Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Midwest is reporting mystery lung illnesses possibly linked to vaping

Via the New York Times last week, an odd story about vaping from last week:  
Nearly three dozen young people have been hospitalized around the country in recent weeks for severe respiratory problems after vaping either nicotine or marijuana, stumping doctors treating them. 
The Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin public health departments are investigating these cases and at least 20 additional emergency admissions that doctors suspect are related to vaping some substance, possibly even illegal street drugs or adulterated liquids laced with T.H.C., the ingredient that produces marijuana’s high. 
There are also cases in California, which appear to be associated with vaping cannabis or cannabidiol oil. 
Most of the patients were having difficulty breathing when they arrived at the hospital. Some patients also reported chest pain, vomiting and other ailments. The cases have ranged in severity, with some patients suffering severe lung damage that required weeks of treatment in the intensive care units...
The CDC is beginning to investigate. Seems to me there are a couple of possibilities: a mystery chemical agent in random batches of vaping juice, or it's quite a coincidence. I wonder what it is?  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 152 research/teaching positions, 1 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 152 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching assistant professor position.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On August 21, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 138 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

How to tailor R1 materials for a SLAC, by Professor Kelly Sheppard

An invited post from Professor Kelly Sheppard, chair of Skidmore College's chemistry department, who has an opening for a professor of organic chemistry (open rank).
Applying also to research universities, how do I adapt my applications materials for an opening at a small liberal arts college like Skidmore? 
At a small liberal arts college like Skidmore, we are focused on undergraduate education and do not supervise graduate students. Research though is still important. At Skidmore the breakdown for tenure is 50% based on teaching, 40% based on scholarship, and 10% on service. You need to write your materials with that context in mind, so the committee envisions you earning tenure.  
When talking about teaching in your cover letter and teaching statement, speak about teaching undergraduates. Look at the job ad and go to the department website to look at course offerings. What courses does the department want taught? For example, our current ad talks about teaching organic chemistry, plus upper level courses in your area of specialization, introductory courses, and in our interdisciplinary first-year seminar. You want to talk about teaching those courses. Upper level courses or electives are your place to denote what you would add to the curriculum given your expertise. For the cover letter, you may want to discuss teaching before writing about research but this is not essential, at least for us at Skidmore but at other places this can be more important. Also, be sure to include whatever else is asked for in the ad. For example, for our tenure track search, we ask candidates to address “how you will effectively engage with a diverse student body as a teacher, advisor, and mentor” in the cover letter.  
For scholarship, put your research program in the context of working with undergraduates and not graduate students for both the cover letter and research statement. Keep in mind, we do high quality science at small liberal arts colleges but the pace tends to be slower than at graduate institutions. The median number of publications per full-time tenure stream chemistry faculty member at peer and aspirant institutions of Skidmore is 0.5 publications per year. At well-endowed institutions like Oberlin, Swarthmore, and Haverford the publication rate tends to be higher (0.80-1.40 publications per year).  Of course, the rate also varies based on the nature of the research but 0.5 publications per year gives you a ballpark to shoot for as you think about the research projects to propose in your statement. Your research statement should lay out your research program over the next five years including how undergraduates will be involved. Think about how you will recruit students, train them, and maintain an inclusive research group composed of undergraduates. It is helpful to denote where you plan to present the work and publish it with undergraduate co-authors. If you have already worked with undergraduates on research projects, highlight that experience. While funded grant proposals are not required for tenure, we encourage applying to get feedback on your ideas and to provide you additional resources therefore it is good to identify potential external funding sources to apply to.  
For your C.V., be sure to highlight your training and experiences related to both research and teaching. Also, include the students you have mentored/supervised in research. On your list of publications, denote undergraduate co-authors. Do the same for your list of presentations. Also, have a section on professional development trainings and workshops you have attended, and outreach efforts you have been part of. Highlight any leadership roles you have taken.  
For details on current search in organic chemistry at Skidmore College, please see our Tenure Stream Search Page, which includes a more detailed overview of what to include in your materials. 
Thank you to Professor Sheppard for his contribution, and best wishes to those interested. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 12 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 12 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 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 19, 2019

Safety alert: AlfaAesar tBuLi septa can be unscrewed easily

Credit
PSA: the @AlfaAesar "ChemSeal" bottles do NOT have a traditional sureseal (rubber septum under screw cap). The screw cap IS THE SEPTUM.  
The septum is also covered by a sticker, making it unclear that you SHOULDNT UNSCREW THE CAP 
I opened the bottle. I stared at the tBuLi, it stared back at me. We had a good time 
Alfa, this is unconscionable. The bottle was sealed with just a screw cap. This is not appropriate air free storage for pyrophorics (evidenced by large amounts of LiOH in the bottle)
It's a bit distressing that this particular chemical would suffer a downgrade in safety precautions from a major lab supply house. Stay safe out there, friends.  

Friday, August 16, 2019

Quite the plant

Credit: Ross Mantle for The New York Times
Via the New York Times, quite the picture in this interesting profile of the new Shell cracker being built outside Pittsburgh:
...The plant Ms. Mercer has come here to build is “as big as you get,” she said. When finished, Shell’s cracker plant — named for the chemical reaction of “cracking” gas molecules into the building blocks of plastic — will consume vast quantities of ethane pumped from wells across Pennsylvania into an enormous furnace. The superheated gas is then cooled, forming solid pellets about the size of arborio rice. The process takes about 20 hours....
Never quite thought about polyethylene being like arborio rice, but I suppose that's reasonably accurate (also, I've never held the raw pellets in my hand.) 

Obligatory economic post

Via the New York Times, a slowing economy?:
The global economy is under increasing stress as growth cools and trade tensions take a mounting toll. On Wednesday, the tremors were felt worldwide. 
Shares on Wall Street were off sharply, only a day after they had rallied as President Trump narrowed the scope of his next round of tariffs. The S&P 500 was down 2.9 percent. And bond markets offered an ominous warning on American growth prospects, with yields falling to levels not seen in years. 
The financial jitters, which continued Thursday as markets in Asia were down in early trading, came after new data showed the German economy hurtling toward a recession and factory output in China growing at its slowest pace in 17 years. 
The trouble in two of the world’s manufacturing powerhouses indicated, in part, how hard both have been hit by Mr. Trump’s tariffs. And it increased concern that the United States, too, is headed for an economic reckoning...
Certainly the brief appearance of an inverted yield curve was a potential sign of a recession. From my perspective, I don't think we've seen a slowing economy in either the personal life of my family and friends, or my work life, but it remains to be seen. I think it is possible that we may have a recession in 2020, but I don't think there is sufficient evidence from either the broader economy, or the chemical enterprise - yet. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Daily Pump Trap: 8/15/19 edition

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

Bethesda, MD: NIH's Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry in the NIDDK is looking for tenure-track investigators. Pretty sure a similar position was posted last year.

Oak Ridge, TN: Lots of positions posted: a postdoc in polymer processing, also a R&D research associate position in "characterization of organic, inorganic, and composite materials using solid-state NMR." Also, a physical chemist is being hired "who will focus on developing apparatus, methods and performing accurate and defensible physical / chemical measurements for a variety of gas phase molecules including newly synthesized, novel molecules."

Los Alamos, NM: LANL looking for a synthetic explosives chemist for a postdoc.

West Lafayette, IN: AMRI searching for a Ph.D. NMR spectroscopist.

Diamond Bar, CA:  South Coast Air Quality Management District looking for B.S./M.S./Ph.D. chemists to become air quality chemists.

11 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 11 new positions for August 10.

Job posting: LC/MS Analytical Chemist. Highgrade Labs, Oklahoma City, OK

From the inbox:
LC/MS Analytical Chemist with Highgrade Labs 
Highgrade Labs, an Oklahoma City-based laboratory, is seeking a full-time Analytical Chemist to perform analysis on cannabis products. This position will assist in writing SOPs to uphold our quality and control. The primary responsibilities of this position are cannabinoid, Terpenoid, pesticide, and residual solvent analysis. 
Responsibilities
  • Adhere to TNI, NELAC, and OMMA requirements
  • Perform qualitative and quantitative analyses using analytical instrumentation such as HPLC and GC
  • Capable of method development and validation of new chemical analysis by HPLC, GC, LC Triple Quad, and ICP-MS
  • Accurately record and keep QCs and sample information
  • Prepare SOPs, protocols, scientific reports and technical documents
  • Perform preventative maintenance and in-house repairs on laboratory equipment
  • Work independently while retaining self-motivation & function as an influential team player
Minimum Qualifications
  • 2-4 years of commercial analytical laboratory experience
  • Bachelor of Science in a natural or physical science (Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Microbiology, etc.)...
Compensation
  • Salary for this position will start at $18-$22 per hour depending on experience, with potential for advancement based on performance
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 26 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 26 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Atlanta teen suffers third degree burns from ethanol fire in classroom

...Malachi McFadden was severely burned Tuesday during a fire in his chemistry class at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, AJC.com previously reported. 
"He’s still in intensive care," attorney Chris Stewart told Channel 2 Action News. “It’s a really bad situation.” McFadden’s family hired Stewart to represent them after they could not get information about the incident from the school, the news station reported.  
The fire happened on the second day of classes in DeKalb County. The teen’s teacher reportedly conducted an experiment by lighting a dollar bill on fire. "The fire went out of control as expected because there was ethanol in the bowl," Stewart told Channel 2. "And instead of putting water on it to put it out, allegedly the teacher grabbed a jar of ethanol and threw it into the bowl." 
It is unclear how long the teacher has worked at the school. 
Looks like it's third degree burns. Yet another case of:
  • fire
  • alcohol being added to the flames
  • from a bulk alcohol container with
  • students being too close 
I guess we've learned that 1) news of the Yanes settlement hasn't traveled fast enough, and 2) the $59 million verdict still isn't enough to get school districts, principals and teachers to consider chemical safety in their day-to-day activities...

Interesting letter on mental health and academia

Also in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, this letter about a recent Jen Heemstra piece: 
Thank you for 63 years of C&EN and for the column Office Hours in the July 8 issue by Jen Heemstra (page 23). 
As I read her article, I reflected on my own experiences and concluded that she is absolutely correct with respect to the importance of creating a mental health environment in graduate schools. In my 5 years of graduate school I was three doors from a student and four doors away from a graduate professor who struggled with problems and committed suicide while I was in my lab. The competitive nature of the atmosphere of that department was not conducive to good mental health. I saw the same problem in several chemistry departments. 
I am grateful to C&EN for including her columns, as the problem of mental health is much greater than in graduate schools. Here in Alaska we have some of the highest rates of mental health problems, as evidenced by our high rates of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic abuse, etc. 
In my 10 years as a science teacher in Kenai and Soldotna High Schools, I witnessed mental health problems with students that I was totally unprepared to handle. All I could do was observe and suffer with the students. Jen has answers to those questions, and I encourage C&EN to promote her work. America and the world need more activists like her. 
Hugh R. Hays
Soldotna, Alaska
 "Observe and suffer" is a sadly appropriate phrase. 

This week's C&EN

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 126 research/teaching positions, 1 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 126 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching assistant professor position.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On August 14, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 100 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

Postdoctoral position: computational materials science, PNNL, Richland, WA

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is a world-class research institution powered by a highly educated, diverse workforce committed to collaboration and work–life balance. Every year, scores of dynamic, driven postdocs come to PNNL to work with renowned researchers on meaningful science, innovations and outcomes for the U.S. Department of Energy and other sponsors; here is your chance to be one of them! 
Contribute to PNNL’s goals in computational biomolecular materials science as part of the Lab’s Physical Sciences Division. As a postdoctoral researcher, you will join a talented, multi-investigator team to explore the development of synthetic self-assembling systems that mimic the hierarchical nature of biological membranes and carry out high-level functions based on a predictive understanding of both assembly and function. In particular, we seek to create fully synthetic self-assembling biomimetic structures that mimic the environment, versatility, and functionality of cell membranes based on a predictive understanding of: (a) the link between macromolecular sequence and organization, (b) controls on assembly and ordering, (c) incorporation of functional units with a focus on artificial carbon nanotube porins (CNTPs), and (d) mechanisms of fast and selective transport through these materials. You will be mentored hands on by senior researchers and work in close collaboration with the experimental efforts to be central part of the theory and modelling effort.
Full listing here. Best wishes to those interested.  

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 9 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 9 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 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.