Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I've never heard of a "chemistry engineer", Mr. President.

Courtesy of Twitter user @cjt217, I see that the White House (or whichever junior deputy vice associate general special assistant to the President who wrote this letter) has invented a new term for "chemical engineers." Ah, well.

(Found in the third or fourth page of the October 13 issue of C&EN.)

A guest post by Chad Jones: "4 things you probably already know about grad school but really shouldn't ignore."

CJ's note: Chad wrote this for the blog back when he was defending his dissertation -- he is now Dr. Jones and is working in industry. 

Soon I'll be defending my dissertation and finishing up my PhD. I also have several friends who are just beginning their graduate career. It’s been a very reflective time for me. I've thought about what advice I would give to those friends just starting grad school (I've also been wondering how helpful that advice would be - after all, I read plenty of advice articles and I'm pretty sure I ignored most of them). And so, I present my own list. This isn't a list of "4 things I wish I knew before grad school", this is "4 things you probably already know about grad school but really shouldn't ignore." Every piece of advice offered here is advice that I ignored. Some of them for my whole graduate career, others just long enough to regret it and wise up by the end. In both cases I thought I was the exception - the better grad student that didn't need that advice. I wasn't.

1. Always be writing.

My mistake: During my graduate career I had a hard time trying to learn what was important enough to write down. I didn't have a firm grasp on the literature yet, so it was hard for me to know which results were publishable and which results should be obvious to me. The result was unfortunate; I didn't write enough. I had been given advice to write your dissertation early, but didn't know what I was supposed to write.

My advice: Write it all down. Don't wait until you think you have publishable data because publications aren't the only thing you'll need to write. Your dissertation will be a compilation of everything you've learned from your research. Some of those things will already be common knowledge in your field. By writing those things down, though, you'll be preparing excellent introductory chapters.

Write something about everything you observe in the lab. Save every new NMR, mass spec, IR, or other instrumental data you get. Open a word document and describe what you see in detail. Save that document together with the raw data in a folder. Cross reference with your logbook. This may seem like extra - perhaps even unnecessary work, and perhaps it is. Most of what you write this way will be useless, but when you're reviewing older data it can be helpful to hear what your younger self thought of the results.

2. You aren't in school. You're beginning your career.

My mistake: For the first few years I saw grad school as a continuation of my undergrad education.

My advice: It’s not. Sure you might have classes with lectures to attend, tests to study for and take, homework, grades, etc. For the first few months to years (depending on your program) it will feel just like your undergrad years. Remember that it is not. This advice is probably best recieved before you start. Don’t start graduate school because it’s the “next step” and don’t assume that a prestigious postdoc, Nature publications, and an R01 are the “next step” after graduate school.

You should be the person defining what a successful career means. About 4 months ago I accepted a high paying, rewarding position at a company I’m very excited to work for in a beautiful area. And yet, I still feel like I need to apologize because I’ve left academia. I felt like a failure, like I was accepting a position that was short of my potential. I felt embarrassed to tell people where I was working because it didn’t have “University” in the name. I think those are feelings that come from assuming there was only one path to success and that path had to begin with an R01 and end with a Nobel Prize. It doesn’t. There are many paths to success because success is not so easily (and arbitrarily) defined.

3. Graduate school learning is not like other learning you’ve done.

My mistake: Luckily I figured this one out pretty early. Learning is different in graduate school because it’s a very different type of preparation.

My advice: In your undergrad you (hopefully) learned how to learn. Graduate school is about learning how to discover. Learning how to discover means learning how to assess the current state of your field of research and learning how to expand that knowledge. Many of the things you’ll need to know won’t be found in textbooks. They may not even be found in the literature. Although science journals do a very good job of documenting human knowledge I have found that many things are only learned by experience. Nobody is going to tell you what you should know and what you should be trying to learn. You can either take advantage of the freedom or let your education stagnate.

4. Network the right way.

My mistake: I thought that networking meant using others to get the job I wanted.

