Friday, June 14, 2019

Bad news from the agrochemical sector

Chemical suppliers to the US agricultural sector are blaming bad weather in the Corn Belt for a difficult year so far. Warnings about lackluster sales for the first half are piling up from firms such as Novozymes, DuPont, and Corteva Agriscience. 
A cold and snowy winter, followed by a rainy and cool spring, has caused flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota. 
Novozymes says it experienced a 2% sales decline during the first 5 months of the year. Nearly 20% of the company’s annual sales come from supplying products such as yeast and amylases to the ethanol industry. “Severe weather in the US Midwest are [sic] impacting grain-processing volumes and challenging the planting season,” the Danish company says. “The recovery of our US Bioenergy business has not progressed as expected, and demand in some emerging markets is soft.” Similarly, last month DuPont said it would take a charge of between $800 million and $1.3 billion. The company blamed slow demand in its biomaterials segment as well as “challenging conditions in U.S. bioethanol markets.” 
Farmers are indeed off to a slow start. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s June 10 Crop Progress report, only 83% of the available corn acreage across 18 states had been planted as of June 9, versus 99% last year. Additionally, only 59% of the planted corn is rated in good or excellent condition, versus 77% a year ago...
It will be interesting to see the second-order effects - does less revenue mean fewer chemists hired in Corteva R&D? Here's hoping that food prices don't go up too much...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

No hydrogen in the Bay Area due to transport concerns?

A recent chemical plant explosion at an Air Products and Chemical, Inc. facility in Santa Clara County has grounded fuel cell vehicles to a halt in the Bay Area. While there were thankfully no injuries, Air Products, a hydrogen supplier, told ABC7 News that as a precaution, it has pulled all hydrogen supply vehicles off the roads to perform an inspection to ensure the safety of these vehicles. 
The chemical plant explosion, which occurred on Saturday, June 1, reportedly shook buildings for miles in the San Francisco Bay Area, leaving many residents believing at first that they were experiencing an earthquake. 
It took fire crews over an hour to put out the blaze. According to preliminary investigation findings, the explosion occurred as a tanker truck was being filled with hydrogen. However, the official cause of the blast has yet to be confirmed. 
That being said, the explosion has left drivers of fuel cell vehicles unable to refuel their cars and so far Air Products does not know when service will resume....
I wonder what specifically downchecked the hydrogen trucks?  

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 5 positions

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 5 positions.

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 June 12, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 4 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, June 10, 2019

Job loss with workers over 50 and long-term effects on earning power

I am not so naive to believe that age discrimination does not exist, either in overt or sub rosa forms. This New York Times article (by Patricia Cohen) offers some rather terrifying statistics (as well as some sad personal stories and comments on the difficulty with holding corporations accountable for their potentially discriminatory practices.)
...Workers over 50 — about 54 million Americans — are now facing much more precarious financial circumstances, a legacy of the recession. More than half of workers over 50 lose longtime jobs before they are ready to retire, according to a recent analysis by the Urban Institute and ProPublica. Of those, nine out of 10 never recover their previous earning power. Some are able to find only piecemeal or gig work. 
“If you lose your job at an older age, it’s really hard to get a new one,” said Richard Johnson, an Urban Institute economist who worked on the analysis....
This seems to me to be an issue that is worth exploring in the chemical industry. Is there age discrimination in either the pharma or the chemical industries? (My answer: of course.) This seems to me to be an issue that would be well-suited for both exploration and comment by the American Chemical Society, especially since the median age of members is north of 45...

Waters field sales positions, East Coast

From the inbox, four sales positions with Waters:
Chemistry Account Manager, Milford, MA (New Jersey)
Chemistry Account Manager, Milford, MA (NE US)
Field Sales Account Manager (Connecticut)
Field Sales Account Manager (Cambridge)
Best wishes to those interested. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

View From Your Hood: Midwest silo edition

(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.)

Job posting: associate scientist, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University seeks an Associate Scientist to be part of its Chemical Instrumentation Facility with a main specialty in spectrophotometry, thermal analysis, and/or related mass spectrometry techniques.  
The Associate Scientist will be responsible for oversight, training, and maintenance for a variety of instrumentation (e.g., UV-Vis, FT-IR, polarimetry, TGA, DSC, ITC, combustion elemental analysis, and mass spectrometry instrumentation). The scientist will work with other scientists as part of a team running a large facility serving the entire university; the facility also includes NMR, X-ray, and mass spectrometry instrumentation. This position will be responsible for the training and indirect supervision of the research activities of graduate students, and collaboration on new methodologies and research projects when appropriate. The Associate Scientist will be involved in preparation of grant proposals, preparation of annual reports for funding agencies and internal purposes, evaluation and acquisition of new instrumentation, development of training materials, and development and implementation of outreach programs. 
The successful candidate will have excellent technical skills in at least one area noted and will be willing to learn new techniques and instrumentation. The successful candidate should have interest in or experience with maintaining websites and graphical or video editing software. Excellent communication and collaboration skills are required for working with faculty, graduate students, and instrument companies. Excellent writing skills are required for crafting training materials and grant proposals. 
Required Education and Experience: Master’s degree and 5 years of related experience; OR a Ph.D. or other professional degree and 2 years of related experience.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 332 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list (curated by Joel Walker and myself) has 332 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, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

