Friday, July 10, 2020

Have a good weekend



Well, we made it another week, folks. Have a great weekend - hope you get lots of rest. 

New claims for unemployment this week at 1.3 million workers

Also from the New York Times:
The number of new state unemployment claims dipped last week, but job losses continue to batter the economy as rising coronavirus cases pushed some regions of the country to reverse course and reimpose shutdown orders on businesses. 
More than 1.3 million workers, seasonally adjusted, filed new claims for regular unemployment benefits last week, the government reported on Thursday. Another million first-time claims were filed under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Taken together, the report paints a disappointing picture of recovery: Total new unemployment claims have edged up from their mid-June lows. 
Although hiring nationwide has picked up in recent weeks, most of the payroll gains were temporarily laid-off workers who were rehired. The pool of employees whose previous jobs have disappeared and who must search for new ones has grown....
The trend in permanent job loss isn't looking good. Here's hoping things turn around. 

Pharma companies start antibiotic startup fund

Twenty of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies on Thursday announced the creation of a $1 billion fund to buoy financially strapped biotech start-ups that are developing new antibiotics to treat the mounting number of drug-resistant infections responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. 
The fund, created in partnership with the World Health Organization and financed by drug behemoths that include Roche, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson, will offer a short-term but desperately needed lifeline for some of the three dozen small antibiotic companies, many of them based in the United States, that have been struggling to draw investment amid a collapsing antibiotics industry. 
Over the past year, three American antibiotic start-ups with promising drugs have gone bankrupt, and many of the remaining companies are quickly running out of cash.
Well, this is a good thing. Here's hoping for more, and more jobs to come with them.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 9 research/teaching positions and 2 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 9 research/teaching positions and 2 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On July 9, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 24 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 27 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 27 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, July 6, 2020

It's still hard to find domestically-produced hand sanitizer bottle parts?

Such efforts helped put China firmly at the front of the industry, as Rakesh Tammabattula discovered. An entrepreneur in the Los Angeles suburbs, he shifted his business making nutrition supplements and moisturizer to the production of medical masks and hand sanitizer in response to the epidemic. To do that, he needed a machine that could compress and cut fabric to make masks. 
He discovered that the machines were made only in China. He had to charter a jet to fly the huge device — 36 feet long, six feet high and five feet wide — from southern China to Los Angeles... 
...In Los Angeles, Mr. Tammabattula has found that even producing hand sanitizer is hard. He has been unable to find any company in the United States that still makes plastic bottles with pump handles. He imports them, on expensive chartered aircraft, from China. 
Mr. Tammabattula has applied for a federal loan for small businesses trying to produce medical supplies, but the paperwork has proved extensive, daunting and slow, he said. 
“If we were to compare to the Chinese government,” Mr. Tammabattula said, “there’s just no support for domestic manufacturing.”
It's hard for me to imagine that there are no US or North American manufacturers of plastic bottle pump parts, but I'm guessing that they are solidly booked by Proctor & Gamble or whomever.  

June 2020 Chemical Activity Barometer

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2020) – The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), eased 0.3 percent in June on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a 4.6 percent decline in May. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer fell 12.0 percent in June. 
The unadjusted data show a 3.5 percent gain in June following a 2.2 percent gain in May and a 6.3 percent decline in April. The diffusion index rose from 35 percent to 53 percent. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for May was revised upward by 2.68 points and the April reading was revised upward by 0.05 points. 
“While the latest CAB reading is consistent with a recession, two consecutive months of gains in the unadjusted data is a positive development,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “We’ll want to see at least another month of gains in order to conclude that the economy has turned a corner.”  
 Here's hoping this turns around. 

Layoffs news: Sanofi, UT-San Antonio

On June 25, Reuters reported that Sanofi was planning restructuring, including cutting 1000 jobs in France: 
The reorganisation could involve several European countries and possibly others outside the region, as well as all the divisions of Sanofi except the vaccines and rare diseases unit Genzyme, the sources said. 
Three sources said around 1,000 jobs in France were at risk. One of the sources said the cuts would take place over a three-year period, with no forced redundancies.
The University of Texas at San Antonio notified 312 employees Wednesday that their positions were being eliminated to help close a $36 million budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic’s damage to state finances. 
The losses included one-tenth of the university’s non-tenured faculty, ranging across all academic departments.
Best wishes to them, and all of us. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Thursday, July 2, 2020

31 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 12 new positions for June 30 and 19 new positions for June 28.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company list, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.

