Friday, August 18, 2017

2 cm Teflon stir blades

A list of small, useful things (links):
Again, an open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring you millions thousands hundreds tens of dollars joy and happiness. Send me a link to your post, and I'd be happy to put it up.

Have a great weekend! 

Quote of the day: the calming influence of money

For some reason, this passage from Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" has always stuck with me, especially when dealing with customers: 
Hagen knew his manners. He did not speak, he did not smile. He waited on his boss, Don Corleone, with all the respect of a favorite earl waiting on his kind; bringing him a cold drink, lighting his cigar, positioning his ashtray; with respect but no obsequiousness.  
Hagen was the only one in that room who knew the identity of the portraits hanging on the dark paneled walls. They were mostly portraits of fabulous financial figures done in rich oils. One was of Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton. Hagen could not help thinking that Hamilton might have approved of his peace meeeting being held in a banking institution. Nothing was more calming, more conducive to pure reason, than the atmosphere of money.
I kinda think Hagen was kinda wrong, but it helps me a little during a teleconference... 

Help fund the DIY Science Zone at GeekGirlCon!

Lots of science blogger/Twitter folks are going to be helping out at the DIY Science Zone at GeekGirlCon (a convention for young women about geek culture) on September 30 and October 1, including myself.

We're soliciting donations for our efforts. Your contributions would be spent on Zone supplies (activity ingredients, tarps, cleaning supplies, etc.)

Here's what I am offering to you, Chemjobber reader. If you donate and tell me, I will offer you a handwritten thank you note and, for any donation of $20 or larger, a post of your choosing.

I do not love soliciting funds, but teaching science and the scientific method to kids is worthy in my opinion. Thanks for listening. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 132 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 132 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 11 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 11 positions. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The skills of chemists versus other fields

Credit: New York Times
You may have seen the minor kerfuffle about this rather silly New York Times metric that would allow you to choose the opposite of your job, skills-wise (scroll down). (Apparently, "physicist" was coming up the opposite of a lot of things.) I did think the accompanying chart, with its comparisons of various jobs on a Y-axis of "clerical/service work versus machine operating" and an X-axis of "communication and thought versus more physical work" was interesting to contemplate, especially since I tend to think of laboratory positions as ones that require physical work. I see that police officers do more operating of machines and processes than chemists, which I find to be an interesting judgment.

I also thought these two paragraphs were a nice summation of overall thoughts about job dislocation in Our Modern Times:
...Because people rarely spend their entire careers at one company anymore, employers have less incentive to invest in training workers in new skills, because they might quit and take those skills to a competitor, said David Deming, a professor of public policy, education and economics at Harvard. Workers also have little incentive to invest in training, because there’s no guarantee it will pay off with long-term employment. Others have trouble thinking of themselves as doing other kinds of jobs — which Lawrence Katz, a Harvard labor economist, says is an identity mismatch, not a skill mismatch. 
Even if workers want to learn new skills and find new occupations, there is no streamlined way to do so. People procrastinate, inaccurately assess their own abilities and are unaware of what other jobs entail, according to behavioral economists. The United States spends a fraction of what other developed countries do on labor market adjustment programs like job counseling and retraining. Assistance is piecemeal, and many people who qualify don’t use it. 
Meanwhile, employers hire based on credentials that job applicants can’t change — a college degree or previous job title — rather than assessing the skills an applicant has developed, said Mr. Auguste, who was an economic adviser in the Obama administration.  
It probably takes quite a bit of time and thought to assess skills, as opposed to looking at degrees or job titles. A shame. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 117 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 117 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Try the open thread.

Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

What's the best way to write a statement of faith?

If you'd like to find out about writing a statement of faith if you're thinking about applying for a faculty position at a religiously-affiliated school, feel free to read more. In this case, it's a Christian institution. If you aren't interested, I understand.

UPDATE: Anon731A makes a very good point: "Please don't assume that if a college has a religious affiliation, that a statement of faith is required."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Interesting development on the law school front

Via the New York Times, a change in testing requirements: 
Law schools, which have been plagued by a shortfall of students in recent years, are changing their admissions requirements. 
Two top-ranked schools — Georgetown University Law Center and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law — this week joined Harvard Law’s recent move to make it simpler to apply. 
Applicants can submit the results of the more widely available Graduate Record Exam, the GRE, instead of those from the Law School Admissions Test, which long has been entrenched as the numeric gauge of law school success. 
Many law schools are casting wider nets to attract students who would not otherwise set their sights on a legal education. The schools hope that by making it easier for the engineers, scientists and mathematicians who typically take only the GRE, more of them will enroll....
Are there really that many STEM grads who are interested in law school?

(That's an interesting aspect of the post-Great Recession era - there was a lot of talk about a 'law school bubble', but it seems to me that there hasn't been the mass collapse of law schools that you would expect if the bubble had really collapsed. This 2017 report seems to suggest that enrollments are flat at best, which is not good news if you're a law school dean.) 

No C&EN this week

Double issue next week. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Don't fall for mean Facebook trolling

Considering the median industrial starting Ph.D. makes $100,000,
I guess 50% of Ph.D.s are doing it wrong.
There is a lot that could be said about the Che/e/ky Sc/ien/tist organization, but I think it's really a terrible thing to post something like this on Facebook that's basically designed to troll new graduates.

If you go and find this post, you'll find the proprietor of the organization pushing the fact that new STEM Ph.D.s do indeed have a median industrial salary of $100,000. (It's interesting to note that the median starting salary for industrial Ph.D. chemists is $88,000. I guess if you're the median starting Ph.D. chemist, you're doing it wrong. (eyeroll)) All of these numbers are courtesy of the 2015 Survey of Earned Doctorates, which is the latest data that we have. It's a very clever twisting of facts in order to provoke an emotional response.* 

The Ch/e/e/k/y S/c/ien/tist folks have never been subtle, but the language that the author uses has become increasingly purplish, what with titles like "The Conspiracy To Trap Postdocs In Academia." I guess when you're charging $300 to join your Facebook group, whatever drives traffic is what works. 

(Instead of posting poorly sourced screenshots, why don't they link to the actual data? That just drives me bonkers. Also, isn't it already clear that if earning a lot of money is what is really important to you, either you're going to have to seize one of these key industrial entry-level science positions (of which there really aren't very many), or that you're going to have to take on other, more business-oriented roles that pay more? I really don't understand the point of beating people over the head with Facebook posts, which seems to be what the CSA's public posts are all about.)

(A previous post about this organization is here. It's a free country, but if I had $300, I wouldn't spend it on a Facebook group, I'd try to buy thirty industry folks ten bucks worth of coffee and see what advice they had to offer me, and whether or not they liked their jobs.) 

*Does anyone have a guess as to what the other ends of this histogram looks like? If that's the 50th percentile, what's the 90th, I wonder? What's the 10th? (wait, I can guess.)

Job posting: senior business development manager, Materia, Pasadena, CA

From Twitter:
The Senior Business Development Manager position within the Business Development team at Materia will own and drive revenue growth for Materia's Proxima thermoset resin products and technology in new markets.
Full posting here. 7 years experience in business development, B.S. required, M.S. w/MBA desired. All Materia jobs here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Postdoctoral position: Scintillating Organic Molecules Postdoctoral Appointee, Livermore, CA

From the inbox, a postdoc with Sandia National Laboratories:
We are seeking a postdoc chemist to join our efforts developing new organic molecule based radiation detection materials. The successful post-doctoral candidate is expected to have knowledge and experience related to the design, synthesis, and characterization of small organic molecules. The candidate must possess an enthusiasm for fundamental research as well as applied science, show aptitude with verbal and written communication and have a publication record commensurate with the above activities.
  • PhD in Organic Chemistry, with synthesis experience
  • Willingness to work with sealed radioactive sources (training will be provided).
Please include research summary with CV
Full posting here. (Job ID 658356). Best wishes to those interested.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 126 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 126 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 4 positions

Just to prove to myself that it can be done...

Here we are with 4 positions. It will grow. 

Daily Pump Trap: 8/10/17 edition

A (very) few positions posted at C&EN Jobs:

Seattle, WA: Immune Design is searching for a director of analytical development.

Malvern, PA: Progenra is looking for medicinal chemists, defined broadly: "BS/ MS/ Ph.D in organic/synthetic chemistry with 1-15 years’ experience working in a medicinal chemistry laboratory setting with expertise in lead optimization and SAR evolution."

Shanghai, China: Hutchison MediPharma Limited is hiring a director of pre-formulation development; Ph.D., 8 years of experience desired. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 8/10/17 edition

A few of the academic positions posted at C&EN Jobs:

Hayward, CA: California State University, East Bay is looking for an assistant professor of inorganic/physical chemistry.

South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College is searching for an assistant professor of analytical chemistry.

San Francisco, CA: The University of San Francisco is hiring an assistant professor of inorganic chemistry.

Greenville, SC: Furman University is searching for two assistant professorships: a biochemistry position and an open position. 

Newark, DE: The University of Delaware is looking for a laboratory coordinator for its teaching laboratories. 

West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University is searching for an atmospheric chemistry postdoc. ($50,000 offered.) 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Moscow mules and copper toxicity

Via the Washington Post, this interesting health advisory from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division:
Iowa, as well as many other states, has adopted the federal Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code, which prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0.Examples of foods with a pH below 6.0 include vinegar, fruit juice, or wine. 
The pH of a traditional Moscow Mule is well below 6.0. This means that copper mugs that have a copper interior may not be used with this beverage. However, copper mugs lined on the interior with another metal, such as nickel or stainless steel, are allowed to be used and are widely available.
So it seems to me that the acidity of a Moscow Mule comes from the carbonation of the ginger beer and the lime. It's reasonable to me that it's below 6 (and somewhere in the pH 3-4) range. But the question that I have is what is the threshold for copper toxicity? Thanks to a report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, we have a sense:
Slightly higher thresholds for gastrointestinal symptoms were observed in two acute-duration repeated exposure studies in which subjects used a copper-containing water as their primary source of drinking water for 1 or 2 weeks (Pizarro et al. 1999, 2001). In the 2-week study, 60 women were given copper sulfate containing water to be used for drinking and cooking purposes. No significant alterations in serum biomarkers of liver damage (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, γ-glutamyl transferase) were observed in the subjects at the end of the study. An increased occurrence of nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain was observed when the women were exposed to 3 ppm copper as copper sulfate (0.0731 mg Cu/kg/day) (Pizarro et al. 1999); no significant increases in the incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms were noted at 1 ppm (0.0272 mg Cu/kg/day). Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain were also reported by women ingesting water containing 5 ppm (0.096 mg Cu/kg/day) as copper sulfate or copper oxide for 1 week (Pizarro et al. 2001). 
Would I be willing to bet there was less than 3 ppm copper in a Moscow Mule that had been sitting in an all-copper mug on the counter for more than an hour? Probably not.

(Aren't we done with the Moscow Mule trend? I feel like it peaked two years ago? I dunno, I'm a beer guy myself.) 

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Graduate student mental health and suicide in this week's C&EN

In this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, an important and sobering story by Jyllian Kemsley on the life and 2016 death by suicide of Anna Owensby, a 4th-year graduate student in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps in La Jolla, CA.

The story is long and convoluted enough that I hesitate to summarize it. It is worth reading in full, if only to understand who Anna Owensby was, the complex interplay between her and her advisers and the response of the institution to her situation, which ultimately ended with Scripps' removing her from their program, and her subsequent death by suicide.

I am still formulating all of my thoughts about this, but I will say this: I don't know about you, but I read about the 1998 death by suicide of Jason Altom when I was a graduate student in the mid-2000s, and it shocked me to my core. My department didn't have much in the way of mental health resources in the mid-2000s. It is plainly amazing to me that graduate research institutions are still playing catch-up in addressing the potential for mental health problems in their midst. (In the article, you can read a bit about both the University of Minnesota and Harvard's efforts to promote good mental health in their departments.)

I hope that this article will remind the academic chemistry community that this problem hasn't gone away. Read the whole thing. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Nickel spatulas

A list of small, useful things (links):
Again, an open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring you millions thousands hundreds tens of dollars joy and happiness. Send me a link to your post, and I'd be happy to put it up.

Have a great weekend! 

A retired pilot un-retires in Japan

NAGASAKI, Japan — Shigekazu Miyazaki is spending what should have been his retirement 25,000 feet in the air. 
Mr. Miyazaki, a pilot with nearly four decades’ experience at All Nippon Airways, Japan’s largest airline, left the carrier last year at its mandatory retirement age of 65. But rather than take up golf or fishing, Mr. Miyazaki since April has been piloting 39-seat propeller planes for Oriental Air Bridge, a tiny airline that connects the southwestern city of Nagasaki to a group of remote islands. 
“I never would have thought I’d still be flying at 65,” Mr. Miyazaki, who is trim and has a deep voice and a full head of gray hair, said before a recent flight. “But I’m still healthy, and I love to fly, so why not do it as long as I can?” 
A man in his seventh decade extending his commercial flying career still qualifies as a novelty in Japan — but maybe not for long. 
...Oriental Air Bridge had never hired a pilot Mr. Miyazaki’s age before, but, with skilled pilots in short supply nationwide, it has been expanding its recruiting.... Oriental Air Bridge pays him only about a third of his peak salary, but he says he does not mind.
This seems to me to be pretty textbook labor economics: if the labor pool is small and demand is high, employers start changing their hiring standards to select those workers they are willing to take on. In this particular case, it appears that Mr. Miyazaki is willing to take a pretty significant pay cut to keep flying (although I suspect that pilot pay has something to do with the size of the plane the pilot flies as well...)

Something tells me, though, that this sort of situation is relatively rare in chemistry, and the number of bench-level scientists who have been recruited back into the lab after their retirement is quite low. I know the story is different in academia, but I guess I am willing to be proven wrong in the comments. Readers, know of any cases where long-time bench-level scientists have been tempted back into the lab?  

Inaugural Pharma Leaders Symposium: August 21, 1 PM, ACS DC

From the inbox, an event at the DC national meeting: 
Calling all pharma-focused chemists! Attending the ACS national meeting in DC? You won’t want to miss the first Pharma Leaders conference symposium, “ACS Pharma Leaders: Working together to make a difference.” 
The symposium will be held from 1 to 4 PM on Aug. 21, 2017, in Room 146C of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. 
The symposium will continue discussions on topics central to the most recent ACS Pharma Leaders conference: neglected diseases, chemistry collaborations, and predictive science; AbbVie hosted the conference in October 2016. 
The annual ACS Pharma Leaders conference, which is co-organized by ACS Industry Member Programs and a different pharma company each year, convenes invited chemistry leaders in pharma, who explore possible collaborations on precompetitive and noncompetitive issues with the goal of accelerating drug development. 
Philip Kym of AbbVie, Catherine Peishoff (formerly of GSK), and Wendy Young of Genentech are organizers of the symposium, which will feature the following speakers: Richard Connell of Pfizer; Lisa Shewchuk of GlaxoSmithKline; Bradley Sherborne of Merck; Anil Vasudevan of AbbVie; Peter Warner of The Gates Foundation; and Dale Kempf of AbbVie.
 Sounds interesting - wish I was going! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 117 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 117 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start yet: 19 positions for the search term "process chemist" at Indeed, including a GMP process chemist position in Xenia, OH.

Your most bizarre in-person interview questions?

I'd rather face his curveball.
Credit: The Pitching Academy
From the inbox, a good question from a longtime reader and friend of the blog: 
I have prepared for all the common interview questions. Strengths, weaknesses, long-term career goals, etc. 
What interview questions have your readers been asked that they didn't think to prepare for? What were their surprising curveballs?
Great question. Been a few years since I've been an interviewer, but I remember one on-campus interviewer who asked me about my formative memories for each year of middle school. That was a weird one.

Readers?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to end up in jail for doing chemistry: do it in your apartment

Via random clickings on Twitter, the case of Chase Coble, a Kansas community college chemistry student who finds himself on the business end of a 66 month prison sentence for aggravated arson (article by John Green of The Hutchinson News): 
A judge on Friday sentenced the Hutchinson college student convicted of aggravated arson for starting a fire while conducting chemical experiments in his Plaza Towers apartment to serve more than five years in prison. 
District Judge Trish Rose denied a defense motion to grant Chase Coble probation in the case, or to cut his sentence to just four years, stating the grounds the defense offered were insufficient to grant a sentencing departure.
In case you were wondering, he was hit with the charge of aggravated arson because the apartment building he was doing the experiment in was occupied. It's interesting to read the affidavit from the local police department and their concerns about what he was up to (from another Hutchinson News article):
Among chemicals in the apartment were bags of ammonia, potassium permanganate, saltpeter, sulfur, sodium EDTA, toluene, bleach, methyl ethyl ketone, acetone, camping fuel, vinegar, charcoal, and muriatic, hydrochloric and sulfuric acid. 
All those items, ATF Agent Neal Tierney, a certified explosives specialist, advised investigators, can be used to make homemade explosives.
(A bag of ammonia?) Bizarrely, the student was doing some kind of research project:
“He said he was trying to bond metal and plastic components to create a new type of metallic/plastic material for conductivity in computer components,” the affidavit stated.
What a strange story. It's a shame that he could not have found his way to a local research university laboratory rather than risking life and property running experiments in his apartment.

(Surely home chemists on the interwebz have some advice as to how to avoid Mr. Coble's fate and still conduct chemical experiments in their residence?) 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Skype interviews are not going away

Credit: Prof. David Cahill
Via Jeff Moore on Twitter, a fantastic presentation by Prof. David Cahill of UIUC's Department of Material Sciences and Engineeering on his thoughts on faculty hiring. If you're a faculty candidate, you should really read the whole thing.

I'm still bothered by the rise in Skype interviews (you can't tell me that you're not influenced by staring at someone's face for 30 minutes on a screen), but I think they are here to stay (and have been for ~5 years now.)

It will be interesting to think about what kind of second- and third-order effects this change will have on the job market.... 

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles from this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Friday, July 28, 2017

View From Your Hood: sunrise glassware edition

Credit: Sam Drew
"Sunrise at UC Irvine", by Sam Drew

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption and preference for name/anonymity, please) at chemjobber@gmail.com; will run every other Friday.) 

Where are all the 40-50 year olds in manufacturing?

Via the weekly dose of pain that is my Google Alert for "skills gap", this article is a classic of the genre. It is a writeup of the Critical Skills Gap Awareness Summit that was held in Centralia, IL last week. There is the typical comments about how employers are finding it difficult to find employees (probably true) and then some truly top-notch bemoaning of the available workforce: 
...The Human Resources Manager at Nascote Industries Jeff Dahlquist says they seek out those who want to return home or stay in the area. He's looking at having to replace a quarter of their maintenance staff who are over 55 years of age. 
"We continue to get more and more technical in our jobs. What we're finding out from some of the young folks coming in that technology is just an extension of their arm. They learn that part of it really quick. It's the problem solving skills and the ability to get your hands dirty and willingness to get your hands dirty that is much of the key," said Dahlquist. 
The President of Jarco in Salem Tracy Timmerman says they stayed in Salem because of the company's work force, but are now looking to have replace those in their 50's and 60's who grew up in the business. 
"You don't have the farming kids out there that know how to fix anything coming off the farm and coming into industry anymore. You are starting at a lower level. It's not an insult, it's just the fact. The people coming in know how to use their iPhone and they know how to play their video games, but they don't know what size a 9/16th wrench is. It's a different world that we live in," said Timmerman. 
The lead instructor and employment counselor at the Southern Illinois Carpenters Apprenticeship Program Kenny Rose says their workforce is also getting older and he's not finding a lot of interest among younger people...
I could tee off about the crack about farming kids and their iPhones, but we'll just let that slide. Instead... where the $$%# are the 40 year olds? This is the thing about every organization that complains about having to replace 50 and 60 year old people: where are the 40 and 50 year olds that you should have been training up to replace them? Your problem didn't start last week - it started 10 years ago.

The answer, of course, is probably the result of the Great Recession and overall changes in rural economies. But week after week, I read the same articles written in the same big city and small town papers, and it's companies bemoaning the retirement of senior workers. What the heck, folks? Don't you watch the NFL draft? They draft people every year! There's a reason for that!

Sorry, folks, I got a little crazy there - hope you have a great weekend. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 107 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 107 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! (soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start yet: 19 positions for the search term "process chemist" at Indeed.

Well-paid tech jobs are concentrating

Via US News, an interesting set of data from Indeed: 
Through the first half of 2017, more than a quarter of America's job openings in tech were located in just eight major metropolitan areas, according to new research that also suggests the bulk of the industry's highest-paying jobs are consolidating around just a handful of cities across the country. 
Jed Kolko, chief economist at employment hub Indeed, on Tuesday unveiled new research digging into tech employment in America. It showed just eight metro areas – those centered around San Jose, California; the District of Columbia; Baltimore; Seattle; Raleigh, North Carolina; San Francisco; Austin, Texas; and Boston – accounted for 27 percent of all tech job postings during the first half of the year. 
Comparatively, that same group accounted for just 13 percent of all job postings across the country. Yet in some sense, Kolko indicated, that tech-heavy concentration is unsurprising, given the same cities accounted for 26.5 percent of tech job openings back in 2013.
The Wall Street Journal's headline was even more to the point: "The Best $100,000+ Tech Jobs Are Increasingly Concentrated in Just 8 Cities."

(How did Baltimore rate? Spillover from D.C.?)

I think what Kolko has to say in his original blog post rings remarkably true:
Higher-salary technology occupations are becoming increasingly concentrated, while lower-salary technology jobs are dispersing slightly to the rest of the country. In this sense, the US technology jobs landscape is becoming more unequal—yet another example of how the country is becoming increasingly differentiated and polarized. 
 I have zero doubt the same trends are true of chemistry. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

15 things never to say to an assistant professor

Thanks to Twitter, a small list:
  1. "So, when are you going up for tenure?"
  2. "Nice Civic." (by Ash)
  3. "So how is teaching?" (by Shane Caldwell) 
  4. "It must be nice getting the entire summer off. What do you do with all that free time?" (by Andre)
  5. "When's your next grant application due?" 
  6. "That whole publish-or-perish thing is just a myth, yeah?"
  7. "You only teach one class each semester? What do you do with rest of your time?" (by Andre)
  8. "Student evaluations don't mean much, do they?"
  9. "But the school pays for your kid to go to college, right?" 
  10. "How's that tenure package coming?" 
  11. "So what happens if you don't get tenure?" (by gingerest)
  12. "So...my tax dollars pay your salary? Makes me your boss I guess hahahahahaha" (by John) 
  13. "Wait, you get paid how much?" (by John) 
  14. "So what do you do during summer break?" 
  15. "So what happens when you don't get tenure?" (by Andre)

What is the historical funding level for organic synthesis?

Also in this week's C&EN, a really great article by Tien Nguyen covering the 2018 National Organic Symposium, held in Davis, CA. There are some really great anecdotes in the article (including Wender's joke about deprotection, which is a classic (I feel)), but I thought this was worth highlighting: 
Prompted by these remarks, Robert Lees, a program manager at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences who oversees synthetic organic chemistry grants, commented that several of the speakers so far felt the need to defend the field of organic chemistry and asked, “Where is this feeling that you’re under attack coming from?” 
Lees wondered if the feeling of threat stems from worries about funding for organic research. From his perspective at NIGMS, he said that synthesis isn’t facing any more stress than other scientific disciplines and that he hopes that chemistry students aren’t going to other areas out of fear of a lack of funding opportunities. 
Kozlowski responded by reiterating her sentiments about the need for organic research and stressed to the student attendees, “I think there’s miles of open space.” 
Although Baran wasn’t present for the exchange, he told C&EN that he disagrees with Lees and emphasized that there aren’t nearly as many institutions funding pure synthesis as there are institutions funding fields like biology.
This is not the only time that Professor Baran has expressed sentiments that chemistry is disproportionately underfunded (my words, not his) compared to other fields. Here, you have a subject matter expert (Robert Lees) who disagrees with him.

I guess that we need a historical comparison of both NIH and NSF funding for basic molecular biology compared to synthetic organic chemistry in order to falsify the Baran hypothesis - I wonder if it is even possible to put this data together?  

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Friday, July 21, 2017

UNH: "Experience must include 4 years of post-doctoral research experience in the field of Organic Chemistry"

When I am looking at faculty jobs postings, I am usually just entering the facts (department, geography, subfield.) It usually takes a lot to make me notice the fine details, especially when the boilerplate is mostly the same. This ad from UNH-Durham was a little different:
Summary of Position
Within the Department of Chemistry in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of New Hampshire, the candidate will teach undergraduate courses in organic chemistry as well as graduate courses, including organic synthesis, and to develop new courses. The faculty member will be responsible for maintaining a productive program of research and scholarship in the field of organic chemistry, and organic synthesis and its applications to problems in chemical biology (e.g. biological catalysis, structural biology, biomaterials or other related areas). Will also advise and mentor undergraduate and graduate level students. 
Acceptable Minimum Qualifications
Candidates must possess a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry. Experience must include 4 years of post-doctoral research experience in the field of Organic Chemistry (emphasis CJ's) and at least one academic year of post-secondary teaching experience pre or post Ph.D. Demonstrated research experience with publications in peer-reviewed journals is required. 
Documents Needed to Apply 
Required Documents
Resume/Vita
4 years?!?! Chemists aren't biologists!

Twitter chatter has strongly speculated this is an internal candidate; Andre astutely notes the resume/vita requirement seems a bit thin.

Can I make a suggestion to the broader world, or at least the chemistry community? When you have an internal candidate and you're 98%+ sure that you're hiring that guy, but the HR department still makes you post the ad, I would really suggest that the hiring contact's name be Don T. Bother. That would save a lot of time for everyone involved.  

A hiring manager's lament

From the pages of the New York Times, the owner of a PR firm laments the online application system: 
It’s not that my postings on Indeed, LinkedIn and other career sites weren’t explicit in outlining desired qualifications. I added instructions urging candidates to contact us only if they had backgrounds in journalism, P.R. or law. There was nothing to suggest I was looking for a fiscal benefits analyst, emergency medical technician or brand ambassador, but they showed up anyway. 
...I’m all for people crossing the professional divide. America’s work force is going through tumult, as even the superskilled see their jobs eliminated or made obsolete by technology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a steady decline in the average tenure of wage and salaried workers — most recently at 4.2 years, down from 4.6 in 2014.... 
...Perhaps that’s why so many showcased accomplishments that sounded machine-made, as in “liaise with field managers to create metric reports in line with KPIs.” There were also digital marketers lauding their ability to “increase channel awareness and implement impactful distribution modes to engage target audiences.” I was more drawn to the waitress who described her duties with the clarity of E. B. White: “Explain dishes on menu to patrons and make recommendations; take orders and relay them to kitchen; calculate meal costs and add taxes to final bill.” She was elevated to the “maybe” pile.
Lowering the barrier to application has been an interesting side effect of the digital age - I wonder if wrong-headed applications happened during the typewriter-and-envelope days. 

(The writer makes a good point that if you're applying for a position with an unusual background, it is up to you to convince the reader that your differences will be helpful. That's a difficult thing sometimes, but I think that it can be doable...) 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 104 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 104 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start yet: 18 positions for the search term "process chemist" at Indeed, including this night-shift (?) position at Alcami in Germantown, WI.

Family-run businesses

I was rather amused by this New York Times story about a Wild West theme park that a family is trying to sell without a lot of success: 
UNION, Ill. — It’s not easy selling a Wild West Town theme park located 60 miles northwest of Chicago, as Larry and Helene Donley have discovered. 
The octogenarian couple have run the place for 43 years and are finally ready to retire. But their sons, Randy and Mike, who are in their early 60s and have helped manage it, are keen for other challenges.... 
There is a hitch, however: The elder Donleys don’t want someone to change the property into, say, a concert space, as a potential buyer once suggested. Ideally, they want things to continue in their current Howdy Doody-esque form, right down to the gold-panning pavilion, the live action Wild West show, and kiddie rides on the 19th-century miniature locomotive. 
...The current asking price is $7 million, but Larry Donley has turned away people who didn’t seem willing or likely to preserve it as is.... 
...Such is the difficulty of selling a family heirloom business that no one else in the family really wants to run. 
Does this frustrate the younger generations? They say no, and insist they are committed to operating the park until they find that elusive buyer. “The park was never our dream,” Randy, the younger son, said of himself and his brother, who auction antique phonographs, jukeboxes and other 20th-century Americana as their principal occupation. As for their father, however, “He really believes that that person is out there.” 
As with many amusement parks, the bulk of the revenue — some of it from the $17-a-person admission — has to come in between May and the end of October. Mike Donley wouldn’t discuss financial details, but he said the park had earned the family enough to sustain three generations over the decades. Mike and Randy Donley both say it is profitable.
I left my other wallet in the other room, so I don't think I have the spare seven million dollars to buy the place, but it is interesting to me how difficult it is for families to pass a business from one generation to the next. It's also interesting how difficult it is, when children want to learn the family business, for them to actually do it in at the same level of success as their parents.)

I don't think there are a lot of family-owned chemical businesses out there that are salable at the moment, but if I had seven million dollars....

Daily Pump Trap: 7/20/17 edition

A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs:

Rocket Center, WV: Orbital ATK is hiring:
Orbital ATK’s Missile Products Division has exciting opportunity for a Scientist located at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory near Cumberland, MD.  This position will support the development and manufacture of propellant, explosive and adhesive formulations for rocket motor and warhead programs.
B.S. with 0-10 years experience energetics, adhesives or other chemistry field desired; M.S./Ph.D. preferred.

Madison, WI: Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals is looking for a director of analytical development. M.S./Ph.D. desired, 8-15 years experience.

Kenilworth, NJ: Interesting position with the Merck Sterile Formulation Sciences unit, working on "biophysical and biochemical characterization of biotherapeutics, such as complex proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and derived modalities." M.S./Ph.D. desired, 4-8 years experience desired.

Also at Kenilworth, Merck is looking for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. chromatographer to work on formulation development.

Kalamazoo, MI: Man, I feel like Kalsec has been looking for an "executive director of manufacturing" for a very long time. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 7/20/17 edition

A few of the academic positions posted at C&EN Jobs:

Philadelphia, PA: The School of Medicine is searching for an assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics ("including but not limited to cryo-EM, advanced imaging and spectroscopic methods, proteomics/ metabolomics, chemical biology, and other biophysical or computational approaches as applied to biomedical research.")

Davis, CA: University of California - Davis is looking for an assistant or associate professor of NMR spectroscopy.

Bellingham, WA: Western Washington University is hiring an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard's Origins of Life Initiative is looking for postdocs.

Medford, MA: Tufts is looking for two synthetic postdocs.

Last minute professor: Touro College (New York, NY) is looking for an assistant/associate professor of organic chemistry for fall 2017. Chop-chop! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"I'm a chemist"

I had a very lovely experience recently talking to some new neighbors. After introducing myself and talking about our children, that moment that you all have been a part of arrived:
Neighbor: What do you do?
CJ: I am a chemist.
Neighbor: [acting impressed] oh!
CJ: [looks a little sheepish] so what brings you to Forest City? 
It's not like it was a showstopper - just a funny moment in the conversation where I wish that I had something to draw people in and get them to talk about chemistry.

I try not to make it a very big deal; I am very happy to talk chemistry and Why I Love It. But I wish I knew a way to say "I am a chemist" without it being intimidating? off-putting? Maybe I should say it different? "I work in chemistry"? "I help make the drugs that save your life" (I HATE that tack) "I am a scientist"? 

Readers, what do you do in this situation? 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 34 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 34 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Try the open thread.

Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

Could the faculty of yesteryear compete today?

Via Twitter, an interesting comment from a graduate student: 
"A successful, well-known chemist admitted that they probably wouldn't have been hired tenure-track today."
That's not the first time I've heard senior professors express such a comment, so I threw it out there on Twitter:
To senior professors among chemTweeps:  
Did you hear your elders say "I wouldn't have been qualified today" back when you were younger?
I thought the most thoughtful answer came from friend-of-the-blog Chris Cramer:
you know, it's more subtle than it sounds. when a senior faculty member says that, it's not really a "gosh, kids are smarter nowadays"  
it's more recognition that the "frontiers" of the field have moved (as they must) so that OUR proposals from xx years ago would now be / routine and uncompetitive. In addition, the graphical and word processing tools have advanced enormously, so the quality of proposals /and presentations is dramatically changed relative to, say, 20 yrs ago.  
I have no doubt that there has been a general climb in the qualifications needed to become an assistant professor over the years. However, it's not clear to me that anyone has any statistical data (yet!) on this issue. Readers, what do you think? Are we experiencing qualification creep? Have you seen it? When will it end?  

Friday, July 14, 2017

View from Your Hood: Beebe Lake, Ithaca, NY edition

From Anonymous: "Not exactly the view from the window but very close."

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption, please) at chemjobber@gmail.com; will run every other Friday.) 

The costs of academic science workers

This is a very enjoyable summary of a recent speech by minor-deity-of-the-blog Paula Stephan, written by Ken Chiacchia. It's a continuation of the themes she has written about in her book "How Economics Shapes Science." I think the comparison of the cost of graduate students, postdocs and staff scientists is interesting: 
The issue is stark in the decision of whether to employ graduate students, postdoctoral fellows or staff scientists to conduct lab research. Nationally, graduate students average a stipend of about $26,000 annually; in addition, they represent approximately an additional $16,000 or more for tuition and other student costs. Their hourly “pay rate,” then, can be between $19.50 and $27.50. 
Postdoctoral fellows are paid more. But they also have no tuition costs and at most universities have few additional benefits. Assuming a university follows the NIH benchmark of $43,692 for a first-year postdoc, their hourly rate comes to around $17 to $18, depending on the field. 
Staff scientists start at about $60,000 to $75,000, coming out to an hourly rate of about $30.00. But that doesn’t reflect their full cost, which includes much more extensive benefits than students or postdocs. 
Given this incentive structure, Stephan explained, it isn’t hard to understand the relative scarcity of staff scientists. Her own study found that at least 72 percent of academic research papers had postdocs or grad students as their first author. In the NSF’s annual survey, life science PhD graduates with definite job commitments have fallen from a peak of 70% in 1994 to 58% in 2014—and most of those are going to postdoc positions, not permanent jobs.
Stephan really believes in the ameliorative power of staff scientists, but that's because she believes that the best way to deal with the problem of "too many Ph.D.s" is to raise their price. She's an economist, so that's the tool for creating scarcity. (Makes sense, I gotta say.)

I am very curious, though, what the differences in output are between institutions that are student/postdoc heavy and those that are staffed by staff scientists. In addition, I am curious as to if the nature of the output changes, i.e. if the science gets more or less interesting, or more or less innovative. I have no idea what the outcome might be - readers?  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 92 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 92 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start yet: 17 positions for the search term "process chemist" at Indeed, including this Gelest process position in Morrisville, PA (needs: "Able to operate or learn to operate a forklift"), and this polymer? position in Berkeley with a small startup. 

The wrong way to make a little cash

Via Twitter, an unfortunate story of insider trading from an unusual sector of society: 
BOSTON (Reuters) - A research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was arrested on Wednesday on charges that he engaged in insider trading based on information he obtained from his wife, a corporate lawyer working on a deal involving a mining company. 
Fei Yan, 31, was arrested in Massachusetts after federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused him of trading last year on inside information about South Africa's Sibanye Gold Ltd planned $2.2 billion acquisition of Stillwater Mining. 
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a related lawsuit accused Yan of netting $120,000 by placing trades ahead of the Stillwater deal and another merger based on information he obtained from his wife, an associate at a corporate law firm.... 
...Yan, a citizen of China, had been employed as a post-doctoral associate in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics, according to Kimberly Allen, a spokeswoman for MIT. She referred further comments to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan. 
He was charged in a criminal complaint with securities fraud and wire fraud. Following a hearing in federal court in Boston, Yan was released on a $500,000 unsecured bond....
You know, I knew a couple of folks who traded equities in graduate school, but, for the most part, no one in graduate school has any information that is really worth trading on. It's not like your latest NMR result is going to affect the value of any corporation by any significant amount (in school, anyway.)

