Tuesday, April 7, 2020

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” Part 5: Gaining Prominence


by Professor Kenneth Hanson, Florida State University

The next post in my “Keep Your Job, Ken!" series focuses on gaining prominence and brand recognition. Having your name and independent research recognized by others is pivotal for getting speaking/journal invitations, funding, awards, and ultimately positive tenure letters. Some prominence as a graduate student and postdoc as well as having a bunch of prior co-workers in academia helps but it is still important to generate an independent identity and brand. Below are some of the strategies I employed and/or stumbled upon to develop the Hanson Research Group brand.

1) Prioritize small, topic specific conferences over large ones. Your travel funds are limited so it is important to pick and choose conferences wisely. Don’t rely exclusively on ACS, MRS, APS, or other large meetings to gain prominence. Given their size and diversity, they are very good for catching up with people you already know, but difficult to really get to know someone new. And if we are going to be honest, unless you are involved in a special/invited session or you follow a giant in your field, there are usually less than 20 people in the room for your presentation. On the other hand, smaller conferences like a Gordon conference give you no choice but to spend time with the same group of people for a week. It is amazing how many people you get to know in that span of time. Even if you are only presenting a poster you will likely get a lot of foot traffic and questions since almost everyone is in your field. And, best case scenario, at some conferences the best posters are selected for short talks later in the week which can further boost your visibility. 

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 554 research/teaching positions and 79 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 554 research/teaching positions and 79 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On March 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 573 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth, ninth. The current thread is the tenth. This will be the eleventh thread, starting noon Eastern on April 7, 2020.

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The Academic Staff Jobs List: 24 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 24 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Cool story about chemists making hand sanitizer

I bet a lot of chemists are passing the time this way:
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Rowan University chemistry professor and his wife killed two birds with one stone this week, by doing something good and temporarily curing boredom.  
Jim Grinias is an assistant professor of chemistry at Rowan and his wife Kaitlin is a chemist at a pharmaceutical company, and they were both catching cabin fever. 
"You know, after being stuck in the house for a couple of weeks, we both had the itch to get back in the lab a little bit," Grinias admitted. So they dropped off their son at grandma’s house for a couple of days and got to work making hand sanitizer, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recipe and raw materials that were donated by the school. 
"It was 200 proof ethanol, so effectively 100%, as pure as you can really buy. And then we had some hydrogen peroxide and then glycerol, which is a thick goopy liquid that is a thickening agent," Grinias explained.
Here's some LSU chemists doing the same thing. Readers, what are you up to these days? 

All Division of Organic Chemistry videos made public

Via random clicking: 
As a result of the number of people that are now sequestered at home away from work and the laboratory, the Division of Organic Chemistry has decided to immediately release all of our video content that has been for members only. The nonpublic content includes 33 NOS Lecture Videos from NOS2013, NOS2015, NOS2017 and NOS2019; and 5 archived Virtual Symposia from 2018–2019. 
Additionally, we want to take this opportunity to remind you of our other collections of video content such as the Eminent Organic Chemistry Videos (timeless interviews of 20 organic chemists by Jeffrey Seeman in 2008) and our small collection of historic organic chemistry lectures by Berson, Woodward, Wotiz, and Heck.
There's quite a few good ones here - go take a look.  

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Unemployment rate rises to 4.4% for March

Credit: Calculated Risk, annotated by Chemjobber
News from the Bureau of Labor Statistics - note that the reference week was the week of March 12, prior to most stay-at-home orders:
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 701,000 in March, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it. Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places. Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.  
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. Note that the March survey reference periods for both surveys predated many coronavirus-related business and school closures that occurred in the second half of the month.
For the chemical manufacturing subsector, in February 2020, 850,400 people were employed. In March 2020, 847,400, a loss of 3000 jobs. Note that this number does not represent chemists only, rather employees of companies in the chemical manufacturing subsector. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Have a good weekend



One of my favorite Copland pieces. I hope you have a peaceful weekend. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Daily Pump Trap: 4/1/20

London, Shanghai, New York or Berlin: Nature Communications looking for a Ph.D. chemist to be a journal editor.

Edwards, CA: AFRL looking for a Ph.D. chemist to be a principal research scientist for propellant formulation. Salary: $119,354 - $168,668.

Burlington, MA: MilliporeSigma searching for a M.S. chemist to be a technical applications scientist. Salary: "Up $110,000 per year base +6% bonus"

Research Triangle Park, NC: EPA's Center for Computational Toxicology and Exposure searching for a postdoctoral fellow.

