In our ongoing celebrations of IYPT2019, IUPAC100, and diversity in the chemical sciences, we continue our Q&A series highlighting the individuals from the Canadian chemistry community who have been selected for IUPAC’s Periodic Table of Younger Chemists. Juris Meija (osmium, Os) is a Research Officer at the National Research Council Canada, where his work includes improving the reliability of chemical measurements through experimental design, and development of certified reference materials.

Juris Meija

Juris Meija, Research Officer at the National Research Council Canada. Photo credit: Nicolas Séguin (NRC Canada)

Why chemistry?

During my high school years chemistry offered the perfect mix of banal solving of equations and satisfaction of seeing your equations come to life. Who wouldn’t want to make their own fireworks or the many other (unmentionable) exciting things that chemistry can offer?

What excites you most about your work?

As a researcher in measurement science, a large part of my work deals with opportunities to reshape many fundamental aspects of chemistry. Being part of multi-national teams in which we set future international standards, such as revising atomic weights or establishing new names of chemical elements, can be very exciting.

How has being in Canada helped shape your chemistry career?

Not every country is able to partake in the international fora. Canada has given me a platform to represent matters pertaining to measurement science and chemistry on a global scale. I am an immigrant and it has been a privilege for me to live and work here.

Do your activities extend beyond the usual bounds of chemistry?

As appropriate for an analytical chemist, I spend most of my time analyzing. Instead of lab work, however, I analyze data from chemical measurements along with the practices and mathematical models that are used to obtain them. While I see myself as an applied-theoretical-analytical-chemist, most may not think of this as “chemistry” because I do not work in the lab.

Have you ever received advice that you’d like to pass on to other young chemists?

The 21st century is filled with far too many distractions. Find a quiet place to study, and then study.

In celebration of IYPT 2019, do you have a favourite memory or fact about the periodic table?

I grew up in the Soviet Latvia and studied chemistry from textbooks where all periodic tables had the element 104 as ‘kurchatovium’. When I first held a North American chemistry textbook, I learned that even scientific conventions are influenced by politics.