Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"Dow Announces Actions To Pee On Your Leg, Tell You It's Raining"

Dow Announces Actions to Drive Economic Growth in Great Lakes Bay Region 
MIDLAND, Mich. – June 28, 2016 – The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) announced today a series of actions it will take in collaboration with several state and local economic development and community organizations to spur local employment and bring additional economic development to the Great Lakes Bay Region (GLBR). These actions are intended to help offset the impacts from restructuring measures Dow will implement to enable faster and more efficient growth of Dow Corning’s Silicones business....
It's only down below that you get the gist of what they are saying (emphasis mine):
As a result of the Company’s global workforce reduction targets announced today, approximately 700 roles in the GLBR will be eliminated from the combined companies. These reductions will come from both Dow and Dow Corning, and are part of Dow’s overall cost reduction efforts related to the transaction. 
Notifications to affected employees in the Great Lakes Bay Region will start in the coming weeks, and will continue through the end of the third quarter of 2016. Roles will be eliminated on various timetables throughout the two-year integration period.
Here's press coverage from the Wall Street Journal and also C&EN's Alex Tullo. Here's a few other ways I could imagine rewording the headline for this press release:
  1. Dow Announces Actions For Employees To Spend More Time With Their Children
  2. Dow Announces Actions To Enrich Shareholders At All Costs
  3. Dow Announces Actions For Scientists To Consider Bold New Alternative Careers
  4. Dow Announces Actions To Help Employees Work For Themselves, Yay! 
  5. Dow Announces Actions To Create Hundreds More Independent Chemicals Consultants
  6. Dow Announces Actions To Reinvigorate Bored Michigan Area Unemployment Offices
Your turn! 

Can we just say for a moment how offensive it is that the press release can't even say "we're laying off 700 employees" or "we're firing 700 people", but "700 roles"? Corporate America has refined the euphemism to a Michelangelo-like artform. 

Warning Letter of the Week: "not adding some starting material is a deviation" edition

You know, I was going to go with Chongqing Lummy Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.'s analysts and their propensity to turn the clock back, but instead, I thought this warning letter to Shanghai Desano Chemical Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. was pretty unique: 
...Our investigator randomly selected folder 01/2014 from your electronic log, compared it to your firm’s official deviation logbook for 2014, and found that the deviations in the “GMP Anomalies” folder were not investigated or reported in the official deviation logbook.

Production deviations included, but were not limited to:
  • out-of-limit temperature readings for critical process parameters
  • incomplete batch records
  • batch records pre-filled before manufacturing
  • failure to record temperature, humidity, and pressure
  • failure to add portions of raw materials during manufacturing 
In your response, you attribute the root cause of these failures to deficient procedures and operators’ errors. 
Pre-filled batch records! That's a new one.  

Job posting: chemistry team lead, Syngenta, Switzerland

From the inbox, a position at Syngenta: 
Accountabilities include: 
  • Design, prioritization, synthesis and route optimization of new target compounds
  • Conceive, plan, prioritize and execute efficiently synthesis programs
Essential Knowledge & Experience:
  • PhD in chemistry, with strong focus on organic synthesis
  • Post-doc is highly valued
  • 2-5 years of experience in the field of organic chemistry 
  • Experience in project/team management would be an asset
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

"A postdoc is highly valued." I find that so interesting. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ask CJ: what does "ABD" mean?

From the inbox, a good question:
Your latest Ivory Filter Flask post made me wonder: when "ABDs are encouraged to apply", does that imply that ABDs are in the process of finishing up...or, like in humanities, it's an alternate way out?  
I suspect that "ABDs are encouraged to apply" means "Just because you're still technically a graduate student and you haven't defended, you can still apply" and not "we don't mind if you don't finish your Ph.D. thesis and defend." 

That said, I've never sat on a small college faculty search committee, so I have no idea. Readers, what say you? 

Daily Pump Trap: 6/28/16

A few of the positions posted on C&EN Jobs recently:

Vancouver, BC: Xenon Pharmaceuticals is a startup looking for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. medicinal chemist.

Albany, NY: The New York state Department of Health is looking for a Ph.D. atmospheric/physical chemist for a postdoctoral position: to study optical and reactive properties of water vapor of relevance to atmospheric radiation and cloud physics & chemistry."

Urbana, IL: AOCS (mission: "to advance the science and technology of oils, fats, surfactants and related materials") is looking for a technical services specialist; looks to be an entry-level position?

(I presume the farmer's market at Lincoln Square is in full swing these days.)

Los Alamos, NM: Two theoretical/computational postdocs at LANL; "annual starting salaries typically range from ~$73,600 to ~$87,700." Nice! 

Ivory Filter Flask: 6/28/16 edition

A (very) few of the academic positions posted on C&EN Jobs: 

Irvine, CA: The Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine is looking for a mass spectrometry facility director.

Austin, TX: UT-Austin is looking for a Ph.D. analytical chemist to be their undergraduate analytical laboratory coordinator.

