Monday, June 17, 2024

NYT: "F.A.A. Investigating How Questionable Titanium Got Into Boeing and Airbus Jets"

Via the New York Times, this unfortunate quality assurance news: 

...The problem illustrates the complex global supply chain used in producing modern jetliners, and the story of what appears to have gone wrong involves companies in China, Italy, Turkey and the United States.

The issue appears to date to 2019 when a Turkish material supplier, Turkish Aerospace Industries, purchased a batch of titanium from a supplier in China, according to the people familiar with the issue. The Turkish company then sold that titanium to several companies that make aircraft parts, and those parts made their way to Spirit, which used them in Boeing and Airbus planes.

In December 2023, an Italian company that bought the titanium from Turkish Aerospace Industries noticed that the material looked different from what the company typically received. The company, Titanium International Group, also found that the certificates that came with the titanium seemed inauthentic.

Turkish Aerospace Industries did not respond to a request for a comment.

Spirit began investigating the matter, and the company notified Boeing and Airbus in January that it could not verify the source of the titanium used to make certain parts. Titanium International Group told Spirit that when it bought the material in 2019, it had no clue that the paperwork had been forged, according to Spirit officials...

...Spirit officials said they had started testing titanium parts to make sure aviation-grade material was used. The company is testing components that are still in stock and that are on undelivered fuselages.

So far, Spirit’s testing has confirmed that the titanium is the appropriate grade for airplane manufacturers. But the company has been unable to confirm that the titanium was treated through the approved airplane manufacturing process. The material passed some of the materials testing performed on it but failed others.

It's always weird to me that companies who work with materials don't perform standard (for a chemist, anyway) identity and purity testing. Can't imagine the pressure there is on QC/QA to approve suppliers to keep manufacturing lines open as well. 

C&EN: "What happens to old scientific instruments?"

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this rather wonderful article by Laurel Oldach: 
Ian Lightcap had a problem. The core facility director at the University of Notre Dame had a lot of aging equipment on his hands and a plan to upgrade it—but no plan for what to do with the old instruments after the new ones came in.

Take a high-resolution X-ray diffractometer, used for characterization of new crystalline materials, for example. When it was purchased in 2016, it was worth $275,000. But now, with its optical alignment and therefore its accuracy slipping, it was taking up space that Lightcap needed for a newer, more accurate model.

But the university didn’t want the older machine to end up in a landfill. The instrument had been a big capital investment. Surely it still had value to someone—somewhere. Didn’t it?

This is a really fun article, and something that covers an important secondary market (scientific equipment.) 

Friday, June 14, 2024

Have a great weekend

Well, this has been kind of a nutty week, but we're getting it done. I am looking forward to my weekend. I hope that you had a calmer week than I, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday. 

C&EN: "Charles Lieber plans talks with the University of Hong Kong"

Via C&EN's Bethany Halford, this unusual news: 

Charles Lieber, a renowned chemist formerly of Harvard University, was convicted in 2021 of making false statements related to his work with a university in China. He is now exploring a job in the country.

According to documents filed by a probation officer, Lieber asked for permission to travel to China for 6 days in July “to discuss potential faculty appointment and employment opportunities at the University of Hong Kong, and to deliver a scientific talk to the faculty and students.” Lieber retired from his position at Harvard in February 2023.

The case against Lieber began in January 2020, when the US government charged him with fraud for making false statements about his ties to China’s Thousand Talents Program to investigators from the US National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense—agencies that funded Lieber’s research.

Full article here. I genuinely don't know what to think about all of this, other than to note that Fraser Stoddart is also at the University of Hong Kong, and so they clearly have a goal of hiring prominent chemists. Here's hoping it works out, I guess. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Job posting: Senior Chemist, Land O'Lakes, Inc, River Falls, WI

Via C&EN Jobs, this position: 

  • Position is responsible for the management of the pilot lab at River Falls, WI, this role is an individual contributor
  • Position is an integral part of the By Winfield United Process serving as the conduit between pilot scale and full scale production
  • Position responsible for supporting diverse groups within Winfield Solutions
  • Maintenance of product performance is crucial to maintaining market share through customer satisfaction and quality.  Implementation of innovation will ensure growth in this business

Posted salary: "$128,100 per year + benefits"

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The 2025 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 4 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching position

The 2025 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 4 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching position. 

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On June 13, 2023, the 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 11 research/teaching positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.  

Job posting: visiting assistant professor, Department of Chemistry, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemistry at St. Olaf College invites applications for multiple full-time, one-year positions in Chemistry at the Visiting Assistant Professor level to begin August 2024. These positions will involve teaching in the general chemistry program and could also include teaching advanced chemistry courses depending on applicant interest and department need.

Applicants should be interested in teaching at a liberal arts institution and have a Ph.D. in chemistry or a relevant field or expect completion of such prior to employment.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Job posting: Research Assistant (Biotech and Additive Manufacturing), United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD

The Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department (collaborating with the Chemistry Department) invites applications for a Research Assistant position to begin as early as August of 2024 to assist with faculty and student research beginning the fall semester of 2024. USNA is a service academy and top tier liberal arts college with a demonstrated commitment to excellence in technical training and research. Candidates should have a strong commitment leading and producing high-quality peer-reviewed research while supporting undergraduate learning objectives. 

Research Assistant will support biotechnology research at USNA investigating poly[(R)-3-hydroxyalkanoates] (PHAs) as polymer matrices for additive manufacturing. The role will primarily coordinate activities in a bioreactor laboratory and additive manufacturing laboratory. These activities will include collaboration with midshipmen and professors at USNA and collaboration with other DoD and industry partners. Daily duties will involve work in an operating research laboratory primarily operating a microbial bioreactor and additive manufacturing equipment. Laboratory experiments will involve tightly integrated collaboration and teamwork with both students, lab technicians, and faculty at USNA. 
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

C&EN: "Settlement reached in Ohio train derailment case"

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this news (article by Priyanka Runwal): 

A $310 million settlement between the US and Norfolk Southern—the company responsible for the Feb. 3, 2023, train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio—is a step in the right direction but still contains gaps, residents and activists say.

The settlement, announced May 23 by the US Department of Justice and the US Environmental Protection Agency, follows a March 31, 2023, complaint filed by the federal agencies against Norfolk Southern for unlawful discharge of pollutants, oil, and hazardous substances into the air, water, and soil.

Eleven cars of the train were carrying hazardous materials that spilled and fueled a large fire. In a controversial move, authorities released and burned vinyl chloride, a highly flammable carcinogen used for making polyvinyl chloride that was present in five of the cars. Many residents who were evacuated reported feeling sick after returning to their homes, while local waterways displayed rainbow sheens and dead fish.

The settlement, if approved by the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, would require Norfolk Southern to pay for long-term environmental and health monitoring and mental health services for the community. It would also pay a civil penalty and support improved safety measures for transporting hazardous materials via rail.

It's genuinely surprising to me that it is just $310 million, although I suspect this is not the sum total of the amount of money Norfolk Southern will end up paying out. 

Friday, June 7, 2024

Have a great weekend

Well, this has been a pretty good week overall. No complaints, and had a great time in Winnipeg. I hope that you had a good week (possibly in Winnipeg!) and that you have a wonderful, sunny weekend. 

C&EN: "Drought in Mexico shuts chemical plants"

Via C&EN, this bad news out of Mexico (by Alexander H. Tullo): 

Mexico’s worst drought in more than a decade is beginning to waylay chemical production as authorities divert water from industrial consumers to local communities.

Heeding a government request to reduce water intake, Chemours paused titanium dioxide production in Altamira, in the state of Tamaulipas on Mexico’s east coast. In a statement, the company says it cannot predict the duration of the shutdown but says it is “working closely with government, business, and community partners to identify and implement short- and long-term solutions.”

Ineos Styrolution, which operates one of North America’s largest polystyrene and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) sites in Altamira, says it declared force majeure after authorities reduced water supply to the facility.

Styrolution says some of its production lines are operating but at lower rates than usual. The firm is also serving local markets through imports from its overseas facilities.

