same.
Mercachem is building a new building. Do you already know if you will be working in the new building or will you stay in the old building? Which would you prefer?
The analytical team will move to the new building, but we will leave some equipment in the old building. So we will have to work in both buildings. I would like to go to the new building because we will have more space in the new lab and all the equipment will be in one lab.
A different question... With which colleague did you have the most fun during the 20 years celebration weekend? And is he/she from the same department?
Now I am thinking: not one in particular. I talked to a lot of people, especially my colleagues from Prague. I was at their facility once and I have email contact with some of them. I danced with other people from every department, but not one special group. That’s the advantage of working in a service department: you know almost everyone at Mercachem.
What is at the top of your bucket list?
Having a flight in a hot-air balloon.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
As most people know, many colleagues within the company have interesting hobbies. My hobby is scouting. I do not play with the children any more, but I train and coach the young scout leaders and trainers to organize better and more challenging activities for the children.