My advice: Many people network too late or too aggressively. You can’t network correctly if your only goal is getting a job. True networking happens when you’re not desperate. You should begin networking right away, and for the right reason. Network to meet people with similar interests and engage in meaningful discussions with those people. Real networking leads to real connections. If you start networking when you need a job people will see that and will be less interested in forming those real connections. Your network should be large enough that most people in that network aren’t involved in your job search at all; they’re just colleagues and friends. You can’t get that kind of network by treating the people you interact with as your career stepping stones.

So, that’s my advice to new graduate students. Maybe you disagree with some of it, and that’s okay. I did too.

CJ here again. Thanks to Chad for the great advice. 

"...however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority"

A reader points out the University of Alberta's interesting "Equal Opportunity" statement for its 3 tenure-track positions for assistant/associate professors in chemistry: 
"All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. If suitable Canadian citizens or permanent residents cannot be found, other individuals will be considered. 
The University of Alberta hires on the basis of merit. We are committed to the principle of equity in employment. We welcome diversity and encourage applications from all qualified women and men, including persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities, and Aboriginal persons."
The reader asks if this is common practice and whether or not this sort of thing happens in industry.

First of all, I suspect that this is an interesting quirk of Canadian employment law (or of Albertan provincial hiring law?) I know that some U.S. government positions, especially in the defense/homeland security space, require U.S. citizenship, but I don't know of any professorships at the state level that have these sorts of statements.

At the same time, I suspect that these statements are rarely actually enforced and there are likely as many U.S. citizens/residents amongst Canadian academia than not. That said, my knowledge of Canadian chemical academia is quite limited and I invite my many Canadian readers to comment. 

Daily Pump Trap: 10/21/14 edition

Not too many industrial positions of late (last 1-2 weeks or so) at C&EN Jobs:

Lake Charles, LA: Rain Cii is looking for a B.S. chemist with 5 years experience for a "lab superintendent." (What a grand title!) 

San Francisco, CA: Oh, man, you've heard of "method" products, right? Check out this description for a "green chef director":
Reporting to the Sr. Director of Formulation, a Green Chef is part chemist, part engineer, part innovator and part git-r-done. The Green Chef role is to develop and test the best and most sustainable products and then bring them to market. We want to delight our users so they keep coming back for more! method makes home cleaning, personal care and laundry products in San Francisco and we manufacture our products in plants in the mid-west. 
This position is based at our headquarters in San Francisco’s financial district. As a Director level Green Chef, it is important that you have a chemistry and/or chemical engineering background, formulation experience and demonstrated proficiency in a lab setting. Just as importantly, you should have superior communication and teamwork skills, strong project management and prioritization skills, and exhibit a passion for environmentally sustainable solutions and creative problem solving.
I'm amused that people in San Francisco seem to be fans of Larry the Cable Guy. 

Davis, CA: Marrone Bio Innovations is seeking B.S./M.S./Ph.D. analytical method development chemists with 3-6 years of GXP experience. 

Dallas, TX: Bestolife Corporation is searching for a M.S./Ph.D. chemist to work as a R&D manager; note the "25% travel" comment. Looks to be petroleum products-related. 

Ridgefield, CT: Boehringer Ingelheim is looking for "multiple" B.S. biologists/biochemists to work on assays -- been a while since I've seen a BI ad. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 10/21/14 edition

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

New York, NY: NYU is looking for an assistant professor of physical, biophysical, or inorganic chemistry as part of its Laboratory for Molecular Nanoscience. (I find all of these tiny institutes kind of funny -- what are they supposed to accomplish?)

Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan College of Pharmacy's Department of Medicinal Chemistry is searching for an associate professor to join its department.

Durham, NH: The University of New Hampshire is looking for a lecturer in organic chemistry.

Orlando, FL: The University of Central Florida is also looking for lecturers for fall 2015. Starting at 57k -- that sounds generous?

Okanagan, British Columbia: The University of British Columbia desires an assistant professor of physical chemistry. "Qualified candidates with expertise in the area of biophysical and environmental physical chemistry are particularly encouraged to apply."

Laramie, WY: The University of Wyoming is searching for a NMR facility manager. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Offered without comment

From today's Wall Street Journal.

Cameras being cheaper than higher wages...

