Friday, September 20, 2019

Dibromochloropropane sterilizes men?

Well, this is an interesting story: 
Now, some survivors and their families are suing three big chemical makers in France to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid damages awarded to them by courts in Nicaragua, where many of the poisonings of banana workers occurred. If successful, the case could set a legal precedent and lead to more lawsuits in France for harm done in other countries by the pesticide Nemagon.
Further down in the article:
The chemical dibromochloropropane, or DBCP, an active ingredient in Nemagon, was banned in most of the United States in 1977 after it was found to have caused sterility among thousands of male workers who were exposed to it at Dow, Shell and Occidental plants across America. Food growers based in the United States continued to use Nemagon through the early 1980s at banana and pineapple plantations in countries with lower environmental standards, according to lawsuits filed in Nicaragua and elsewhere. 
It's hard to imagine than such an innocuous looking molecule has such side effects, but it apparently does. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Daily Pump Trap: 9/18/19 edition

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

Kalamazoo, MI: Kalsec looking for a senior scientist to work on antioxidants.

Newark, DE: FMC is looking for a MS/PhD analytical chemist (MS: 7-10 yrs exp., PhD: 3-5 yrs) to be a crop and livestock residue chemist.

Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory chemistry postdocs for its Linus Pauling Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship program.

West Point, PA: (via Twitter) The Merck 2020 Computational and Structural Chemistry internships across all sites in computational chemistry, cheminformatics, structure (xray, cryo) and protein design/expression.

Remote positions represent: (via Twitter) USPTO is hiring patent examiners. 

13 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 13 new positions for September 14.

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 26 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 26 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The funniest obit you will read today

Via Twitter, a very funny obituary:
Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, "generally well-lived and with few regrets." When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that "your father is a very sick man," in unison they replied, "you have no idea." 
I noticed this interesting line:
Joe was a self-taught chemist and worked at Cheeseborough-Ponds* where he developed one of their first cosmetics' lines.
I imagine that the number of employed 'self-taught chemists' has fallen quite a bit over the years in the United States. It would be interesting to know the number of production operators and technicians that have moved into research, formulation and testing laboratories in the American chemical manufacturing industry, and what the overall trend has been. Having worked with a couple of these folks, I value their experience, but I suspect their numbers are few and far between these days.

Rest in peace, Mr. Heller. (If you haven't had a chance, read the obituary - it's genuinely funny and warm-hearted in a way that I aspire my own obituary (and life) to achieve.)

*context here

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 290 research/teaching positions, 7 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 290 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On September 18, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 278 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

Postdoctoral position: chiral organofluorine chemistry, Le Lab, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

From the inbox, a postdoc at the University of New Mexico: 
The Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at the University of New Mexico is looking for a candidate to be hired as a Postdoctoral Research Associate working in the laboratory of Dr. Christine Le. The successful candidate will develop catalytic methods to synthesize chiral organofluorine compounds. Experience with mentoring graduate students and undergraduate students is preferred. It will also be their responsibility to maintain some of the lab instruments and ensure compliance with environmental, health and safety requirements.
Full ad here (apply there as well.) 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 31 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 31 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% growth in chemists for 2018-28 period

Credit: Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its biennial projections of job growth for the next 8 years, which include their projections for the growth of chemists. A few comments:
  • Most importantly, they have revised the overall occupational growth for the 2018-2028 decade down to 5% from 7% for the 2016-2026 period. I find that quite concerning. 
  • The expected increase in the number of chemists is 5% for the 2018-28 time period, which is slightly lower than the 6% number for 2016-2026. 
  • Also, the absolute number of chemists has been adjusted down from 88300 for the 2016 period to 87700 for 2018. 
I don't actually think this is cause for too much alarm for chemists in particular, in the sense that I imagine that these downward trends are more reflective of their overall projections for the trajectory of all employment growth in the US workforce than any particular problems within employers of chemists. At the same time, we would all hope for higher numbers than lower ones. 

I think that we have seen a warmer employment market for younger and mid-career chemists over these past two or three years, and I think it is interesting to not see that really reflected in these numbers. It would be interesting to know if the seemingly more active employment market for chemists is illusory, or I am missing trends in retirements. 

The number of chemistry professors (also known as "postsecondary teachers, chemistry" for the Bureau of Labor Statistics) will see a 6% growth over the 2018-28 period. Interestingly, they project growth of just 2000 new professors (4-year schools) during that time frame. If (a big if!) the ~500 or so that we see from the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List is an accurate number as well, then perhaps we are seeing the retirement numbers play a significant role in the overall growth in jobs? (i.e. every year, we're adding 400 or so new professors, but we're also seeing 200 or so retire?) Or, it's entirely possible that neither of these numbers are particularly accurate? Hard to say. 

Overall, not too much bad news, just kinda moving sideways...

Friday, September 13, 2019

Advice on age discrimination

From the New York Times, some advice:
So what is an older person who still has bills to pay supposed to do? Even seemingly tiny changes can help. Ms. McCann’s advice: Keep up with trends in résumé-writing (for example, opening with a career objective is passé, she says); emphasize your technological skills to the point of overkill; develop a social-media presence. 
Leave graduation dates and other giveaways off your résumé so you’re not making it easy for employers to reject you. Some online hiring platforms won’t allow you to move through the system without including those dates — which AARP has asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to address — so avoid them whenever possible. And everyone can take a lesson from New York: Bite back when someone makes prejudicial assumptions or treats you unfairly at work!
I'm not to the point where I have to worry about age discrimination, but I know it's coming sooner rather than later....

This week's C&EN

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Daily Pump Trap: 9/12/19 edition

Some of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs:

Wilmington, NC: Celanese looking for a process chemist (B.S., 8+ years experience), sulfur, polymer chemistry experience. 

Baltimore, MD: Avidea Technologies looking for a director of chemistry (PhD, 10+ years).

Darien, IL: The Hallstar Company is looking for a MS chemist (5 yrs exp+) for a position working on applied suncare research.

Ledgewood, NJ:  Vertellus seeking a colloid chemist (Ph.D., 5-10 years), Experience working in lubricant, glass sizing or personal care industries.

Grand Forks, ND: USDA postdoc, looks to be applications of mass spectrometry towards biomedical/nutritional assays.

Los Alamos, NM: LANL searching for a postdoc for novel explosive synthesis.

62 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 14 new positions for September 9, 18 for September 7, 8 for September 5 and 22 for September 1.

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 26 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 26 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Warning Letter of the Week: pre-approved batch records

A missive from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the President of Enprani Co., Ltd. in Seoul, South Korea (emphasis mine) 
2. Your firm failed to establish an adequate quality control unit with the responsibility and authority to approve or reject all components, drug product containers, closures, in-process materials, packaging materials, labeling, and drug products (21 CFR 211.22(a)). 
During the inspection, our investigator observed that your quality unit (QU) lacks adequate oversight for the manufacture of your OTC [redacted] drug products. For example:
  • Your QU failed to review entire batch records, including raw data and calculations for accuracy, before making appropriate release determination.
  • Your batch records were pre-printed as “approved” indicating the assay results were in specification, even before these values are recorded.
  • Label review and line clearance were not performed and documented in batch production and control records.
Pre-printing approvals - how come I never thought of that? 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 254 research/teaching positions, 7 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 254 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On September 11, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 242 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 20 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 20 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Employers being more flexible about hiring the disabled?

ROUND ROCK, Tex. — When Kate Cosway completed her master’s degree in 2014, her résumé drew plenty of interest, but she rarely advanced far in the hiring process. She was pretty sure she knew why: She is on the autism spectrum and struggles in traditional interviews. 
Her luck finally turned this summer when she landed a 12-week internship at Dell Technologies, which this month will turn into a full-time job working on automation in the company’s audit department. 
A year ago, Ms. Cosway probably wouldn’t have been hired at Dell, either. But last year, the Texas company started a program aimed at hiring people with autism.... 
...With the national unemployment rate now flirting with a 50-year low, companies are increasingly looking outside the traditional labor force for workers. They are offering flexible hours and work-from-home options to attract stay-at-home parents, full-time students and recent retirees. They are making new accommodations to open up jobs to people with disabilities. They are dropping educational requirements, waiving criminal background checks and offering training to prospective workers who lack necessary skills. 
Those policies are having an effect. In recent months, nearly three-quarters of people who have become newly employed have come from outside the labor force — meaning they hadn’t even been looking for jobs. The share of adults who are working is now the highest in more than a decade, after adjustments are made for the aging population....
Readers, have you found employers in the chemical and pharmaceutical space to be more flexible, either around disability or other issues? I personally haven't seen a lot of evidence of that, even as I note the number of industrial employers insisting on postdoctoral fellowships seemingly dropping.

What are you seeing? 

Money for psychedelic compound research

Not often you see a microsyringe in the New York Times
credit: Bettmann/Corbis/NYT
Via the New York Times, interesting new philanthropy: 
The announcement on Wednesday that Johns Hopkins Medicine was starting a new center to study psychedelic drugs for mental disorders was the latest chapter in a decades-long push by health nonprofits and wealthy donors to shake up psychiatry from the outside, bypassing the usual channels. 
“Psychiatry is one of the most conservative specialties in medicine,” said David Nichols, a medicinal chemist who founded the Heffter Research Institute in 1993 to fund psychedelic research. “We haven’t really had new drugs for years, and the drug industry has quit the field because they don’t have new targets” in the brain. “The field was basically stagnant, and we needed to try something different.” 
The fund-raising for the new Johns Hopkins center was largely driven by the author and investor Tim Ferriss, who said in a telephone interview that he had put aside most of his other projects to advance psychedelic medicine... 
...Mr. Ferriss provided funds for a similar center at Imperial College London, which was introduced in April, and for individual research projects at the University of San Francisco, California, testing psilocybin as an aide to therapy for distress in long-term AIDS patients....
This is cool, here's hoping something comes of it. (When will antibiotics get a really passionate billionaire? (Yes, I know that Bill Gates does a little bit.)) 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Vitamin E acetate is bad actor in vaping illnesses?

Health officials in New York State said on Thursday that they are investigating a possible cause of a recent surge in severe vaping-related illnesses: a compound called vitamin E acetate. 
The state Department of Health said in a news release that “very high levels” of the compound had been found in 13 samples from eight of 34 patients who have gotten ill in New York. The samples were analyzed as part of an investigation by the Wadsworth Center, a state laboratory. 
This finding by no means ends the search for what is causing the illnesses, particularly given that vitamin E acetate has not been confirmed as a factor in the majority of cases in which patients have gotten sick in New York. 
...“As a result, vitamin E acetate is now a key focus of the Department’s investigation of potential causes of vaping-associated pulmonary illnesses,” New York State said in its release. “Vitamin E acetate is a commonly available nutritional supplement that is not known to cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, the Department continues to investigate its health effects when inhaled because its oil-like properties could be associated with the observed symptoms.”
I'm glad they are getting close to blaming it on one specific chemical... 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Were you ever asked to pay for broken laboratory equipment?

Credit
An interesting query from Twitter:
A friend post doc-ing in the US told me that they were going to have to fund some replacement glassware that they broke. Is this normal?
I have broken lots of glassware, and I was never once asked to pay for the broken items by a PI. I've never heard of this. Readers, have you ever had:
  • a PI ask you to pay for 
    • a broken piece of a equipment 
    • when you were either an undergraduate, graduate student or a postdoc in an university research lab 
    • in the United States? 
  • If so, what were the circumstances? Did you pay up? 
(Is this illegal? I'm sure there are rules about this sort of thing, albeit poorly enforced ones. Also, there is the classic "is the postdoc an employee" question...)

Readers, please comment.

This week's C&EN

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 216 research/teaching positions, 7 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 216 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On September 4, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 201 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 15 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 15 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day!



To my American readers, a very happy Labor Day to you and your family. To people in the rest of the world, happy Monday! Back tomorrow.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Chemical Activity Barometer Is Slightly Down In August

WASHINGTON (August 27, 2019) – The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), fell 0.1 percent in August on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a similar drop in July and four months of gains. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer was flat at 0.0 percent (3MMA). 
The unadjusted measure of the CAB fell 0.5 percent in August after a 0.1 percent gain in July. The diffusion index was 59 percent in August. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for July was revised upward by 0.58 points and that for June by 0.62 points. 
“A pattern of fluctuating CAB readings – months up followed by months down – indicates late-cycle activity,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “The barometer signals gains in U.S. commerce into early 2020, but at a slow pace, while rising volatility suggests change may be coming.”
Well, Kevin Swift isn't calling it a bagel, but I feel like he's shopping in the bread aisle.

ACS Boston Career Fair: 81 jobs, 239 job seekers

Numbers reported to ACS Council on Wednesday, August 28 in San Diego, CA:
Participating employers: 31
Number of open positions: 81
Job seeker profiles: 239
So that's a pretty darn good ratio for ACS Career Fairs, as I recall, but the number of available positions seems a little low, but it is more than last year in Boston (a place, one presumes, where there are plenty of chemistry positions.) 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Ask CJ: steel-toed boots?

From the inbox, a good safety question:
Do most industrial labs require some sort of steel-toe or composite toe shoe to do routine synthesis lab work?  
Answer: not that I've seen. If you have a kilo-lab environmental or higher scales, I imagine that steel toed boots become more important. Readers, what have you seen?

(I should take this moment to note that for women readers, this is a nice Twitter thread with recommendations for steel-toed boots/shoes that work well.) 

Warning Letter of the Week: naughty sonicator edition

From a letter to the Director of CTX Lifesciences Private Ltd. from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research: 
2.    Failure to adequately investigate out-of-specification results and implement appropriate corrective actions. 
You invalidated an out-of-specification (OOS) related substances test result for API [redacted] batch [redacted], listed in a pending drug application, without scientific justification. 
In your response, you stated that you performed an investigational hypothesis study to evaluate the effect of sonication on API [redacted] batch [redacted]. You concluded that [redacted] generated an unknown impurity at the same relative retention time (RRT) and similar percentage peak area as the OOS result. 
Your response is inadequate because you did not adequately investigate all potential causes of the unknown impurity. You attributed the OOS result to degradation caused by [redacted], a sample preparation step performed during your test procedure. You also did not provide adequate scientific justification for your OOS result root cause. We note that three other batches of API [redacted] followed this [redacted] preparation and analysis procedure during the same sequence with no OOS results for these [redacted] batches.
Blaming the sonicator is a new one on me! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 181 research/teaching positions, 3 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 181 research/teaching positions and 3 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On August 28, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 167 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 15 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 15 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, August 26, 2019

TCE and Brookhaven National Lab

Interesting story in the New York Times on the use of TCE as a degreaser, and its potential effects:
UPTON, N.Y. — As a technician at Brookhaven National Laboratory, one of the nation’s most prestigious science labs, Joseph Marino’s job in the late 1990s and early 2000s was to clean and maintain the supercomputers that have helped researchers unlock some of the world’s biggest scientific and medical mysteries. He polished copper connectors, he said, until “they reminded you of gold.” 
One of the cleaning fluids he used while wiping the machines by hand over the years was trichloroethylene, or TCE, a toxic degreaser that the Trump administration has targeted as part of its broad effort to weaken regulations on chemicals. TCE is still widely used by dry cleaners as a stain remover and by factories as a degreaser. 
Mr. Marino, who later lost a kidney to cancer, is now suing the operators of the Department of Energy lab for $25 million over exposure to TCE, alleging that they negligently supplied the cleaner to him and many other workers there without warnings or protections. He is also suing Dow Chemical and Zep, alleging that they made and sold the chemical without adequate safety warnings.
Here's a hair-raising tidbit (emphasis mine):
...At a recent meeting of a group of Brookhaven retirees, at a classic Long Island diner a 20-minute drive from the lab, the conversation was punctuated with news of former colleagues who were battling disease or who had died.
Around the table was Frank Devito, 84, in a faded Yankees cap, who worked at the lab for three decades, does dialysis three times a week for renal failure and keeps the group’s tally of deceased colleagues — 38 at the latest count. There was also Fred Squires, 67, who remembers scrubbing parts in a tray full of TCE, with rubber gloves and no mask, and who has kidney cancer.
The good ol' days, when PPE was scarce.*

*for the irony-impaired, this is sarcasm

This week's C&EN

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Midwest is reporting mystery lung illnesses possibly linked to vaping

Via the New York Times last week, an odd story about vaping from last week:  
Nearly three dozen young people have been hospitalized around the country in recent weeks for severe respiratory problems after vaping either nicotine or marijuana, stumping doctors treating them. 
The Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin public health departments are investigating these cases and at least 20 additional emergency admissions that doctors suspect are related to vaping some substance, possibly even illegal street drugs or adulterated liquids laced with T.H.C., the ingredient that produces marijuana’s high. 
There are also cases in California, which appear to be associated with vaping cannabis or cannabidiol oil. 
Most of the patients were having difficulty breathing when they arrived at the hospital. Some patients also reported chest pain, vomiting and other ailments. The cases have ranged in severity, with some patients suffering severe lung damage that required weeks of treatment in the intensive care units...
The CDC is beginning to investigate. Seems to me there are a couple of possibilities: a mystery chemical agent in random batches of vaping juice, or it's quite a coincidence. I wonder what it is?  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 152 research/teaching positions, 1 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 152 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching assistant professor position.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On August 21, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 138 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

How to tailor R1 materials for a SLAC, by Professor Kelly Sheppard

An invited post from Professor Kelly Sheppard, chair of Skidmore College's chemistry department, who has an opening for a professor of organic chemistry (open rank).
Applying also to research universities, how do I adapt my applications materials for an opening at a small liberal arts college like Skidmore? 
At a small liberal arts college like Skidmore, we are focused on undergraduate education and do not supervise graduate students. Research though is still important. At Skidmore the breakdown for tenure is 50% based on teaching, 40% based on scholarship, and 10% on service. You need to write your materials with that context in mind, so the committee envisions you earning tenure.  
When talking about teaching in your cover letter and teaching statement, speak about teaching undergraduates. Look at the job ad and go to the department website to look at course offerings. What courses does the department want taught? For example, our current ad talks about teaching organic chemistry, plus upper level courses in your area of specialization, introductory courses, and in our interdisciplinary first-year seminar. You want to talk about teaching those courses. Upper level courses or electives are your place to denote what you would add to the curriculum given your expertise. For the cover letter, you may want to discuss teaching before writing about research but this is not essential, at least for us at Skidmore but at other places this can be more important. Also, be sure to include whatever else is asked for in the ad. For example, for our tenure track search, we ask candidates to address “how you will effectively engage with a diverse student body as a teacher, advisor, and mentor” in the cover letter.  
For scholarship, put your research program in the context of working with undergraduates and not graduate students for both the cover letter and research statement. Keep in mind, we do high quality science at small liberal arts colleges but the pace tends to be slower than at graduate institutions. The median number of publications per full-time tenure stream chemistry faculty member at peer and aspirant institutions of Skidmore is 0.5 publications per year. At well-endowed institutions like Oberlin, Swarthmore, and Haverford the publication rate tends to be higher (0.80-1.40 publications per year).  Of course, the rate also varies based on the nature of the research but 0.5 publications per year gives you a ballpark to shoot for as you think about the research projects to propose in your statement. Your research statement should lay out your research program over the next five years including how undergraduates will be involved. Think about how you will recruit students, train them, and maintain an inclusive research group composed of undergraduates. It is helpful to denote where you plan to present the work and publish it with undergraduate co-authors. If you have already worked with undergraduates on research projects, highlight that experience. While funded grant proposals are not required for tenure, we encourage applying to get feedback on your ideas and to provide you additional resources therefore it is good to identify potential external funding sources to apply to.  
For your C.V., be sure to highlight your training and experiences related to both research and teaching. Also, include the students you have mentored/supervised in research. On your list of publications, denote undergraduate co-authors. Do the same for your list of presentations. Also, have a section on professional development trainings and workshops you have attended, and outreach efforts you have been part of. Highlight any leadership roles you have taken.  
For details on current search in organic chemistry at Skidmore College, please see our Tenure Stream Search Page, which includes a more detailed overview of what to include in your materials. 
Thank you to Professor Sheppard for his contribution, and best wishes to those interested. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 12 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 12 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Safety alert: AlfaAesar tBuLi septa can be unscrewed easily

Credit
PSA: the @AlfaAesar "ChemSeal" bottles do NOT have a traditional sureseal (rubber septum under screw cap). The screw cap IS THE SEPTUM.  
The septum is also covered by a sticker, making it unclear that you SHOULDNT UNSCREW THE CAP 
I opened the bottle. I stared at the tBuLi, it stared back at me. We had a good time 
Alfa, this is unconscionable. The bottle was sealed with just a screw cap. This is not appropriate air free storage for pyrophorics (evidenced by large amounts of LiOH in the bottle)
It's a bit distressing that this particular chemical would suffer a downgrade in safety precautions from a major lab supply house. Stay safe out there, friends.  

Friday, August 16, 2019

Quite the plant

Credit: Ross Mantle for The New York Times
Via the New York Times, quite the picture in this interesting profile of the new Shell cracker being built outside Pittsburgh:
...The plant Ms. Mercer has come here to build is “as big as you get,” she said. When finished, Shell’s cracker plant — named for the chemical reaction of “cracking” gas molecules into the building blocks of plastic — will consume vast quantities of ethane pumped from wells across Pennsylvania into an enormous furnace. The superheated gas is then cooled, forming solid pellets about the size of arborio rice. The process takes about 20 hours....
Never quite thought about polyethylene being like arborio rice, but I suppose that's reasonably accurate (also, I've never held the raw pellets in my hand.) 

Obligatory economic post

Via the New York Times, a slowing economy?:
The global economy is under increasing stress as growth cools and trade tensions take a mounting toll. On Wednesday, the tremors were felt worldwide. 
Shares on Wall Street were off sharply, only a day after they had rallied as President Trump narrowed the scope of his next round of tariffs. The S&P 500 was down 2.9 percent. And bond markets offered an ominous warning on American growth prospects, with yields falling to levels not seen in years. 
The financial jitters, which continued Thursday as markets in Asia were down in early trading, came after new data showed the German economy hurtling toward a recession and factory output in China growing at its slowest pace in 17 years. 
The trouble in two of the world’s manufacturing powerhouses indicated, in part, how hard both have been hit by Mr. Trump’s tariffs. And it increased concern that the United States, too, is headed for an economic reckoning...
Certainly the brief appearance of an inverted yield curve was a potential sign of a recession. From my perspective, I don't think we've seen a slowing economy in either the personal life of my family and friends, or my work life, but it remains to be seen. I think it is possible that we may have a recession in 2020, but I don't think there is sufficient evidence from either the broader economy, or the chemical enterprise - yet. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Daily Pump Trap: 8/15/19 edition

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

Bethesda, MD: NIH's Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry in the NIDDK is looking for tenure-track investigators. Pretty sure a similar position was posted last year.

Oak Ridge, TN: Lots of positions posted: a postdoc in polymer processing, also a R&D research associate position in "characterization of organic, inorganic, and composite materials using solid-state NMR." Also, a physical chemist is being hired "who will focus on developing apparatus, methods and performing accurate and defensible physical / chemical measurements for a variety of gas phase molecules including newly synthesized, novel molecules."

Los Alamos, NM: LANL looking for a synthetic explosives chemist for a postdoc.

West Lafayette, IN: AMRI searching for a Ph.D. NMR spectroscopist.

Diamond Bar, CA:  South Coast Air Quality Management District looking for B.S./M.S./Ph.D. chemists to become air quality chemists.

11 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 11 new positions for August 10.

Job posting: LC/MS Analytical Chemist. Highgrade Labs, Oklahoma City, OK

From the inbox:
LC/MS Analytical Chemist with Highgrade Labs 
Highgrade Labs, an Oklahoma City-based laboratory, is seeking a full-time Analytical Chemist to perform analysis on cannabis products. This position will assist in writing SOPs to uphold our quality and control. The primary responsibilities of this position are cannabinoid, Terpenoid, pesticide, and residual solvent analysis. 
Responsibilities
  • Adhere to TNI, NELAC, and OMMA requirements
  • Perform qualitative and quantitative analyses using analytical instrumentation such as HPLC and GC
  • Capable of method development and validation of new chemical analysis by HPLC, GC, LC Triple Quad, and ICP-MS
  • Accurately record and keep QCs and sample information
  • Prepare SOPs, protocols, scientific reports and technical documents
  • Perform preventative maintenance and in-house repairs on laboratory equipment
  • Work independently while retaining self-motivation & function as an influential team player
Minimum Qualifications
  • 2-4 years of commercial analytical laboratory experience
  • Bachelor of Science in a natural or physical science (Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Microbiology, etc.)...
Compensation
  • Salary for this position will start at $18-$22 per hour depending on experience, with potential for advancement based on performance
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 26 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 26 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Atlanta teen suffers third degree burns from ethanol fire in classroom

...Malachi McFadden was severely burned Tuesday during a fire in his chemistry class at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, AJC.com previously reported. 
"He’s still in intensive care," attorney Chris Stewart told Channel 2 Action News. “It’s a really bad situation.” McFadden’s family hired Stewart to represent them after they could not get information about the incident from the school, the news station reported.  
The fire happened on the second day of classes in DeKalb County. The teen’s teacher reportedly conducted an experiment by lighting a dollar bill on fire. "The fire went out of control as expected because there was ethanol in the bowl," Stewart told Channel 2. "And instead of putting water on it to put it out, allegedly the teacher grabbed a jar of ethanol and threw it into the bowl." 
It is unclear how long the teacher has worked at the school. 
Looks like it's third degree burns. Yet another case of:
  • fire
  • alcohol being added to the flames
  • from a bulk alcohol container with
  • students being too close 
I guess we've learned that 1) news of the Yanes settlement hasn't traveled fast enough, and 2) the $59 million verdict still isn't enough to get school districts, principals and teachers to consider chemical safety in their day-to-day activities...

Interesting letter on mental health and academia

Also in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, this letter about a recent Jen Heemstra piece: 
Thank you for 63 years of C&EN and for the column Office Hours in the July 8 issue by Jen Heemstra (page 23). 
As I read her article, I reflected on my own experiences and concluded that she is absolutely correct with respect to the importance of creating a mental health environment in graduate schools. In my 5 years of graduate school I was three doors from a student and four doors away from a graduate professor who struggled with problems and committed suicide while I was in my lab. The competitive nature of the atmosphere of that department was not conducive to good mental health. I saw the same problem in several chemistry departments. 
I am grateful to C&EN for including her columns, as the problem of mental health is much greater than in graduate schools. Here in Alaska we have some of the highest rates of mental health problems, as evidenced by our high rates of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic abuse, etc. 
In my 10 years as a science teacher in Kenai and Soldotna High Schools, I witnessed mental health problems with students that I was totally unprepared to handle. All I could do was observe and suffer with the students. Jen has answers to those questions, and I encourage C&EN to promote her work. America and the world need more activists like her. 
Hugh R. Hays
Soldotna, Alaska
 "Observe and suffer" is a sadly appropriate phrase. 

This week's C&EN

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 126 research/teaching positions, 1 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 126 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching assistant professor position.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On August 14, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 100 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

Postdoctoral position: computational materials science, PNNL, Richland, WA

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is a world-class research institution powered by a highly educated, diverse workforce committed to collaboration and work–life balance. Every year, scores of dynamic, driven postdocs come to PNNL to work with renowned researchers on meaningful science, innovations and outcomes for the U.S. Department of Energy and other sponsors; here is your chance to be one of them! 
Contribute to PNNL’s goals in computational biomolecular materials science as part of the Lab’s Physical Sciences Division. As a postdoctoral researcher, you will join a talented, multi-investigator team to explore the development of synthetic self-assembling systems that mimic the hierarchical nature of biological membranes and carry out high-level functions based on a predictive understanding of both assembly and function. In particular, we seek to create fully synthetic self-assembling biomimetic structures that mimic the environment, versatility, and functionality of cell membranes based on a predictive understanding of: (a) the link between macromolecular sequence and organization, (b) controls on assembly and ordering, (c) incorporation of functional units with a focus on artificial carbon nanotube porins (CNTPs), and (d) mechanisms of fast and selective transport through these materials. You will be mentored hands on by senior researchers and work in close collaboration with the experimental efforts to be central part of the theory and modelling effort.
Full listing here. Best wishes to those interested.  

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 9 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 9 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Russian radiation incident on Saturday

MOSCOW — A mystery explosion at a Russian weapons testing range involved radioactive materials, the authorities admitted on Saturday, as the blast’s admitted death toll rose and signs of a creeping radiation emergency, or at the least fear of one, grew harder to mask. 
In a statement released at 1 a.m. Saturday, Russia’s nuclear energy company, Rosatom, said five employees had died, in addition to the two military personnel previously confirmed dead, as a result of a test on Thursday morning involving “isotopic sources of fuel on a liquid propulsion unit.” 
“A bright memory of our comrades will forever live in our hearts,” the statement said.
The statement, though, shed little light on exactly what detonated on Thursday at the White Sea testing range. No use for the propulsion unit was mentioned, although President Vladimir V. Putin previously boasted that Russia has developed a nuclear engine for long-range missiles. And there was no explanation why the authorities in a nearby city had reported rising radiation levels for a brief period several hours later.
While the government has provided no full explanation of what happened, Rosatom’s statement suggested a mishap during a test of a new class of nuclear-engined weapons that Mr. Putin first spoke publicly about last year.... 
...One new weapon Mr. Putin had discussed was a globe-spanning cruise missile called Burevestnik or the Petrel, named for the far-flying seabird. It would have an unlimited range thanks to a nuclear propulsion unit, he said. Mr. Putin said the device had already been tested. 
“Russia’s advanced arms are based on the cutting-edge, unique achievements of our scientists, designers and engineers,” Mr. Putin said in the 2018 speech. “One of them is a small-scale heavy-duty nuclear energy unit that can be installed in a missile.”
I guess I don't really understand what this unit is, i.e. a missile powered with a nuclear reactor? What is the propellant?

[A brief Wikipedia search indicates that it may be a ramjet design:

The principle behind the nuclear ramjet was relatively simple: motion of the vehicle pushed air in through the front of the vehicle (ram effect), a nuclear reactor heated the air, and then the hot air expanded at high speed out through a nozzle at the back, providing thrust.]

I can't imagine the potential risk behind testing a missile with a nuclear reactor in it - and I thought running 1000 or 2000 gallon reactions had a lot of potential hazards! 

Friday, August 9, 2019

Friday thoughts from Professor Heemstra

...Every situation is unique, and earning (or not earning) a degree is a career-changing decision that should not be made lightly. Before we dive into how to approach this decision for yourself, I want to tackle the idea that earning a master’s degree is a “downgrade” from a PhD, or merely a consolation prize. There are many reasons you might want to earn a specific degree, and a primary one should be that it will allow you to pursue your desired career path. Thus, no degree is inherently superior to any other—there is only what is best for you and will most effectively help you achieve your goals. So this brings us to the real questions: Where do you aspire to go in your career, and what degree do you need to get there? 
Of course, these are not easy questions to answer. But they are extremely important to consider on a regular basis. This is in fact why I sometimes recommend working in a full-time job for a few years before deciding to pursue an advanced degree. Spending time in the “real world” can be extremely clarifying when it comes to career goals....
I agree with 99% of this. As someone who worked for a single year in industry, I wonder if the perfect time between a B.S. degree and graduate school is two years. The nature of application deadlines is that, if you are hired during the summer after you graduate, you will need to apply by November or December, and so you're not really spending very much time thinking "maybe I should stick around here?" If you have two years in between your undergraduate degree and your start of graduate school, there's almost a full year for you to ponder life. More than that, and I feel like you're risking more of your thirties than you might want to.

Readers, tell me where I'm wrong. (Oh, and have a great weekend.)

CANN Membership Drive

From the inbox:
The Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision (CANN) of the American Chemical Society is pleased to offer free membership for a limited time only.  A generous donation by Heidolph North America will make this free membership possible for two weeks in the month of August, coinciding with the ACS Fall National Meeting.  Those interested in obtaining free membership can do so by joining at the ACS National Meeting Membership Counter in the lobby of the convention center and asking for the “CANN Membership Discount”.  Additionally, anyone joining remotely can contact ACS Member Services directly by emailing service@acs.org or calling 1-800-333-9511 (Toll Free in the US) or 614-447-3776 (Outside of the US)  between the dates of 8/19 and 8/30.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

FDA: Novartis “mismanaged” or “manipulated" approval data for gene therapy

The drug maker Novartis concealed manipulated data from the Food and Drug Administration while applying for approval of an extremely expensive gene therapy treatment and then delayed reporting the issue, the agency said on Tuesday. Officials said the inaccurate data, which involved testing in mice of two different strengths of the treatment, did not affect the safety or efficacy of the therapy, Zolgensma, used to treat a rare, often fatal genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy. 
Approved in May, the treatment’s price — set at $2.1 million — stoked concerns about the astronomical costs of potential cures for rare diseases and upset parents who initially could not get insurance coverage for the breakthrough treatment. The F.D.A. said patients were not at risk, and that the treatment could still be sold.... 
...The F.D.A. said it was notified of the data manipulation issue on June 28, more than one month after Zolgensma was approved, even though officials at AveXis, the Novartis unit developing the product, learned of the problem in March. 
The problems involved experiments on mice used in early phases of the research. An F.D.A. inspection report dated July 24 to Aug. 2, 2019 noted lapses and discrepancies in record-keeping by the company, and improper procedures in quality control in gathering data on the mice. In some instances, the report said, records stating how long the mice lived “were different from the actual value,” and in four cases “discrepancies of greater than one day were noted (ranging from 2 to 19 days).” 
The F.D.A. said the data were “mismanaged” or “manipulated,” and declined to say whether the information was deliberately falsified. “It’s unclear to us, at this point, exactly why this occurred,” Dr. Marks said. In data manipulation cases, he added, the motive is not always clear. “Many times people do things for stupid reasons, because if they would have left well enough alone, everything would have been O.K.”
I wonder how difficult it was to discuss the data manipulation episode within the company? I can't imagine the meetings about that were easy, and I could imagine heads rolling as a result. Here's hoping that there is an innocent answer, for the sake of the relevant people...

Job posting: Applications Lab Technician, Quanta BioDesign, Plain City, OH

Via Twitter, a lab technician position:
Quanta BioDesign is a research and manufacturing company committed to the development of a full range of discrete polyethylene glycol (dPEG®) PEGylation reagents for applications in diagnostics, therapeutics, peptide synthesis, oligonucleotide synthesis, and nanotechnology.  For all Applications Lab Technicians, it is important to participate in the overall environment and thought process of the dPEG®– based chemistry product development and manufacturing, as well as the applied bioconjugation products we are developing here.  The primary focus of this position is to support the experimental design process, execute the protocols, and perform QA/QC testing.
Qualifications

  • A theoretical and practical knowledge of general chemistry, organic chemistry and biology principals. A Bachelor or Master’s degree in Chemistry and/ or Biological Science disciplines with laboratory experience required..,
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 88 research/teaching positions, 1 teaching faculty

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 88 research/teaching positions and 1 teaching assistant professor position.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On August 7, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 83 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Cow-free dairy?

Via the New York Times, the latest in dairy science: 
In recent years, the alternatives to conventional cows’ milk have proliferated. The local grocery store is likely to offer any number of plant-based options: milks made from soy, almonds, oats, rice, hemp, coconuts, cashews, pea plants and more. 
But most nondairy milks pale in comparison to cows’ milk. Plant-based milks are made by breaking down plants and reconstituting their proteins in water to resemble the fluid from a lactating bovine. These proteins differ fundamentally from true dairy proteins, and the results — milks, cheeses and yogurts in name only — often fail to measure up in color, taste or texture. Inja Radman, a molecular biologist and a founder of New Culture, a food company, put it plainly. 
“Vegan cheese is just terrible,” she said. “As scientists, we know why it doesn’t work. It doesn’t have the crucial dairy proteins.” 
Dairy tastes like dairy thanks to two key proteins, casein and whey protein. Researchers at several start-up companies, including New Culture, have begun producing these proteins in the lab, with the aim of creating a new grocery store category: cow-free dairy.
Their process is loosely comparable to the way Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat makes meatless burgers. Microbes, such as yeast, are given the genetic instructions to produce the dairy proteins. The microbes are then cultivated en masse, with nutrients added and the temperature adjusted. Eventually the organisms start churning out large quantities of the proteins, and these are isolated and added to various recipes. 
For the Impossible Burger, the essential protein is a molecule called heme, which is abundant in animal muscles and gives the burger its meaty flavor, and even makes it appear to bleed. New Culture is focusing on producing casein, a protein that coagulates to give mozzarella cheese its stretchy texture. 
Ms. Radman said the company had conducted double-blind tests to see if people could tell the difference between the proof-of-concept cheese and store-bought mozzarella. “We’ve had really positive results,” she said...
I think I'll stick with the dairy-full dairy, but who knows? 

This weeks C&EN

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

Friday, August 2, 2019

Chemical Activity Barometer down slightly in July

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), eased 0.2 percent in July on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following three months of gains in March-May and weak months in the winter. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer fell 0.2 percent (3MMA). 
The unadjusted measure of the CAB rose 0.2 percent in July and fell 0.4 percent in June. The diffusion index rose to 65 percent in July. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for June was revised downward by 0.39 points and that for May by 0.09 points. 
"A pattern of fluctuating barometer readings – months up followed by months down – indicates late-cycle activity," said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. "The CAB reading continues to signal moderate gains in U.S. commercial and industrial activity through late 2019, but rising volatility suggests change may be on the way."
I really can't figure out how I feel about a recession in 2020. I don't think there will be one right now (as defined broadly as 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth), but who knows?  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Daily Pump Trap: 8/1/19 edition

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

Spartanburg, SC: A couple of positions with Auriga Polymers: Senior Polymer Processing Engineer (Ph.D. chemical engineer), a sales account manager (B.S. chemistry, 5 years sales experience) and an an applications development scientist (M.S. in chemistry, Ph.D. desired), among others. 

Sacramento, CA: AMPAC looking for a process engineer for its separation group; "BS, MS, or PhD in chemical engineering or organic chemistry with a focus on separation techniques."

Malvern, PA: Flamma USA looking for a variety of positions, including process chemists and analytical chemists, including a head of analytical chemistry.

Greensboro, NC: Syngenta looking for a Ph.D. chemist (0-5 years) for a synthetic type position, including stable label syntheses. 

Oak Ridge, TN: ORNL looking for a chemical separations postdoc.

18 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 7 new positions for July 29 and there are 11 positions for July 24.

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 24 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 24 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Chemical detection via organic dyes and a smartphone

Via the New York Times, a new use of smartphones for farmers: 
If the farmer suspects a late blight infection is underway, she can remove a leaf from a living plant and place it in a small, covered glass jar. After the leaf’s volatile compounds have accumulated for 15 minutes or so, the cap is removed and the air is pumped from the jar into a reader device attached to the back of a smartphone. 
Inside the smartphone reader is a strip of paper specially treated with organic dyes and nanoparticle sensors developed by the researchers. Upon interacting with the plant’s volatile compounds, the strip changes color to indicate the presence or absence of the pathogen. It’s like a home-pregnancy kit for tomatoes, or a strep test for tubers.
Here's the Nature Plants* article. It will be really interesting to see when a GC is sufficiently miniaturized to fit in a pocket...

*who knew?!?! 

This week's C&EN

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