State Chemist

Website New Mexico Department of Agriculture

Classification Summary
Primarily devoted to management of staff, functions and responsibilities of the laboratory. Oversees as well as assists in performing all operations of a regulatory agency laboratory including chemical, physical or biological analysis to identify the purity and concentration of substances that may be constituents, adulterants, contaminants, or potentially hazardous substances in the environment, food, consumer products, biological tissues and fluids, hazardous waste, or industrial and agricultural commodities or seeds for both the agency regulatory program, as well as the regulated industry and public (on a fee basis). Maintains proper quality assurance and lab certifications in compliance with federal, state, and university regulations and standards. Record, maintain, and report resulting analysis data to regulatory programs for utilization in inspection and enforcement determinations. Participates in overall and long term planning of the lab capabilities including budgeting and resource allocation. Review and revision of analytical procedures and capabilities and incorporation of new analysis or equipment based on statutory requirements and need of regulated industry.
Classification Standard Duties
Oversee and assist in performing all operations of the laboratory to meet needs of applicable regulatory programs. Maintain standards for required lab certifications. Resolve technical issues in an effective, efficient and timely manner. Evaluate and maintain adequate laboratory equipment and quality assurance procedures including arranging necessary maintenance or replacement of equipment and supplies. Under limited supervision, perform, modify, and develop methods for chemical physical or biological analysis. Consult on field sampling, handling and preservation procedures. Perform recording and mathematical or statistical analysis and interpretation of analysis results. Monitor, assess and improve laboratory programs and procedures. May maintain annual participation in check sample or other QA programs. Verify all practices and procedures are in compliance with program standards. May provide technical documentation or testimony in a compliance conference, formal hearing, court or other enforcement related action. Attend professional association conferences, trainings or meetings as approved by supervisor. Maintain regular communication with Division director and applicable staff as needed.
Job Duties and Responsibilities
This position includes the development, method verification/validation, investigation, analysis, and interpretation of the composition, molecular structure, and properties of substances. Development of methods for the analysis of organic and inorganic compounds to determine chemical and physical properties. Perform recording and mathematical or statistical analysis including measurement uncertainty for tests. Oversee all operations of the laboratory to meet needs of applicable regulatory programs. Maintain ISO 17025:2017 standards for required laboratory accreditation. Resolve technical issues in an effective, efficient and timely manner. Evaluate and maintain adequate laboratory equipment/supplies and quality assurance procedures. Monitor and improve laboratory programs and procedures. May provide technical documentation or testimony in a compliance conference, formal hearing, court or other enforcement related action. Performs related duties as required. The State Chemist with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) determines the methodology (typically AOAC and EPA based with some instrument specific) to be used for testing activities and processes involved for the effective operations in the NMDA Laboratories. In the capacity of working with NMDA, the laboratory participates in Inter-laboratory comparisons with other State Laboratories. The State Chemist also performs routine chemical analyses of agricultural chemicals and feed materials which include micro nutrients, adulterants, or hazardous chemicals in agricultural products or chemicals as necessary. This position ensures that feed, fertilizer and pesticide products sold in the state meet minimum standards for New Mexico. The State Chemist must have sound judgment and assume the responsibility and staff oversight for the completion of routine testing. The State Chemist will also design and develop laboratory standard operating procedures, perform laboratory tests, analyze and interpret laboratory test results, and write concise reports.
Accreditation and certification requirements and standards, proper laboratory and equipment operations and procedures, QA/QC procedures and reporting, proper chemical hygiene and good laboratory practices. Hazardous waste handling and environmental health standards. State and Federal laws and rules pertaining to regulatory programs for which analysis is being performed.
Written and verbal communications skills in clear, concise and professional manner with effective listening. Prepare and maintain accurate, orderly records and reports. Maintain professional and appropriated rapport with staff, regulated entities and lab customers. Critical thinking and problem solving skills, short and long term planning for effective and timely completion of assigned work
Ability to make well informed effective and timely decisions and perceives the impact and implication of those decisions. Provide supervision, direction, mentoring and feedback. Develop and perform analysis following prescribed analysis methodologies. Monitor and maintain QA/QC standards, complete tasks in requested timeframes, foster cooperative work environment and maintain effective relationships; self motivate to work effectively.
Required Education
Bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Required Experience
Five (5) years of professional experience directly related to the standard duties as outlined.
Preferred Qualifications (optional)
Experience in laboratory accreditation, management, laboratory quality control, applicable ISO/IEC standards and quality management systems. Specific experience in the chemical analysis of feed (protein, fat, fiber, moisture, ash), fertilizer (via ICP-MS and/or ICP-OES) and/or pesticides (via GC, LC-MS, HPLC) including method development/adaptation is preferred. Specific experience working in a GLP or ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratory is preferred.
Required Certification/License
May be required to be certified, registered or licensed in additional specialty area(s).
Special Requirements of the Position
Practical working knowledge of the operation and maintenance of common and specialized analytical laboratory instruments. Must be able to obtain and maintain respirator medical approval and fit test requirements annually. Knowledge of ISO 17025:2017. Work may involve direct contact or exposure to allergens including but not limited to: bees, peanuts, tree nuts, dust, animal feed, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

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