10 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 10 new positions for March 26.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Goldman Sachs projections on Tuesday: real GDP falls 6.2% in 2020

This is going to be a moving target, but it's good to be aware. Via Calculated Risk (a favorite blog that I was glad to stop reading for a while), Goldman Sachs economic projections as of Tuesday, March 31: 
We are making further significant adjustments to our GDP and employment estimates. We now forecast real GDP growth of -9% in Q1 and -34% in Q2 in qoq annualized terms (vs. -6% and -24% previously) and see the unemployment rate rising to 15% by midyear (vs. 9% previously). However, we have upgraded our expectations for the recovery after midyear, with a 19% qoq annualized GDP gain in Q3 (vs. 12% previously). Our estimates imply that a bit more than half of the near-term output decline is made up by year end and that real GDP falls 6.2% in 2020 on an annual-average basis (vs. 3.7% in our previous forecast).
It's gonna be a big hole.  

American Chemistry Council: "Chemical Activity Barometer Falls Sharply In March"

Credit: American Chemistry Council
The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), fell 2.6 percent in March on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in February. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer fell 1.3 percent in March. 
The unadjusted data shows an 8.0 percent decline in March following a 1.1 percent decline in February and a 1.2 percent gain in January. The unadjusted decline in March is the largest in the post-World War II period. The diffusion index slumped to 27 percent in March. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for February was revised downward by 1.13 points and that for January was revised downward by 0.38 points. 
"The CAB signals recessionary conditions in U.S. commerce," said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. "ACC believes a recession to be occurring when the barometer declines for three consecutive months and falls 3.0 percent or more from the peak. As of March, the CAB has declined for two straight months and fallen 8.9 percent from the peak." 
The CAB has four main components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators.
Production-related indicators generally declined in March. Trends in construction-related resins, pigments and related performance chemistry were generally negative. Plastic resins used in packaging and for consumer and institutional applications were generally negative. Performance chemistry was negative and U.S. exports were weak. Equity prices collapsed, but are improving this week. Product and input prices declined. Inventory and other supply chain indicators were negative.
Well, that's not good news. Best wishes to us all. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” Part 4: Funding

by Professor Kenneth Hanson, Florida State University

This “Keep Your Job, Ken!” blog series post is on grants and funding. I will start with the disclaimer that I have by no means figured out how to best secure funding. We have been relatively successful (but also rejected a lot) so I can’t complain too much, but we also pale in comparison to others. Looking at the funding landscape leads me to believe that good ideas and well thought out plans are not enough, and that even weak and unoriginal research gets funding sometimes. Having now been on both sides of the submission and review process, I can confidently say it is a combination of timing, reputation, luck, name brand recognition (both institution and PI), the randomness of reviewers, as well as the number and quality of the proposals you submit.  Since it is the only thing that we can control, I will limit my advice to the last variable. Much of what I share may be obvious or redundant but hopefully there are some useful tidbits.

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 554 research/teaching positions and 79 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 554 research/teaching positions and 79 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On March 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 573 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth, ninth. The current thread is the tenth

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 24 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 24 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, March 30, 2020

What are the chemical reagents for COVID-19 testing that are in short supply?

From an op-ed in the New York Times, this interesting comment about COVID-19 related laboratory supplies:
...In three to four weeks, there will be a major shortage of chemical reagents for coronavirus testing, the result of limited production capacity, compounded by the collapse of global supply chains when the epidemic closed down manufacturing in China for weeks....
This linked to a press release from the American Society for Microbiology:
...One challenge that has come to light is the supply shortage for SARS-CoV-2 PCR reagents. We are deeply concerned that as the number of tests increases dramatically over the coming weeks, clinical labs will be unable to deploy them without these critical components. Increased demand for testing has the potential to exhaust supplies needed to perform the testing itself. This could include chemicals or plastics, for example, and could affect tests developed and offered by clinical or public health laboratories and/or (when they become available in the United States), commercial tests...
So does anyone know what reagents are short? Are there chemical reagents (as opposed to biochemical ones, i.e. enzymes) that are in short supply? If so, it'd be great if we could figure this out...  

