Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 100 positions

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 100 positions.

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

On August 10, 2017, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 104 positions.

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

Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 17 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 17 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. 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 13, 2018

Jury awards school groundskeeper $289 million for exposure to Roundup

A California jury on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a school groundskeeper who said the company’s weedkillers, including Roundup, caused his cancer. The company was ordered pay $289 million in damages. 
The case of the groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, 46, was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging that Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers cause cancer. Monsanto, a unit of the German conglomerate Bayer following a $62.5 billion acquisition, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States. 
Mr. Johnson’s lawyers said he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup and Ranger Pro, another Monsanto glyphosate herbicide, as part of his job as a pest control manager for a California county school system. 
The jury in Superior Court of California in San Francisco deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Mr. Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weedkillers. 
It awarded $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages...
As one might imagine, I'm pretty skeptical about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. Nevertheless, I think that most typical people feel very much otherwise.

A very long time ago, I got into an online argument (always a great use of time) about the toxicity of Roundup. The original post said something like "I cannot believe something as toxic as Roundup is out on the market" - trying to convince the fellow "actually, it's not very toxic" was a tough thing to do. As you might imagine, I had no success.

Here's my theory as to why this is true: if you get out a bottle of Roundup and you spray it on plants, they die in a particularly visible way. Even if people understand the concepts behind amino acid synthesis and enzyme inhibition, they're just never really going to not believe their eyes, and make the conclusion that, if it kills plants, it won't kill people.

All of this to say: I have a feeling that Monsanto/Bayer is going to be in trouble, if these jury trials continue. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

9 cm filter paper

A list of small, useful things (links):
An open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring you millions thousands hundreds tens of dollars joy and happiness. Send me a link to your post, and I'd be happy to put it up.

Have a good weekend!

Houston-area DA charges CEO of Arkema and plant manager for release of fumes/fire during Hurricane Harvey

Via Chemical and Engineering News, an article detailing charges against Arkema for the fires at an organic peroxide plant during Hurricane Harvey (article by Randy Lee Loftus): 
A grand jury in Houston indicted Arkema and two of its executives Friday on criminal charges that they “recklessly” failed to prevent fires and releases from a chemical plant near Houston last year during catastrophic flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey. 
Reactive organic peroxides decomposed and caught fire after floodwaters knocked out power and disabled refrigeration at Arkema’s Crosby, Texas, plant. The chemicals must be kept cool to remain stable. 
In addition to the company, the indictment names Richard Rowe, CEO of Arkema’s North America operations, as well as plant manager Leslie Comardelle. If convicted, Arkema could face $1 million in fines and the executives could face five years in prison. 
“Companies don’t make decisions, people do,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, whose office sought the indictment, said in a statement. “Responsibility for pursuing profit over the health of innocent people rests with the leadership of Arkema."...
From the press release from the Harris County DA:
The indictment charges they all had a role in “recklessly” releasing chemicals into the air, placing residents and first responders at risk of serious bodily injury. The charge carries penalties of up to five years in prison for the persons and up to a $1 million fine for the corporation... 
...Chemicals had to be kept frozen to avoid bursting into flames, but temperatures rose after floodwaters knocked out the plant’s power. As a result, the chemicals exploded, causing a fire that burned for day and releasing the cloud. 
Prosecutors allege the disaster could and should have been prevented.
I'm a little stumped as to how they plan to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but there you are. Via the Houston Chronicle, the actual charges:
And the grand jury charged Arkema, Rowe and Comardelle with reckless emission of an air contaminant under the Texas Water Code. The charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison for the individuals and a fine of up to $1 million for the corporation.
Plant manager's a tough position in Houston if this becomes a regular thing... 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 165 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list (curated by Joel Walker and myself)  has 165 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

The Computational Drug Discovery Chemistry Jobs List: 25 positions

The Computational Drug Discovery Chemistry Jobs List has 25 positions. This list is curated by Joel Walker. 

25 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there's 19 new positions posted for August 7 and 6 posted for August 2.

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 187 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 187 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Towards a data-driven definition of the term "non-traditional career"

Also in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, an interesting article by Natalie A. LaFranzo, the chair of the Younger Chemists' Committee:
...So if the scientific workforce, the chemical workforce, and younger members of ACS are predominantly employed outside academia, with many of them in nonlaboratory positions, why are these career paths still referred to as “nontraditional”? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of using this term myself. As an accomplished bench-trained chemist who has actively pursued a career at the interface of science and business, I’ve chosen not to work in a laboratory setting since the completion of my graduate education. I still very much consider myself a chemist, despite having caught myself on occasion telling others that I have followed a “nontraditional path.” 
Some of this mind-set is perpetuated by what seems to be misinterpretation of the data. The ChemCensus data* I cited above were preceded by the following statement: “The increasing rate of doctorate degree holders in the chemistry workforce appears to be fueled by the growth of employment opportunities in the academic sector.” 
In my opinion, that is flat-out wrong. The reality is that few academic positions are available each year, and institutions train more scientists than there are faculty positions and grant funding to support. The more likely explanation for the numbers seen in the ChemCensus is that chemists who pursue these “nontraditional paths” may (incorrectly) see less value in ACS membership. This may be fueled in part by a sense of nonbelonging—the idea that these nonlaboratory chemists are seen as less of a chemist than their academic counterparts through their continued branding as “nontraditional.”
I really liked this piece, in that it struggles with the difficult question of "why does non-academic participation in the American Chemical Society keep dropping?" I'm not sure the 'non-traditional' branding is the reason why, but I think Dr. LaFranzo has a good point, in that ACS feels like an "academia-first" society, especially when ACS has its larg-ish gatherings like National Meetings. But that's just my perception.

But here's my question: if you don't want to call non-academic careers "non-traditional", what would you call them? "Alternative" is similarly pejorative, and most of the rest of the possible terms ('non-bench', 'non-research', careers outside the laboratory, etc) are clunky and expressed in a negative (not this, non-that.) What positive term could be developed? I have no idea, so I'd like to stick to "traditional" and "non-traditional."

So. Here's my pitch. Let's get some data (the ACS Salary Survey should do) for the time period between, say, 1945-1995. We'll categorize the careers that make up 90% of the members as "traditional" and those that are less than 10% of membership "non-traditional."  Then, we can compare that to the 'modern' era (1996 until now), and then we can decide what is 'traditional' and 'non-traditional.'

I don't really know what to do about this, especially since 1) people like to categorize themselves and 2) no one wants to look up the data and 3) if myself or someone like myself totted up all the data, no one would pay attention. But it seems to me to be a logical approach to defining What is Traditional.

Readers?

*"Similarly, results from the 2015 American Chemical Society ChemCensus survey of the chemical workforce showed that 40.4% of respondents reported working in the academic sector." 

This week's C&EN

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 83 positions

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 83 positions.

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

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

Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 17 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 17 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. 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 6, 2018

EPA fines DuPont 3.1 million dollars for the death of 4 workers in 2014

DuPont will pay a $3.1 million civil penalty under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice for violations of EPA’s risk management program (RMP) provisions. The violations led to an accident that killed four workers in Texas in late 2014. 
The accident occurred when nearly 11,000 kg of methyl mercaptan were released at a pesticide manufacturing unit at DuPont’s La Porte plant. Because of a series of maintenance errors, a jerry-rigged piping system transferred the flammable and toxic compound to plant areas where it should not have been. Two unsuspecting workers died when they attempted to clear a vent that they didn’t realize contained methyl mercaptan; two others died when coming to their aid. 
According to EPA’s complaint, DuPont’s actions violated 22 separate provisions of the Clean Air Act’s RMP. The alleged violations include failing to develop and implement written operating procedures, adequately implement management of change procedures, and implement safe work practices. The citations also include alleged violations of mechanical integrity regulations...
A disappointing aspect of these fines is of their relative size - will DuPont really miss 3 million bucks? Probably not. I wonder if there's an argument to be made for changing fines to be a percentage of gross revenue?

(Previous posts on the La Porte incident here and here.)