Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ivory Filter Flask: 7/09/15 edition

A few of the academic postings from C&EN Jobs:

Early in the season?: University of San Diego is looking for a tenure-track assistant professor of biochemistry for the fall 2016 season.

Storrs, CT: Two medicinal chemistry postdoctoral positions open at the University of Connecticut Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Portland, OR: Reed College is looking for a 0.5 FTE teaching associate.

Lowell, MA: The University of Massachusetts Lowell wishes to hire chemistry lecturers. 


  1. The Reed position makes me want to cry - it looks like a full-time position masquerading as a part-time one, after everything is said and done.

  2. According to the advert for the UMass Lowell teaching jobs, they are "part-time instructors". To which I say: let the tenure/track faculty do the teaching. Massachusetts should know better than to allow crap adjunct jobs. It's not like UMass Lowell is located in Louisiana or Mississippi.

    1. @Generic Chemist:
      "Massachusetts should know better than to allow crap adjunct jobs. It's not like UMass Lowell is located in Louisiana or Mississippi."

      Is this actually a reflection of oversupply driving down the market value of a commodity? Not trying to sound heartless here, but Science PhDs are abundant in Metro Boston as well as the NE Corridor.

      Also, it is a bit presumptuous to associate "crap adjunct jobs" mainly with "Red States", especially in this blog post containing an ad for a 0.5 FTE teacher in the crunchy part of Oregon. For innumerable examples of "super-craptastic adjunct jobs", look at the biomedical research departments at premier NIH-funded institutions. Only at places like those can craft innovative titles such as "Assistant Adjunct Professor" and "Adjunct Senior Lecturer".

      And yet some part of me (albeit constantly atrophying) still believes STEM educational advocacy...

    2. Hi Anon 5:43 PM,

      Yes I agree with you 100% on the effects of the law of supply and demand, 100% and whether it be in academia or industry. There are all sorts of euphemisms for PhD strawberry pickers, whether they teach or stand in someone else's lab for 6 - 12 months.

      Regarding the contrast between MA and those red states, it was my understanding that MA at least may offer health insurance (anyone out there please correct me as need be).

      As CJ privately knows, I have had an extremely bad experience as tenure-track faculty in a red state which is known for an iconically stupid politician (the Chancellor of the university in question also doesn't even have a doctorate). The department may no longer meet the minimum qualifications to offer ACS-accredited BSc degrees. If it were not for the colleagues and numerous students who stuck up for me and tried to save my job there, then I would blow the whistle on them.

    3. "I have had an extremely bad experience as tenure-track faculty in a red state which is known for an iconically stupid politician (the Chancellor of the university in question also doesn't even have a doctorate)." Contrast with the University of California system, where the system president does not have a PhD and has no prior work experience involving higher education.

    4. This is Anonymous from 7/11/15 @ 5:43 PM.

      At least Napolitano has a JD and was a practicing lawyer in both the public and private sector. I find some congressional committees assigned to scientific or otherwise technical projects to be laughable at best. Admittedly, my cynicism may be creeping up, but the University of California is effectively a business, so having a legal professional as its president may not be a bad thing. At several major universities, the Research Integrity Officers are not PhDs (again, JD is the next most popular degree). To reiterate, my biggest concern is the demonstrable misalignment between current STEM pedagogy and STEM economics.

    5. Napolitano does have a J.D. and has been a practicing lawyer in the public sector. Her major accomplishment as governor of AZ was to run the state into the ground financially, doubling the state's nominal debt and depleting the state's "rainy day fund" prior to her departure in early 2009. Her major accomplishments at DHS were popularizing the phrase "man-caused disaster," insisting on random airport screenings while exempting Muslim women from airport body scanners, claiming the 9/11 terrorists came from Canada, and stockpiling 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition - the last of which has never been satisfactorily explained - all while DHS morale plummeted.

      Thus far her major accomplishments as UC system president (at $575,000/year, not counting considerable (free) housing, transportation ($8,000/year) and relocation ($142,000) benefits) have been to raise the individual universities' chancellor pay by $90,000 each, to ban "microaggressions" (including phrases such as “America is the land of opportunity,” “There is only one race, the human race” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job”) and to hike tuition 5% year-over-year for five years. Her response to students protesting the tuition hike was famously "We don't have to listen to this crap."

