Monday, July 21, 2014

Well, since you asked

I got randomly selected for an online survey about the ACS. I found this one to be a good question. 

What is a project house?

In an article by Alex Scott about Clariant and its R&D structure, an interesting paragraph (emphasis mine):
The company now has eight R&D centers and 50 technical application labs worldwide. “We now have a very good infrastructure for trying to develop innovations,” Kottmann said. 
Clariant is also testing models for accelerating innovation. One such model, in trials for the past couple of years, is the so-called project house, which draws together chemists and commercial executives from Clariant and beyond to identify and execute intensive product development. The firm’s first project house, which is in Italy, is for its masterbatches business, which supplies color and performance additive concentrates to plastics makers. The project house is still at the trial phase but is proving extremely beneficial, the company said. 
Even in businesses without the project house structure, Clariant is seeking to closely link research with commercial activities, said Christian Kohlpaintner, Clariant’s board member responsible for R&D. This has been the case with the firm’s Synergen OS adjuvant, a blend of methylated seed oil and a polymeric surfactant. The product encourages sprayed-on pesticide to stick to plant leaves, leading to enhanced exposure to the active ingredients.
I don't quite understand -- is the "house" an actual physical building or is it a structure? 

C&EN tackles chronic traumatic encephalopathy

Lauren Wolf looks at scientists trying to track the accumulation of tau (and other signs of CTE) in vivo: 
...One question they’d like to answer is how much brain injury a person can handle before CTE sets in. With support from the Nevada Athletic Commission and local fight promoters, the group is gathering data by periodically testing its fighters and comparing them with a control group of age- and education-matched people who have never had head trauma. When the test subjects visit the Lou Ruvo Center, they update their fight records, take cognitive tests, and lie down inside a magnetic resonance imaging machine. 
“We’re looking at a variety of MRI modalities,” Bernick explains. He isn’t yet sure which combination of MRI scan types will be most useful for detecting CTE-related brain damage and tracking it over time, so his group is running a full battery of them. 
A few have shown promise so far. Volumetric MRI, which constructs a three-dimensional view of the brain, has indicated that subjects who fought more bouts during the study’s first year had greater tissue loss in regions of the brain called the corpus callosum and putamen. The corpus callosum is a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and the putamen is a structure deeper within the brain that helps regulate movement and learning.
The results of diffusion tensor imaging, another type of MRI, also suggested that some of the study’s fighters have a thinning corpus callosum. This type of imaging maps the 3-D movement of water throughout the brain. Water typically flows parallel to nerve fibers, so when that flow pattern changes in a particular brain region, scientists take it as a sign of neuronal damage in that spot.
...Four years ago, when Robert A. Stern was writing grants for a large-scale CTE study, he says it was far-fetched that scientists would be able to see phosphorylated tau in the living brain anytime soon. “Much to my delight, there are a couple groups who have now done it,” says Stern, a neuropsychologist at Boston University who collaborates with McKee. 
Stern is working with one of the groups, now at Eli Lilly & Co. subsidiary Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, to test a tau radiotracer in retired NFL players. The trial has been tacked onto Stern’s larger study, called DETECT (Diagnosing & Evaluating Traumatic Encephalopathy using Clinical Tests), which is comparing participants with a control group of age-matched athletes, such as baseball players, who never played contact sports... 
I am really disturbed at the mounting scientific evidence that some contact sports are actively harmful to players' brains. Here's hoping that, over the years, we can understand if all or just some individuals tend to get CTE and why. Is there a correlation between sport/position played and likelihood of CTE diagnosis? How long does it take before CTE sets in? (The article says that it has been detected in high school athletes.) Yikes.

Am I crazy, or did most folks know Chris Benoit as just "Chris Benoit"? I never heard the "Canadian Crippler" nickname until now. 

This week's C&EN

From this week's issue: 

Wonderful quotes on committees: This letter on open workspaces takes a funny turn towards the end:
...Teamwork and collaboration are important, but so is individual thought. The late science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein defined a committee as “a creature with three or more legs and no brain.” The National Aeronautics & Space Administration put it similarly: “None of us is as dumb as all of us.” 
James M. Castro
Helena, Mont.
Um, what's going on in Atlanta?: Andrea Widener covers the CDC anthrax debacle. I'd love to know what's going on and what internal employees think of it. It certainly seems dangerous, anyway.