Sabic makes ABS, polycarbonate, and other plastics in nearby Tampico. “The local commission on drinking water and sewage issued a letter communicating it is no longer able to pump water to the local water system, which directly impacts industries in the Altamira region,” Sabic says in a statement. As a result, the company is proceeding with a temporary shutdown of the Tampico site.

Full article here. Here is hoping for the best for the workers of these plants. 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Job posting: investigator, medicinal chemistry, GSK, Upper Providence, PA

Via Twitter: 

We are currently looking for highly motivated organic chemists to join our Medicinal Chemistry team (including but not limited to: discovery, high-throughput, and modality agnostic chemistry) at our Upper Providence, PA site. Our department partners with program teams across GSK’s research units to deliver high quality small molecules, from hit generation through late-stage lead optimization to address increasingly complex disease areas.

The purpose of the role is to provide a high level of scientific and technical contributions to projects within the Medicinal Chemistry portfolio (including but not limited to: small molecules, PROTACs, degraders, oligonucleotides, covalents, and antibody-drug conjugates) with a primary responsibility of driving efficiencies applying novel synthetic methods and techniques to design, synthesize, and purify candidate molecules.

The successful applicant will become fluent in all areas of medicinal chemistry while working as part of a highly productive team to design and synthesize developable drug molecules.  The role involves, to differing degrees, medicinal chemistry, data analytics, designing compounds to test medicinal chemistry hypotheses, synthetic organic chemistry to support both medicinal chemistry and/or candidate selection and championing technological advances. 

The successful candidate will work collaboratively across teams of synthetic chemists, analytical chemists, engineers, and data analytics experts to help invent these new processes and chemistries to solve impactful problems that will accelerate delivery of important medicinal advancements to patients. Successful candidates must be able to think creatively, champion the needs of the organization and work collaboratively within a team environment. 

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Nitriding facility accident kills 1, injures 3 others

Via the Chattanooga Times Free Press (article by Ellen Gerst), this news: 

A worker at a Chattanooga facility died after a chemical fire, according to state officials.

Crews responded to TS USA, off Riverfront Parkway, on Thursday morning and found the worker and three others with burn injuries.

The worker was sent to a hospital with extensive burns, according to the Chattanooga Fire Department. He has not been identified.

The death occurred Thursday morning, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said.

"TOSHA sent an investigator to the facility to begin an inquiry that will determine the circumstances that led to the worker's death," spokesperson Chris Cannon said in an email.

The Chemical Safety Board has deployed on Tuesday, with this comment: 

Today the U.S. Chemical Safey and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) announced that it has deployed a team of chemical incident investigators to investigate the fatal fire that occurred last Thursday, May 30, at the TS USA liquid nitriding facility in downtown Chattanooga, TN.  One person died after suffering severe burns during the incident at the TS USA facility, which uses the nitriding process to harden the outer layer of metal parts. 

Four CSB investigators arrived on site at the TS USA facility today and have commenced investigative activities, including documentation of the incident site and interviews with facility employees.

My condolences to the victims and the family of the deceased. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

The 2025 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 3 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching position

The 2025 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 3 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching position. 

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On June 6, 2023, the 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 6 research/teaching positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? This will serve as the first open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.  

Job posting: Visiting Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg, PA

From the inbox: 
East Stroudsburg University (ESU) invites applications for a one-year visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, specialty physical chemistry, beginning in August, 2024.  Responsibilities will include teaching general chemistry and physical chemistry and associated laboratories.  Teaching responsibilities may also include general education chemistry. The successful candidate will demonstrate effective teaching and enthusiasm for mentoring a diverse population of undergraduates.  A Ph.D. in Chemistry, Biochemistry or a closely related field must be completed prior to appointment; but highly qualified candidates with ABD status at the time of application will be considered.  Authoritative documentation supporting timely completion of the Ph.D. must be provided for ABD candidates. 
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 557 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) will conclude with 557 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On May 30, 2023, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 628 research/teaching positions and 83 teaching-focused positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the second, open thread. Here's a link to the current, third open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.   

