Friday, September 23, 2022

Have a good weekend

This was an anxiety-inducing week, but it seemed like it worked out all right in the end. I have a fun Friday activity. I hope you have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

Marketwatch: "U.S. Leading Economic Index Fell in August for Sixth Straight Month, Signaling Downturn"

Via Marketwatch: 
An economic index that measures U.S. business cycles fell in August for the sixth straight month, indicating that a contraction in economic activity may be imminent.

The Leading Economic Index compiled by private-research group The Conference Board declined 0.3% to 116.2 in August after a revised 0.5% drop in July, data released Thursday showed.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected the index to decrease by 0.2%.

August's data potentially signal a recession, said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at the Conference Board. "Economic activity will continue slowing more broadly throughout the U.S. economy and is likely to contract," he said.

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index is a predictive variable that anticipates turning points in the business cycle by around seven months.

Well, that's not great news.  

(Makes you wonder if there is something different about the post-pandemic economy, and if the major indicators are not quite acting as they should. I'm tempted to say "yes, maybe?" but I don't think that the pandemic suspended "the rules" of the economy.)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

22 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 22 new positions for September 19. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers. 

Job posting: QC lead manager, Invicro, New Haven, CT

From the inbox, this position: 

Job summary

The Quality control lead will oversee the day-to-day quality control activities at Invicro's New Haven site by managing the QC team, overseeing inventory, ensuring equipment calibration and qualification is performed on time and according to written procedures and perform quality control testing under GMP condition. This role will report to the director of radiochemistry.

Major responsibilities

  • Manage Chemistry Quality Control team members, daily operations of the quality control team and responsible for delegating work to assigned staff and establishing workflow standards/expectations. Perform PET and SPECT radiotracer quality analysis in full compliance with applicable regulations and internal requirements
  • Actively support and perform maintenance of analytical equipment
  • Oversee and ensure the quality control program is proceeding efficiently within the framework of regulatory compliance and operating within with strict adherence to phase-appropriate cGMP standards, environmental health and safety, good working practices and related guidelines...

Qualification

  • Strongly preferred PhD in Chemistry or Master's Degree in engineering or physical sciences.
  • 5-10 years of analytical chemistry experience
  • 3-5 years of people management experience
  • 1-3 years of experience working in a cGMP environment
  • 1-3 years of experience working under aseptic conditions for the preparation of sterile product(s)
  • Demonstrated proficiency in the cGMP operation and extensive experience with conventional analytical instrumentation.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

I don't think you could do this in chemistry?

Via Business Insider, this trendy bit of job news: 
Some job candidates are hiring proxies to sit in job interviews for them — and even paying up to $150 an hour for one.

In a recent Insider investigation into the "bait-and-switch" job interview that's becoming increasingly trendy, one "professional" job interview proxy, who uses a website to book clients and keeps a Google Driver folder of past video interviews, said he charges clients $150 an hour.

The proxy was approached by Aamil Karimi, who works at cybersecurity firm Optiv as a principal intelligence analyst. Karimi, who posed as a job seeker to talk to the proxy, told Insider's Rob Price that the "bait-and-switch" trend has been on the rise because of more work-from-home jobs and overseas hiring.

The "bait-and-switch" interview works like this: a job candidate hires someone else to pretend to be them in a job interview in hopes they will secure the job. When the job starts, the person who hired the proxy is the one to show up for work.

I genuinely don't think you could get away with this in chemistry (but as the article/summary notes, this may be a trend in IT and not elsewhere (?)). I have a decent memory for names and faces, so I'd like to think that my spidey-sense would tingle... Readers, has this ever happened to you?  

C&EN: "Tesla eyes US lithium processing plant"

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, a bit of news that you would not really expect ten years ago (article by Alex Scott):

Tesla has disclosed that it is considering building a plant in Robstown, Texas, that would convert lithium ore into battery​-grade lithium hydroxide. Tesla says Louisiana is another option for the plant. The final choice will be determined partly by the company’s ability to obtain local property tax relief. Production is expected by the end of 2024. The plant would use a novel technology that requires fewer hazardous reagents than other processes and creates usable by-products, according to Tesla.

Man, talk about vertical integration. You wonder if this trend will continue or if it's a mini-boomlet that will ultimately go away...  

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 294 research/teaching positions and 15 teaching positions

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 294 research/teaching positions and 15 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 September 21, 2021, the 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 240 research/teaching positions and 13 teaching faculty positions. On September 22, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 89 research/teaching positions and 9 teaching faculty 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. 

