Friday, March 1, 2024

Have a great weekend

Long week, but no complaints. Here's hoping for a restful weekend. Here's hoping you had a good week, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday! 

Bloomberg: Leaking concrete accelerants caused chemical burns

Via Bloomberg, this news: 
The muck pooling in the tunnel at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip had the consistency of a milkshake and, in some places, sat at least two feet deep. The tunnel-to-be, which would eventually stretch about half a mile, was part of a system intended to connect two hotels, the Encore Las Vegas and the Westgate, with the enormous Las Vegas Convention Center. Workers doing the digging later said they had to wade through the mud every day. It splashed up over their boots, hit their arms and faces and soaked through their clothes. At first, it merely felt damp. But in addition to the water, sand and silt—the natural byproducts of any dig—the workers understood that it was full of chemicals known as accelerants.

The accelerants cure the grout that seals the tunnel’s concrete supports, helping the grout set properly and protecting the work against cracks and other deterioration. They also seriously burn exposed human skin. At the Encore dig site, such burns became almost routine, workers there told Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An investigation by the state OSHA, which Bloomberg Businessweek has obtained via a freedom of information request, describes workers being scarred permanently on their arms and legs. According to the investigation, at least one employee took a direct hit to the face. In an interview with Businessweek, one of the tunnel workers recalls the feeling of exposure to the chemicals: “You’d be like, ‘Why am I on fire?’”

I'd love to know why calcium nitrate (or other potential curing accelerants) might cause burns, but I'm not particularly surprised exposure would cause some unpleasant symptoms.  

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Job posting: Principal Chemist Rotational, ChampionX, Sugar Land, TX

Via C&EN Jobs: 

ChampionX has an immediate need for a highly motivated Principal Chemist on the Chemical Technologies RD&E team located in Sugar Land, TX. The qualified candidate will be a part of an introductory rotational program designed to develop broad expertise in oilfield specialty chemicals, accelerate high impact innovation, and enhance leadership skills. During each of a minimum three - 6- month rotations, the Principal Chemist will use applied scientific research to develop novel solutions to improve sustainability and increase efficiency in petroleum energy production. After completing the rotations, the individual will move into a longer-term role as part of the Chemical Technologies RD&E team. 

What You Will Do:

Lead high impact projects to solve global energy challenges Create novel chemistries/formulations Develop new lab testing capabilities Explore adjacent technology Drive sustainability and digital solutions Interface with both internal and external customers

Minimum Qualifications:

Recent PhD in Chemistry, Chemical engineering, Materials Science or related technical field. Experience in tailoring molecular structure property relationships to solve real world problems Proven track record of innovation and problem solving – multiple publications/patents/presentations Ability to interpret data from advanced analytical techniques to solve problems (GC-MS, LC-MS, NMR, GPC, XRF, SEM, etc.) The ability to work independently and in a team environment Detail orientated and outstanding time management skills. Excellent oral and written communication skills. Ability to travel up to 15%

 Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Better late than never?

Via BlueSky, this hilarious email to Dr. Andrew Thaler. 

(Why does it seem like HR departments aren't very good at all of this communicating?) 

(my crazy idea: a federal law that requires employers to provide a rejection with 6 to 9 months of initial application. Maybe it should be accompanied by some kind of lawsuit amnesty? (i.e. you can't be sued for simply saying "no" to an applicant), although you would want to have way to preserve the ability to sue for legitimate discrimination claims.) 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 532 research/teaching positions and 80 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 532 research/teaching positions and 80 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 February 28, 2023, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 611 research/teaching positions and 72 teaching-focused position.

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, February 26, 2024

Classroom activity with dry ice causes kids to get nauseous?

Via Tennesee TV station WKRN: 

GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — Authorities responded to a Sumner County elementary school Friday morning after children became ill during an experiment involving dry ice in a science class.

Crews were reportedly called to Vena Stuart Elementary School on Hart Street shortly before 9:15 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 16.

According to officials, a third grade class was conducting an experiment with dry ice as part of a STEM activity with an outside speaking group, but immediately afterward, several children became nauseous and went to see the school nurse. The nurse contacted school administrators, who reached out to Sumner County first responders.

“Quickly realizing that this was going to be a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) Sumner County Emergency Management, Sumner County Sheriff’s Department, Gallatin Fire Department and Gallatin Police Department were requested for assistance,” Sumner County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) said in a statement.

How much dry ice do you have to have in one place in order to induce nausea in kids? I've breathed a lot of dry ice fumes in my life, and never once felt any nausea, so I'm trying to understand this. 

