Monday, March 18, 2019

The weirdest article you will read today

“ISIS was looking for scientists,” said Ahmed, a 36-year-old follower of the so-called Islamic State who holds a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry and drug design. And Ahmed was looking for a chance to put his scientific knowledge to use.... 
...While Ahmed started his work for ISIS by spreading this research and interacting on web forums on behalf of the group in 2015 and 2016, he fully intended to join the lab in Mosul upon his graduation and was confident of his ability to create the desired chemical and biological weapons. At the time, he believed ISIS was already an established state and would continue to expand. 
“I would upload and [my research] would get read by the high command of the Caliphate,” he told us. “They were interested in my posts and asked how we can acquire these chemicals. I also summarized books from a Russian website. There are loads of [scientific] journals I could access on the web and it’s not classified.  I told them everything was in my summary, but also told them, you must have a real lab.” 
...He hoped to branch out from poisons and plagues to explore new technologies for delivering them. “I learned in the engineering world they [ISIS] were interested in anti-aircraft missiles and drones. They complain about coalition jet fighters destroying their troops on the ground. The admin on the website, there was a guy on the website who provided links from a British university to make drones from organic synthesis to make the whole body of the drone. It was some kind of solution, liquid phase synthesis, polymer science. We have already developed anti-aircraft missiles. We were going to use them.”
This is just a weird one, and I'm not convinced (or at least I'd like other corroboration) that ISIS got as involved in chemical weapons research as this fellow (who seems not so reliable) says....

Friday, March 15, 2019

View From Your Hood: blurry Midwest edition

A recent photo while on the road. (Sorry, it's not very good. Send in your pics! They'll be better than mine.)

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption and preference for name/anonymity, please) at; will run every other Friday.) 

"We offer competitive salary based on qualifications."

Via friends on Twitter, this perplexing ad:
Organic Synthetic Chemist with PhD Degree
Sun Innovations Inc - Fremont, CA 94539  
$50,000 - $60,000 a year 
A Silicon Valley high-tech company has an opening for a Material Chemist with the following qualifications:
  1. Advanced (e.g. Ph.D.) degree on Organic Chemistry or Material Chemistry, with good synthesis training and skills
  2. Some R&D or product development experience on synthesizing organic and organometallic molecules or materials;
  3. Familiar with the various organic synthesis methods and processes, experts in using and keeping/running chemistry lab and tools.
  4. Knowledge of fluorescent materials and dyes, familiar with relationship of molecular structure and optic properties of molecules
  5. Good communication skill, both verbal and writing;
  6. Energetic, highly motivated and independent in conducting R&D
  7. 2-3 relevant references
We are developing advanced optical materials and devices for the display technologies of the future. We offer a very pleasant and excited small working environment along with the opportunity to be exposed to cutting edge science and technologies. We also offer the potential of significant career growth as a leader in a high tech company, as well as great entrepreneur experience in developing and commercializing advanced technologies in Silicon Valley. 
We offers excellent benefits, including medical insurance, paid holidays and vacations, retirement saving with company matching. We offer competitive salary based on qualifications. 
Job Type: Full-time
Salary: $50,000.00 to $60,000.00 /year
That's... not very much money for the Bay Area.  

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 313 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list (curated by Joel Walker and myself) has 313 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

41 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there's 15 new positions for March 12, 11 new positions for March 9, 19 new positions for March 5 and 6 for February 28. 

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 14 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 14 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 285 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 285 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Warning Letter of the Week: 'and that one, that one, and that one' edition

In a mash note to Mr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Worldwide Pfizer, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research made the following observations about a Hospira India plant: 
3.    Your firm failed to have, for each batch of drug product, appropriate laboratory determination of satisfactory conformance to final specifications for the drug product, including the identity and strength of each active ingredient, prior to release (21 CFR 211.165(a)). 
From February 16 to March 20, 2018, you tested [redacted] batches of [redacted] API for [redacted]. All results were reported as passing. However, during the FDA inspection on March 28, 2018, we requested retesting the same batches under our observation. All retest results were OOS.

A batch of [redacted] finished product, initially tested on May 25, 2017, was also retested on March 28, 2018, and found to be OOS...
...In a Field Alert Report (FAR) of July 20, 2018, regarding OOS [redacted] results, you indicated that “analysts performing the [redacted] test did not perform the analysis in accordance with procedures and did not record the data accurately in the past.” Also, “there may be instances where testing results for the Karl Fisher test, gas chromatography, infrared spectroscopy and ultraviolet spectroscopy were not recorded accurately.”
 But the visual testing - that was probably performed to SOP. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 574 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 18 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 18 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. 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 11, 2019

It's hard to break up an asteroid, apparently

Hollywood may reckon that the best way to destroy an errant space rock is with nuclear weapons. This is rarely the preferred option of experts, but using some sort of spacecraft system to smash an asteroid into small, harmless pieces is seen as a real-world possibility. A new study, looking at a gigantic space rock-on-space rock clash, hints at how utterly ineffective this type of asteroid assassination attempt may be. 
Using computer models, scientists simulated a 4,000-foot asteroid smashing into a 15.5-mile asteroid at 11,200 miles per hour. Immediately after colliding, the large asteroid cracked considerably, with debris flowing outward like a cascade of Ping-Pong balls. Despite some deep fractures, the heart of the asteroid was not comprehensively damaged. 
As time went on, the gravitational pull of the asteroid’s resilient core was able to pull back ejected shards. It seems that asteroids don’t just absorb mind-boggling amounts of damage, but, as previous work has hinted, they also are able to rebuild themselves.
Maybe if we assembled a team of deep core drillers and sent them up in a couple of armored space shuttles and drilled into the asteroid, it would be fine?  

Friday, March 8, 2019

Question: is there data (or anecdata) around visiting assistant professors?

Via longtime reader and commenter VTJ, this good question:
...the question came up about what percentage of chemistry faculty hold a visiting position before getting their first tenure-track position. One fellow chemist stated confidently that it rarely happens but anecdotal evidence would suggest otherwise, at least for the SLAC/PUI environment.
I still remember this post from quite some time ago where the commentariat was, overall, not interested in VAPs. A respected friend thinks of these temporary positions as providing some data points as to "how will this persion be, as a teacher of undergraduates and a colleague in a department?" and was relatively warm to them. Another respected friend finds these positions have half-lives, i.e. two or three VAPs is about as many has any one candidate should take on.

So, some questions:
1. Is there any data around the percentage of assistant professors who have done stints as VAPs?
2. Is there any data around the percentage of visiting assistant professors who receive tenure-track assistan professor positions?  
Finally, a call for anecdata around this issue. Readers, have at.