Paul Hutchins

Senior Chemist, Analytical Sciences, The Dow Chemical Company


Cumberland, ME

Undergraduate Institution

Taylor University, Indiana.

Ph.D. Studies


Title of Ph.D. Dissertaion

Computational strategies for the generation and analysis of mass spectrometry-based lipidomics data

Research and Professional Experience

I chose UW-Madison because of the broad expertise in mass spectrometry across the campus. I enjoyed the environment in the Coon lab, and was drawn to the group’s focus on all aspects of mass spectrometry—instrumentation, methods, applications, and data analysis. My dissertation research focused on developing mass spectrometry data acquisition and analysis techniques for the study of lipids. My current work at Dow involves using mass spectrometry to structurally characterize and quantify compounds across the specialty chemical development and manufacturing lifecycle from starting raw materials all the way to final product formulations.

“My time in the lab prepared me to look deep into the data to see what conclusions can be drawn when the results are unexpected.”

How did your work in the Coon lab prepare you for this work?

Although I no longer work in the bio-analytical chemistry sphere, I am constantly using the scientific problem solving skills I learned in the lab to design analytical methods and interpret experimental results.  No matter how well planned an experiment may be, troubleshooting is a key skill: my time in the lab prepared me to look deep into the data to see what conclusions can be drawn when the results are unexpected. The Coon lab places a big emphasis on exploring data and problem solving in data analysis—that’s not something that everyone comes out of grad school having. That’s a real differentiating skill. Another point of emphasis is on how results are presented both through writing and data visualization, especially the way data is best presented to non analytical chemists. These skills are vital at a company like Dow, where the vast majority of colleagues aren’t specializing in analytical chemistry. It’s important to be able to translate your technical knowledge and expertise into something that allows non-experts to instantly see impact.

Earn your Ph.D. with us

The Coon Group is always on the lookout for new members.  Professor Coon accepts students from several UW-Madison doctoral programs including Chemistry, the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), and Cellular & Molecular Pathology.