When no two puzzles are alike, the solutions are found in collaboration.


What happens when you’re in the laboratory, staring at a sample that is not quite like anything you’ve ever seen?

For Joseph R. Swider, Ph.D., that may be the best part of the job.

“We’re problem solvers,” Dr. Swider says. McCrone Associates is often thought of for its analytical lab services — but for him, that’s only half the story.

“The exciting part of the job is that it isn’t standard,” Dr. Swider says. “We don’t just do an analysis —  we get a problem in. You have to use what you do know to maybe learn and develop something new to solve that problem.”

As cleanroom manager at McCrone Associates, Dr. Swider works to ensure smooth collaboration between the cleanroom, project managers and scientists throughout the analytical laboratories.

And that collaboration is how McCrone maximizes the power of collective expertise.

On an individual basis, the open-ended nature of many analytical projects can be intimidating, but McCrone scientists are never truly working individually. From veterans of the analytical laboratory environment to relative newcomers who may bring in experience from other industries, the power of collaboration means there’s always someone on the team with relevant insights into even the most unusual materials science mysteries.

And that, Swider says, transforms potential setbacks into engaging challenges.

“Scientifically, we’re top notch,” he says. “We have some of the best instruments, the best staff and the best experience for such a wide array of what we do. But the key lies in our team approach. If we didn’t communicate like that, we’d be reinventing the wheel every day.”

Joseph R. Swider is a senior research scientist and cleanroom manager at McCrone Associates, and an instructor with Hooke College of Applied Sciences. He holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry from the University of Maryland at College Park, where his doctorate research utilized a novel cold-neutron analytical technique for chemical analysis of small samples and artists’ materials. Joe has done scientific work for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; for the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland; and for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. He has been with McCrone Associates since 2004.