Friday, June 21, 2024

Have a great weekend

Well, it's been a good week, but a long one. Here's hoping I can get done what I need to get done. I hope you had a productive week, and that you have a warm and sunny (but not too hot!) weekend. See you on Monday! 

I'm still skeptical about the 'hidden job market'

Very recently, I ran across another one of the repeated statistics that some majority of job openings are not actually posted. We've covered this before here (it's hard to believe it's almost been 10 years.) I'm rather fond of debunking these kinds of numbers, i.e. their baloney-ness stands out to me, and it is personally amazing to me that people choose to quote them.

I was really delighted to discover that I am not the only skeptic, and so today I point to Jesse Preston, a disability employment specialist who wrote up a very nice article on LinkedIn describing the origins of some of these numbers: 

The Ford Foundation-funded survey he is referring to is the pilot project conducted by the National Industrial Conference Board to gather labour market information from businesses which was done in Rochester NY. The results of which came out in the same year. 

We know this is the original survey of that statistic as this is the pilot project and literature from the "1965 Proceedings on Interstate Conference on Labour Statistics", which states that this survey is of great interest before launching a nationwide survey.  Up to this point, there has never been data collected directly from employers like this. 

In the report, they tested to see if job postings were a predictable metric for collecting labour market information. It was not. Their analysis shows that 25.1% of all the jobs hired by 27 companies surveyed appeared in the newspaper. Service jobs were the largest category within the 25.1% at 84.6% of the total service jobs hired were posted in the newspaper.

But if we consider that Mr. Haldane is only talking about career-type roles and not jobs in general, then we do not count the overall number of 25.1%. So, we must remove the service jobs and the unskilled labour roles.  Then you get 18.9% of jobs advertised in the newspaper. Therefore about 80% are not advertised in the Rochester Newspaper.

It is rather remarkable to me (and he is to be commended) that Mr. Preston actually tracked it down to a study from 1966 about the Rochester job market. I would have guessed it was manufactured out of whole cloth, but no, apparently not. 

Almost ten years later, I know that it's basically futile to either expurgate the internet (or people) of poorly sourced and dubious statistics or quantify the unquantifiable, but I am still very skeptical that we should refer to a "hidden" job market. I also am further skeptical that the 'hidden' market represents the majority of positions at any one time. 

I do find it reasonable that mid-career professionals are likelier to be able to access such "hidden" positions, i.e. if you have a unique skill set, it's likelier that organizations will make room for you in some fashion, but I think that talking about 'hidden job markets' for entry-level people is just more likely to give students and postdocs conspiratorial vibes more than anything else. 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Job posting: Chemist, Food and Drug, Keller and Heckman LLP, Washington, DC

Via C&EN Jobs: 

Keller and Heckman, an international law firm in Washington, D.C., is in need of a Chemist to work closely with our attorneys, other staff scientists, and clients to assess health and safety considerations related to various chemical products intended for use in food, drugs, medical devices, and related applications. Responsibilities include assessing the chemical make-up of products to be used in assessing the regulatory status of federally regulated products, advising clients on data needed to support such assessments, designing study protocols to generate needed data, and assisting in the preparation of submissions and dossiers to regulatory agencies in the United States (such as FDA, EPA, and OSHA) and their sister agencies throughout the world. This is not an intellectual property position, nor a laboratory position.

The ideal candidate will be able to interpret complex analytical data and have a strong proficiency in mathematics. Expertise in any area of non-theoretical chemistry will be considered, though 5+ years of experience in polymer, organic, or analytical chemistry is a plus. A background in the food, chemical, or packaging industry, and experience with FDA regulations, is also helpful. The candidate should be able to multi-task, work effectively with others, communicate clearly, and be a team player. Graduate Degree in Chemistry is required; Ph.D. is preferred but not required.

We offer a salary commensurate with experience, bonus plan, and excellent benefit package.

Send resume and cover letter to Jennifer Ireland, Human Resources and Recruitment Manager, Keller and Heckman LLP, 1001 G Street, NW, Suite 500 West, Washington, D.C. 20001 to careers@khlaw.com. 

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

C&EN: "The chemist who stayed in Gaza"

Via C&EN, this profile by Laurel Oldach: 

Last month, while most of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip was preparing to flee the southern city of Rafah, Rami Morjan was planning to go there.

The city, which for a time had been a humanitarian safe zone, was refuge for an estimated 1.2 million people. But in late April, the Israeli army announced plans to enter Rafah, a move it said was critical to destroying Hamas. It was a dangerous place for civilians. But Morjan had family there who could not leave: his sister and her family, including a niece and her newborn baby.

Morjan, an organic chemist at the Islamic University of Gaza, is used to facing overwhelming odds. He built a chemistry research program despite lacking tools for chemical analysis and then rebuilt it after his laboratory was bombed a decade ago. In May, even after having endured 7 months of war, he came across in text conversations with C&EN as lighthearted, peppering chats with the “face with tears of joy” emoji.

He aims to rebuild the academic community—especially the chemistry community—in Gaza after the war. But first, he must survive it.

Best wishes to Professor Morjan and his family. Read the whole article here. 

This article is a classic example of the excellent and thorough journalism about chemistry and chemists that I've come to expect in Chemical and Engineering News. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The 2025 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 9 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching position

The 2025 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 9 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 20, 2023, the 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 14 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: Assistant/Associate Professor of Chemistry, Grambling State University, Grambling, LA

Via HigherEdJobs, a position at Grambling State University: 

Job Summary

The Assistant/Associate Professor is required to instruct lower and upper level Chemistry courses. Instructional duties for lower and upper level lecture and laboratory courses as assigned. Academic advisement of students, committee assignments, direct students in research, form cooperative partnerships with neighboring units.

Job Duties & Responsibilities

  • Teach undergraduate lower and upper level chemistry courses as specified by the Department Head 
  • Participate in scholarly activities and professional development opportunities 
  • Advise Chemistry majors/conduct undergraduate research 
  • Serve on departmental and university-wide committees 
  • Recruit students for the department 
  • Perform other duties as may be assigned by the Department Head/Dean 

Qualifications - Minimum: 

  • Chemistry Ph.D. degree is required with experience in higher education 
  • Experience teaching Organic Chemistry 
  • Candidate must have the Academic Credentials and Training needed to support teaching Organic and Advanced Organic Chemistry courses.

Preferred: 

  • Applicant should have experience with Chemistry Laboratory operations and requirements, software applications and experience with BANNER, Moodle, and Canvas. 
  • Applicant must have a demonstrated knowledge of Chemistry Subject Material, exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, and a knowledge of computational techniques in Chemistry. 
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

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.