The ACS Presidential race: An interesting slate of candidates (article by Sophie Rovner):
Candidates for president-elect are Peter K. Dorhout, dean of arts and sciences and a professor of chemistry at Kansas State University, Manhattan; William A. Lester Jr., a professor of the graduate school in the chemistry department at the University of California, Berkeley, and faculty senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Donna J. Nelson, an organic chemistry professor at the University of Oklahoma.
I wonder if Professor Nelson's association with "Breaking Bad" (she was the show's technical adviser) will help or hurt her candidacy? I'll bet it will help.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Media preview
From @metabolome. The truth, it hurts.

CEO apparently cannot afford to train his workers

Via my new weekly dose of pain (a Google news alert for the term "skills gap"), a CEO has a good one (emphasis mine): 
...Yet in manufacturing alone, a half-million jobs are going unfilled because firms have been unable to find qualified workers. The feds can't address our nation's shortage of skilled labor on their own. Private firms — especially those in manufacturing — must also invest in training. Indeed, without workers fluent in the high technology that runs today's factories, manufacturers will not be able to survive. 
Modern manufacturing is more than pulling levers and navigating forklifts throughout a plant. Consider the work flow of, say, an engineer at a facility making chairs. 
In response to a new order, he'll first use advanced math to calculate the amount of steel that needs to be fed into the presser. He'll have to choose the right combination of half a dozen sheet types, each with a different weight, length and thickness. Then he'll operate, monitor and perhaps fix the quarter-million-dollar machine that assembles the chairs. Even a minor mistake can yield major damage — and massive repair expenses.... 
...But as manufacturing has become more technologically sophisticated, the training needed to master a trade has grown too expensive and time-consuming for private industry to provide. Manufacturers already operate on thin profit margins. They can't afford to develop every worker from scratch. 
Fortunately, they don't need to. Throughout the country, many manufacturers, technical schools, and local and state governments have teamed up to help narrow the skills gap. Throughout Illinois, employers are teaming up with municipalities to expand vocational training... 
There is a common perception that American manufacturing is in decline. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, a shortage of qualified workers is holding American manufacturing back. Our nation's leaders must invest in closing that skills gap. If they do, an American industrial renaissance will follow. 
Dick Resch is CEO of KI Furniture.
I think there might be some contradictions there. Also, I'm amused to see this tidbit from the Wall Street Journal:
The government hasn't tracked spending on corporate training since the mid-1990s, but one rough measure, the percentage of staffers at U.S. manufacturers dedicated to training and development, has fallen by about half from 2006 to 2013, according to research group Bersin by Deloitte.
That seems about right to me -- must be those incredibly thin margins. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Home" or something like it

...Which brings us to Ohio: I have not lived in Ohio since 2006. I do not plan to live in Ohio any time in the near or distant future, nor do I particularly want to raise my child there. But Ohio is still important to me because I am from there, and I very much want for Ohio to thrive. I think that’s where a lot of my initial excitement about LeBron’s return comes from: the idea that Ohio will thrive. That there will be tens of thousands of people in Downtown Cleveland for 40-plus Cavaliers home games every season for the foreseeable future. Sure, most of those people will immediately flee the city back to the suburbs, but maybe a few people will decide they like it in Cleveland Proper and will move inside the city limits and make Cleveland great again. 
I want Ohio to thrive, but I do not want to live there. More accurately, maybe I’m not willing to give up the life I enjoy in the District of Columbia to ensure that Ohio does thrive. This feels somewhat hypocritical and more than a little cowardly at times, but it is the bare and honest truth.* I like where and how I live and do not see any opportunities to live similarly in Ohio. So it is rather heartening and exciting to see Ohio immediately improved by the presence of one LeBron James. It’s nice that he decided to fill in for me in my absence. 
*The underlying assumption here—namely that my mere presence would improve Ohio’s prospects—may not be structurally sound.
Part of the journey of the modern working chemist seems to be a path away from where we call "home" (which can be anywhere) and, these days, seems to end up somewhere on either the East or West Coasts (or Houston). The trajectory of economic growth in these United States doesn't seem to be broad-based anymore, so deciding to move one from a large mega/metropolis to a smaller one doesn't seem like a great move for oneself and one's progeny. Of course, that isn't a particularly rational or considered opinion (it's not like I've looked up GDP growth forecasts for D.C. and Cleveland*), but at the very least, I understand where he's coming from. LeBron James might be recession-and-outsourcing-proof, but we're not.

