Friday, April 3, 2020

Have a good weekend



One of my favorite Copland pieces. I hope you have a peaceful weekend. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Daily Pump Trap: 4/1/20

London, Shanghai, New York or Berlin: Nature Communications looking for a Ph.D. chemist to be a journal editor.

Edwards, CA: AFRL looking for a Ph.D. chemist to be a principal research scientist for propellant formulation. Salary: $119,354 - $168,668.

Burlington, MA: MilliporeSigma searching for a M.S. chemist to be a technical applications scientist. Salary: "Up $110,000 per year base +6% bonus"

Research Triangle Park, NC: EPA's Center for Computational Toxicology and Exposure searching for a postdoctoral fellow.


10 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 10 new positions for March 26.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Goldman Sachs projections on Tuesday: real GDP falls 6.2% in 2020

This is going to be a moving target, but it's good to be aware. Via Calculated Risk (a favorite blog that I was glad to stop reading for a while), Goldman Sachs economic projections as of Tuesday, March 31: 
We are making further significant adjustments to our GDP and employment estimates. We now forecast real GDP growth of -9% in Q1 and -34% in Q2 in qoq annualized terms (vs. -6% and -24% previously) and see the unemployment rate rising to 15% by midyear (vs. 9% previously). However, we have upgraded our expectations for the recovery after midyear, with a 19% qoq annualized GDP gain in Q3 (vs. 12% previously). Our estimates imply that a bit more than half of the near-term output decline is made up by year end and that real GDP falls 6.2% in 2020 on an annual-average basis (vs. 3.7% in our previous forecast).
It's gonna be a big hole.  

American Chemistry Council: "Chemical Activity Barometer Falls Sharply In March"

Credit: American Chemistry Council
The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), fell 2.6 percent in March on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in February. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer fell 1.3 percent in March. 
The unadjusted data shows an 8.0 percent decline in March following a 1.1 percent decline in February and a 1.2 percent gain in January. The unadjusted decline in March is the largest in the post-World War II period. The diffusion index slumped to 27 percent in March. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for February was revised downward by 1.13 points and that for January was revised downward by 0.38 points. 
"The CAB signals recessionary conditions in U.S. commerce," said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. "ACC believes a recession to be occurring when the barometer declines for three consecutive months and falls 3.0 percent or more from the peak. As of March, the CAB has declined for two straight months and fallen 8.9 percent from the peak." 
The CAB has four main components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators.
Production-related indicators generally declined in March. Trends in construction-related resins, pigments and related performance chemistry were generally negative. Plastic resins used in packaging and for consumer and institutional applications were generally negative. Performance chemistry was negative and U.S. exports were weak. Equity prices collapsed, but are improving this week. Product and input prices declined. Inventory and other supply chain indicators were negative.
Well, that's not good news. Best wishes to us all. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” Part 4: Funding

by Professor Kenneth Hanson, Florida State University

This “Keep Your Job, Ken!” blog series post is on grants and funding. I will start with the disclaimer that I have by no means figured out how to best secure funding. We have been relatively successful (but also rejected a lot) so I can’t complain too much, but we also pale in comparison to others. Looking at the funding landscape leads me to believe that good ideas and well thought out plans are not enough, and that even weak and unoriginal research gets funding sometimes. Having now been on both sides of the submission and review process, I can confidently say it is a combination of timing, reputation, luck, name brand recognition (both institution and PI), the randomness of reviewers, as well as the number and quality of the proposals you submit.  Since it is the only thing that we can control, I will limit my advice to the last variable. Much of what I share may be obvious or redundant but hopefully there are some useful tidbits.

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 554 research/teaching positions and 79 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 554 research/teaching positions and 79 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." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

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

On March 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 573 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth, ninth. The current thread is the tenth

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 24 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 24 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. 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, March 30, 2020

What are the chemical reagents for COVID-19 testing that are in short supply?

From an op-ed in the New York Times, this interesting comment about COVID-19 related laboratory supplies:
...In three to four weeks, there will be a major shortage of chemical reagents for coronavirus testing, the result of limited production capacity, compounded by the collapse of global supply chains when the epidemic closed down manufacturing in China for weeks....
This linked to a press release from the American Society for Microbiology:
...One challenge that has come to light is the supply shortage for SARS-CoV-2 PCR reagents. We are deeply concerned that as the number of tests increases dramatically over the coming weeks, clinical labs will be unable to deploy them without these critical components. Increased demand for testing has the potential to exhaust supplies needed to perform the testing itself. This could include chemicals or plastics, for example, and could affect tests developed and offered by clinical or public health laboratories and/or (when they become available in the United States), commercial tests...
So does anyone know what reagents are short? Are there chemical reagents (as opposed to biochemical ones, i.e. enzymes) that are in short supply? If so, it'd be great if we could figure this out...  