Three million people filed for unemployment benefits on the week ending March 21

More than three million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, sending a collective shudder throughout the economy that is unlike anything Americans have experienced. 
The alarming numbers, in a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, provide some of the first hard data on the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down whole swaths of American life faster than government statistics can keep track. 
Just three weeks ago, barely 200,000 people applied for jobless benefits, a historically low number. In the half-century that the government has tracked applications, the worst week ever, with 695,000 so-called initial claims, had been in 1982. 
Thursday’s figure of nearly 3.3 million set a grim record. “A large part of the economy just collapsed,” said Ben Herzon, executive director of IHS Markit, a business data and analytics firm....
Here is the DOL report. How this will affect chemists is yet unknown, but I imagine there will be effects, and there will be evidence of this before June 30... 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Have a good weekend



I don't know about you, but I've had a pretty stressful last couple of weeks. I hope your weekend is somewhat calmer, and I hope some Yo-Yo Ma helps get you there. 

Don’t slow down safety

A message from friend of the blog, Harry Elston:
If you’ve found yourself in the work-from-home mode, it is an excellent time for your company to take a look at various safety and quality processes and protocols before you start the ramp-up after COVID-19. Midwest Chemical Safety can assist you in reviewing (or creating) and updating your safety documents such as:
  • Site safety plans
  • Chemical hygiene plans  (There’s a requirement for annual review)
  • Hazard communication programs
  • Respiratory protection programs  (There’s a requirement for annual review here also)
  • Waste management plans
  • Lock out/Tag out programs
  • Permit-required confined space programs (Annual reviews if entries are made)
  • Quality assurance and quality management plans
  • Safety Data Sheets
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Let’s stay safe (and uninfected) out there! 
Contact information here: harry@midwestchemsafety.com ; +1 217 971 6047

Respirator plant going strong

Good story about the 3M plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota that is making respirators:
...In the U.S., the facility at Aberdeen, a city of 28,000, was built in 1974. The 450,000-square-foot factory and a sister plant in Omaha together produce 400 million respirators of myriad types annually. Within the next year, they will be producing many more. 
When Rehder got that call from his bosses in January, he says, “basically, we were at that point where we needed to start every machine up. It happened pretty much instantaneously. That’s what this plant does.” The facility quickly organized offsite and online job fairs. Hires had to undergo training and pass a medical exam before starting work. The payroll now counts more than 700. 
Rehder has also been bringing in new equipment to build additional assembly lines. The mask components are readily available because most of them, including the filters, are made in-house. The lines that assemble respirator cups, filters, nose clips, and nose foam are loaded with robots and other automation, while humans tend to packaging and other tasks that allow more easily for social distancing. No workers have yet gotten sick, Rehder says. At home, his wife has been patient—though, he jokes, “when we try to sit down and watch a movie and I get six calls in between, I get a couple of looks.”...
Stay strong, Aberdeen, and keep making those masks....

(I like how this plant manager isn't complaining about not having sufficient skilled workers, he's just hiring folks and training them...)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bellevue Hospital needs PPE

From the inbox, an appeal from Dr. Celine Gounder of NYU School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital: 
As you know, New York State and the NYC metro area are ground zero for the COVID-19 epidemic in the U.S. Health care providers are facing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment, especially of N95 respirator masks, but also of gowns and face shields. 
Anything you can do to get the word out would be most appreciated.
Donated PPE may be shipped to: 
Bellevue Hospital Center
Department of Medicine
462 1st Avenue - 16th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Best wishes to the personnel of Bellevue Hospital Center, and best wishes to all of us.  

21 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 12 new positions for March 22 and 9 new positions for March 19. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

New Periodic Bagel episode: Educated with Paulette Vincent-Ruz

Eighth episode of The Periodic Bagel, with guest Paulette Vincent-Ruz (@STEMexicanEd) on chemical education and learning chemistry in Mexico.

Rate and review us on iTunes!

Feel free to ask questions, add comments and suggestions for guests and topics in the comments.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” Part 3: Management


by Professor Kenneth Hanson, Florida State University

Continuing my “Keep Your Job, Ken!” series, this post will discuss some of the management portions of an assistant professorship. During our stint as graduate students and postdocs most of our time is spent as scientists and researchers but little to nothing is dedicated to managerial training. This is unfortunate because it is arguably the most important and most difficult part of being a professor. We can all do the science but it’s those that can manage time and people that become the most successful.

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 553 research/teaching positions and 76 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 553 research/teaching positions and 76 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On March 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 573 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth, ninth. The current thread is the tenth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 24 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 24 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Perhaps an end to offshoring?