There's also something specific about Ohio, which seems to be the childhood home of many of this blog's readers. I am probably over-romanticizing the state's economic history, but when Ohio was healthier and more pre-eminent among the states, it seems that chemistry (and manufacturing in general) was a lot healthier and stronger. I hope that will be the case for Ohio's future (and for American chemical manufacturing's), but I don't really see a path in that direction.

Best wishes to Ohio, and to all of us.

*...but I'll bet you I could draw them pretty well

Using the telephone for job-searching

I really like this guide to the use of the telephone for job searching over at Science Careers, if only for this advice: 
If you’re like most people, you’ve got at least two phones, a home phone and a cell phone. You may have your own business phone, too, and for reasons I haven’t yet plumbed, some people seem to have more than one cell phone. 
Some people use a cell phone as their sole telephony instrument. That’s OK, but it’s not ideal. Business calls are so important (especially in a job search) that you don’t want to drop them—and cell phones do drop calls. Another concern is call quality; as your voice fades out on the other end of the (virtual) line when you’re chatting with that director of research, your chances of getting hired might be fading in much the same way. So it might be worthwhile to spring for a landline or maybe a phone from your cable company. The former is better—landlines are rock solid—but a cable phone is cheaper and usually includes unlimited long distance.
I really believe in the power of landlines. I am officially an old fogey.  

Job posting: senior medicinal chemist, San Francisco, CA

From the inbox, a position at Achaogen:
This position will be responsible for the design and synthesis of small-molecule drug candidates. The Sr. Scientist will analyze data from multiple assays to design compounds that meet project goals. This person in this role will be expected to initiate projects and/or function as a chemistry team leader. He or she must be adaptable to a fast-paced and dynamic environment, and will be willing to take on responsibilities outside of his/her main area of expertise.
Sounds challenging. Ph.D. desired, 4+ years experience.  

Daily Pump Trap: 7/17/14

Good morning! A few recent positions posted on C&EN Jobs:

San Francisco, CA: Nanosys is a newer company that's looking for an experienced M.S./Ph.D. organometallic chemist:
Nanosys is seeking a versatile synthetic chemist with experience in organometallics to develop new compositions for the Nanosys optical materials effort. Based on our proprietary quantum dot technology we are developing new nano-crystals and composites for integration into optical devices in partnerships with leading optical component manufacturers. Among the development goals will be novel nano-crystal synthesis optimization and integration of nano-crystals into polymer systems.
Don't know what that is, exactly, but it sounds interesting.

Hamilton, NJ: CombiPhos is looking for 2 Ph.D. synthetic chemists; I wonder what it's like to work there?

Washington, DC: Technology Sciences Group desires a B.S./M.S. chemist for TSCA consultations.

Lehigh Valley, PA: Smooth-On desires a senior polymer chemist:
You may never have heard of us, but you've seen our products at work. If you've ever been to the movies, admired a piece of sculpture, marveled at detailed architectural ornamentation or used a telephone; then you've encountered the handiwork of people who use Smooth-On rubbers, plastics, foams and other products to turn their ideas into 3-dimensional reality. The Senior Chemist will be responsible for the formulation development for Smooth-On’s Polyurethane, Silicone, Epoxy, Polysulfide and Release agent product lines.  
B.S. desired, plus 7 years formulating experience. (I still don't quite know what they do, but it's an interesting intro.)

Houston, TX: Merichem desires a research technician; A.A. with 2+ years experience or B.S. with internship experience desired.

(This is really how you know the Houston market is doing pretty well by chemists, I think -- any market on either coasts would have this position pegged at B.S./M.S.-level (he asserts boldly), but in Houston, the experience level is about what an employer would really hope for/be willing to pay for.)