Three million people filed for unemployment benefits on the week ending March 21

More than three million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, sending a collective shudder throughout the economy that is unlike anything Americans have experienced. 
The alarming numbers, in a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, provide some of the first hard data on the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down whole swaths of American life faster than government statistics can keep track. 
Just three weeks ago, barely 200,000 people applied for jobless benefits, a historically low number. In the half-century that the government has tracked applications, the worst week ever, with 695,000 so-called initial claims, had been in 1982. 
Thursday’s figure of nearly 3.3 million set a grim record. “A large part of the economy just collapsed,” said Ben Herzon, executive director of IHS Markit, a business data and analytics firm....
Here is the DOL report. How this will affect chemists is yet unknown, but I imagine there will be effects, and there will be evidence of this before June 30... 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Have a good weekend



I don't know about you, but I've had a pretty stressful last couple of weeks. I hope your weekend is somewhat calmer, and I hope some Yo-Yo Ma helps get you there. 

Don’t slow down safety

A message from friend of the blog, Harry Elston:
If you’ve found yourself in the work-from-home mode, it is an excellent time for your company to take a look at various safety and quality processes and protocols before you start the ramp-up after COVID-19. Midwest Chemical Safety can assist you in reviewing (or creating) and updating your safety documents such as:
  • Site safety plans
  • Chemical hygiene plans  (There’s a requirement for annual review)
  • Hazard communication programs
  • Respiratory protection programs  (There’s a requirement for annual review here also)
  • Waste management plans
  • Lock out/Tag out programs
  • Permit-required confined space programs (Annual reviews if entries are made)
  • Quality assurance and quality management plans
  • Safety Data Sheets
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Let’s stay safe (and uninfected) out there! 
Contact information here: harry@midwestchemsafety.com ; +1 217 971 6047

Respirator plant going strong

Good story about the 3M plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota that is making respirators:
...In the U.S., the facility at Aberdeen, a city of 28,000, was built in 1974. The 450,000-square-foot factory and a sister plant in Omaha together produce 400 million respirators of myriad types annually. Within the next year, they will be producing many more. 
When Rehder got that call from his bosses in January, he says, “basically, we were at that point where we needed to start every machine up. It happened pretty much instantaneously. That’s what this plant does.” The facility quickly organized offsite and online job fairs. Hires had to undergo training and pass a medical exam before starting work. The payroll now counts more than 700. 
Rehder has also been bringing in new equipment to build additional assembly lines. The mask components are readily available because most of them, including the filters, are made in-house. The lines that assemble respirator cups, filters, nose clips, and nose foam are loaded with robots and other automation, while humans tend to packaging and other tasks that allow more easily for social distancing. No workers have yet gotten sick, Rehder says. At home, his wife has been patient—though, he jokes, “when we try to sit down and watch a movie and I get six calls in between, I get a couple of looks.”...
Stay strong, Aberdeen, and keep making those masks....

(I like how this plant manager isn't complaining about not having sufficient skilled workers, he's just hiring folks and training them...)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bellevue Hospital needs PPE

From the inbox, an appeal from Dr. Celine Gounder of NYU School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital: 
As you know, New York State and the NYC metro area are ground zero for the COVID-19 epidemic in the U.S. Health care providers are facing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment, especially of N95 respirator masks, but also of gowns and face shields. 
Anything you can do to get the word out would be most appreciated.
Donated PPE may be shipped to: 
Bellevue Hospital Center
Department of Medicine
462 1st Avenue - 16th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Best wishes to the personnel of Bellevue Hospital Center, and best wishes to all of us.  

21 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 12 new positions for March 22 and 9 new positions for March 19. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

New Periodic Bagel episode: Educated with Paulette Vincent-Ruz

Eighth episode of The Periodic Bagel, with guest Paulette Vincent-Ruz (@STEMexicanEd) on chemical education and learning chemistry in Mexico.

Rate and review us on iTunes!

Feel free to ask questions, add comments and suggestions for guests and topics in the comments.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” Part 3: Management


by Professor Kenneth Hanson, Florida State University

Continuing my “Keep Your Job, Ken!” series, this post will discuss some of the management portions of an assistant professorship. During our stint as graduate students and postdocs most of our time is spent as scientists and researchers but little to nothing is dedicated to managerial training. This is unfortunate because it is arguably the most important and most difficult part of being a professor. We can all do the science but it’s those that can manage time and people that become the most successful.

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 553 research/teaching positions and 76 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 553 research/teaching positions and 76 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." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

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

On March 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 573 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth, ninth. The current thread is the tenth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 24 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 24 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. 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, March 23, 2020

Perhaps an end to offshoring?

This passage in Wired was interesting, regarding a American mask manufacturer working with American hospitals:
Faced with hundreds of millions of orders a day, and a limited number of masks, Prestige Ameritech decided to sell only to hospitals, rather than the general public, and has prioritized working with medical centers that will sign five-year contracts, to reduce the likelihood that the company will have to lay off all its new employees once the pandemic subsides. 
The policy is rooted in history. The last time the country faced a comparable mask shortage was during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. To meet increased demand, Prestige Ameritech hired hundreds of new employees and expanded its manufacturing capabilities. But after the outbreak died down, Bowen says that most hospitals that had relied on Prestige Ameritech went back to Chinese suppliers, which typically sell masks and respirators for less than it costs him to produce. 
“In 2011, after the H1N1 pandemic ended, we had to lay off 150 people,” he recalls. “One hundred fifty people that saved a lot of hospitals from closing their doors were rewarded by losing their jobs. And that's not going to happen again.”
Best wishes to Prestige, and to all of us. (Psst, supply agreements work.)

Is the chemical enterprise essential?

The Chemical Sector—composed of a complex, global supply chain—converts various raw materials into diverse products that are essential to modern life. Based on the end product produced, the sector can be divided into five main segments, each of which has distinct characteristics, growth dynamics, markets, new developments, and issues: Basic chemicals; Specialty chemicals; Agricultural chemicals; Pharmaceuticals; Consumer products 
Essential Workforce
  • Workers supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains, including workers at chemical manufacturing plants, workers in laboratories, workers at distribution facilities, workers who transport basic raw chemical materials to the producers of industrial and consumer goods, including hand sanitizers, food and food additives, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and paper products.
  • Workers supporting the safe transportation of chemicals, including those supporting tank truckcleaning facilities and workers who manufacture packaging items
  • Workers supporting the production of protective cleaning and medical solutions, personal protective equipment, and packaging that prevents the contamination of food, water, medicine, among others essential products
  • Workers supporting the operation and maintenance of facilities (particularly those with high risk chemicals and/ or sites that cannot be shut down) whose work cannot be done remotely and requires the presence of highly trained personnel to ensure safe operations, including plant contract workers who provide inspections
  • Workers who support the production and transportation of chlorine and alkali manufacturing,single-use plastics, and packaging that prevents the contamination or supports the continued manufacture of food, water, medicine, and other essential products, including glass container manufacturing
I imagine that companies will be more-or-less running on the honor system here, but it seems to me that if you're work at a plant in California, you're considered part of the essential workforce. Would be interesting to know if/how this will be enforced...

Postdoc: ACS Bridge Project, Washington, DC or Madison, WI

The ACS Learning and Career Development group seeks a Postdoctoral Fellow to help evaluate the educational outcomes of the ACS Bridge Project. The ACS Bridge Project aims to broaden participation in graduate education in the chemical sciences. This project is supported by the Genentech Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the American Chemical Society. 
The Postdoctoral Fellow will work with the leadership of the ACS Graduate & Postdoctoral Scholars Office to develop, implement, and analyze assessments of programming associated with the ACS Bridge Project. An academic mentoring and advisory group will support the scholarly development of the Postdoctoral Fellow. Projects range from assessing educational outcomes of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented minority groups participating in career and professional development programming to examining graduate school admissions processes in the chemical sciences. 
The successful candidate is a highly motivated professional who is comfortable interacting professionally with a diverse network of stakeholders and has well-developed interpersonal communication skills. The ideal candidate should be able to successfully work and partners across multiple teams to deliver high-caliber content and perform on a tight schedule.
Responsibilities:  
1. Assists in designing, developing, executing, and implementing scientific research and/or development.
2. Implements research studies and quality improvement projects.
3. Investigates the feasibility of applying a wide variety of scientific principles and theories to potential inventions and products.
4. Assists with the preparation of manuscripts, data for presentations at scientific meetings, and for publications in journals and for broader audiences.
5. Contributes to the development of grant applications, research protocols, multi-disciplinary partnerships, and novel project ideas.

Education/Experience/Technical Knowledge: Excellent analytical, writing (especially as they relate to grant and manuscript preparation), communication, interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills required. Adaptable to a wide variety of job tasks and projects, with the ability to survey literature efficiently and apply empirical findings appropriately. 
Minimum Education/Training Requirements: Ph.D. in STEM education, Ph.D. chemical science education preferred. 
Location: Washington, DC, or Madison, WI
Duration: 2 years (with the possibility to extend)
Application details: Application deadline is May 1, 2020. Applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis.  
Candidates will be asked to submit the following:
• Cover Letter
• Curriculum Vitae
• Contact information for three references 
EEO/Minority/Female/Disabled/Veteran
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

While we all sup sorrow with the poor



A favorite version of an old song. Have a good weekend, everyone. 

A remarkable story of bad judgment

Via FiercePharma, not every day that you decide to hop on a long-distance flight and announce that you'd hidden your disease symptoms to get back to your home country:
A Biogen management meeting held in Boston in late February has spawned 108 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of the novel coronavirus—and has now led to a criminal investigation. 
Monday, Beijing police said they had filed an investigation of a woman surnamed Li for hiding her health status when entering China, a potentially criminal offense. A Biogen spokesperson has confirmed to FiercePharma that it believes “Ms. Li is a U.S.-based Biogen employee who made a personal decision to travel to China.” 
The Beijing government first disclosed Li’s case during a recent coronavirus press briefing. While keeping the identity of her employer under wraps at the time, authorities said she attended a company meeting Feb. 26-27, the exact days Biogen’s 175-person leadership conference took place. 
Li, 37, a Chinese citizen and permanent Massachusetts resident, had been denied a COVID-19 test in that state, Chinese authorities said. According to local officials, she flew back to Beijing with known symptoms of COVID-19. 
According to a representative from Air China, Li took the airline’s CA988 flight from Los Angeles to Beijing on March 12. About an hour after takeoff, Li told the flight attendant she wasn’t feeling well. Though she admitted a brief history of fever the week prior, her temperature at the time proved normal. Still, the attendant moved her to a quarantine zone at the tail of the aircraft. 
Li also told the steward she was traveling alone and hadn't taken any medicine before the flight. The thing is, those statements weren’t true. Two hours before landing, Li again approached the flight attendant. This time, she acknowledged her husband and son were onboard—several rows ahead—and that she had taken antipyretic before boarding the plane. And she admitted a colleague at her U.S. firm had been infected....
I can't imagine the circumstances in which this seemed like a good idea. And yet, here we are...

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Great story on scientific glassblowing



Cool story from Verge Science:
“One of the things we’re facing right now is the knowledge void between newer glassblowers and the older glassblowers,” Russell says. It can take years, if not decades, to master glassblowing techniques and to master the equipment that they use. That’s true in academia (some of the lathes Roeger uses are from the 1980s) and in industry where many other scientific glassblowing graduates go. 
“In some ways, it’s scary, because for a few years, when I was a student, it was really really really hard to get a job, because all the positions in production facilities, and in universities, and in national labs were all filled with people with years and years of seniority,” says Katie Severance, an alumna of Salem. Severance is now a foreman at a glass production company called AGI near Philadelphia, and he teaches at Salem... 
...Now that those people with so much seniority are retiring, it’s causing a seismic shift in the industry. “In the past five years we’re seeing an emergence of places realizing this and really lighting a fire under their ass, if you will, to get new fresh blood in there to get trained,” Severance says. It takes years of training for a scientific glassblower to really learn the ropes, so as people retire, there’s an increased demand for new apprentices...
It's interesting that every occupation has its boom and bust cycle... 

How are you seeing "work from home" working in your field of chemistry?

A lot of chemists are being asked to "work from home" - for chemists, what does that mean? I asked this on Twitter yesterday, and was inundated with responses:
National lab: "Lab work allowed, but staggered efforts to keep numbers at any given time low. All office work to be done at home"

Small biotech: "On a rotating WFH schedule, with non-lab employees 100% remote. Keep things rolling while having less than 10 people in the building at once. May change in coming days."

Academia: "Working very limited hours and making sure we are social distancing ourselves. As a postdoc we are trying to help both grad and undergrad students during this very hard situation." 
Industry: "Technicians on a rotating schedule except for analytical who are still full time. Scientists are WFH and managers are in part time to provide leadership on site. Everyone is being selective about projects and work to maintain safety."
Unfortunately, I'm getting a lot of reports from both academia and industry of employers basically pretending that COVID-19 doesn't exist, and asking people to keep on keeping on. That doesn't seem very wise.

Readers, what are you seeing in your workplace? E-mail me: chemjobber@gmail.com 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” Part 2: Research

by Professor Kenneth Hanson, Florida State University

In my last post, I focused on the transition between being a postdoc and professor. In this post—the second in the “Keep Your Job, Ken!” series—I share my thoughts on choosing a research direction and advice for short- and long-term success.

1) While it helped you get the job, you don’t have to pursue the research you proposed. Maybe between the interview and the start date you get scooped, or learn why your proposal won’t work, or become interested in a new area of research. Either way, you have a lot of flexibility. Once your startup account is set up the funds are largely unrestricted and no one is keeping track of what you spend it on (at least within reason. i.e. don’t try to buy a trampoline). You were also likely hired based on who you are as a person and the general area you work/teach in. Very few of your colleagues will remember your proposals and those that do will most likely have no strong opinions regarding whether you pursue them or not.

2) Make sure to clearly differentiate yourself from your graduate and postdoc advisors. We spend several years of our graduate and postdoc careers becoming an expert in a particular area. It can therefore be exceptionally easy to stay in that groove and continue on. However, I strongly recommend avoiding the trap of postdoc 2.0. That is, if your first pursuit as an independent researcher is a natural continuation of your postdoc work (i.e the first paper you publish independently could also have been the next paper in your post doc), don’t do it. It would technically be an independent publication but the community at large will very likely not consider it to be original work. You need to carve out your own research identity. In fact, many of the young investigator grants (i.e. NSF-CAREER, ACS-PRF NDI, and others) ask reviewers to comment on how the proposed work relates to a candidate’s previous advisor. Even for some non-young investigator grants that didn’t ask this specific question I’ve seen reviewers’ comment on the relationship of the work to my postdoc and grad advisors. This question is clearly on people’s minds and if your work is too similar then it can be a death knell for your proposal. Ask yourself, if I was going to fund a project or invite a speaker, why wouldn’t I go with the person who started the work rather than the person continuing it? I completely understand the appeal of low hanging fruit and easy papers but this time and effort could be better invested in producing preliminary results for a unique pursuit and fundable proposal. There is a blurry line between being too similar, being independent, and deviating too far (see point 4). Here’s an activity you can do to help assess your own trajectory towards differentiation: list the titles of your postdoc papers and then, next to it, the title of your proposed paper(s). If a member of your field could not differentiate your paper from those produced under your previous advisor they are too similar.  

3) Work to define your niche in the community at large. While minimizing your overlap with previous advisors, you also want to make sure you’re not mirroring someone else in your field. Ideally, your work should be unique enough to be cited in another person’s paper as a notable step forward (i.e. Dr. Doe et al. showed that…) and not just in the list of publications. When you write a proposal you want reviewers to see you as uniquely positioned to pursue the project. Also, when your tenure letters come in, you want them to read “Dr. Jane Doe is the world’s foremost expert at X.” The more encompassing X is, the more impactful the statement is. You don’t want it to say, “Prof. Jane Doe expanded/improved on the work of person Z.”

4) Balance high risk, high reward projects with guaranteed projects. We all dream of, and sometimes get, those coveted Science and Nature papers. But they are hard to come by. In addition to impact, the total number of papers also matters for grants, awards, and tenure. Therefore, it is risky to put all your eggs in one or two precarious baskets. Those projects/ideas are worth pursuing but should be supplemented by projects that are basically guaranteed to result in a publication. Studies that systematical vary one or two parameters (e.g. solvent, sterics, instrument setting/components, etc.) can be a bit tedious but can also provide a foundation for yours and others’ future work. These manuscripts will typically not land in JACS or Chem. Sci., but they are guaranteed a publication in more specialized journals. Also, depending on the topic, it may accidentally be one of your higher cited papers. For example, my postdoctoral JACS article on a new bisphosphonate decomposition mechanism has 8 citations but my JPC C article that systematically varies surface bound phosphonated dyes has over 100 citations. As a side bonus, these projects can serve as rigorous and systematic training for your graduate and undergraduate students and boost their proficiency at a particular set of measurements, procedures, and/or reactions.

5) Try not to wear yourself too thin. You no doubt have many good ideas and projects that are worth pursuing. That is part of the reason we chose this job: We are in love with our own ideas and want the flexibility and freedom to pursue them. However, time and resources are limited. Just like in warfare, a concerted front may be better than a diffused attack. Focused research helps produce a solid foundation of preliminary results necessary for a proposal. It also helps carves out a niche that can get you invited talks at specialized conferences. As a bonus, a focused effort gives you a good story rather than a gathering of factoids to tell during your tenure tour and departmental seminar. With all of that said, I am a bit of a hypocrite for advocating for focused research because we have published work in controlling interfacial electron transfer, photon upconversion, photochemical separations, and enantioselective excited state proton transfer. Not exactly the most focused of research efforts. I wouldn’t say I regret any of our work but it might have been more effective to narrow our focus a little bit. I think the take home message I’m trying to get at is that there has to be a balance between putting all your eggs in one basket and becoming too diversified.

6) Collaborate…or don’t. I have received mixed feedback on the subject of collaborations before tenure. Some are strongly opposed to it. Others don’t care. The best path is probably somewhere in between. The advice I ended up following was to collaborate as much as I wanted as long as I had an independent research pursuit and/or it was easy for an external viewer to delineate my contributions. For our photon upconversion and excited state proton transfer work, for example, we had almost no collaborators prior to tenure. But I also had a number of collaborative papers where my contribution—providing photophysical support—was obvious.

7) Make the transition out of lab as quickly as possible. For the first year or so there is no question that you will be the best postdoc you could ever ask for. Given your experience and expertise you can hammer out a few papers very quickly and with minimal effort. However, this is a short-term strategy. It is only a matter of time, usually around year 3, before other responsibilities (i.e. committee duties, proposal writing, teaching, etc.) will force you to significantly cut down or eliminate lab time. Therefore, it is important to spend that initial lab time training students and making them self-sufficient as quickly as possible. In line with the proverb "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." This is hard to do because it requires us to step back and watch our students struggle and make mistakes as they learn. Progress will start slow, but it will be worth it in the long run, especially considering the students you train will then go on to train the next generation of graduate students. Also, the sooner you trust your students and let go of lab work, the sooner you can dedicate yourself to writing proposals.

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 551 research/teaching positions and 74 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 550 research/teaching positions and 74 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." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

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

On March 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 573 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth, ninth. The current thread is the tenth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 22 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 22 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. 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, March 16, 2020

Closets full of toilet paper

...Major retailers say toilet paper hasn’t been out of stock in stores for more than a day or two, or even a few hours. Manufacturers, paper industry executives say, are raising production to meet demand, but there is only so much capacity that they can or are willing to add... 
...“You are not using more of it. You are just filling up your closet with it,” said Jeff Anderson, president of Precision Paper Converters, a paper product manufacturer with 65 employees outside Green Bay, Wis. “What happens in the summer when demand dries up and people have all this extra product in their homes?” 
Mr. Anderson’s business focuses on facial tissues, which are also in high demand, and he is paying employees overtime to work longer shifts. “We can’t make as much as they want right now,” he said...
Well, I hope that Mr. Anderson is correct, and this (waves hands around) is over by then. I suspect that he is 100% correct that the toilet paper isn't going to do people much good, and it's just drawing demand forward from the rest of the year.  

Chemical manufacturers switching products

From The Guardian:
The French luxury goods group LVMH is to start producing hand sanitiser at three of its perfume and cosmetics factories for distribution to French hospitals fighting the country’s coronavirus outbreak. 
Twelve tonnes will be produced as soon as this week, instead of the usual Christian Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy scents and make-up usually made at the three French sites. The company also owns brands including Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Moet & Chandon. 
The gel will be delivered “at no charge” to French health authorities, in particular the 39 public hospitals in Paris, the group said on Sunday...
Nice move. 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Have a good weekend



This is a favorite piece of mine. I heard it first during the film "Master and Commander", and it has stuck with me ever since. 

Help in the time of COVID-19

Dear readers of the blog:

What do you think is going to happen with the spread of COVID-19 through the United States? I would like to tackle some of the key questions that has driven this blog since December 2008. Here are some questions that I have:
  • Will we see a recession in 2020? If so, when? 
  • How will this affect industrial chemist employment? 
  • How will this affect academic chemist employment for the 2020-21 hiring cycle? 
  • How will COVID-19 affect hiring cycles overall? Will 2019 be the local maxima of hiring in industrial and academic chemistry? 
  • How will the lack of face-to-face contact affect job searchers? 
  • What are the most effective Skype interviewing techniques? 
  • If there is a recession, which aspect of the chemical enterprise (academic, industrial or governmental) will be hit by mass layoffs? When and how? 
Readers, what questions do you have? What web-based tools can we use to help each other? Please comment below. E-mails welcome at chemjobber@gmail.com

(UPDATE: adjusted language of final bullet)

 (I regret I am much slow at answering them than I was ten years ago, although I suspect I will have lots of time for e-mails in the coming weeks....) 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

ACS Spring National meeting cancelled

If you haven't heard already: 
Cancellation of ACS Spring 2020 National Meeting & Expo 
Safety is a core value of the American Chemical Society, and as such the health and well-being of our members, community and staff are paramount. As a result, we are cancelling (terminating) the ACS Spring 2020 National Meeting & Expo scheduled for March 22-26, 2020, in Philadelphia.
The FAQ is here. 

Warning Letter of the Week: dead legs and rusty pipes edition

From a letter from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the Chairman of the Board of Guangzhou Tinci Materials Technology Co., Ltd.:
Your [redacted] and distribution systems appear to have multiple dead-legs, which can foster the development of biofilms. The piping and installation diagrams for your [redacted] system in your response lack adequate information regarding the slope of the piping. 
Moreover, your [redacted] system lacks proper maintenance. For example, there were visible corrosion on pipes, brackets, fittings, valves, and tanks in the utilities area, which is covered but not completely enclosed from outside elements. During the inspection, you stated that some poorly maintained equipment and piping in the [redacted] utility area is not currently in use. However, during the inspection it appeared that the poorly maintained equipment and piping was still connected to the [redacted] system you use to make components of drugs.
I genuinely didn't know the FDA disapproves of dead legs, although biofilms are a perfectly good reason why. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” Part 1: Getting Started


The first installment of the “Keep Your Job, Ken!” blog series will focus on transitioning from a postdoc to a professor and getting your lab up and running.

1) Before leaving your postdoc, wrap up as much of your current work as possible. Do your best to part on good terms with your advisor because, hopefully, they will support and advocate for you in the future. However, other than being another line on the CV, do note that papers produced during your postdoc do little to nothing to help you with your independent career and can steal precious time from your already overwhelming assistant professor schedule. You may be invested in a project/paper, but a cost-benefit analysis will indicate that it is better to hand off those projects (and first authorship) to someone else before you leave. Also, as I will describe in greater detail later, you need to differentiate yourself from your advisor as soon as possible.

2) If it’s an option, arrive early to your new institution and get settled in well before your first semester starts. Any move is a major life-disrupting event. But it could prove substantially more chaotic if you move only a week before teaching your first class and starting to work with graduate students. Just thinking about that amount of stress makes me shudder. Even if you are not getting paid and/or don’t have a purchasing budget to start your research it is worth taking as much time as you can to settle in (e.g., spending time in your office, setting up your home, finding a grocery store, etc.) before your formal schedule kicks in (i.e., classes, committee meetings, orientation, etc.). If you are lucky and have a budget, you can even start placing orders.  

3) This one is obvious: ramp up your research as fast as possible. Hitting the ground running maximizes your productivity faster and that additional time at peak performance can be a critical boost to pre-tenure success. Framed another way, the faster you get up and running the more time you have to make mistakes, recognize failed/promising research directions, and make adjustments accordingly. If possible, avoid relying on or agreeing to a renovated space because the renovations will inevitably take twice as long as originally outlined. If renovations are necessary, fight for a temporary space where you and your students can work in the interim.

4) Once you’ve accepted a job offer, immediately start generating a purchasing list that includes the names and item numbers of everything you might need. This should include the big itemsthat will ultimately involve seeking quotes and negotiating pricesas well as little things. Some of them are obvious (i.e. 50 mL round bottom flasks, solvents, lens/mirrors, post holders, etc.), but others not so much. Like that stupid little connector piece between the vacuum and the Schlenk line (see image below). What is it called? What size is it? What company makes it? How do you find it in a catalog? There is nothing more demoralizing than spending hours at your desk finding an item, purchasing it, and once it arrives finding out it is completely wrong. This will inevitably happen to everyone but hopefully you can minimize the amount of time you spend and the number of times it happens. It is much easier to recognize what you need when it is in front of you instead of trying to envision it in an empty hood/bench. My advice is to walk through your postdoc lab and write down the name and part number of everything that you may need in the future. Taking pictures of a setup you like is also helpful.


5) Place orders for large equipment right away but make sure it’s done correctly. Ordering, processing, delivery, and installation can take several months. For many new assistant professors this will be their biggest rate limiting step. Most institutions require items costing >$5,000 or $10,000 to go through a time-consuming process like bidding. This will likely be handled by a purchasing office that is not nearly in as much of a hurry as you are. If you are not particularly attached to one brand or model or the one you want is the least expensive among the competitors, then the process may move faster. Alternatively, if you know exactly what instrument you want, and it has unique features, then a Sole Source Justificationa process in which you justify why the instrument you want is unique and required for your workmay be your better option. Here is an example Sole Source Justification form from FSU (pdf). Keep in mind that the justification is being written for someone who is not an expert in your field and most likely not even a scientist. Through trial and error, I have learned:
·  The three lines offered to justify the purchase on the FSU form are not enough. If you’re justification space is similarly modest get used to writing “see attachment.”
·  Get at least three quotes from the most well-known suppliers. This shows you have done your homework and will allow you to show them how the item you want is clearly differentiated.
·  Ask the vendors for advice on how to write the sole source. They regularly fight the same battle and know the pros and cons of their competitors. It should be detailed but not so detailed it looks like the vendor wrote it because the other vendors can challenge it.
·  Request a successful Sole Source Justification example from senior colleagues. Ask for their advice as well since every university handles this process differently. For example, at a private institution the restrictions are much looser and a three-line justification might be enough. Alternatively, public intuitions like those in Florida have to adhere to Sunshine Laws and that prompts a more rigorous process. If you email me I’d be happy to share an example of a successful sole-source justification. Unfortunately, I can also share an example of an unsuccessful one.

All in all, take time and do a good job on your Sole Source Justifications. It’s demoralizing when, weeks or months later, a justification is rejected by the purchasing office or challenged by one of the alternative vendors. Not only is this a delay but the rejection can also trigger additional, time-eating bids and negotiations that can add months to your wait.

6) Get your website and social media presence online ASAP. Your website is the world’s window into your research group. It is a crucial tool for recruiting postdocs, graduate, and undergraduate students. Equally important is that it may serve as a source of information for article and grant reviewers. After all, the NSF’s two-page biosketch, for example, only tells you so much about the qualifications of a PI or co-PI.

There are multiple approaches for producing a website. One strategy is to learn HTML and design your own from scratch. That is what I did and, while I am not going to say I regret it because I learned a lot, it did take more time than I expected. Another possible drawback to this approach is that a DIY website can end up looking a bit…amateur. But one plus is that by controlling the formatting you can hide Easter Eggs like a Kanomi Code (try plugging it in while visiting the Hanson Research Group page).  Another more cost-effective strategy is to opt for a user-friendly template and fill in your content (e.g., wix, site123, etc.). Alternatively, if your university offers support services for website design you can take advantage of them. Or, it may even be worth paying an undergrad with web design experience to create your page.

Setting up a Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts is much easier and will be an important channel for publicity. When a new paper is published you can quickly use a tweet to increase its visibility. Quick note: if you tag the journal, they will also usually retweet it to their followers. Also, follow my group on Twitter and Instagram (@HansonFSU).

