It's time for another crazy idea from CJ -- one that combines issues of chemistry unemployment with academic chemical safety.
Among of the many issues with academic chemical safety is that 1) there are typically not very many chemical safety/hygiene officers within departments, so the workload is pretty heavy (especially if you have a large department) and 2) many chemical safety officers (not all, mind you) are relatively inexperienced in terms of chemistry. (Again, a generalization.)
You could imagine a NIH/NSF-run program that:
- hired interested unemployed mid-career scientists (out of school/PD for 10+ years)
- trained them in chemical safety and hygiene issues
- granted them to universities with lots of student/postdoctoral researchers
What's the current ratio of chemical hygiene officers to researchers at R1 universities? 1 to 100? 1 to 200? 1 to 500? (Doubtful.) Raising that ratio to 1 to 50, say, would probably do a least a little good. In addition, their industrial experience would probably give their words a little more weight. Finally, the federal funding would alleviate the universities' concerns about money.
I'm guessing this program could easily absorb about 250 unemployed mid-career scientists. I'm not sure it would be a great job for a mid-career scientist, but it'd be a job.