C&EN: "Teva to divest API business"

In this week's C&EN, this news (article by Aayushi Pratap) 
Amid rising competition, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries intends to divest its active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) unit to focus on other businesses, including in-house drug development. In 2023, the 4,300-employee unit, a provider of small-molecule APIs, recorded sales of $568 million to third parties—a 16% decrease from 2022. The business also supplies APIs to Teva. The firm expects to complete the divestiture in the first half of 2025.

I'm rather surprised that Teva is selling its API business, but maybe I don't understand how their company works...  

Friday, February 23, 2024

Have a great weekend

Well, this was a weird week, with some wins and a couple of losses. Overall, not a bad week, I suppose. Here's hoping that you had a good week, and that you're looking towards a great weekend. See you on Monday! 

The best article you'll read about ramen today

Via Chicago magazine, this rather wonderful (if intense) article: 

Striving for a perfect bowl of ramen — even if it can’t practically be achieved — requires more than feel, intuition, and thousands of hours of muscle memory. It demands exactitude measured in decimals, seconds, and milligrams, using levels, humidity gauges, and refractometers. It is cooking that veers into the domain of laboratory science.

Ask Satinover why this kind of precision is necessary — or really any question at all — and you’ll get an answer that is thought out, quantitative, ready to be bullet-pointed: “There are two reasons. From a business perspective, it’s consistency. My intuition about what’s right isn’t applicable to every component of every dish. I need a control, and numbers are easy to control. The other reason is to avoid having to think about it, to avoid the mental load of what’s correct and what’s not. The number is correct. Twenty grams of onions is correct, not 10 onions. What if you have a larger onion? It’s for a reduction in mental exhaustion.”

I have so many thoughts about this article, and how much I admire Satinover's approach to quality, consistency and his quest for excellence in a bowl. I really admire his search for the right tool for the job (a refractometer for the broth, wow!) 

It feels like launching new restaurants in modern America feels like a bit of a Houdini trick where you are chained inside a box and thrown in a pool and you have six months to either escape or you drown. In that sense, I'm delighted not to be Satinover. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Job posting: chemist, Nestlé Quality Assurance Center, Dublin, OH

Via Indeed, this position: 

The Chemist may undertake advanced analytical work with a minimum of preliminary instruction; modify methods for nonroutine problems; assist with method development; coordinate the work of a small group within the section as necessary.

Chemist expectations:

  • Possess advanced instrumentation skills - troubleshooting, preventive maintenance
  • Represent NQAC at internal and external meetings as directed.
  • Independent Participation in Customer Calls/Technical Support
  • Modify methods to resolve problems requiring knowledge of theory and underlying principles of the analysis.
  • Make recommendations for new equipment and methodology.

Qualifications / Certifications

  • BS in Related Science: 5 years experience in food science laboratory or closely related laboratory environment Or
  • MS in Related Science: 2-5 years experience in food science laboratory or closely related laboratory environment Or
  • PhD in Related Science: 0-2 years experience in food science laboratory or closely related laboratory environment
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

483 of the week: lying QC manager edition

Via FiercePharma, these tidbits from an FDA inspection (PDF) of Sichuan Deebio Pharmaceutical: 
The Form 483 relays an especially troubling event during the inspection when Sichuan Deebio’s quality control team leader provided “misleading information” about records on the results of a microbiology test.

At first, the quality control chief lied about viewing those test results, logging them and leaving them with another team member on a different floor of the facility, the FDA contends in its report. Then she changed tack, claiming she had not read the results, before switching back to a story similar to her first. At last, the QC chief “finally” admitted that she was “not telling the truth about recording the results on respective data worksheets, and no worksheet existed,” investigators wrote in the Form 483.

To make matters worse, investigators subsequently asked the quality leader how she kept track of the test results, to which she replied that they were “in her ‘mind.’”

There's a lot of lab results in my mind (well, there was), but I usually tried to write them down really quickly.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 526 research/teaching positions and 80 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 526 research/teaching positions and 80 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 February 21, 2023, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 608 research/teaching positions and 72 teaching-focused position.

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, February 19, 2024

Economists quantify the impact of NIH funding delays

Via Marginal Revolution: 

We study how delays in NIH grant funding affect the career outcomes of research personnel. Using comprehensive earnings and tax records linked to university transaction data along with a difference-in-differences design, we find that a funding interruption of more than 30 days has a substantial effect on job placements for personnel who work in labs with a single NIH R01 research grant, including a 3 percentage point (40%) increase in the probability of not working in the US. 

Incorporating information from the full 2020 Decennial Census and data on publications, we find that about half of those induced into nonemployment appear to permanently leave the US and are 90% less likely to publish in a given year, with even larger impacts for trainees (postdocs and graduate students). Among personnel who continue to work in the US, we find that interrupted personnel earn 20% less than their continuously-funded peers, with the largest declines concentrated among trainees and other non-faculty personnel (such as staff and undergraduates). Overall, funding delays account for about 5% of US nonemployment in our data, indicating that they have a meaningful effect on the scientific labor force at the national level.

