Monday, July 11, 2011

What seemed to be the biggest worry at NOS2011? #Chemjobs

Carmen Drahl's article in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News had quite a bit to say about everyone's favorite topic:
In a talk describing improvements in the industrial-scale route to the diabetes medication Januvia, Joseph D. Armstrong III, senior director for RNAi and discovery process chemistry at Merck Research Laboratories, echoed the call for more work in catalysis because of the accompanying potential for waste reduction. "The footprint of pharma is shrinking, but there will be opportunities in green chemistry and green technology," he said. [snip]
However, some chemists at the meeting wanted to go beyond abstract research opportunities and discuss the concrete reality of the economy. After [Pfizer worldwide head of medicinal chemistry Tony] Wood's talk, University of Delaware adjunct professor Albert S. Matlack stood to say that "many of us are disappointed" with downsizing in the industry, prompting applause from attendees. 
"There's one thing on the minds of the 16,000 chemists in the Organic Chemistry Division—where are the jobs going to be in a few years?" said University of Pennsylvania professor Marisa C. Kozlowski during her introduction of materials-focused chemists Coates and Colin Nuckolls of Columbia University. 
"Jobs are what everyone is talking about. If you listen at poster sessions, there's a lot of discussion about what folks' plans are," Kozlowski, a member of ORGN's executive committee, told C&EN. "There is so much angst among so much talent." 
Because of layoffs in the pharmaceutical industry "the landscape of employment in organic chemistry in this country has changed, and it's not clear whether that's permanent or not," Kozlowski said. The speakers at NOS can't change the economy single-handedly, but the inclusion of talks focused on materials and green chemistry makes it clear that organic chemistry is useful outside the traditional employment channels, Kozlowski said.
I could be wrong, but I don't think that there are enough jobs in green and materials chemistry to sop up all the unemployed chemists, but pushing people out of the traditional pharma pipeline (and away from total-synthesis-oriented organic chemistry and towards methodology) may be a good thing. We shall see.

Best wishes to all of us.

P.S. This article brings us the 2nd organic professor in the past 2 years to directly confront #chemjobs issues on the record: Michael Doyle at Maryland and Marisa Kozlowski at Penn. Will more professors stand up with them?


  1. "There's one thing on the minds of the 16,000 chemists in the Organic Chemistry Division—where are the jobs going to be in a few years?"

    A: Asia, South Africa, majority of industry non-existant due to innovation unfriendly US government policies (even higher taxes, increasing regulatory needs, price controls, intellectual property policies in Asia, etc.) & scared managers forfeit the future of organic chemistry to save their jobs for today

  2. "...but pushing people out of the traditional pharma pipeline (and away from total-synthesis-oriented organic chemistry and towards methodology) may be a good thing."

    How about none of the above (pharma, total synthesis or methodology)? I have little patience for all three.

  3. Until the system that's creating more and more PhDs in total synthesis or methodology changes, it won't matter. Andy Phillips from Yale gave a talk here recently and showed a picture of the old Bayer site that Yale purchased and will turn into a new center for chemistry/biology interface stuff. I shook my head wondering what all of those folks will do when they finish.

    I'm meeting with a group of juniors and seniors in college this week taking a tour around here. I'm exactly sure how brutally honest I'll be with them if they ask about the job situation, but I won't lie to them and tell them it's all good....

  4. ...should say 'not exactly'

  5. CJ- thanks for the plug. @You're Pfizered, I almost feel like there should be a guide published specifically for tours like that. Something like "how to talk to college kids about the chemistry job market". CJ have you heard of such a thing?

  6. No, I haven't. There's plenty of anecdotal stuff online, though.

    Maybe something we should work on?

  7. Re what to say: refer them to Bloom’s editorial.

    The job are going elsewhere in the world note this list of engineering jobs going off-shore green and material science will certainly follow pharma. Our chemical/agchem/ and now pharma infrastructure is going, going, gone never to return. Name me one big pharma site now shuttered or dismantled that will be rebuilt?

    4700 the number of technical jobs IBM is moving offshore, including 3000 engineers
    2200 the number of engineering/science jobs GE has created at it R&D center in India
    1000 the number of technical jobs Rohm & Haas is creating in its newly opened R&D center in China
    1200 the number of engineers 3Com corp. employs in China to save money
    750MM the R&D dollars Cisco is outsourcing to India
    1MMM the dollar investment by Dupont in a chemical plant in China
    22MM the dollar investment by Dupont in a R&D Center in Hyderabad, India
    300 the number of newly hired scientists Dupont will employ in Hyderabad
    164MM the dollars DSM is investing in drug and vitamin manufacturing plants in India and China
    400 number of employees at DSM’s new R&D center in Shanghai
    100MM the annual dollars DSM is spending to make bulk drugs at Indian CRO Arch Pharmalabs
    27MM the expanded investment in a Chinese R&D facility by Degussa
    500 the down payment number of high-value Microsoft tech jobs it is creating in China
    7000 the number of technical jobs Microsoft has created in India
    2 the number of R & D centers Microsoft has opened in India
    500MM the dollars Microsoft is investing in India creating new R&D jobs for scientists
    1MMM the dollars Intel is investing in Indian R&D and Indian technology companies
    4 the number of new chemical plants Huntsman is building in Asia
    1MMM the capital Huntsmen invested in its first new chemical plant in China
    550 the number of engineers employed by GE in Mexico
    200 the number of new engineers GE is hiring in Mexico
    300 the number of engineers Honeywell will employ in Mexico
    350 the number of R&D jobs Honeywell created in China
    14MM the new dollars Honeywell is spending to continue expanding one of its China chemistry R&D facilities doubling scientific headcount
    10 the number of engineers that can be hired in China for the cost of 1 engineer in the US
    70 the dollar cost per hour for engineering services in the US
    15 the dollar cost per hour for engineering services in India
    39 the dollar hourly rate for an engineer in Germany
    1.4 the dollar hourly rate for an engineer in Bulgaria
    2.4 the dollar hourly rate for an engineer in India
    6.6M the starting salary in US dollars for an engineer in China
    15M the starting salary in US dollars for an engineer in Mexico
    55.6M the starting salary for a US engineer
    1.2MMM the money BASF will invest in creating jobs in Asia over the next 4 years
    2 the number of material science R&D centers BASF is establishing in Singapore
    14 the number of sites in the US BASF has shut down since 2003
    4400 jobs lost in US do to BASF plant closures since 2003
    130 the number of employees FMC is laying off to move agchemicals manufacturing to Asia
    1500 the number of crop science jobs Bayer is shedding in North America

  8. Hmm...perhaps it was a bad idea for us to to promote capitalism in China and India. Dammit Reagan, you shouldn't have fought against communism and socialism! At least we would've never outsourced any industry to our ideological enemies!


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20