Thursday, August 6, 2020

40 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 14 new positions for August 4 and 26 new positions for July 31.

For the month of July, 104 jobs were posted. There is not much evidence of a slowdown in hiring in industrial organic chemistry jobs as measured by this list for the COVID-19 recession.

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


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Beirut ammonium nitrate (?) explosion?

Via the New York Times:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The blasts came within seconds of each other. 
First, an explosion in Beirut’s port, possibly from a fireworks warehouse, sent a plume of smoke billowing over the capital skyline early Tuesday evening. 
Then a much larger explosion from a building nearby shot a chrysanthemum of orange and red smoke into the air followed by a massive shock wave of whitish dust and debris that rose hundreds of feet and spread out for blocks. 
The seaside capital rocked like an earthquake. Cars tumbled upside down and bricks rained down from apartment buildings. Glass flew out of windows miles away and roofs collapsed...
According to some reports, there were 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate in the warehouse. If you haven't seen some of the video, it's pretty remarkable.

(Pretty clear to me that governments should attempt to track and regulate storage of ammonium nitrate, but that seems like something that would be difficult to administer and would end up neglected.) 

Warning Letter of the Week: dancing festival edition

Via a comment at In the Pipeline, this funny missive from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the director of Centurion Laboratories Private Limited (emphasis mine):
3. Your firm failed to follow written procedures for cleaning and maintenance of equipment (21 CFR 211.67(b)). 
During the inspection, our investigator observed that equipment used to manufacture more than one product was inadequately maintained and cleaned. 
For example, our investigator observed in the [redacted] room a [redacted] identified as “cleaned.” However, this [redacted] was found to have visible product build-up inside the [redacted] and [redacted] of the [redacted]. Furthermore, the air filter of the equipment was damaged with multiple holes. This equipment was used to manufacture finished drug products shipped to the United States such as [redacted] tablets, [redacted] tablets, [redacted] tablets, and [redacted] tablets. Additionally, a memo provided during the inspection stated these cleaning and equipment maintenance deficiencies were because of a shortage in manpower related to a nine-day dancing festival and government holiday. Inadequately cleaned and maintained equipment can lead to cross-contamination and variability of drug products.
Must have been a good time. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 28 research/teaching positions and 5 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 28 research/teaching positions and 5 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 August 6, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 88 positions.

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

Job posting: adjunct inorganic faculty, United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, ND

From the inbox, United Tribes Technical College (Bismarck, ND) is searching for an adjunct inorganic professor.
Summary of Duties:
  • Instructs students based upon the curriculum as approved by the Department Chair, the Curriculum Committee and the Vice President of Academic Affairs. 
  • Adjusts lesson plans and other course materials to meet the needs of students. Faculty must be sensitive to the cultures of the students they teach, learn about those cultures, and integrate culturally-appropriate and culturally-relevant material when appropriate.
  • Evaluates students’ progress and communicates with the student’s academic advisor when problems or issues arise.
  • Monitors and reports student attendance and academic progress in the Jenzabar system on a weekly basis throughout the semester.
  • Participates fully in the Jenzabar Early Alert Retention Module system by alerting, referring, and providing interventions that ensure student success.
Best wishes to those interested. 

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, August 3, 2020

More charges for Charles Lieber

A Harvard University chemistry professor was indicted Tuesday on federal tax-related charges for allegedly failing to report income earned from the Wuhan University of Technology, in China. 
The Harvard professor and former chemistry department chair, Charles Lieber, was previously charged with making false statements to federal authorities. Prosecutors say he lied about his contract with WUT and his participation in a Chinese government-sponsored talent plan. 
Federal authorities allege WUT paid Lieber a salary of up to $50,000 per month and living expenses of up to $150,000 and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT.
Doesn't look good for Professor Lieber... 

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles from this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Friday, July 31, 2020

Have a good weekend



We've made it another week. I hope you have a good weekend, and see you on Monday. 

Chemical industry earnings in the second quarter take a beating

With countries in North America and Europe mostly under lockdown, the second quarter bore the economic brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that US gross domestic product shrank by a record 32.9%. 
For chemical companies, it was the worst quarter in decades, with nearly all firms posting double-digit drops in sales and earnings, and a handful posting losses. Most companies have been cutting costs, some opting for layoffs. 
Exposure to some sectors was particularly painful. For example, in his remarks to analysts on July 29, BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller estimated that the global auto industry saw a 45% sales decline during the second quarter. 
Aerospace might have been worse. “What we’ve seen in aerospace is just unprecedented,” Huntsman CEO Peter R. Huntsman told stock analysts. Hard-up airlines aren’t even taking delivery on airplanes that are already built, he said. 
Huntsman posted a $30 million loss for the quarter. It was driven by a sharp downturn in sales of advanced materials for aerospace, textile chemicals and polyurethanes for construction and auto markets. 
...Covestro executives said they have completed a previous goal of axing 400 jobs by year end. Further job reductions, numbering in the low hundreds, are still to come, they said. 
BASF has accelerated a program—announced a year ago—to reduce its workforce by 6,000 positions, about 5% of its total. The company plans to complete the cuts by the end of this year, rather than in 2021 as originally planned...
 Here's hoping the job losses stop here. Best wishes to them, and to all of us. 

More details on that Genentech cut

In a move away from a "national strategy" in favor of localized operations, Genentech is planning to part ways with hundreds of staffers over the next few months. 
The U.S. unit of Swiss drug giant Roche, Genentech is cutting 474 jobs, according to a notice filed with the state of California. While many of the cuts are in clinical operations, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that 44 division managers and 32 territory managers will be affected by the layoffs. Many of the cuts take effect in mid-September, but some employees will depart in August and some in October, according to the report. 
A spokeswoman told Fierce Pharma the company this year "launched a new customer-engagement approach that will transform the way we serve patients, physicians, providers, payors and pharmacies across the country."
Best wishes to them.  

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Kodak going into the pharma services business with $765 million of Uncle Sam's money

Via the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (articles by Victoria E. Freile and Brian Sharp), the best summary of this story that I've seen: 
Eastman Kodak Co. will receive a $765 million government loan to help expedite the domestic production of generic drugs to treat a variety of medical conditions and loosen the country's reliance on foreign sources, officials said Tuesday.  Specifically, the Rochester-based company will make the ingredients so often produced overseas so the country can produce its own medications.
The move is expected to create at least 350 new jobs, launching a new business unit for the Rochester-based company that — when at peak production in four to five years — could produce 25% of the active ingredients for  "non-biologic, non-antibacterial, generic pharmaceuticals."  
...Continenza told The Journal that the loan has terms similar to a commercial loan and must be repaid over 25 years. Kodak will produce “starter materials” and “active pharmaceutical ingredients” used to produce generic medicines, he said. “We have a long, long history in chemical and advanced materials — well over 100 years,” Continenza said. He added that Kodak’s existing infrastructure allows the company “to get up and running quickly.” 
...The operation will build on Kodak's existing Specialty Chemicals Group, a segment that is dispersed across a three-building complex at Eastman Business Park, with multiple cells or bays that operate as its own chemical factory so that multiple processes can be run concurrently. That operation already is working with various markets, including pharmaceuticals. In company brochures, Kodak touts the 88 reactors, more than 25 centrifuges, filter and membrane presses.
I think this is a pretty logical move on the part of the Trump Administration, i.e. they clearly want to reshore the pharmaceutical supply chain, and Kodak is (I strongly suspect) the largest group of not-currently-spoken-for large scale reactors in the country. They're making noises about making APIs there, and I'm pretty skeptical of that, but the better part of a billion dollars will get you at least partway there. This bears watching. 