Tempe, Arizona: I don't think I'm going to do anything, other than quote directly from this ad:
"The Biodesign Center for Single Molecular Biophysics is seeking a Research Technician. The candidate must have extensive experience in organic synthesis and be proficient in running multi-step reactions, purifying the products with chromatograph, as well as characterizing organic compounds with NMR and Mass spectroscopy (HR, MALDI, ESI mass)." 
Desired Qualifications:
Evidence of a Bachelor degree in organic chemistry.
Evidence of a Master's degree in organic chemistry is preferred.
Experience in bioconjugation and HPLC is a plus. 
Salary Range: $12.69 - $18.00 per hour; DOE
Good God.

Rochester, NY: Rochester Institute of Technology is looking for an assistant professor of chemical engineering. "Priority will be given to candidates with post-doctoral experience."

Thuwal, Saudi Arabia: KAUST is looking for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. QA/QC chemist to work in their new environmental analytical chemistry laboratory? "We are seeking a highly motivated individual for our new high-throughput analytical facility who specializes in the quality assurance/quality control of analytical data according to internationally accepted standards. He/she will preferably also engage in the analysis of trace organic contaminants (Example, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Pesticides, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB), Dioxins) in environmental samples using chromatographic and mass spectroscopic techniques."

Little Lost Lamb: NYU Abu Dhabi is looking for a postdoc in "Traffic Flow Theory, Division of Engineering."

Monday, June 27, 2016

This week's C&EN

A few articles from this week's issue of C&EN:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Weekend mediumreads: Caltech's glassblower is retiring

Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times
Interesting article in the Los Angeles Times (by Rosanna Xia) about Rick Gerhart, who is retiring at 71 after years of working as Caltech's chemistry department glassblower.

(There's a lot of shortage talk in the article, re: scientific glassblowers. In this sense, I am skeptical that there is strong demand for departmental glassblowers.) 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Topic of the day: Brexit

I don't think I have anything intelligent to add to the discussion, not being a subject of the UK, nor a citizen of the EU. Thanks to C&EN's Alex Scott and his article on potential Brexit impacts (written before the referendum), I learned that the European Medicines Agency is in London 
For the U.K. pharmaceutical industry, a Brexit risks causing uncertainty and creating barriers to investment. “It’s vital the U.K. remains engaged in the EU to influence legislative and regulatory policy developments affecting the life sciences ecosystem,” says the BioIndustry Association, a U.K. industry organization. Ninety life sciences firms have stated publicly that the U.K. should stay in the EU. 
Additionally, if the U.K. votes to Brexit, two European pharmaceutical institutions currently based in London—the European Medicines Agency and a part of the EU’s planned unitary patent system—would have to relocate to an EU country.
I believe the EMA is basically the EU's version of the FDA. The German pharma sector calling for them to leave (and relocate to Berlin?) already.

I was also surprised to learn that good ol' Paul Hodges (Captain of the DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM team) was actually voting Remain. Huh.

I presume there are a raft of people who have Marie Curie Fellowships and the like, who may face some trouble? Readers, your thoughts? 

Charest v. Harvard settled

From the inbox, a press release from Dr. Mark Charest, a former graduate student with Professor Andy Myers at Harvard:
"Harvard University and I have settled our ongoing litigation regarding the allocation of royalties related to the license with Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals on mutually agreeable terms.  In light of my claims and goals in bringing this litigation, I am very pleased to accept terms I view as equitable.”
Full link to press release here and here. Background to the story here and here. 

Job posting: C4 Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA

Scientists/Senior Scientists:  Medicinal Chemistry 
C4 Therapeutics is seeking highly motivated and innovative medicinal chemists to contribute to the development of small molecule targeted therapeutics.  Ideal candidates will have in depth knowledge of chemical synthesis and a proven track record of advancing small molecules across stage gates from Hit ID through clinical candidate selection. 
Computational Chemists  
C4 Therapeutics is seeking highly motivated and innovative computational chemists to contribute to the conception and execution of innovative research projects that leverage chemistry, biology, structural biology, and computational science. 
Best wishes to those interested.  

Daily Pump Trap: 6/24/16 edition

A few of the positions posted on C&EN Jobs in the past week:

Devens, MA: Johnson Matthey Fine Chemicals is looking for a manager for continuous processing; interesting (and heartening) that they're willing to look at all educational levels (even as I presume this is really about experience with the relevant technology.)

West Point, PA: Merck, looking for an experienced Ph.D. analytical chemist for a principal scientist to do small molecule formulation development.

Attleboro, MA: Sensata Technologies is looking for an experienced Ph.D. chemist to run their chemistry laboratory.

Charleston, TN: Wacker is looking for a senior quality manager for its polysilicon plant; seems important.

"Washington, D.C. or Chicago, IL": The American Institutes for Research are looking for scientists to write test questions, it appears.

Huh: This program officer position at the National Academies seems really interesting; I could imagine doing some good here.

