Ivan Chang-Yen (Date of Birth: 14th Feb 1947)

Trinidad and Tobago Icons Vol 1

Ivan Chang-Yen was born in Guyana on February 14th 1947. He attended Central High School, then Queen’s College where he worked from 1966, while attending the University of Guyana part-time. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology in 1971, he worked as a research assistant in natural products for two years. Despite preferring biology to chemistry, he pursued his master’s and doctoral degrees in analytical chemistry at the University of Bristol, England between 1974 and 1976.

After graduating, he returned to the Caribbean to lecture at UWI, St. Augustine, where he initiated the first analytical chemistry programme with Dr. Philip Jones and continued with Dr. Lutchminarine Chatergoon. This programme continues to develop through close collaboration with local institutions and industries in order to prepare students with the necessary skills for the workplace.

Chang-Yen is well-known for his research in Trinidad and Tobago on heavy metals and for pioneering work on the fingerprinting of crude oils in land and marine environments. Other important work includes food safety and security; laboratory quality; lead pollution, poisoning and prevention, all of which have had significant social and environmental value locally and in the wider Caribbean.

His expertise has been used by the Institute of Marine Affairs, the Trinidad & Tobago Bureau of Standards, the Ministry of Health, the Forensic Science Centre, the Environmental Management Authority and the Pan American Health Organization. He currently holds memberships in the American Chemical Society and the Association of Official Analytical Chemists and is the Trinidad and Tobago representative to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

As a scientist, he constantly thinks of improving efficiency and quality, but relaxes by cooking, making local wines, growing orchids and practising black and white and colour photography.

He advises children to: “Dream and plan things you would like to do and not what somebody else wants you to do; become people of tomorrow rather than people who just follow others of today”.