From the Wall Street Journal, an interesting comment on regional labor shortages from the Federal Reserve: 
The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” report, released Wednesday, offered a generally upbeat outlook on the U.S. economy in September and October from anecdotes offered from its 12 regional banks... 
In the Dallas region, residential construction contacts “noted persistent labor shortages.” Indeed, in Houston, “a few builders were placing cameras and armed guards at their construction sites to prevent poaching of workers."
Perhaps the city of Houston could station a few game wardens to prevent this sort of poaching.

My challenge to those who believe in (s)low economic growth

"A more sustainable economy" has long been a theme of Rudy Baum's C&EN editorials -- the latest column in this week's C&EN is a rerun of a column from 2004*:
I will review “Red Sky at Morning” in an upcoming issue of C&EN. Here, I want to take up one issue that Speth returns to repeatedly in his book: For our global economy to become a sustainable economy will require a fundamental shift in the economic paradigm that governs human activity today. Specifically, Speth argues, sustainability requires that we abandon the notion of endless economic expansion as the sine qua non of a successful society. 
In the final chapter of “Red Sky at Morning,” Speth writes: “Imagine a group of countries where citizens rank at the top among today’s countries in terms of purchasing power, health, longevity, and educational attainment; where income inequality between the top and the bottom of society is low and poverty virtually eliminated; and where fertility rates are at replacement levels or below, and the challenge is not unemployment but deploying innovative technologies to remain competitive and increase the productivity of a shrinking labor force. Should these countries not declare victory on the economic growth front and concentrate on protecting current standards of living ... and on enjoying the nonmaterial things that peace, economic security, freedom, and environmental quality make possible? Can a country make a decision that enough is enough?”
I'm no economist, but it seems to me that we've just lived through a period of non-"endless economic expansion" and it wasn't very pleasant at all, especially for most non-wealthy folks. If there is a society (Japan?) that has experienced flat growth for many decades, I assert that they are different enough from America (from top to bottom) that a viable comparison is more-or-less meaningless.

Readers, what do you think? Is there a better measurement of "how things are going" than GDP growth?

*Seems to me that maybe there are voices in the ACS that could have competed for this space, but hey, I'm talking about the subject, so maybe not. 

Something for California taxpayers to grouse about

I have been extremely remiss in noting that Kim Christensen of the Los Angeles Times has revealed UCLA spent over 4.4 million dollars defending Professor Patrick Harran from felony charges in relation to the death of Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji in 2009 due to an accident in his laboratories with tert-butyl lithium:
After UCLA chemistry professor Patrick Harran walked out of court in June, his lawyers issued a news release hailing the "first-of-its-kind" deal that all but freed him from criminal liability in a 2008 lab fire that killed a staff researcher. 
The "deferred prosecution agreement" that allowed Harran to avoid pleading guilty or no-contest to any charge might have been a novel resolution, as his attorneys said.
But it certainly didn't come cheap. 
Top-tier law firms hired to defend him and the University of California against felony charges in the death of Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji charged more than 7,700 billable hours and nearly $4.5 million in fees, according to documents obtained by The Times through a California Public Records Act request. 
Nearly five dozen defense attorneys, paralegals and others billed for work on the case, the records show. One attorney charged $792,000 in fees and at least four other lawyers billed more than $500,000 each — all for pretrial work....
...Sangji's sister, Naveen, has called the sanctions against Harran and UCLA "barely a slap on the wrist." She noted that previous safety violations in his lab were not corrected before her sister's death and that UCLA had ignored the "wake-up calls" of earlier accidents in other labs. 
On Wednesday, she decried the nearly $4.5 million in legal fees — enough to buy 86,000 lab coats. 
"Had UCLA spent even a tiny fraction of this money and effort on laboratory and chemical safety training and fire resistant gear … Sheri might still be with us today," she said. 
There's a lot to say about the Sangji case and I've still yet to say it (partially because I'm still formulating my thoughts about it.) It is remarkable to me how enthusiastically UCLA defended Professor Harran from these charges -- it would be fascinating to know if they've ever defended an employee in this manner before. I think the answer is "no". Deborah Blum cogently pointed out on Twitter that it was probably fighting the precedent more than anything else -- I think that's probably the case.