    6. point being, it's presumptive to associate poor administration (or crappy adjunct positions) with red states. The latter is especially obvious in this IFF post, with two crappy positions located in states that are and will continue to vote Democrat for the foreseeable future. Also, that it's hard to say what business acumen lawyers can actually bring to administration, or managerial skills for that matter, especially when the candidate's capacities in these regards have already been found lacking, and the candidate in question is being given a temp job or worse yet a "quango" solely because of their political connections. My suspicion is, this is not an individual who understands, or is even sympathetic to, or can do much to facilitate, UC's research programs - but who clearly understands the importance of shoring up top administration support.

  3. My initial comment seemed to have precipitated an interesting conversation.

    It's not possible to provide any further specifics about the "university", the degree program, or the state without lack of discretion on my part. But I will say that in terms of superlatives, i.e. "dumbest" chancellor (and Dean of Natural Sciences), and dumbest politician, and now least viable chemistry BSc program for a state university, and now the complete inability to carry out any research which is organic chemistry, the place where I was located beats anything in California.

    For example, the Dean of course tried to keep the people who were interviewing for my job away from me. I nevertheless cornered one of them, and asked him what his background in Organic Chemistry was. His answer amounted to being able to break open an ampoule of TFAA.

    1. Not to dispute your claim, but California has put forward quite a few candidates for "dumbest politician":

      "Guess what this liberal would be all about? This liberal will be about socializing...uh, um...Would be about, basically, taking over, and the government running all of your companies." - Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, delivers her manifesto on political economy.

      "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."
      "...every month that we do not have an economic recovery package 500 million Americans lose their jobs." - Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA explains her philosophy of governance, and demonstrates her awesome command of the realities of the American economy.

      "The conventional viewpoint says we need a jobs program and we need to cut welfare. Just the opposite! We need more welfare and fewer jobs." - Jerry Brown, former and current governor of CA, demonstrates his understanding of economics and his current policy platform.

      "Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, ‘Thank God, I'm still alive.' But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again." - Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), empathizes with zombies.

      "We're seeing the reality of a lot of the North Pole starting to evaporate, and we could get to a tipping point. Because if it evaporates to a certain point - they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn't ever sail through before. And if it gets to a point where it evaporates too much, there's a lot of tundra that's being held down by that ice cap." - (former) Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) reveals what he learned in earth science class.

  4. As I have commented elsewhere on this blog, putting people into boxes such as "republican" vs "democrat" or "liberal" vs. conservative" is too simple. This is not Star Wars.

    1. Tell it to the Democrats:

    2. I have no problem with anyone staging a rally to support their favorite politician, whether it be Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

      However, Sanders is only a democrat by convenience. In Vermont, he was an independent.

      The fact, however that you are still categorizing people according to their political parties instead of their issue-by-issue beliefs. Would you like to dress up as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader at the Comicon? It's another way of asking if you can "think outside of the box".

      For example, while there are some things which I do like about "the democrats", there are also other things which I don't care for in them. That is why I support an independent, like Sanders. When I gave him a little donation, I even specified that it should not go to the democratic party general coffer.

      BTW ANON 2:24 PM, how do you stand on limits to corporate and personal campaign donations?

    3. This deserves a longer answer than I can give at present - work calls -

      I would not care to dress up as either one - my enthusiasm for Star Wars waned sharply after the first sequel. I can understand some of the references. Also, I have never been to, nor do I desire to go to, a Comicon. The link was offered in response to your comment that "this is not Star Wars," I found it ironic that 'an impromptu rally' (which frankly I find slightly alarming) broke out in support of your choice of candidates. It is not much of a way of determining whether I 'can think outside the box' - a phrase that I have found repugnant for its ironic overuse for over a decade. Can people who talk about "thinking outside the box" think outside the box? Or would they find a less trite and overused metaphor for creative problem-solving and analysis?

      Perhaps if I revealed I am more of a Tati than a Lucas fan? But perhaps you would merely regard that as a different box (and perhaps rightly so).

      Currently Sanders is described as an independent - the degree of that independence is at least partly visible in the fact that he caucuses with the Democrat Party and is seeking that party's nomination for president, and partly in his voting record (which shows an extremely high level of Democrat support). I am not at all certain that this really describes an independent who is "a Democrat by convenience." On the other hand, I find his stance on manufacturer torts refreshing (although not enough to consider voting for him - his stances on a number of issues compel me to reject him).

  5. If you look back through the comments, you'll see that another common factor is that they are Californian politicians.