From the conclusions of the paper: 

Using a difference-in-differences design, we find that when the renewal of a PI’s R01 is interrupted, their hired personnel are immediately and persistently less likely to work in the US at least up to five years later.

I suppose it is not a surprise that impacts to a PI's funding situation negatively impact their laboratories, but it is important to see it quantified. It makes you wonder if having more R01's available would be better or worse in the long term for the scientific labor force. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Job posting: Research Chemist (Heroin Drug Program Technical Authority), Drug Enforcement Administration

Via C&EN Jobs, this position:
This position is located in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Special Testing and Research Laboratory. You will serve as a Research Chemist functioning as the agency's expert on heroin and opium chemistry, heroin production, signature analysis of heroin and opium, illicit opium poppy cultivation, & world-wide heroin trafficking trends.

This position(s) primary purpose is to support the DEA Operational Support Division, Office of Forensic Sciences, Special Testing & Research Laboratory.

As a your typical work assignments may include:
  • Conducting research on heroin and opium to recognize new trends and/or changes in illicit opium cultivation and clandestine heroin.
  • Developing methods to target opium and process-related impurities to gain insight into heroin production techniques.
  • Demonstrating leadership qualities and promoting an inspired, collaborative work environment.
  • Deriving intelligence data and information from signature analysis and communicates the findings via emails, phone calls, reports, and intelligence bulletins or notes.
  • Serving as an expert in the acquisition, compilation, and review of chemistry data from a variety of analytical techniques to include spectrometry, spectroscopy, and chromatography, as well as expertise in organic chemistry
It feels like these positions get announced on a regular basis, which makes me wonder what the turnover for these positions might be. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Best Obituary About Slide Rules Geeks You Will Read Today

 Via the New York Times, this delightful* obituary: 
...One day, about 20 years later, a middle-aged avionics engineer by the name of Walter Shawlee was looking through a drawer at his home in Kelowna, a midsize city in British Columbia, when he happened upon his old slide rule from high school.

It was a Keuffel & Esser pocket Deci-Lon, model 68-1130, with a slender Ivorite body and delicate see-through cursor box. Both had stood the test of time. Mr. Shawlee remembered that as a teenager he had spent six months saving up money to buy it.

Mr. Shawlee was not merely a slide-rule sentimentalist in thrall to memories of teenage geekdom. He argued that slide rules had intrinsic appeal for several reasons.

He saw dignity, for example, in their solidity and design. A 1999 Times profile quoted Mr. Shawlee describing slide rules as “the techno-guys’ version of a broadsword.” On his website, The Slide Rule Universe, he contrasted them with digital technology. “In 50 years, the computer you are using to view this webpage will be landfill,” he wrote, “but your trusty slide rule will just be nicely broken in!”
You have to check out his website in all of its 1999 glory. As a weird guy with a weird blog, I love it. RIP Walter Shawlee. 

*yes, I recognize the irony

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 524 research/teaching positions and 75 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 524 research/teaching positions and 75 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 February 14, 2023, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 586 research/teaching positions and 65 teaching-focused position.

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, February 12, 2024

C&EN: "Novo Nordisk parent to acquire Catalent to shore up weight-loss drug production"

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

Novo Holdings, the Danish investment giant that also controls Novo Nordisk, has agreed to acquire Catalent, one of the largest US drug-manufacturing contractors, for $16.5 billion. The deal could help Novo Nordisk boost production of its weight-loss drug Wegovy, which has gained immense popularity since the US Food and Drug Administration approved it in June 2021.

Novo Holdings expects to close the acquisition by the end of 2024, after which it will sell three of Catalent’s sites—in Anagni, Italy; Bloomington, Indiana; and Brussels, Belgium—to Novo Nordisk for $11 billion. Novo Nordisk is trying to boost the supply of Wegovy and a similar diabetes drug, Ozempic. The drugs, which contain the active substance semaglutide, work by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which reduces appetite, leading to weight loss.

Last year, Novo Nordisk announced it will spend over $8 billion to expand manufacturing sites in France and Denmark to boost production of drugs in its chronic illness portfolio, which includes Ozempic and Wegovy. However, as of early February, semaglutide injections continued to be labeled as being in short supply by the FDA.

I know I am a weirdo for harping on this, but it seems evident to me. Novo should have made these moves years ago, and I am genuinely curious if they will ultimately find themselves on the back foot because they were not able to ramp up manufacturing fast enough. 

Also, I think it is ridiculous that Lilly is complaining that Novo bought Catalent - surely you fellas could have done that too!