I'm an analytical chemist and I work with a technique known as mass spectrometry (mass spec). My interests are directed at using Perl to automate various aspects of mass spectral data analysis. Mass spec is widely used in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical, and forensic industries. In recent years, mass spec has seen tremendous growth in the life scienes. In fact, its application is revolutionizing many aspects of drug discovery (e.g., proteomics). However, analysis of mass spectral data is becoming the rate limiting step in this endeavor.
Currently, I'm using Perl to automate "deconvolution" of biomolecule (protein, peptide, oligonucleotide) mass spectra. This allows for the unambiguous determination of molecular weights of large complex molecules. I've been pleasantly surprised with how fast Perl is at these tasks, despite the fact that it is an interpreted language. This is saving me time not having to worry about mucking around in C - at least for this initial phase. We've developed mass spectral deconvolution software - using Perl for the guts. <shameless plug> This product, called ProMass, is now shipping (hoo-aaah!). Check it out here. </shameless plug>