Monday, June 3, 2024

C&EN: "Dow presents rosy view of the future"

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this update on the status of Dow (article by Alex Tullo): 

While poor market conditions are getting many chemical industry managers down, the mood is upbeat at Dow. At a May 16 investor event, executives said they think the firm should be able to improve pre-tax earnings by more than $3 billion per year by the end of the decade. Many of the gains will come from its large low-carbon petrochemical project in Canada and through plastics recycling initiatives.

“It’s been 5 years since we spun out of DowDuPont. And I think if I could summarize the last 5 years, I feel like we’ve created a strong company with excellent operating discipline,” CEO Jim Fitterling told reporters before the event.

The company reported earnings before taxes of $5.4 billion in 2023.

The chemical industry is grappling with overcapacity after a frenzy of new plant construction in the US and Asia met with sluggish demand. Europe, which is among the highest-cost regions in which to make petrochemicals, has been hit particularly hard. Major players such as ExxonMobil and Sabic plan to close facilities in the region. And Dow competitor LyondellBasell Industries recently launched a review of its European operations...

I have a weird bias that "Dow doing well is good for US chemistry employment", but I sense that is probably 20 or 30 years old. Nevertheless, it's good that Fitterling thinks that good things are ahead for Dow. Here is hoping that he is right. 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Have a great weekend

So I happen to be traveling to Winnipeg this weekend (see you there!), so there's that. If you happen to be there at CSC 2024, please do stop by and say hello! I hope that you had a good week, and that you have a wonderful weekend. See you on Monday. 

C&EN: "Asymchem to operate former Pfizer plant in Europe"

Via C&EN, this grimly ironic news (article by Aayushi Pratap): 

Making its entry into Europe, the Chinese pharmaceutical services firm Asymchem will take over as the operator of the former Pfizer small-molecule pilot plant in Sandwich, England. The company will also run a part of the development laboratories that will open in June. The site will include facilities for peptides and oligonucleotides and continuous flow and biocatalysis capabilities; it will house about 100 workers, including those previously employed by Pfizer. In 2022, Asymchem’s effort to acquire the US drug services firm Snapdragon Chemistry was rejected by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the US.

It is deeply weird to me that Pfizer decided to close the Sandwich site, but if I knew why Pfizer picked its sites for closure, I guess I would be in a different business. But I guess that Asymchem is finding value where Pfizer did not.  

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Job posting: Agrochemical Division Program Administrator, ACS

Via C&EN Jobs

This position is ideal for individuals who are organized, proactive, and capable of balancing independent work with team collaboration. The Program Administrator for the Division of Agrochemicals (AGRO), part of the American Chemical Society (ACS), will play a crucial role in the successful execution of the division’s technical programs and support AGRO leadership in division operations and logistics.

Primary Responsibilities:

Support the ACS Agrochemical Division’s Technical Program by: Creating a collaborate relationship with ACS staff allowing AGRO leadership to stay informed on ACS divisional requirements.  Assist AGRO members on challenges with abstract submission to the program scheduling platform (MAPS). Attend ACS national meetings to: Assist with the welcome table in coordination with AGRO leadership and volunteers. Provide information to conference attendees. Coordinate logistics with ACS staff. Host social events. Coordinating shipping of items to and from conferences.

Support ACS AGRO Leadership in Operations and Logistics: Serve as the point of contact and assist the Program Chair for national meeting logistics, technical and non-technical (social) program scheduling, and abstract submission. Assist the AGRO Communications Committee in professional communications about AGRO activities that may include a quarterly newsletter. Educate volunteers on ACS regulations and procedures. Collaborate with AGRO leadership on projects (publications, events, membership drives, etc.). Manage and maintain spreadsheets, reports, records, and agreements. Provide clerical and informational support to the AGRO executive committee.

Required Qualifications:

Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Adobe Acrobat. Excellent customer service, and oral and written communication skills. Ability to work independently, prioritize tasks, ensure quality, be flexible, plan proactively, and meet deadlines. Ability to work effectively in a diverse team-based environment.

Preferred Qualifications:

Experience with ACS or other scientific society planning processes.

Time Commitment:

Average of 300, but up to 400 hours per year, with peak times in March-May and July-August. Hourly compensation is dependent on experience.

Location and Travel:

Primarily a work-from-home position. Requires in-person attendance at one national ACS conference (6 days in August), quarterly virtual board meetings, periodic Zoom meetings, and occasional in-person meetings. Travel support provided for the national conference attendance.

Please send your interest by June 10, 2024, to Aaron Gross (

Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

C&EN: Lilly to invest $5.3 billion for a Lebanon, IN plan

Via C&EN, this good news for American manufacturing (article by Aayushi Pratap):

To meet astronomical demand for its weight-loss and antidiabetes drugs, Eli Lilly and Company says it will double its investment at a drug active-ingredient manufacturing site now under construction in Lebanon, Indiana.

The company will inject an additional $5.3 billion, increasing its total investment in the site to $9 billion. The expansion will boost the production of tirzepatide, the peptide-based active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) used in Zepbound and Mounjaro, weight-loss and antidiabetes medicines that the US Food and Drug Administration approved in 2023 and 2022, respectively.

Construction of the Indiana facility began in 2023. Lilly expects to start manufacturing at the site in 2026 and says it will increase production over the subsequent years. Once the facility is fully operational, it will employ 900 workers, including engineers, scientists, operating personnel, and lab technicians.

Since 2020, Lilly says, it has committed to spending $16 billion on new manufacturing sites in the US and Europe.

In a press release, Lilly CEO David A. Ricks says the overall project is “the largest manufacturing investment in our company’s history and, we believe, represents the single largest investment in synthetic medicine API manufacturing in US history.”

The investment comes as Lilly and Novo Nordisk, which manufactures the competing peptide-based drugs Wegovy and Ozempic, struggle to keep up with demand...

It will be really interesting to see what the site will look like eventually, but I could imagine 25-40ish chemists (of one stripe or another) at this site eventually? It will be interesting to see! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 557 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 557 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On May 30, 2023, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 628 research/teaching positions and 83 teaching-focused positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the second, open thread. Here's a link to the current, third open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.  

Job posting: Instructor, Department of Chemistry, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

From the inbox, a position at Case Western Reserve: 

Invites applications for a non-tenure track faculty position at the rank of Instructor. Candidates must be committed to excellence in undergraduate teaching, mentoring, and service. A PhD in chemistry and experience teaching first-year and sophomore-level undergraduate chemistry courses with demonstrated excellence in teaching are required. The new Instructor will serve a dual role with a teaching load of one introductory course per semester and will serve as the Department’s Lab and Facilities Manager, combining laboratory administration and teaching to address the need for higher level instrumentation management, upgrades to undergraduate experiments and management of the increasing laboratory class sections offered by the department. Several duties will include the maintenance and upkeep of all instruments used in the organic/analytical/physical chemistry/bioanalytical lab courses, creating policy for computer and instrumentation services, overseeing data and software acquisitions, and safety compliance in various teaching and research laboratories. The instructor will train Teaching Assistants (TAs) and provide supervision and guidance to lab staff on laboratory equipment, preparation of reagents and supplies for our laboratory courses.  The position will also collaborate closely with chemistry faculty to update and develop experiments, ensuring that our curriculum remains at the forefront of chemical education. Additionally, the Instructor will collaborate with Biology faculty members on chemical safety and building safety concerns, fostering a culture of safety and cooperation within our academic community. The importance of this role cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts essential service and advanced laboratory classes offered within our department. 

The starting term of the position is Summer 2024. A letter of application, CV, diversity statement, summary of teaching experience, class evaluations, and three confidential letters of reference should be submitted at by July 3, 2024. The diversity statement should address a) How your research, teaching, and/or service have contributed to diversity, equity and inclusion within your scholarly field(s) and/or how your individual and/or collaborative efforts have promoted structural justice inside and outside institutions of higher learning. This statement should also reflect on the ways in which the candidate’s continued efforts will foster a culture of diversity, pluralism, and individual difference at Case Western Reserve University into the future.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.