Nevertheless, a remarkable amount of money to be spent. Boy, I'm in the wrong business. 

The weirdest dietary theory you will see today

Also from this week's letters to the editor, a very strange theory:
What a great scaremongering article “The Case against Sugar” is (C&EN, Aug. 4, page 11). Let’s be a touch more logical. 
So sugar has been bad for generations of people. Nevertheless, removing calories by replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners in soft drinks seems not to have made a difference. Doesn’t that point at the fattening effect coming from another soft-drink ingredient, such as phosphoric acid? 
Just do two Google searches—“phosphate water holding capacity meat” and “phosphate hog fattening”—for a hint at the effective mechanism. First, the tissues swell a little with every phosphate-containing soft drink consumed, then the body fills the new interstitial spaces with fat cells. An obvious study would be a long-term comparison of weight gain after consuming soft drinks with only phosphate (colas) or only citrate (such as Sprite). 
The closest I have found is a study of bone density that probably explains why hog fattening benefits from feeding calcium phosphate. 
Wolfgang H. H. Gunther
West Chester, Pa.
I am probably too skeptical about Mr. Gunther's theory, but perhaps he has not had enough space to fully explain it. Nevertheless, always a fun one to see in C&EN. 

Victor Snieckus is a perceptive guy

Much more perceptive than me, regarding the ephemeral nature of electronic communications:
The cover story on crystallography is a marvelous piece of journalism and riveting reading, at least to older generations of chemists. What stands out is the tingling thrill of discovery and the convolutions of thought of what would have happened if there had been slight turns of events and selective available knowledge. 
More apropos to our times, the various articles show how chemistry was a more freewheeling activity. Imagine the consequences today if an editor wrote to an author—as quoted in the ferrocene article—that “I cannot help feeling that you have been at the hashish again.” This raises the question: Will such splendid documentation exist from the commentaries and anecdotes on current discoveries that are disappearing with one tap of the delete key? 
Victor Snieckus
Kingston, Ontario
It would be wonderful if modern journals archived all their editor's e-mails, but I am sure that there would be too many juicy stories if revealed. 

This week's C&EN

Lots of interesting tidbits in this week's C&EN: 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jimmy John's employees and non-compete agreements

Via the Huffington Post, I see that the sandwich shop Jimmy John's is requiring non-compete agreements:
Employee covenants and agrees that, during his or her employment with the Employer and for a period of two (2) years after … he or she will not have any direct or indirect interest in or perform services for … any business which derives more than ten percent (10%) of its revenue from selling submarine, hero-type, deli-style, pita and/or wrapped or rolled sandwiches and which is located with three (3) miles of either [the Jimmy John's location in question] or any such other Jimmy John's Sandwich Shop.
I presume that this agreement has never been enforced, but it is funny/sad nonetheless. 

The paradox of capitalism

I read articles so fast that I tend to skip important things -- this paragraph by Laura Cassiday in this week's C&EN is one of them. Thanks to one of the ACS' innumerable e-mail newsletters, it was put in front of my face again: 
Who says big companies are cold, heartless behemoths, where employees are numbers and every decision is based on the bottom line? The three companies highlighted in this year’s C&EN profile of top companies for chemists are out to dispel this perception. Although large, these companies foster collaboration and the building of communities within the larger corporate community, making every employee feel like a valued member of a team striving for a common goal. The companies recognize that employees are more than just their job titles, giving them the flexibility to fulfill personal as well as professional obligations.
I understand what Ms. Cassiday is saying: that companies that provide flexibility to employees to fulfill personal obligations are worth of attention and praise.

But! Ultimately, all three of the companies in the article (Genentech, Novo Nordisk, and AstraZeneca) are publicly-traded companies and at the end of the day, the big decisions that affect people (who to hire, who to fire) are all based on the bottom line. It's not a perception -- it's a reality.

That is one of the strange paradoxes of the modern economy: the biggest, largest companies are the ones that typically pay the best, offer the most lavish benefits and do well at making people feel like "a team." Yet, they are the ones that are most likely to conduct mass layoffs in order to satisfy their shareholders. Capitalism - it contains multitudes. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Job posting: Medicinal chemist (Basel, Switzerland) and process chemist (Plymouth, MN)

From the inbox, a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. process development position at Cargill in Plymouth, MN:
This position is predominantly technical support and process development for transformer oil, polyols, glycerin, and regulatory issues, and a lesser amount of administrative responsibility, partial building management of the Industrial Specialties Technology Center and the ISTC’s safety program.

This position provides exposure to many corporate functions outside of R&D – e.g. operations, analytical, logistics, sales, regulatory, building trades, accounting, SAP.  This diversity keeps the job interesting and the opportunity to learn outside the technical field.
Needs 5 years of industrial experience, mostly in the process/production area, looks like.

I hate to admit it, but that sounds really, really interesting, even as the field is extraordinarily obscure. (Of course, transformer oil is probably much more important to the running of the modern world than anyone is aware.)

Also from the inbox, a Roche medicinal chemist project leader position in Basel:
...As a Lead Chemist (Project Leader in Medicinal Chemistry) you will be accountable for driving chemistry strategies in the project team and providing expert scientific input to ongoing and newly established drug discovery programs to deliver high quality candidates to our pipeline. 
You’re someone who strives to bring medicines to patients. You have significant professional experience (7-10 years) in the pharmaceutical or biotech industry with a proven track record as a Lead Chemist/Project Leader in the area of small molecule research preferably with experience in oncology research.
I find it interesting that there's no educational component mentioned -- seems to me that experienced M.S. chemists would probably be just as qualified, but I dunno what Roche's culture with respect to that might be. (ht "a friend."

Also, anyone interested in a very senior process engineering position in upstate New York
(M.S./Ph.D. chemical engineer, 10+ years in the industry)? If so, contact me and I'll put you in touch with the relevant recruiter. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Is the ACS ready for a Cannabis Chemistry division?

This is a petition to form a professional division within the membership of the American Chemical Society. The title of division shall be Cannabis Chemists. 
One might think that this is too specific of a designation for a separate professional division. I would however argue that it is a rapidly expanding profession and that we face many issues specific to the industry. As the medical marijuana and recreational cannabis industry grows it promises to present more and more jobs for chemists in quality control and quality assurance positions. 
The objectives of this division shall be to provide networking opportunities, mentoring relationships, and updates on technology, industry and public policy. The division will also provide support for individuals new to the field in the form of training and scholarship. Lastly, the division shall provide a platform for cannabis professionals to develop standards and practices in a field where self-regulation is essential for the success of a venture and of the industry. 
Individuals who would be interested in this division may be in the cannabis industry as analytical chemists, water chemists, food chemists, agro chemists, extraction chemists, formulation chemists, natural products chemists, or pharmaceutical chemists. 
It is wise and urgent to develop this professional division because there is an emerging industry that is desperate for the support this division can provide. Now more than 25 companies exist for the sole purpose of analyzing cannabis for producers, vendors and consumers. 
It is essential for the growth of the cannabis analysis industry and the quality of medicines provided, that young professionals be made aware of the legitimate and lucrative opportunities in this field.
I don't know what to think of this. The author of the petition appears to be Ezra Pryor, who seems to be a member of the ACS (on his LinkedIn profile, anyway.)

It'd be really interesting, incidentally, to know what the process for forming a new division is... (don't you have to be a committee, first? I forget.) Anyway, I agree with Mr. Pryor's suggestion that this is a growing field and that there's likely interest amongst ACS membership. This will be really interesting to see if it grows... (if you'll pardon the pun.) 

"Of course I own this facility!"

I've linked the Tremblay article below in the links post for the week, but I cannot resist this quote from the article:
Censere’s Utley, though, is not surprised. In his 25 years as a financial investigator in China, he has come across all sorts of scams. One company that Utley and his team of forensic accountants was hired to investigate had 12 different sets of accounts that management used to show different groups. 
One indication of the large scale of fraud is that an open market exists in China for “fapiao,” which are official sales receipts. Contraband fapiao are easy to acquire and can be used to legitimize all sorts of illegal activities, from padding expense accounts to providing cash to bribe government officials, Utley says. 
Everything can be faked in China, from management’s credentials to actual locations of business, Utley claims. He is even aware of a company that took a foreign visitor on a tour of a facility it didn’t own. “The plant workers were oblivious since foreigners are rarely challenged when touring plant facilities in China, and the foreigner just off the plane, and not speaking Chinese, just assumed they were inspecting a legitimate facility.”
Oh, man, that's too funny. Sure hope the "foreign visitor" was not an auditor. 

When will C&EN go digital-only? I shudder to think

From this week's C&EN, a funny letter: 
Yes, “moving to an exclusively digital format” would preserve natural resources, as Chris Erickson lucidly explained in his letter to the editor (C&EN, July 28, page 4). But I beg ACS to retain the print version of Chemical & Engineering News. It is, frankly, the principal benefit I derive from membership. 
Receiving C&EN in my otherwise crowded-with-catalogs mailbox is a weekly delight. I can read it anywhere. It gives me real-world examples of innovation that I can share with all my students. Moreover, I share issues with my AP chemistry students, who use them to help satisfy curricular requirement 4 from the College Board. 
C&EN helps them connect their knowledge of chemistry and science to major societal or technological components better than any other resource. Thanks to you and the ink and trees that you use in a responsible way to communicate important news to us. 
W. Patrick Cunningham
San Antonio
Perhaps I may offend, I'm pretty sure Mr. Erickson was concern trolling Rudy Baum. But I think Mr. Cunningham is right when he thinks that, for many people, C&EN is one of the major benefits of ACS membership. 

This week's C&EN

Sorry for the delay. Long day yesterday. Good stuff in this week's C&EN:
  • Fascinating story by Britt Erickson on farmers suing Syngenta for getting GMO crop protein in their non-GMO crops. Apparently, China has not approved this particular protein for sale and if your crops are contaminated with it, too bad!
  • Thoroughly enjoyed this story by Jean-Fran├žois Tremblay on short-sellers having a field day in China taking down stocks of companies that are most likely fraudulent. 
  • A profile of "Companies Who Care" by Laura Cassiday. I've never worked at a company that had on-site day care -- bet that's nice. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Parking some links for discussion

From this week, but not been addressed:

Let's talk about the position that really matters: ACS CEO

Incidentally, no one that I am aware of has been talking about how there's an executive search going on for the actual top spot at ACS, i.e. Madeleine Jacobs' current position as executive director and CEO. Who do we think has more emphasis on the Society, the person who runs the ship day-to-day, or the seemingly ceremonial ACS president, who gets elected for a 1 year term?

Here's the ad. I'm amused to learn that you only need a B.S. degree in chemistry/the chemical sciences to be considered.

Below is the "leadership characteristics" section:
Understanding the Business: Knows the business and the mission-critical technical and functional skills needed to do the job; understands various types of business propositions and understands how businesses operate in general; learns new methods and technologies easily. 
Making Complex Decisions: Can solve even the toughest and most complex of problems; great at gleaning meaning from whatever data are available; is a quick study of the new and different; adds personal wisdom and experience to come to the best conclusion and solution, given the situation; uses multiple problem-solving tools and techniques. 
Getting Work Done Through Others: Manages people well; gets the most and best out of the people he/she has; sets and communicates guiding goals; measures accomplishments, holds people accountable, and gives useful feedback; delegates and develops; keeps people informed; provides coaching for today and for the future. 
Dealing with Trouble: Fearlessly takes on all issues, challenges, and people; comfortably confronts and works through conflict; delivers negative feedback and messages without hesitation; deals promptly and fairly with problem performers; lets everyone know where they stand; thrives in crises and is energized by tough challenges; not afraid to make negative decisions and take tough action; challenges the status quo. 
Communicating Effectively: Writes and presents effectively; adjusts to fit the audience and the message; strongly gets a message across. 
Inspiring Others: Is skilled at getting individuals, teams, and an entire organization to perform at a higher level and to embrace change; negotiates skillfully to achieve a fair outcome or promote a common cause; communicates a compelling vision and is committed to what needs to be done; inspires others; builds motivated, high-performing teams; understands what motivates different people. 
Acting with Honor and Character: Is a person of high character; is consistent and acts in line with a clear and visible set of values and beliefs; deals and talks straight; walks his/her talk; is direct and truthful but at the same time can keep confidences.
If I had some say in the next CEO of the American Chemical Society (and I most certainly do not), I would want someone to:
  • Address the obvious imbalance between the Publications and membership portion of the society. 
  • Address the seeming gap between service to the academic side of chemistry (i.e. publications and conferences) and service to the industrial side (???). 
  • Prioritize informal science communication to the public regarding fear of chemicals 
  • Prepare Society rank-and-file membership for the next (?) economic downturn. 
  • Prioritize addressing long-term unemployment amongst Society members. 
  • Supply outlandish funding to the various membership offices so that we can have a broader and more accurate measurement of the health of the chemistry job market. 
But hey, that's just me. Readers, what do you think? 

ACS presidential candidates on #chemjobs issues

The relevant portion of the 3 ACS presidential candidates, presented in order that they were published in the September 8 edition of C&EN. 

Peter K. Dourhout:
...2. I believe that the solution to our economic woes and the employment outlook resides with us as ACS members... 
...Employment Solutions. I believe that the solution to our economic woes and changing the employment outlook resides with us as ACS members. To paraphrase the comic strip character Pogo: “I have seen the solution, and it is us.” Our talented members are agents for change—no need to add new programs to ACS. Let’s rally around the things we do already to promote jobs: local section and division activities, career services, international and entrepreneurship centers, and leadership development, to name a few. I will build on the partnership with Corporation Associates and engage the Committee on Professional Training, the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division, the Graduate Education Advisory Board, the Leadership Institute, and the Committee on Technician Affairs in discourse and action. We can leverage what we have already to make a difference and advocate for an environment that supports jobs in the chemical sciences...
William A. Lester:
...This quickly gets us to the employment sector and current realities. That times are difficult is a statement of the obvious as young people strive for employment in sectors that they have studied to work in. At the same time, we recognize that some people who work in these sectors are confronting issues of continued employment. We must work to assist in identifying optimum ways of assisting these important problem areas that impact our membership and society more broadly....
Donna J. Nelson:
A difficult time for chemistry. At the Dallas ACS meeting, it was reported that 16% of young chemists remain unemployed six months after graduation. In industry, many chemists have experienced employment problems for years. ACS can’t directly create new jobs to solve these problems, but we ACS members can deduce and address factors that destabilize STEM employment. 
The balance between STEM jobs and job candidates is out of equilibrium for multiple reasons. First, in the Sputnik years of the 1960s, there were too few chemists. We met the challenge but later ignored the fact that mergers and outsourcing decreased jobs. Second, the media influenced public opinion against STEM, causing a decrease in STEM funding and ultimately its available jobs. Third, chemistry is increasingly a global community and enjoys drawing the best and brightest from across the world. The impact of all of these must be addressed now. 
Appreciation produces jobs. Chemists’ creativity gave the world vital benefits and luxuries, and producing future benefits and luxuries is dependent upon our continued creativity. But this is possible only if science is appreciated and funded sufficiently to employ them. Most chemistry jobs are and will continue to be in industry, which needs public appreciation and support to thrive. This support will foster balanced regulations, greater funding for research, and more jobs for chemists. Increasing employment for chemists will enhance education, the work environment, meetings, publications, and research—improving employment in academe, government, and elsewhere. But the general public is not familiar enough with chemistry to appreciate and support chemists as they deserve to be so that chemistry will thrive. I will find opportunities for this to improve.
Readers, if you have questions that you'd like me to ask, I would be willing to contact the candidates like I did last year. 

Congrats to Betzig, Hell and Moerner for the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry!

Honestly, I don't have anything intelligent to add to this conversation. Derek Lowe has a nice post on it. Here's the official C&EN story, with a picture of the instrument in the living room where it was built.

Until next year! 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Like the coelacanth

A full-page ad for Gilead chemistry in the 2nd-to-latest C&EN. Looks like lots of positions in both Foster City and Seattle. Haven't been one of those in a long, long, long time. (Maybe 1 in the past year, maybe 3 or 4 in the past 3?)

Also, the fact that Gilead is expanding seems to be good news.

Best wishes to those applying.