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The exact duties of associate scientists vary by employer or project, but most are hired to assist in experiments and research, often under the direction of a lead scientist. Although associate scientists might not lead their own research teams, many achieve industry recognition by authoring scientific papers and speaking at industry conferences or academic institutions
Associate scientist candidates should have advanced degrees in a directly related scientific field. For example, Genentech, a pharmaceutical company, requires a prospective associate scientist to have a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical/Biological Sciences or a similar field. The Human BioMolecular Research Institute requires associate scientists to have a doctoral degree such as a Ph.D. or M.D.
Associate scientists need strong analytical and problem solving skills to conduct experiments and determine how a particular piece of information can advance the team's research goals. She must have expertise in her field of research as well as the ability to adapt to new technologies and techniques. Because they function as part of a team, associate scientists need strong people and verbal and written communication skills. Excellent organizational skills are important as well.
An associate scientist doesn’t typically work independently or conduct his own research. At the Human BioMolecular Research Institute, for example, an associate scientist reports to a senior or staff scientist, who supervises his research, his authorship of research papers and his application for fellowships and awards. At some organizations, associate scientists have limited management duties, such as training other members of the team and overseeing students, fellows and lab technicians.