Genentech cutting 474 Bay Area positions

I can't see the whole article, but the San Francisco Chronicle has the details:
Biotech giant Genentech will lay off more than 470 employees, the company reported to state regulators.
Well, that's not good. Best wishes to them.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 23 research/teaching positions and 3 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 23 research/teaching positions and 3 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 30, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 71 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 27, 2020

C&EN: Dow cutting jobs 6% as Q2 revenues down 24%

Well, we kinda knew this was coming (article by Alex Tullo):  
In an effort to preserve cash as the global economy fitfully recuperates from the COVID-19 pandemic, Dow is reducing its workforce by 6%—about 2,200 employees—and aims to shutter uncompetitive facilities. 
Dow is the first major chemical company to announce earnings for the second quarter, the period most impacted by the US lockdowns intended to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Its sales fell by 24% compared with the same period in 2019, to $8.4 billion; it posted a net loss of $225 million. 
Packaging and specialty plastics—Dow’s largest segment—saw growth in nondurable packaging, such as for food, but that was offset by poor sales to durable markets and lower selling prices. Overall, the business’s sales fell 23%...
Bad news for Dow employees, and this bears watching. Best wishes to them, and all of us.  

NYT: Tecan tips are in shortage

Via the New York Times, this interesting comment:
...The Swiss company Tecan, which supplies pipette tips for machines used by hundreds of laboratories in the United States, has been slammed with orders from U.S. customers in recent months, according to Martin Brändle, the firm’s senior vice president of corporate communications and investor relations. The demand has been so high, he said, that Tecan has tapped into an emergency stash, and is racing to install new production lines that he hopes will double the company’s output by fall. 
Pipette tips aren’t the only laboratory items in short supply. Dwindling stocks of machines, containers and chemicals needed to extract or amplify the coronavirus’s genetic material have clogged almost every point along the testing workflow...
An additional clarifying note via Twitter: "specialized tips for automated sampling handling robots to PCR specs." That's definitely something where I can imagine that Tecan was probably not ready for the surge in demand, and is just trying to keep up these days (or outsource?)

I find it continually frustrating, incidentally, that no organization seems to have determined which reagents are in shortage, and what can be done to increase their supply. Isn't this something simple to publish and continually inform the biotechnology/chemical manufacturing industry about? 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Have a good weekend



A little something rousing for the weekend. We made it another week. See you on Monday. 

New unemployment claims up this week

New state unemployment claims increased last week for the first time in nearly four months, disturbing evidence that the struggling economy is backsliding at a time when coronavirus cases are on the rise. 
After a flood of claims as the pandemic shut businesses early in the spring, weekly unemployment filings fell sharply before flattening in June. But on Thursday, the Labor Department reported more than 1.4 million new applications for state benefits last week, up from about 1.3 million in the preceding two weeks.
Here's the Calculated Risk writeup. Best wishes to unemployed folks, and to all of us.  

BMS layoffs

I have heard rumors of layoffs at BMS this week - can anyone confirm with details? Confidentiality guaranteed: chemjobber@gmail.com 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Why does ethanol-based hand sanitizer smell bad?

From the New York Times' "Wirecutter", this skepticism-inducing set of statements about off smells coming from hand sanitizers: 
...I contacted Bryan Zlotnik of Alpha Aromatics, a perfume manufacturer specializing in additive solutions used to mask unpleasant odors in sanitizers, for an explanation as to why there has been a sudden proliferation of unpleasant-smelling hand sanitizer. 
“That off-putting smell—sometimes described as rotten garbage or tequila-like—is the natural byproduct of ethanol being made from corn, sugar cane, beets, and other organic sources,” explained Zlotnik. “[Ethyl alcohol] production is highly regulated. It stinks because these new brands—many made by distillers who’ve pivoted from producing drinking alcohol to meet public demand for hand sanitizer—are making and using denatured ethanol. This ethanol costs significantly less than ethanol filtered using activated carbon filtration, which would typically remove almost all contaminants and the malodor with it.” 
Those organic contaminants aren’t the only reason unfiltered and denatured ethanol smells downright foul. According to Zlotnik, denatured ethanol is also intentionally tainted with an unpalatable cocktail of chemicals (denaturants) such as methanol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and denatonium to make it undrinkable. In other words: The base material is intentionally stinky.
I could easily believe that organic sources could provide a bunch of various low molecular weight amines and thiols that could give a pretty nasty funk to ethanol. But methanol, acetone and MEK? No way. Does denatonium bromide have a smell, especially at the low levels used in hand sanitizer? I doubt it. Readers, your thoughts? 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 18 research/teaching positions and 3 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 18 research/teaching positions and 3 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 23, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 52 positions.