Postdoctoral position: theoretical/computational postdoctoral position, University of Missouri - Kansas City (Kansas City, MO)

From the inbox: 
Postdoc Position in Theoretical & Computational Chemistry 

A postdoctoral position in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry is available in the  Momeni Research Group at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. The research will  focus on developing new methodologies and their applications to tackle transport  properties in condensed phases. This will include implementation of these methodologies in our in-house open-source molecular dynamics software package DL_POLY Quantum.  For more information on research projects in the Momeni’s group please  visit https://info.umkc.edu/momenigroup
Preferred Qualifications 
  • PhD in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or a related field (or expecting to  graduate soon). 
  • Strong background in both programing and large-scale molecular dynamics  simulations. 
  • Ability to work effectively in a team and good communication skills (oral and written). 
  • Knowledge of path integral formalism and machine learning techniques is a plus. 
Interested applicants are encouraged to send their applications including an up-to-date  CV and one-page summary of their research interests to Dr. Momeni at mmomenitaheri@umkc.edu. 

The position is initially offered for one-year and is renewable to one or two more years  upon mutual agreement.

Best wishes to those who are interested. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 48 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 48 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson) and Andrew S. Rosen (@Andrew_S_Rosen).

Go to the open thread for this year's search.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Signs of aromatic compounds on Mars?

Via the New York Times, this space science news: 

...Perseverance had earlier found organic molecules — those with carbon and hydrogen atoms bonded together — in rocks on the crater floor of Jezero. But scientists were pretty sure those molecules had formed through non-biological processes.

The organics in the river delta rocks have the potential to tell a different story.

As Perseverance approached the river delta, the signal of organic molecules grew stronger, said Sunanda Sharma, a scientist working with an instrument on the rover that performs chemical analysis of the rock.

At Wildcat Ridge, “These signals were present at nearly every single point in every scan,” Dr. Sharma said. “They are also some of the brightest that we’ve seen thus far on the mission.”

Dr. Sharma said the data indicates the presence of ring-shaped carbon molecules known as aromatics, which the instrument is more sensitive at detecting. More complex organic molecules like proteins or amino acids would provide more compelling evidence of life, but that would have to await analysis after the sample is returned to Earth.

It's interesting to think about what kinds of molecules would be signs of life that would be left over after a very long time...  

C&EN: The third quarter doesn't look good for the chemical industry

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this not great news (article by Alex Tullo): 
Early portents are that the chemical industry is headed for stormy seas. Eastman Chemical has sharply reduced its earnings forecast for the third quarter, while a stock analyst has downgraded Dow.

Chemical executives are growing increasingly worried about a host of problems with the world economy. Energy prices are spiking in Europe and could get worse if Russia continues to withhold natural gas this winter. Chinese economic performance has been dogged by stringent COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Eastman is lowering its third-quarter earnings forecast by 19%, to $2.00 per share. “Demand has slowed more than expected in August and September, particularly in consumer durables and building and construction end markets and the European and Asian regions,” CEO Mark Costa says in a statement.

The company notes that US natural gas prices have reached their highest levels in 14 years. It is also facing snarls on cargo bound from the US to other regions. Eastman says it is raising its own selling prices and controlling costs.

Meanwhile, Jefferies stock analyst Laurence Alexander has lowered his rating on Dow from buy to hold. In a note to clients, he cites industry capacity additions and rising costs that have reduced the US’s competitive edge in Dow’s core olefins business. And he is concerned that rising interest rates in the US will erode consumer confidence.

Alexander also echoes the concerns that have been top of mind for many industry observers. “International earnings remain at risk due to China’s COVID-control measures and the EU energy shock,” he writes.

I imagine this might slow hiring for Eastman or Dow a little? But we will see.  


Friday, September 16, 2022

Have a great weekend

Well, this wasn't such a terrible week for me. I hope that it was a good week for you. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

TIL "brominator"

Via an article in The New Yorker, this interesting tidbit (emphasis mine): 
Shane Divine, a thirty-four-year-old Ohioan, has worked for a medical-tubing manufacturer for the past seven years. On a recent Sunday, I met him outside his factory, near Kent State University, which smelled of warm rubber. He was just off a twelve-hour shift, and his T-shirt was dotted with globs of gunk. Divine operates the brominator, a machine that smooths out latex by running it through a chemical solution. Like many Ohioans, he comes from a family of makers: his dad was a union electrician; his grandparents were rubber workers for Goodyear and Goodrich. Unlike most Ohioans his age, he has a United Steelworkers union card and a fixed-benefit pension.

Can't find much on what a brominator is, but one imagines bromine is involved. 

59 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 59 new positions for September 10. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

C&EN: Community colleges as training grounds for biotech

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this cover story on training industry chemists (article by Alla Katsnelson): 
Tracy Ludwick Naputi was a soon-to-be-divorced mother of five managing a McDonald’s restaurant when she realized something had to change. Ludwick Naputi loved science in high school, but the only science-related career she could envision back then was nursing, which turned out to be a bad fit. As she puts it, “Life happened”—and she found herself struggling to support her family and ready for new options.

Then Ludwick Naputi received a flyer from San Diego Miramar College, one of three schools in the region’s community college network, about programs preparing people for biotechnology-related jobs. She decided to enroll. That was in 2005—and it was the beginning of Ludwick Naputi’s journey toward a career she loves.

Today, Ludwick Naputi is making a comfortable salary as a research associate at BioLegend, a company that makes and sells immunoassay kits to scientists. Her position, which involves troubleshooting kits, has lots of room for growth. And her kids are proud of her: when they were young, they would tell their friends and teachers that their mom was a chemist. “I was that displaced single mother who had all kinds of barriers in my way,” she says. “Doing the program at Miramar College opened so many doors for me.”
Great anecdote, really interesting story. It seems that these programs are really great when you have a large enough cluster of employers to absorb the graduates of these kinds of programs (not a concidence, one imagines, that one of these programs was in Delaware.) All in all, a good thing. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 255 research/teaching positions and 14 teaching positions

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 255 research/teaching positions and 14 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 September 14, 2021, the 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 199 research/teaching positions and 11 teaching faculty positions. On September 15, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 74 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching faculty 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. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 41 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 41 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson) and Andrew S. Rosen (@Andrew_S_Rosen).

Go to the open thread for this year's search.

Postdoctoral opening: Ultrafast Chemical Dynamics, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, CA

From the inbox: 
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s (LBNL) Chemical Sciences Division has an opening for a Postdoctoral Fellow to join the team.

In this exciting role, you will work in the AMOS Chemical Dynamics group. The group’s research focuses on studying ultrafast dynamics in molecules, clusters, and interfacial systems by means of time-resolved X-ray spectroscopy and imaging techniques. 

See http://ultrafast.lbl.gov/chemical-dynamics/publications/ for a list of recent publications. The position focuses on the study of ultrafast coupled electronic-structural dynamics in gas-phase molecules by means of high-order harmonics enabled femtosecond time-resolved X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Further activities may include experimental campaigns at Ultrafast Electron Diffraction (UED) facilities, X-ray free electron lasers (X-FELs), and synchrotron radiation light sources, using a variety of imaging and spectroscopy techniques. The successful candidate has either recently received or is about to acquire a Ph.D. in Physics or Chemistry. The candidate is expected to independently conduct cutting-edge experiments, analyze results, derive theoretical interpretations, and draft manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals. A high degree of independence must be complemented by the capability to thrive in a collaborative group environment.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Chinese Community Party official assesses, critiques Chinese science

Via Twitter, an interesting comment about Chinese science from a Chinese Communist Party official (full transcription here): 
Zhang doesn't only blame the US. He outlines how Chinese S&T is falling short:
  • Few original breakthroughs;
  • Lack of corporate leadership in innovation;
  • Disconnect between industry and academia;
  • Persistent credentialism and exclusivity culture;
  • Overburdened workers.
It would be really interesting to understand exactly what Zhang meant, but I suspect this is buried in about seven layers of nuance that you need a lifetime in Chinese academia to understand who he was Really Criticizing. 

I wish I knew more about the various histories of scientific innovation within nation-states, and how they grow and thrive. There must be some kind of curve/growth (one wonders what a similar critique of US chemistry academia would sound like in 1925) and what limitations the communist system places on Chinese academia (and also what baseline innovation would look like without Communist intervention in 1948?)*

*I mean, you almost have a perfect natural experiment between the People's Republic and Taiwan in terms of academic productivity....

C&EN: Virginia drug-making effort gets US funds

Via Chemical and Engineering News, this story from Rick Mullin: 

The Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (APM) Cluster, an effort led by the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority, will receive $53 million in federal grants as part of the Joe Biden ­administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The APM Cluster intends to use the funding to develop a pharmaceutical manufacturing corridor in central Virginia. The grant will also support a partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia State University focused on the drug industry.

It is interesting to me that this is happening - pretty clear that between AMPAC's Petersburg facility and Phlow, there is an attempt to make Virginia a pharmaceutical manufacturing center. Best wishes to them - will be fascinating to see if this bit of economic development comes through.  

Friday, September 9, 2022

Have a great weekend


I've had a fun week, and looking forward to a quiet (and on-time!) trip home. Hope you have a great weekend and we'll see you on Monday. 

Olaplex has some interesting chemistry

Via the New York Times, a dive into a hair care product (Olaplex) and the chemistry behind it: 
The bulk of hair is keratin, which is made up of alpha helixes, or twisted ladders of protein held together by disulfide bonds. Those bonds largely determine both the hair’s strength and its curl factor (more bonds equal more curl). Those same bonds are damaged by things like color, perming and heat styling, as well as the mechanical stress of brushing and combing.

Olaplex’s claim is that it repairs the disulfide bonds, thanks to a hero molecule called bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate — clearly not named by a marketing team. Technically, the repair claim may be an overstatement: Olaplex doesn’t fuse broken bonds but instead creates a different kind of bond, said Joseph A. Schwarcz, a chemist and the director of the McGill University Office for Science and Society. (Dr. Schwarcz nonetheless pronounced Olaplex “a clever concept.”)

Perry Romanowski, a cosmetic chemist and a founder of Thebeautybrains.com, a website and podcast on which scientists examine product ingredients and industry promises, was skeptical of Olaplex’s claims. The company’s top-selling product, its No. 3 Hair Perfector, says on the label that it is “NOT a conditioner” (capital letters are Olaplex’s); it’s designed to be used before shampoo and rinsed out.

I guess there's a claim of a Michael addition to a maleate, but I gotta see evidence of that before I really believe it I guess. Plenty of chemistry and chemists in this article. 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

23 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 23 new positions for September 1. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Anyone got a dollar?

Via this week's Chemical and Engineering News (article by Rick Mullin): 
The drug services firm Evotec has acquired Central Glass Germany from the Japanese chemical maker Central Glass for 1 € (99 cents). The deal includes a facility in Halle/Westphalia, Germany, with a staff of 60 and “significant” reactor capacity, Evotec says. The plant will support clinical- and commercial-scale manufacturing of small- molecule drugs for Evotec customers. Evotec intends to make the facility its European center for active pharmaceutical ingredients for rare diseases.

That's a flamin' hot deal, so there must be some kind of problem with the plant? Or there is a plant to be named later?  

C&EN: trial judge says that Charles Lieber cannot get a new trial

Via C&EN's Andrea Widener: 
A US federal court has denied Harvard University chemistry professor Charles Lieber’s request to overturn his conviction on charges of lying about his connections to China.

In a written ruling issued Sept. 1, Judge Rya Zobel knocked down each of Liber’s attorney’s arguments about why his conviction should be overturned. She also refused to grant Lieber a new trial....

...Lieber’s lawyers further said that Zobel, who also oversaw the initial trial, erred by admitting as evidence statements Lieber made to federal investigators and that her instructions to the jury were flawed.

In her ruling, Zobel says that the government’s legal theories were in line with the law and were not a reason to overturn the case. She also ruled that her instructions to the jury were accurate and, if Liber’s legal team had a reason to object, then they should have done it at the time the instructions were given.

Lieber is still free on bail while he waits for a sentencing hearing. That hearing is currently scheduled for January 2023.
I imagine this will be appealed to higher courts. 

Job posting: senior/principal scientific researcher (MS 0+/BS 2+), Genentech, South San Francisco, CA

From the inbox: 

Genentech, a leader in bio-pharmaceutical sciences, is seeking a highly-motivated and talented researcher with a proven track record of laboratory achievements to join our growing Department of Small Molecule Process Chemistry. Responsibilities of the position include:
  • Discover and develop process chemistry by conducting experiments to scout synthetic routes and to optimize reactions for yield, selectivity, and product purity.
  • Demonstrate synthetic processes at the laboratory and kilogram scale for timely delivery of early and mid-phase small molecule development candidates in accordance with cGMP, ICH and FDA/EMA regulations.
  • Develop crystallization processes to isolate synthetic intermediates and to control the bulk quality attributes of the API conducive to successful development and formulation requirements.
The ideal candidate will meet the following requirements. The level of the position will depend on the qualifications of the selected candidate:
  • BS with 2+ years of relevant experience or MS in chemistry. Candidates with a MS in organic chemistry are highly preferred. Applicants are required to provide a research summary along with their CV.
  • To be considered for the more senior level, the candidate must have a record of innovation and success in multiple projects over the course of their industrial career.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 220 research/teaching positions and 11 teaching position

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 220 research/teaching positions and 11 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 September 7, 2021, the 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 165 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching faculty position. On September 8, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 66 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching faculty 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. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 30 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 30 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson) and Andrew S. Rosen (@Andrew_S_Rosen).

Go to the open thread for this year's search.

Job posting: Academic Coordinator - Undergraduate Instructional Support, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA

From the inbox: 

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California Santa Barbara invites applications for a 75% Academic Coordinator 1 position for Undergraduate Instructional support with the anticipated start date of September 18, 2022. The department is looking for a qualified individual with a particular emphasis in the area of working in an academic instructional laboratory.

Responsibilities of the position will be to implement laboratory course material directives and to accurately prepare experiments for all teaching labs. The Academic Coordinator serves in a key role for the successful operations of the instructional teaching laboratories in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

The university is especially interested in applicants who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through research, teaching and service, as appropriate to the position.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Monday, September 5, 2022

Happy Labor Day!

To my American and Canadian readers, a very happy Labo(u)r Day to you and your family. To people in the rest of the world, happy Monday! Back tomorrow.