22 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 7 new positions for June 5 and 15 new positions for May 29.

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 25 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 25 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 300 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 300 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

I love a happy story

Also from this week's C&EN, the story of a first scale-up attempt: 
The article on continuous processing (C&EN, April 29, page 28) recalls my first experience with the concept. It was in 1988, shortly after I joined DuPont. We had a Grignard reagent to be reacted with an α-chloroketone to make a chlorohydrin intermediate to DuP 860, an antifungal drug candidate. The addition generated so much heat, on scale it couldn’t be kept at the temperature range required for stability over a reasonable reaction period. Instead we fried our first attempt and had to work day and night in the lab running 12 L reactors to make the amount required. 
My engineer, Mark Lauritsen, considered our resources at our pilot plant at Chambers Works in New Jersey and asked me for a 4 L jacketed glass reactor. We set up a continuous process in the midst of a bay with two large feed tanks (Grignard reagent and α-chloroketone) leading into the glass reactor and an overflow line leading out to a 100 gal (378.5 L) quench tank. The tiny glass reactor, dwarfed by the other fixed vessels in the bay, seemed so out of place. But once it started up, the continuous process worked perfectly and we made our delivery! Such a logical and simple solution, and my first experience with continuous processing. 
Jaan Pesti
Yardley, Pennsylvania
That's one of the cool things about flow, i.e. the reaction vessel doesn't have to be very big at all to do a big job.  

This week's C&EN

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

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 4 positions and first open thread

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 4 positions.

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."

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List finished with 587 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? This will serve as the open thread.

Job posting: visiting assistant professor, The College of New Jersey, Ewing Township, NJ

From the inbox, a position at TCNJ:
The Department of Chemistry at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) invites applications for a 10-month, non-tenure-track Visiting Assistant Professor position starting August 2019. 
TCNJ has a strong commitment to inclusive excellence in our community and to supporting a healthy work-life balance for our faculty.  TCNJ has been recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education on its honor roll of “Great Colleges to Work For.” 
We are seeking broadly trained applicants from all areas of Chemistry, who are strongly committed to high quality teaching and deep student engagement in a primarily undergraduate, residential, liberal arts-centered institution. The successful candidate should be able to teach General Chemistry and/or Organic Chemistry courses. 
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

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, June 3, 2019

"Chemists are hypersensitive to the phrase 'toxic chemical'"

Via random Googling, an interesting letter to the editor in the Champaign News-Gazette from an unnamed University of Illinois chemistry professor: 
"Chemists are hypersensitive to the phrase 'toxic chemical.' Anything in excess is toxic (people can drown in water). So when I saw 'toxic halon gas' in your column, I was taken aback. Yes, Wikipedia says 'toxic,' but let's be a little more subtle here.  
The reason halons were chosen as fire extinguishers is not only because they work well but also because they are quite unreactive. Halocarbons are used for synthetic blood and for cardiac imaging contrast agents (a use to which they have been put for yours — truly three times in the last six months, and I still seem to be here). So saying 'halons are toxic' is about as enlightening as saying 'music is loud.' Well, some music is loud. Sometimes that loudness is intentional, and sometimes it's a side-effect of turning the volume control the wrong way.  
Same thing with halons. On an acute basis, they are utterly innocuous. Some halohydrocarbons are carcinogenic (in fact, Mike Plewa at the UI has shown that some halohydrocarbons that are the byproduct of chlorinating water are some of the strongest carcinogens known. But if we don't kill bacteria in our water, there are nasty acute diseases we'd get that also killed people worldwide until chlorination became common in the 20th century. If you want to live 'til next week, chlorination is good. If you want to live 250 years, it may not be).  
The ways that halons suppress fire are, first, by displacing oxygen and, secondly, by suppressing the chemical reactions active in fires. Some of the products of the latter activity are toxic, so I wouldn't want to hang around in the presence of both halon extinguisher and fire, but that's mainly because of the smoke and fumes, not because of the halon."
It'd be interesting to know which UIUC chemistry professor reads the News-Gazette.