Rolla, MO: Good ol' Brewer Science (are there any readers who have actually taken a position there?); looking for M.S./Ph.D. polymer chemists, it appears.

Another old friend: Clorox, doing its annual hiring push for research chemists. Pleasanton seems like a nice place. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ivory Filter Flask: 6/23/16 edition

A few of the academically-oriented positions posted on C&EN Jobs:

San Francisco, CA: UCSF is looking for a tenure-track nuclear chemistry (PET-related) position.

Auburn, AL: Auburn, looking for a research assistant professor in quantum chemistry.

Philadelphia, PA: Temple University is looking for a non-tenure track organic chemistry laboratory coordinator.

Madison, WI: A biomedical engineering group is looking for two physical chemists to be postdoctoral fellows. Looks like it's going to be paying overtime, since the position is offering 43-45k.

Last Minute Lecturer: Whitworth University (Spokane, WA) is looking for a lecturer in chemistry. Start date: August 1, 2016. M.S./ABD acceptable. I hear Spokane is nice; arid climate?

Last Minute Lecturer #2: Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC) is searching for a one-year contract faculty position to teach general chemistry, to begin September 2016.

Never too early for next year: The Claremont Colleges (the "Keck Science Department") is looking for a tenure-track professor of bioanalytical chemistry to begin in June 2017. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A fellow fan of Paula Stephan, I see UPDATED BELOW


From the inbox, this paper ("De novo design of protein homo-oligomers with modular hydrogen-bond network–mediated specificity") has a very interesting set of references (scroll to the end) in its SI (which has been corrected a number of times, I see.)

UPDATE 22JUN16 4:38 PM: Science deputy editor Jake Yeston tweets it was a careless swapping of references by the production team at Science, not the authors. 

Wanted: scientists who risked their lives

In this week's C&EN, an article from ACS President Donna Nelson asking ACS members about the improving of the public perception of scientists. Here's her request:
...New ideas are needed for improving the public perception of scientists. What new solutions to this problem are possible? Past successes in engaging and influencing the public suggest employing television or movies to spotlight courageous acts of scientists working in their profession. 
A series of profiles of particularly courageous chemists, past or present, could constitute a 2017 ACS national meeting symposium. ACS members can contribute by sending nominations of scientists who risked their lives and careers in the course of their work to me at
I don't know if this is what President Nelson is looking for, but a favorite story of a chemist being clever in the face of danger is what George De Hevesy did in Copenhagen in 1940. From Wikipedia:
When Nazi Germany occupied Denmark from April 1940, during World War II, de Hevesy dissolved the gold Nobel Prizes of Max von Laue and James Franck with aqua regia; it was illegal at the time to send gold out of the country, and had it been discovered that Laue and Franck had done so to prevent them from being stolen, they could have faced prosecution in Germany. He placed the resulting solution on a shelf in his laboratory at the Niels Bohr Institute. After the war, he returned to find the solution undisturbed and precipitated the gold out of the acid. The Nobel Society then recast the Nobel Prizes using the original gold. 
Would that I could be as quick with my mind as De Hevesy was - seems to me this little episode would make for a great caper film.

Faster, scientists, do it, do it!

Also in this week's C&EN, an article by Alex Scott on the latest moves from BASF:
“The company needs to adapt its established approaches to changing conditions,” Martin Bruderm├╝ller, BASF’s board member responsible for technology, told journalists at a briefing in Ludwigshafen, Germany. “Our research commitment will not increase at the same rate as before, but our commitment to R&D will not go down.” 
One of the ways BASF intends to generate more without increasing spending is by conducting R&D faster. The firm plans to achieve this by, among other things, working more closely with academia and doing away with some lab experiments by first predicting outcomes with the use of computational chemistry. 
“In the future, we will need more computational chemists than lab technicians,” Bruderm├╝ller said. 
But BASF is also putting systems in place to ensure that creativity is not sacrificed in the drive for efficiency. For example, the firm recently started encouraging scientists within its central R&D organization to spend 20% of their time working on their own ideas, rather than solving problems for BASF’s businesses. 
“We call these ‘just do it’ projects,” said Bernhard von Vacano, senior research manager for material physics. Such projects might run for just a few weeks. But they are taken seriously, said von Vacano, who heads a team of materials scientists in a new R&D building in Ludwigshafen. 
In line with previously announced plans, BASF will maintain R&D personnel at its Ludwigshafen headquarters at the current level of about 4,900. Any increase in BASF’s worldwide R&D staff—which numbers about 10,000—will be in Asia.
If you clear away all the corporate speak, it is appears that BASF is doing the following:
  • Not hiring any more R&D staff anywhere other than Asia. 
  • Working with academia more 
  • Performing more computational chemistry
  • Allowing current R&D scientists time for blue-sky projects
An interesting set of moves - will be interesting to see how this reflects on R&D chemist hiring by BASF in the US. 

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles from this week's issue of C&EN: