Aug. 9, 2010
Graduate advances chemistry career with CIE tenant Practical Sustainability
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Jonathan Wistrom admits that, like a lot of new college students, he wasn't sure where his career path would take him. But his initial interest in chemistry and a hallway encounter with one of his teachers led him to a key role in a biological and chemical consulting firm.
Jonathan Wistrom, a 2008 Northwest graduate, is completing his second year as a chemist for Practical Sustainability, a firm that specializes in sustainability analyses, environmental and ecological technology, infection control and material characterization.
Wistrom was nearing his college graduation and looking for a job when Dr. Rafiq Islam, who chairs Northwest's chemistry department, approached him with an opportunity at Practical Sustainability. After giving it some thought, Wistrom submitted his resume and decided the firm was a good fit for him.
"If I wasn't at Northwest and I didn't have the relationship with the staff that I did, then I never would have learned about this job," Wistrom said. "At Northwest you get to know your professors and you get to know the heads of your department."
Wistrom's role at Practical Sustainability involves chemical analysis and research development, particularly with the depolymerization of plastics and rubber compounds. Depolymerization is the process of decomposing something, such as waste, into a simpler functional compound.
Practical Sustainability, which is based near St. Louis in Chesterfield, Mo., also uses space in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Northwest's 46,679 square-foot, mixed-use business incubator. The CIE, winner of the Southern Growth Policies Board 2010 Innovator Award, is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and highly-specialized teaching and research labs.
Wistrom said he and Practical Sustainability are happy to be in Maryville, adding the city and Northwest have been good partners.
"It's everything I could ask for and more in a laboratory situation," Wistrom said. "To have access to that instrumentation is great because I don't have to wait two weeks, three weeks to get my results back. I have it instantaneously. It's a convenience factor unmatched by anything I've experienced."
A native of Stanton, Iowa, Wistrom said his interest in chemistry grew out of a habit for taking things apart as a child. Wistrom said he's always had a curiosity for how things work, and working in the chemistry field made sense for him. He hopes to one day manage a lab.
In addition to his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Northwest, Wistrom has seven years of experience in mechanical operations, the pharmaceutical industry and organic chemistry laboratory synthesis.
He is experienced in a variety of analytical techniques, including thermo-gravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, gas chromatography and fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.
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