(A small side debate: on Twitter, a respected follower (and longtime reader of the blog) and I were pondering whether or not it was more likely that wealthy people or non-wealthy people were most likely to be caught, prosecuted or convicted by federal authorities for insider trading. I feel like it's more likely that the small fry are the ones who are caught, but my interlocutor felt that it was the wealthy folks who attracted more prosecutorial attention. Readers, what say you? Are there any relevant studies on this issue?) 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Better start getting ready for Professor Jones' seminar

Re: Professor Jones

Dear Seminar Chair:

Below is a rider containing provisions to assure you of a smooth and professional seminar presentation by Professor F.M. Jones. All provisions are spelled out in great detail in order to prevent any misunderstandings and to present to your students and faculty the finest in contemporary chemistry seminars.

Any immediate questions can be answered by calling Jones Group Productions at (302) 313-6257.

All provisions must be adhered to strictly. Please feel free to contact us at any time should there be any questions.

Looking forward to a successful visit.

Sincerely,

Sharon Schaps, Group Secretary

With apologies to Edward Lodewijk Van Halen

Manufacturing firms employ over 60% of R&D scientists and engineers in industry.

Also in this week's C&EN, an interesting short summary by Michael McCoy of a recent NBER paper:
Companies need scientists for R&D, of course, but a new study finds that U.S. manufacturing companies seeking high productivity and earnings should consider hiring scientists for jobs other than R&D as well.
The paper (by Barth et al.) included this fascinating set of statistics about industrial employment of scientists:
We focus on manufacturing for three reasons. First, manufacturing is a lead sector in productivity growth. Between 1990 and 2016 the average annual rate of labor productivity increased at 3.5% per year in manufacturing compared to 2.0% in the entire economy. Second, industrial R&D and employment of scientists and engineers is disproportionately concentrated in manufacturing. While manufacturing establishments employ 10% of the work force in industry, they employ 20% of scientists and engineers in industry, and manufacturing firms employ over 60% of R&D scientists and engineers in industry.
Curious to know the trend in employment over the last 26 years, and if the R&D intensity of those manufacturing firms has gone up or down. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 19 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 19 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Try the open thread.

Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

Monday, July 10, 2017

This week's C&EN

A few articles from this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Friday, July 7, 2017

24/40 stoppers

A list of small, useful things (links):
Again, an open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring you millions thousands hundreds tens of dollars joy and happiness. Send me a link to your post, and I'd be happy to put it up.

Have a great weekend! 

Job posting: field application scientist position in Europe

From the inbox via friend of the blog Philip Skinner, a position with Perkin Elmer Informatics in Europe:
The role of the Research Informatics Field Application Scientist is to maximize PerkinElmer’s commercial success within EMEA by specializing in products that emphasize PerkinElmer’s Informatics capabilities. 
The individual will work with the regional marketing team to promote world-class products by packaging, positioning and promoting throughout the Field Sales organization in aim to increase PerkinElmer’s market share.  
Requirements: 
  • Ph.D. or M.S. (with experience) in chemistry, preferably in the physical/material sciences domain
  • Substantial use of computers & scientific applications are required
  • 5+ years’ experience in (a) customer facing role(s) is required
Full posting here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Anyone getting any swanky bonuses these days?

From the inbox, an interesting Bloomberg article on the broad job market (emphasis mine):
While headhunters can get lofty retainers for executive positions, a 16-year low unemployment rate and a record-high number of job openings are turning workers across all sorts of industries -- from construction to trucking to software engineering -- into hot commodities. The need is so dire that employers are handing out large signing bonuses, giving second looks to people with blemishes on their resumes and reaching out to professional recruiters more than ever. 
The numbers show why that’s the case: There were 1.17 unemployed job seekers for every vacancy in April, the second-lowest ratio in data going back to 2000. That compares with a post-recession peak of 6.65 people per job opening in July 2009. Revenue for U.S. search-and-placement services rose to $21.9 billion in 2016, almost triple the level in 2009, according to estimates from the American Staffing Association.
So. Anyone getting signing bonuses these days? Big Pharma handing out bonuses to new Ph.D. chemists these days? Let's have it.

(I'm going guess yes? But maybe I'm wrong. I presume that regional competition (within Boston or San Francisco) is quite high, but not particularly strong elsewhere.) 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 126 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 126 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! (soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

How best to evaluate a medicinal chemist?

From the inbox, an interesting request from a small company as to how best to evaluate potential medicinal chemists. They're looking for an experience chemist to perform lead development.

I'm not a medicinal chemist, so I don't feel qualified to answer this. I presume that more than 5-10 years experience in medicinal chemistry is important, as well as a track record of successfully shepherding compounds from hit-to-lead and from lead to pre-clinical candidate.

That's about all I have. Readers, surely you have some better advice than mine? 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 121 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 121 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

14 thoughts during a teleconference

Thought with one's mental mute button on: 
I've been abducted by a UFO-shaped object
in a conference room. Credit: Wired
  1. I love our customer, I'm so happy to talk to them.  
  2. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
  3. Who organized this call? Why I am here? 
  4. I hate the voice of the WebEx lady.
  5. Don't click the wrong button, don't click the wrong button...
  6. This Muzak is terrible. 
  7. Can people hear rolled eyes for a thousand miles away? 
  8. Don't hit the "share screen" button while you are browsing ESPN...
  9. I am going to kill whoever put me on this project.
  10. What I am doing with my life? Is this call worth it? 
  11. I HATE our customer.
  12. Oh, crap, I think I was supposed to be saying something here.
  13. There's that guy again - I can't wait for him to stop talking. 
  14. He's gonna ask for another teleconference, isn't he?