ACS SF Career Fair watch: 17 positions for the Career Fair, 4 for the Virtual Career Fair. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CSB: No preventative maintenance at Freedom Industries

In March, I said this about the leaking tanks that caused the huge MCHM mess outside Charleston, WV:
Freedom Industries is likely responsible for the apparent poor state of their tanks -- I wonder if those tanks have ever been pressure checked or what the preventative maintenance logs look like. 
And now, thanks to the Chemical Safety Board, we have some answers (emphasis mine): 
...the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) reported today it has thus far found no record of a formal, industry approved inspection performed on any of the chemical storage tanks at Freedom Industries prior to the massive leak which occurred on January 9, 2014.  Informal inspections may have occurred, preliminary findings indicate, but investigators have found a lack of appropriate engineering inspections with prescribed frequency and rigor of inspections. 
The CSB commissioned an inspection of tank 396 and similar tanks at Freedom Industries, scanning the tank interior and the surrounding topography of the river bank. Investigators oversaw the recent extraction of metal for metallurgical analysis. 
The investigation found that two small holes ranging in size from about 0.4-inch to 0.75-inch in the bottom of the 48,000-gallon tank 396 were caused by corrosion, likely resulting from water leaking through holes in the roof and settling on the tank floor. Furthermore, the CSB inspection found a similar hole penetrating the bottom of nearby tank 397, containing the same chemical at the facility, located in Charleston. Other tanks also showed multiple signs of pitting and metallurgical damage, investigators said. The growing corrosion in these tanks went unnoticed until the bottom of 396 was breached and up to an estimated 10,000 gallons of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), mixed with propylene glycol phenyl ethers, or PPH, made their way through the underlying mixture of soil and gravel under the facility and into the Elk River on January 9, 2014. 
It sounds like Freedom was a relative mess, managerially speaking, and their lack of a rigorous inspection system doesn't shock me a bit. A disappointment. 

Too funny, too true

I'm enjoying the new chemistry blog C&EN Onion -- they're a lot funnier than I am these days. I hope they keep it up:
Congress: NIH Funding To Be Distributed Via Cage Fighting
(Washington, D.C.) In a rare showing of strong bi-partisan support, landmark bill S. 2651 entitled the "Investigational Combatant Funding Reappropriation Act" has passed through the United States Senate and been signed into law by President Obama.  "My fellow Americans, today marks an important milestone in our collective history," President Obama began, "with the enacting of this bill, federal funding for health-related research will be distributed in the fairest way possible -- by physical combat." 
Under the provisions of the bill, principal investigators at academic institutions are permitted to select a champion from their respective research groups to do battle in tournament-style cage fights.  Funding will be distributed according to placement in regional tournaments, with winners receiving coveted R01 grants. 
At press time, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones had assembled a team of sought-after post-docs and graduate students.
I'd think physical combat (classic UFC 1-5 rules) would be fair, although if I were a PI, I'd be quibbling about the size of the relevant ring (heptagon? nonagon?)

Warning Letter of the Week: files schmiles backup schmackup

From the FDA, a missive to the management of Trifarma S.p.A.:
Your firm did not retain complete raw data from testing performed to ensure the quality of your APIs. Specifically, your firm deleted all electronic raw data supporting your high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) testing of all API products released to the U.S. market. In addition, your firm failed to retain basic chromatographic information such as injection sequence, instrument method or integration method for the tests. Your firm’s lack of data control causes us to question the reliability of your data.

In addition, your laboratory management was unaware of, and therefore did not follow, the written procedure detailing the review of analytical data. Furthermore, your management confirmed that the review of analytical data did not include evaluating the system suitability parameters to ensure proper column performance. 
Oh, those old files? We don't need them! (You really wonder what happened to them -- freak backup accident?)  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cognitive dissonance

I subscribe to the American Chemistry Council's daily newsletter, because why not try to learn what the CEOs of industrial chemistry are thinking? The "Leadership and Management" section is always, always, always good for a laugh and today is no exception. 

Daily Pump Trap: 7/15/14 edition

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

Newark, DE: Invista is looking for a senior R&D organic chemist with 5+ years experience. Pretty attractive looking position, if I do say so myself.

Orange, TX: Invista is also looking for a Ph.D. inorganic/organometallic chemist to work as a research chemist. "INVISTA has a continued commitment to leadership in many catalyst areas by utilizing advantaged technology with an emphasis in the area of hydrocyanation, hydrogenation and oxidation catalysis of small molecules that have value in the marketplace." Huh, interesting.

Greensboro, NC: Syngenta is looking for a Ph.D. analytical chemist to work in crop protection; 70-90k offered for a position where 2-5 years experience are desired. Seems a touch low?

Ahhh, sales: Love this line from this Magritek ad for a sales manager: "Are you a rock star salesperson who wants to work with the one of the most innovative scientific instrumentation companies in the world?"

(I met a sales person recently who seems to be quite successful in their chosen field -- their personalities are like night-and-day to me.)

China Lake, CA: The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division has 3 open postdoctoral positions, starting at 56k. Nice salary, for sure, but you're gonna be buying juuuuust a bit of gas. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 7/15/14 edition

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

Halifax, Canada: Looks like Dalhousie University is looking for 2 tenure-track professors of chemistry. "Preference will be given to applicants in the fields of synthetic chemistry, computational and theoretical chemistry, and analytical chemistry." Also, looks like Canadians will be given preference.

Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University is looking for an assistant professor of analytical chemistry for fall 2015 - you can never get started too early!

Milledgeville, GA: Georgia College (and State University -- there's a new one for me!) is looking for an organic chemistry lecturer to start January 2015; Ph.D. desired.

Napa, CA: Napa Valley College is looking for an "Instructional Assistant IV" to work in the chemistry department -- not quite sure what it's all about, but it looks to be half administrative/half teaching. Pays 38-44k, which isn't horrible, depending on the education they expect.

Last Minute Lecturers: St. Cloud State University is looking for a chemistry lab coordinator to start September 8 "or sooner" (!). Minot State University desires a visiting assistant professor of analytical chemistry to start August 18. Tick, tick, tick! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Janet Stemwedel and "The Book of Job"

Via a random Twitter clicking, a wonderful tribute by Janet Stemwedel in 2012 to Dr. James LuValle, during a key point in her life as a graduate student at UCLA Stanford: 
...Back in the spring and autumn of 1992, I was a chemistry graduate student starting to believe that I might actually get enough of my experiments to work to get my Ph.D. As such, I did what senior graduate students in my department were supposed to do: I began preparing myself to interview with employers who came to my campus (an assortment of industry companies and national labs), and I made regular visits to my department’s large job announcement binder (familiarly referred to as “The Book of Job”). 
What optimism successes in the lab giveth, the daunting terrain laid out in “The Book of Job” taketh away.... 
...It was during my regularly scheduled freak-out over the binder in the department lobby that I really got to know Dr. LuValle. While I was in the department, his official position was as a “visiting scholar”, but since he had been the director of undergraduate labs in the department for years before he retired, he wasn’t really visiting, he was at home. And Dr. LuValle took it upon himself to make me feel at home, too — not just in the department, but in chemistry. 
It started with light conversation. Dr. LuValle would ask what new listings had turned up in the binder since the last time he had seen me. Then he’d ask about what kind of listings I was hoping would turn up there. Soon, we were talking about what kind of things I hoped for in a chemical career, and about what scared me in my imagination of a chemical career. 
That he bothered to draw me out and let me talk about my fears made those fears a lot more manageable. 
But Dr. LuValle went even further than just getting me to voice my fears. He reassured me that it was normal for good chemists to have these fears, and that everyone had to get across the chasm between knowing you could be a good student and believing you could be a successful grown-up scientist. And he took it as an absolute given that I could get across this chasm...
The whole thing is worth a read, especially the life of Dr. LuValle before he got to Stanford.

