Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"A profound sense of loss"

From Susan Ainsworth's great article on chemists living and working far from their families (part of C&EN's Employment Outlook issue):
When Duane Burnett lost his job in big pharma at the end of last year, he initially focused close to home in his search for a new position. After all, he had put down deep roots in Kenilworth, N.J., where he had worked for more than 23 years at Schering-Plough and later at Merck & Co. after the companies’ 2009 merger. 
He finally landed the perfect position—one that “checked all his boxes”—as director of chemistry at EnVivo Pharmaceuticals. The downside? It was in Watertown, Mass., some 250 miles from his home and family. 
Burnett feels fortunate to have found a position that allows him to pursue his passion for discovering central nervous system drugs. However, accepting the job has meant that he has had to live apart from his family for eight months so far. As a result, “I have a profound sense of loss,” he says. “You can’t replace the time that you share over a meal or over other activities that keep you close as a family,” says Burnett. “I truly miss that time. It is the biggest sacrifice I have had to make, and I think about it a lot.”
The sacrifices we make to stay in this field can be costly.


  1. I feel very sorry for this guy and his family. It should have not been necessary in the first place. But that is another story….

  2. I like chemistry, but I don't like it enough to see my parents once a year at Christmas!

  3. I lived apart from my wife in our first year of marriage because I couldn't find a position in the town (or state, or country; I was in Canada, she was in the US) where she had moved due to school. Not fun at all, but do-able if you make the time to talk a lot. Mind you, at the same time the gentleman who sat next to me was also away from his family, having moved to Canada from NJ for this job, leaving his wife and two kids behind until they could sell their house at anywhere near break-even (this was 2010). Worst part for him was 6 months after he finally moved his family up the company shut down.

  4. Is this a joke? He had to go to a decent city, place where you can actually move your family. Within drivable distance too. Do you want to know what I feel when I apply to a place 80 miles outside of Tulsa? I want to choke on my vomit is want I want to do. And I apply anyway.

  5. hey, things are tough all over: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-29/wall-street-bonus-withdrawal-means-trading-aspen-for-cheap-chex.html

    And Cobble Hill is pretty downscale....

    These stories are really quite depressing. Maybe a day or two of good news?