Thursday, May 5, 2016

"I was doing the science I wanted to do with more or less no boss(es)."

Last week, I asked for stories of chemists who managed to stay employed after middle-age. Here is our first story, by Anon:
My short response to "how chemists keep their jobs past 50" is to go "academic".  Let me briefly explain.  As part of a corporate acquisition several decades ago, I along with several hundred other drug discovery scientists were laid off (aka fired).  I was 49 at the time and wanted my next job to be such that I had some control of when I retired. 
I decided the only way to keep doing science and retire under more or less my terms was to go the academic route.  There is no question that getting grants, tenure and good students was challenging at the beginning but after a few years, I was doing the science I wanted to do with more or less no boss(es). 
After several decades of doing the job of my dreams, I got sick of the cold wintry weather and being far away from my kids/grandkids and decided to retire at 70+.  At my exit interview, a high-level HR representative asked me why on earth I am retiring. How's that for feeling "loved"? 
If my university employer were in, for example, Florida or Arizona and my kids/grandkids lived close by, I would still be employed.
Thanks to Anon for their contribution. Readers, have a story of staying a chemist after 50 to contribute? Write in to; confidentiality and final publication decision is yours. 


  1. The Irony is strong in this one...

    State chemist was high daily, thousands of drug prosecutions jeopardized (

    A former Massachusetts drug-lab chemist was high on the job nearly every day for eight years, according to a report from the state's attorney general. The report said that the chemist, Sonja Farak, was under the influence of drugs like crack, meth, LSD, and ketamine as she testified in court in drug cases and while examining drug samples in a crime lab between 2004 and 2013. The report from AG Maura Healey also said the chemist cooked crack cocaine in a crime lab at night while working overtime. Anthony Benedetti of the Committee for Public Counsel Services said that "thousands" of drug prosecutions were imperiled. "Anything that went through that lab while she was there is in question," he told the Boston Globe.

    The 37-year-old former chemist has already served an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty in 2014 to evidence tampering, theft, and possession charges relating to a handful of criminal cases. The state's investigation into her behavior was released Tuesday by the state's attorney general. Farak was granted immunity from further prosecution for her assistance in the AG's investigation. "All told, she estimated that she was smoking crack 10 to 12 times a day," according to the report.

    1. Sounds like she did in fact prove that those samples contained real drugs, according to this. So what's the problem?