This passage in Wired was interesting, regarding a American mask manufacturer working with American hospitals:
Faced with hundreds of millions of orders a day, and a limited number of masks, Prestige Ameritech decided to sell only to hospitals, rather than the general public, and has prioritized working with medical centers that will sign five-year contracts, to reduce the likelihood that the company will have to lay off all its new employees once the pandemic subsides. 
The policy is rooted in history. The last time the country faced a comparable mask shortage was during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. To meet increased demand, Prestige Ameritech hired hundreds of new employees and expanded its manufacturing capabilities. But after the outbreak died down, Bowen says that most hospitals that had relied on Prestige Ameritech went back to Chinese suppliers, which typically sell masks and respirators for less than it costs him to produce. 
“In 2011, after the H1N1 pandemic ended, we had to lay off 150 people,” he recalls. “One hundred fifty people that saved a lot of hospitals from closing their doors were rewarded by losing their jobs. And that's not going to happen again.”
Best wishes to Prestige, and to all of us. (Psst, supply agreements work.)

Is the chemical enterprise essential?

The Chemical Sector—composed of a complex, global supply chain—converts various raw materials into diverse products that are essential to modern life. Based on the end product produced, the sector can be divided into five main segments, each of which has distinct characteristics, growth dynamics, markets, new developments, and issues: Basic chemicals; Specialty chemicals; Agricultural chemicals; Pharmaceuticals; Consumer products 
Essential Workforce
  • Workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains, including workers at chemical manufacturing plants, workers in laboratories, workers at distribution facilities, workers who transport basic raw chemical materials to the producers of industrial and consumer goods, including hand sanitizers, food and food additives, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and paper products.
  • Workers supporting the safe transportation of chemicals, including those supporting tank truckcleaning facilities and workers who manufacture packaging items
  • Workers supporting the production of protective cleaning and medical solutions, personal protective equipment, and packaging that prevents the contamination of food, water, medicine, among others essential products
  • Workers supporting the operation and maintenance of facilities (particularly those with high risk chemicals and/ or sites that cannot be shut down) whose work cannot be done remotely and requires the presence of highly trained personnel to ensure safe operations, including plant contract workers who provide inspections
  • Workers who support the production and transportation of chlorine and alkali manufacturing,single-use plastics, and packaging that prevents the contamination or supports the continued manufacture of food, water, medicine, and other essential products, including glass container manufacturing
I imagine that companies will be more-or-less running on the honor system here, but it seems to me that if you're work at a plant in California, you're considered part of the essential workforce. Would be interesting to know if/how this will be enforced...

Postdoc: ACS Bridge Project, Washington, DC or Madison, WI

The ACS Learning and Career Development group seeks a Postdoctoral Fellow to help evaluate the educational outcomes of the ACS Bridge Project. The ACS Bridge Project aims to broaden participation in graduate education in the chemical sciences. This project is supported by the Genentech Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the American Chemical Society. 
The Postdoctoral Fellow will work with the leadership of the ACS Graduate & Postdoctoral Scholars Office to develop, implement, and analyze assessments of programming associated with the ACS Bridge Project. An academic mentoring and advisory group will support the scholarly development of the Postdoctoral Fellow. Projects range from assessing educational outcomes of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented minority groups participating in career and professional development programming to examining graduate school admissions processes in the chemical sciences. 
The successful candidate is a highly motivated professional who is comfortable interacting professionally with a diverse network of stakeholders and has well-developed interpersonal communication skills. The ideal candidate should be able to successfully work and partners across multiple teams to deliver high-caliber content and perform on a tight schedule.
Responsibilities:  
1. Assists in designing, developing, executing, and implementing scientific research and/or development.
2. Implements research studies and quality improvement projects.
3. Investigates the feasibility of applying a wide variety of scientific principles and theories to potential inventions and products.
4. Assists with the preparation of manuscripts, data for presentations at scientific meetings, and for publications in journals and for broader audiences.
5. Contributes to the development of grant applications, research protocols, multi-disciplinary partnerships, and novel project ideas.

Education/Experience/Technical Knowledge: Excellent analytical, writing (especially as they relate to grant and manuscript preparation), communication, interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills required. Adaptable to a wide variety of job tasks and projects, with the ability to survey literature efficiently and apply empirical findings appropriately. 
Minimum Education/Training Requirements: Ph.D. in STEM education, Ph.D. chemical science education preferred. 
Location: Washington, DC, or Madison, WI
Duration: 2 years (with the possibility to extend)
Application details: Application deadline is May 1, 2020. Applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis.  
Candidates will be asked to submit the following:
• Cover Letter
• Curriculum Vitae
• Contact information for three references 
EEO/Minority/Female/Disabled/Veteran
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.