In June, 96 jobs were posted. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Chemical industry outlook for 2020 doesn't look great

Also in this week's C&EN, the outlook from the American Chemistry Council (by Alex Tullo): 
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the US and world economies into the worst recession in decades, and the US chemical industry will see a sharp decline before rebounding next year, according to the an updated outlook from the American Chemistry Council (ACC). 
The trade association’s baseline prediction is for a 9.3% decline in US chemical production volume this year. Its pessimistic outlook, in which COVID-19 cases start spiking again, is for a 14.7% production decline, and its optimistic scenario, where the economy benefits from a V-shaped recovery, is for a 7.0% decline. The US industry, the ACC predicts, will cut about 20,000 jobs this year, a decline of 3.6%. Capital spending, as companies tighten their belts and delay projects, will decline about 17.6%, to $29 billion.
This is a far cry from the ACC’s prediction in December that US production will increase by 0.4% this year. “COVID-19 has obviously changed that,” says Martha Moore, senior director of policy analysis and economics. “It has spread to every corner. And the government-imposed lockdowns have caused just this collapse in economic activity. It’s the deepest recession we have seen since the 1930s.” 
The ACC expects global economic activity to decline 4.6% in 2020 and then surge 5.3% in 2021, assuming the world gets over the pandemic. The US will see a 6.0% economic decline this year, followed by 4.6% growth next year. “We think that a recovery is already underway, that activity has bottomed out,” Moore says...
Here's hoping it's a short, very sharp decline in the chemical industry, and the job losses (or lack of job growth) don't impact chemists very much.  

This week's C&EN

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 8 research/teaching positions and 2 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has has 8 research/teaching positions and 2 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On July 2, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 17 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

Job posting: research scientist, Glycoscience Center of Research Excellence, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

From the inbox:
The Computational Chemistry and Bioinformatics Research CORE (CCBRC) of the Glycoscience Center of Research Excellence (GlyCORE) at the University of Mississippi, is seeking applications for a Research Scientist.  This position will manage the day-to-day operations of CCBRC. 
Candidates should have a computational PhD with specialization in glycoscience, medicinal chemistry, chemistry, biology, biophysics, bioinformatics, or a related field; three years of relevant postdoctoral experience; and an outstanding publication record. Candidates must have excellent written and oral communication skills. Highly valued personal characteristics include a dedication to scholarship, excellent communication skills, experience in collaborating with others, and a commitment to promoting diversity and advancing an inclusive climate that stimulates excellence.
Additional description of the center here. Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Postdoctoral position: carbohydrate chemistry, Axelrod Lab, Purdue University

From the inbox:
Postdoctoral Position Available in Oligosaccharide and Glycan Synthesis  
The research group of Dr. Abram Axelrod in the department of Chemistry at Purdue University is seeking a postdoctoral researcher skilled in carbohydrate synthesis for our biologics programs. The ideal candidate will have a Ph.D. in synthetic carbohydrate chemistry, and a proven track record of accomplishments in the laboratory, demonstrated through publications. Required experience includes strong capabilities in multi-step synthesis, analytical techniques and characterization. Experience in glycopeptide synthesis or enzymatic transformations are a plus, but not required. In addition to research, other responsibilities will include mentoring students and assisting manuscript preparation. The candidate will have access to world-class instrumentation and new facilities, and be part of a dynamic atmosphere in team of researchers focused on translational immuno-oncology research. The position offers competitive salary and benefits. The successful applicant will be assessed on their productivity on an annual basis with the option of a yearly renewal if agreed upon by both parties.  
Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and CV with research summary to aaxelro@purdue.edu, and arrange for 3 letters of reference from individuals familiar with the candidate’s experience, accomplishments, and potential. The position is open immediately, but the start date is flexible. 
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested: 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 23 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 23 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, June 29, 2020

June 11: Johnson Matthey cutting 2500 employees worldwide

News from June 11. I'm a little late with this, but I think it's significant nonetheless: 
Johnson Matthey PLC on Thursday cut its dividend for fiscal 2020 in light of the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, and said it is targeting cost savings which will lead to around 2,500 job losses. 
The FTSE 100 specialty chemicals company declared a final dividend of 31.125 pence per share for the year ended March 31, bringing the full-year payment to 55.625 pence--down from 85.5 pence a year earlier and below the market consensus forecast of 68.07 pence taken from the company's website and based on thirteen analysts' estimates. 
Chief Executive Robert MacLeod said that the group is targeting cost savings of at least 80 million pounds ($102 million) by the end of fiscal 2023--in addition to GBP120 million already announced and delivered--and this will lead to around 2,500 job losses globally. The company said it was unable to provide any financial guidance for fiscal 2021 given the ongoing uncertainty.
Johnson Matthey has 14000 global employees, so this is a significant cut. It will be interesting to see if this is unique to them, or if this augurs a broader trend amongst chemical companies. Best wishes to them, and to all of us. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Have a good weekend



Well, it's been another week. Here's hoping that you had a good one, and that next week will be better. 