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

Postdoctoral opportunity: Nanomaterials for Biosensing, York University, Toronto, ON

From the inbox: 
Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Associate in Nanomaterials for Biosensing 
The Chen research group in the Department of Chemistry at York University, Toronto, Ontario, is seeking a full-time postdoctoral research associate in the field of nanomaterials for biosensing. 
We seek an outstanding candidate with expertise in bioconjugated nanomaterials. The highly motivated candidate will join us in working at the interface of analytical and materials chemistry to develop plasmonic nanoparticle-based sensors for the analysis of single cells and the cellular microenvironment. 
A PhD degree in the following discipline is required: analytical chemistry, materials chemistry, biomedical engineering or a closely related field. In addition to having the experience in developing nanostructured sensors or imaging probes, other skillsets encompassing molecular biology techniques (e.g. DNA/RNA extraction and purification, RT-qPCR), cell culturing, tissue sampling, microscopy, microfluidics and microfabrication are desirable. The candidate should have a strong publishing record, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, leadership potential and the ability to mentor students. 
The position is available immediately. A starting date beyond 2020 may be considered for an exceptional candidate. The term is one year with the possibility to renew up to 3 years, depending on performance. 
Please visit jchen.lab.yorku.ca/apply for more information.
Best wishes to those interested.  

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 20, 2020

COVID-19 and job-seeking postdocs

Also in this week's issue of C&EN, sad stories of postdocs affected by COVID-19 shutdowns (article by Bethany Halford): 
Terry McCallum didn’t expect to spend this summer creating a personal website and growing hot peppers in his in-laws’ garden in North Carolina. In February, he was a postdoctoral scholar at Cornell University studying the chemistry of organic radicals. After spending the months prior interviewing for academic jobs, he was negotiating the details of a position as an assistant professor. His future seemed nearly squared away. 
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 
All McCallum’s plans seemed to evaporate. The school where he was supposed to work hadn’t yet made its formal offer. With budget cuts looming, the university’s chemistry department told him the position was on hold. And because McCallum is Canadian, the university told him it could no longer sponsor his visa to work in the US because of new restrictions from President Donald J. Trump’s administration. 
McCallum is married to an American, so he decided to apply for a Permanent Resident Card using his marital status. But this change in immigration status meant he could no longer work while waiting for the green card to come through—a process that could take more than a year. This meant he had to leave his postdoc at Cornell.
Best wishes to Dr. McCallum, and to all of us.  

Chemical companies' second quarter results

Also in this week's issue of C&EN, this expected but unwelcome news: 
Chemical companies navigating the economic impact of COVID-19 will be reporting second-quarter sales and earnings in the coming weeks, and early indications are that the figures won’t be pretty. Economists are expecting a global rebound in the third quarter, but chemical industry watchers say some markets, namely automotive and aerospace, will continue to be troubled, possibly for years. 
The chemical makers BASF and Covestro and the paint and coatings firm AkzoNobel have given investors a preview of the magnitude of the impact that COVID-19 slowdowns had on second-quarter sales and earnings. All three say businesses serving automotive manufacturing had a rough season, while some other major segments kept pace with last year. 
Lower demand from the auto industry hurt BASF’s sales of materials, surface technologies, and basic and performance chemicals. Overall, the German company expects to report a sales drop of 12.4% to $14.5 billion compared to the second quarter of 2019. The company will report full results on July 29... 
...In the US, the chemical industry will continue to face lagging sales to the auto industry, but companies supplying pharmaceuticals, nutrition, and hygiene raw materials will benefit from upward trends, according to a midyear outlook by Deloitte. The consulting firm estimates full-year US chemical industry sales will be 14–15% lower than last year...
A 14% revenue cut doesn't sound like something that's going to lead to more hiring...


This week's C&EN

A few articles from this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News: