Friday, July 22, 2016

The View from Your Hood: Zurich, Switzerland

Credit: Anonymous
An anonymous submission from ETH Zurich.

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption, please) at; runs every other Friday.)

Credit: Anonymous


From here: "Your acceptance into a PhD program puts you in the top 5% of the general populace in terms of academic ability, so don't ever forget that." 

No, I don't believe that at all. 

(The rest of it is fairly anodyne advice.) 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Daily Pump Trap: 7/21/16 edition

A few of the positions posted by C&EN Jobs: 

Summit, NJ: Holy smokes, there are a lot of positions (ten) posted by Celgene for its New Jersey site.

La Crosse, WI: The USGS is looking for a GS-13 research chemist. An interesting note: 
PLEASE NOTE:  This will NOT be a job interview.  This is to advertise the position and to make contact with potential interested candidates.
Dunno what this means, in government-speak. Offered salary: 71k - 117k.

Malvern, PA: Progenra is looking for two experienced B.S./M.S./Ph.D. medicinal chemists (1-10 years experience). 

Zeroes!:  Adesis (New Castle, DE) is looking for a M.S./Ph.D. synthetic organic chemist, 0-5 years experience desired. 

Sudbury, ON: SNOLAB is an unusual place (I understand they have a great big mineshaft?) They're looking for a temporary chemical analyst. 

Stow, OH: Saint-Gobain is looking for an experienced B.S./M.S./Ph.D. senior research engineer for ceramics work. 

San Luis Obispo, CA: Promega Biosciences is looking for an experienced M.S./Ph.D. chemist to be a manufacturing manager. 

"Israel": Did not know that L’OrĂ©al had R&D facilities in Israel; they're looking for a senior formulator. 

ACS Philadelphia Career Fair Watch: 25 positions listed. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A proud moment for chemistry students everywhere

From English-language German news outlet, an all-too-common story
A 28-year-old student at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich used the laboratory to analyse drugs for two dealers in return for some cocaine. 
An unnamed student at the university appeared before court on Monday after giving in to stress and resorting to helping drug dealers with their business.
Two pushers wanted to know how pure their product was, so they recruited a 28-year-old student to be their Heisenberg and test it for them. They posted cocaine and crystal meth to the student, and he brought it to the Grosshadern Klinikum - LMU’s hospital and research centre and part of the largest hospital complex in Munich. 
There he proceeded to test the drugs to determine the potency of the active ingredients.The student was surprised that he was in trouble and told the court that he didn’t know he was guilty of any offence. 
The Chemistry student also defended himself to the Munich court by saying that his tests failed to produce anything meaningful. “I made up the results,” he said. 
As a reward for his 'findings', the dealers gave the student between two and four grams of cocaine.
This sounds like some sort of bizarre comedy movie, especially when the dealer's name was "Shiny Flakes" (HT to Lisa Jarvis for this last detail.)

(It is interesting to me how this thing always seems to involve students and not chemistry professionals - a problem of youth, or do professional chemists want too much money to ply their trade illegally?) 

Warning Letter of the Week: foreign debris edition

In today's batch of FDA warning letters, one to Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK. It's mostly about penicillin residue in non-penicillin manufacturing areas (that's problematic), but I found this section interesting:
C. Foreign particles found in [redacted] API [redacted]

Your investigation into foreign particles found in [redacted] batch [redacted] identified:
  • green fibers consistent with scouring pads
  • red flakes consistent with paint in the manufacturing plant
  • black particulates consistent with glass particles 
You concluded that these were “acceptable intrinsic” contaminates.

Your response is inadequate. It failed to include a root-cause evaluation of glass particles and the foreign materials found in these drugs. You also failed to evaluate the impact of the contaminants on all other drugs manufactured with the same equipment in the same facility.

In response to this letter, provide a risk assessment for the (b)(4) manufacturing process and other drugs produced with the same equipment. Include an evaluation of the physical condition of your facility and of your cleaning and preventive maintenance procedures for your manufacturing equipment. 
Scouring pads! That's a new one.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Job posting: M.S./Ph.D. organic photovoltaics chemist, Merck KGaA, Chilworth, UK

From the inbox, a position with Merck KGaA in Chilworth, UK (near Southhampton). They're looking for "an experienced polymer chemist...; [t]his is a role in material design and discovery, in close collaboration with applications and scale-up teams." Description:
Your role: Your primary role will be to carry out the design, synthesis, purification and analysis of new materials for commercial OPV applications. Particularly, your work will focus on polymer synthesis, related polymerisation reactions and process optimisation for these materials. You will use your ability, experience and knowledge to develop materials and an in-depth understanding of the parameters which control the performance and quality. You will work with a talented multi-disciplinary team of people, contribute to the generation of intellectual property and support product scale-up and initial introduction to customers.

Who you are:
  • You have an MSc/PhD in chemistry, chemical engineering or material science in the field of polymer research plus applicable experience or a degree plus several years relevant experience.
  • Extensive hands-on experience in the synthesis and purification of polymers and scale-up processes with a deep understanding of reproducibility and reaction kinetics of polymerisation, particularly for industrial commercialisation of multi-monomer condensation polymers is essential.
  • Experience in the field of organic electronic applications would be an advantage.
Read the whole thing - best wishes to those interested. 

Daily Pump Trap: 7/19/16 edition

A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs over the last week:

Woburn, MA: Organix is looking for M.S./Ph.D. synthetic chemists.

(Organix is looking for a M.S. chemist? Is that new?)

La Jolla, CA: Calibr is looking for synthetic/medicinal chemists for postdoctoral positions.

(Is anyone else noticing the plethora of small non-academic institutions calling entry-level Ph.D. chemists "postdoctoral fellows"? (Needed caveat: this really isn't about Calibr, that's just something that reminded me about my feelings about it.) Does anyone else think this contributes to the devaluing of entry-level Ph.D. chemists? Senior graduate students, I urge you to think about taking these positions, and asking potential employers:
  • You're calling this a postdoctoral position - what kinds of unique training am I going to get? 
  • What is the fate of your postdocs? Where do they go? 
  • Will I be the first postdoc at your company? How can we assure that I get the training and mentorship implied in the title?
  • Will I be allowed to publish my work?)
Cleveland, OH: Lubrizol is looking for an experienced chemist to be a technical manager for wood coatings. 

Milford, OH: PPG, also looking for a coatings chemist; this time it's beverage-related.

Davis, CA: Novozymes wishes to hire a B.S./M.S. chemist for an analytical position towards metabolomics.

Pleasanton, CA: Astex is looking for a contract analytical chemist; B.S. and 5 years experience required. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 7/19/16 edition

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

Philadelphia, PA: Drexel looking for a NMR facility director; 58.2k - 87.4k offered.

University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University is looking for a NMR facility director.

Pittsburgh, PA: Raman spectroscopy postdoc desired at Pitt.

Pullman, WA: I've never figured out what the Institute for Shock Physics is, but they're looking for another postdoc.

Hempstead, NY: Hofstra is looking for an experienced EH&S officer.

The Kingdom of Saud: KAUST, still looking for an analytical lab head.

2017 positions: Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY) is conducting an open search for a biochemistry professor. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Academic chemists and Slack

Also, in this week's C&EN, an article (and a podcast!) by Matt Davenport about Slack (the messaging service) in academic chemistry groups: 
(Anne) McNeil had been leading a group of chemists developing new gels and polymers at the University of Michigan for seven years, when, in 2014, she won a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professorship. She earned the honor thanks to her proposal to develop an education program to engage high schoolers and young undergrads from diverse backgrounds with real chemistry research. To do this, she had to add a new division to her team. 
“My group size doubled when I got the HHMI professor grant. Suddenly, I had this second research group working in a new area—education—on a different floor and office space,” McNeil says. “I was having a hard time staying on top of everything on both sides. Slack has changed all that.” 
Slack is messaging software available for tablets, smartphones, and computers designed for teams and work groups. Slack creates a self-contained online chat room that’s exclusive to team members. Those members can then message one another directly or via public discussion channels organized by task, project, or topic. Teams at a variety of companies and agencies are using Slack, including Samsung, LinkedIn, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, and even C&EN.
There's a list of handy apps at the bottom of the article as well - check it out!  

This week's C&EN

From this week's C&EN:
  • Cover story: Beth Halford writes on the current state of rapamycin research. 
    • I feel like FDA is barely equipped to make a judgment on anti-aging/life extension drugs... I wonder what a future with them will be like? 
  • Looks like the National Toxicology Program isn't too concerned about the toxicity of MCHM. (article by Jessica Morrison)
    • This is one of those things where most of the West Virginia public won't know or believe this, I suspect. 
  • Enjoyed the profile of Ingevity (article by Michael McCoy), a company that takes the waste of paper product companies and makes specialty chemicals. 
    • Why is it that hearing about other companies that have difficulties with their supply chains makes me feel better? 
  • It will be fascinating to see what kind of collaborations Cuba ends up doing with ACS. (article by Linda Wang)  
  • More HPLC history in the letters to the editor.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Rewarding, I'll bet

Before I forget, a nice profile of Salvatore DiRosa, an Italian medicinal chemist in last week's C&EN (article by Andrea Widener), including finding a position after a site closure: 
2013: Surviving a company’s demise
 La Rosa had been at Siena [CJ's note: Siena Biotech, in Tuscany] for nine years when the company, which was owned by a bank, fell victim to the recent global financial crisis. “I was still there, but I knew what was happening. It was one of those situations where you say, ‘What am I doing here? I’m waiting for this situation to collapse.’ ” 
Today: Finding cures for children’s tumors
A former colleague offered La Rosa a job in New York City at the nonprofit Children’s Tumor Foundation, which supports research into neurofibromatosis, a benign tumor that can be debilitating. Now La Rosa is vice president for R&D. Working with patients and doctors is completely different from working in industry, he says. And he loves it. “There is a really strong drive to do something that is useful for patients today.”
Italian biotech companies can be owned by banks? Huh. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Smart concept introduced in today's NYT on the STEM Ph.D. glut

The United States is producing more research scientists than academia can handle. 
We have been told time and again that the United States needs more scientists, but when it comes to some of the most desirable science jobs — tenure-track professorships at universities, where much of the exciting work is done — there is such a surplus of Ph.D.s that in the most popular fields, like biomedicine, fewer than one in six has a chance of joining the club in the foreseeable future. 
While they try to get a foot in the door, many spend years after getting their Ph.D. as poorly paid foot soldiers in a system that can afford to exploit them. Even someone as brilliant as Emmanuelle Charpentier, who in 2015 became head of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology after a momentous discovery in gene editing, spent the previous 25 years moving through nine institutions in five countries.
The article goes on to talk about a good idea from operations researcher Richard C. Larson (at MIT):
Dr. Larson and his colleagues calculated R0s for various science fields in academia. There, R0 is the average number of Ph.D.s that a tenure-track professor will graduate over the course of his or her career, with an R0 of one meaning each professor is replaced by one new Ph.D. The highest R0 is in environmental engineering, at 19.0. It is lower — 6.3 — in biological and medical sciences combined, but that still means that for every new Ph.D. who gets a tenure-track academic job, 5.3 will be shut out. In other words, Dr. Larson said, 84 percent of new Ph.D.s in biomedicine “should be pursuing other opportunities” — jobs in industry or elsewhere, for example, that are not meant to lead to a professorship. 
Here's Professor Larson's paper, which I regret I had not heard about until now. For readers of this blog, it's mostly not new information, but it is still worth a read. Good stuff, too late. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 7/14/16 edition

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

Champaign, IL: Someone in chemical engineering at UIUC is looking for a synthetic organometallic chemist for a postdoctoral position.

Last Minute Lecturer: Damien College (Amherst, NY) is looking for a visiting professor of chemistry, to begin in August 2016.

Daytona Beach, FL: I can't quite tell what this non-TT position at Embry-Riddle is, but it's laboratory coordinator like, even as it is called "assistant professor."

Boston, MA: Northeastern University is searching for a chair of its Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Wolfpack searching: North Carolina State University, also searching for chemistry chair.

Detroit, MI: Biochemistry/molecular biology-type postdoc at Wayne State University.

Next year, already?: Amherst (Amherst, MA) is looking for an assistant professor in analytical inorganic chemistry. The University of Portland (Portland, OR) is looking for an assistant professor in organic chemistry. Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA) is looking for two assistant professors, one in analytical chemistry, the other in biochemistry.