Calculated Risk author downgrades all economics forecasts for H2 2020/2021

Bill McBride is an economist, and the author of Calculated Risk, an economics blog that longtime readers know I have been following for many years. His claim to fame (with his co-blogger Tanta) was calling the mortgage crisis and subsequent downturn correctly. He has a new outlook, and it is quite grim (emphasis mine): 
...It doesn't take an official lockdown to push local economies back into recession - many people will pull back as the number of cases and hospitalizations rise.  Based on recent hospitalization data, I expect further layoffs in some states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida.  
I do expect another round of disaster relief in July - extending the extra unemployment benefits (perhaps at a lower level), extending the PPP, and providing relief to the States.   Without this disaster relief, the entire US economy might slide back into recession in August. But even with another round of disaster relief, it seems likely the recovery will stall unless progress is made in slowing the spread of the virus.  The longer the widespread pandemic continues, the more structural damage to the economy.   And the more severe the economic damage, the longer it will take to recover from the pandemic.
Everyone is hoping for a vaccine in late 2020 or early 2021, but even if there is a vaccine, the damage to the economy will be extensive if we don't lower the infection rate significantly in the near term. Perhaps there will be a sudden change in behavior while we wait for a vaccine - or some other breakthrough that will slow the spread of the virus - but I'm not sanguine. 
After a decade of making fun of bearish analysts and writing "the future is bright", it pains me to be pessimistic.   I hope I'm wrong on the virus, but if I'm correct, then I expect every major economic forecast will be revised down for the 2nd half of 2020 and for early 2021.
This bodes poorly for all of us, and it's not clear to me how chemistry will be affected. I imagine that the real problem will stem from two places. First, it's quite clear the pandemic is hurting academia most, and there will be a tremendous slowdown in the hiring of tenure-track professors, and even more of a burden shifted towards non-tenured teaching faculty. Second, I think that it's the non-pharma sectors within the industrial chemical enterprise that will be affected the most - while there is undoubtedly plenty of excess plastics being purchased for PPE, etc, it's the people who are not buying new cars, new planes and new houses that will be problematic for the Dows and DuPonts of the world. It's hard for me to know how best to think about this, but that's what I have been thinking, and I haven't seen a lot to change my perspective yet.

Best wishes to us all. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

33 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 17 new positions for June 23 and 16 new positions for June 18.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company list, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 7 research/teaching positions and 2 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has has 7 research/teaching positions and 2 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On June 25, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 13 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

Postdoctoral position: Cheloha lab, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

We are soliciting applications for funded postdoctoral positions in biochemistry and chemical-biology. Research will center on the synthesis of new chemical and immunological tools to study cell surface proteins, such as disease-relevant G protein-coupled receptors.  
See the following link as a primer on the types of tools to be developed in the laboratory: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15884-8
A PhD in biochemistry, chemistry, or pharmacology (or related fields) with completion planned in 2020 or early 2021 is required. US citizenship is not a requirement. Applicants should be detail-oriented and highly organized with the ability to plan and have ownership of tasks to completion.  
Additional attributes of interest (but which are not required) include knowledge of peptide or organic chemistry, protein expression and purification, and experience in cell-based assay development. 
Instructions: Please provide by email a summary of your PhD work (≤ 1 page) and your role in the work. Provide a short description (1-2 paragraphs) of how your skills are suited to the areas of focus in the Cheloha lab. Also provide contact information for three references that can comment on your research and laboratory experience.
Full ad and contact information here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 21 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 21 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, June 22, 2020

Copper in anti-coronavirus products

Interesting article in the New York Times: 
In recent months, there’s been a surge of interest in materials laced with the metal, including socks, bedsheets and coatings that can be sprayed onto surfaces. Multiple companies are marketing face coverings and masks with built-in copper linings, touting their germ-killing properties. One company even offers a “nasal wand” designed to apply “the touch of solid copper” to the hands, face and nostrils at the first sign of illness. 
But while copper does have antimicrobial qualities, Dr. Johnson and others said you should think twice before buying into many of these products’ claims.
Who knew copper was so popular? 

Merrill Lynch and Goldman estimate Q2 GDP down 33-35%

Via Calculated Risk, the latest forecasts for the second quarter of 2020:
Important: GDP is reported at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). So a 33% Q2 decline is around 8% decline from Q1 (SA). 
From Merrill Lynch: We revise up 2Q GDP to -35% qoq saar from -40% and 3Q to 20% from 7%, given the faster and more successful reopening. [June 18 estimate] 
From Goldman Sachs: We have adjusted our real GDP growth forecasts and now expect -33% in Q2, +33% in Q3, and +8% in Q4 (vs. -36%, +29%, and +11% previously) in qoq annualized terms. [June 18 estimate]
Well, that's bad. Here's hoping the damage isn't too deep.