This doesn't do much good for US-China industry/scientific relations

A hilariously inept filching of IP, covered by Jeff Johnson in this week's C&EN (emphasis mine):
A Des Moines, Iowa, federal grand jury has indicted seven Chinese nationals for stealing hybrid corn seed technology from DuPont and Monsanto test fields in Iowa and Illinois. 
The indictment accuses the group of conspiring to steal and send back to China parent seed lines containing gene-modified and plant-bred traits such as resistance to disease, pests, and drought. All seven worked on behalf of Dabeinong Technology Group, a Beijing-based agricultural conglomerate founded in 1993. 
Among those arrested and indicted is Mo Yun, the wife of Dabeinong founder Shao Genhuo, says the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa. According to Forbes magazine, Shao has a net worth of $1.3 billion. The indictment accuses Mo of being the brains behind the operation. 
The FBI began tracking the group in May 2011 following an alert from DuPont. A company security guard, posted at a cornfield in Iowa, had reported observing Mo Hailong, Mo Yun’s brother and Dabeinong’s director of international business, on his knees digging up recently planted corn seed. 
The FBI subsequently tracked Mo Hailong and others over the next year and a half as the group collected corn seed and mature ears of parent corn from research fields operated by DuPont, Monsanto, and the seed company AgReliant Genetics. 
To get the seed back to China, the government says, one defendant tucked the stolen kernels into Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn boxes packed into his luggage. A second defendant traveling back to China tried to conceal the seed corn in Pop Weaver boxes. 
Each of the defendants faces a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of $250,000, according to a government spokesman.
Call me crazy, but I think a Iowa security guard might notice something was up when Chinese folks are digging up samples from research fields. I'd love to know how successful Dabeinong Technology Group is in China, and if this would have actually have represented a threat to DuPont. 

This week's C&EN

Too much good stuff in this week's issue:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Enjoy some glassmaking

The Beautiful Process of Turning Quartz Into Lab Glass at 3,000 Degrees

Via a respected reader and Gizmodo, a master scientific glassmaker doing his thing. (I gotta get me one of those torches.) 

Shortage Watch: AWIS

From a minor kerfluffle on Twitter this morning, an interesting June press release from the Association for Women in Science's executive director (emphasis mine): 
STEM Worker Shortage can be Tied Back to Lack of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies
On June 23, 2014, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) joined the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Center for American Progress, and the Department of Labor (DOL) for the Working Families Summit in Washington, DC.  The goal of the Summit was to foster a conversation regarding policies that will benefits the working families of today. In order for America to remain competitive in today’s global economy, we need to transition workplace environments into the 21st century through work-life balance and good employer practices. AWIS couldn't agree more with this goal and frankly it’s time for elected officials and employers to recognize the needs of the families of today. 
It’s no secret that the United States is facing a worker shortage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). There are more opportunities in the STEM fields than ever, but where are the workers? AWIS recently conducted the largest international survey of working researchers to study their approaches to work-life balance, career decisions, and career conflicts. AWIS surveyed more than 4,000 researchers in both academic and corporate settings from 115 countries around the world. We found that due to rigorous schedules and outdated work policies, which often conflict with personal time and family life, both men and women are leaving the STEM fields...
It's always interesting to me how thoroughly entrenched the STEM shortage myth is in elite circles.

[FWIW, I don't really have a problem with organizations advocating for better family-friendly policies - it's just a goofy newshook, that's all.] 

Slate/NSF: The modal outcome of a chemistry Ph.D. is a postdoc

Credit: Jordan Weissmann
Jordan Weissman has tabulated the NSF's Survey of Earned Doctorates' "employment status at graduation" data into a really great set of graphs at Slate. He did it for life scientists, chemists, physicists (holy moly, look at all them physics postdocs), mathematicians, computer science Ph.D.s and engineering Ph.D.s. It's really worth a look. His comments on chemists:
The near-term picture for chemists isn’t a whole lot rosier. Again, postdocs are hovering above 40 percent. Employment, after popping in the ’90s, fell to a plateau around 25 percent in the ’00s.
Of course, if you look at the percentage of employed computer scientists and engineering Ph.D.s, you will soon find yourself saying "STEM is really TE." Here's how Weissmann puts it:
One of the problems with the entire concept of STEM is that the acronym combines several distinct disciplines with different job markets, and encourages politicians and journalists to talk about them as if they were one and the same. 
I couldn't agree more. The term "STEM" makes us stupid and mashes together categories that don't belong together.