7) Everything will go slower than you would like so pick and choose your battles. From the day you arrive on campus you are going to be excited, motivated, and ready to take on anything and everything.  However, things like getting an ID, setting up a purchasing account, getting quotes, actually making purchases, major/minor renovations, instrument training, etc. will most likely take longer than you want. The reality is that, regardless of how much time you’re willing to put in, most of the logistics will rely on staff who are already overburdened with day-to-day work and rightfully do not want to work nights and weekends. While your task may seem quick and easy, it may be the 81st item on their to do list.  Therefore, my advice is to be patient and pick and choose your battles. Do not be the assistant professor who cries wolf and demands that everything needs to be done ASAP. If everything is equally the highest priority, then everything is also equally the lowest priority. However, if you contact someone once and say “I realize that you are busy, but I am in a hurry and I would really like your help with X.” chances are that it will get done quickly. But if you do that every time, especially with things they know are trivial, then you have officially become that pain in the ass colleague that no one wants to work with. The bottom line is that your coworkers are people and if you rub them the wrong way don’t be surprised if your requests/purchases/emails get back-burnered behind someone they like who treats them well.  With that said sometimes you do have to push hard but aim to do so in a diplomatic way.

8) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people who can help with everything from purchasing to finding a good doctor and dentist in town. While there can be a fine line between needing help and pestering, often you will find that your senior colleagues are happy to hold court and share their wisdom with you (present blog post included). Given the importance of setting up your lab as quickly as possible, don’t be afraid to ask to borrow hood space, instrument time, tools, etc. before your lab is up and running. Those extra few weeks/months of active work can make a huge difference in producing preliminary results for early proposals. Think of it this way, the department has made a large investment in you and most will do everything they can to help you succeed. Worst case scenario they say no. But from my experience that is rarely the case. With that said, if they say yes, don’t damage anything and if you do offer to pay to fix it. Also, read the room and don’t overstay your welcome.

9) Be nice to the support staff. First, do this because it’s what a good person would do. You and your colleagues can really tell something about someone’s character by how they treat the people that “serve” them. This is sometimes referred to as the Waiter Rule.  Second, if the staff like you and you show them respect, they are far more likely to help you and do so in a timely manner. Finally, treating staff well is good for the health of the entire department. As I will expand upon in the management section, how people are treated at work directly affects their productivity, retention, number of sick days, etc. more so than any other factor (e.g. salary, benefits, vacation days, etc.). Long story short, check your ego at the door and treat the people around you well.

“Keep Your Job, Ken!” by Professor Kenneth Hanson, Florida State


(Chemjobber's note: Ken Hanson will be guest posting for the next seven weeks. I am honored to host his posts.) 

It’s hard to believe how much time has passed since my “Get a Job, Ken!” blog post debuted (circa 2013). The series covers my experience on the academic job market and shares tips and advice for future job seekers. The eight-part series proved surprisingly popular with a few of the posts garnering over 400,000 views. I credit many of these views to Chemjobber , who includes a link to the blog in the annual Faculty Jobs List he does with Andrew Spaeth. Drawing on conversations I’ve with people who’ve recognized me at conferences, it sounds like the blog has even helped secure a job or two!

I enjoy blogging but available time to do so has proven sparse. I think I have a reasonable excuse: For the last six years I’ve been trying to keep my job (i.e. get tenure). Hence, the demanding mantra looping in my brain (and conveniently lending itself to the title of this blog sequel) is “Keep your job, Ken!”

The journey offered high-highs, low-lows, and everything in between. Following my first year on the job, I wrote my memoir of a first year assistant professor recounting the dramatic life change that occurred when transitioning from a postdoc to a professor. And since then I’ve mentored an awesome group of students, hooded my first Ph.D. students, and sprouted a few branches on my academic family tree. We got some funding, published papers, and presented a bunch of seminars/conference talks. I also met and got to know some amazing colleagues and collaborators. And, while this may or may not be related to the job, my hairline began retreating and turning white.


 After all of this time, work, and visible aging, I am proud to share that I am officially a tenured associate professor. The donning of this title is a little anti-climactic as it involves many incremental hurdles. First, the department votes. Then there’s a college-level vote. And that’s followed by votes from a university-level committee, the provost, and president. I wasn’t initially sure when to celebrate my new status but settled on the date when my salary officially increased: August 2019.

With the journey “complete” I can’t help but look back and reflect on the successes and mistakes I experienced along the way. In line with my previous posts sharing advice for new graduate students, post-doc position seekers, and academic job candidates, this blog series will share insights for new assistant professors. Most of what I’ll share is based on my first-hand experiences and/or the advice I’ve received from others. Some of the content may be obvious and actual experiences will vary widely. My goal though is simply to help in whatever way I can and, in that same vein, I encourage new assistant professors to consult with as many people as possible, particularly senior colleagues at your own institution. Additional insights are also always welcome in the comment section.

I have a habit of generating too much content for just one blog post. So I’ve broken down my advice into seven posts that encompass:

3) Management (week of March 23)
4) Funding (week of March 30)
5) Gaining Prominence (week of April 6)
6) Teaching (week of April 13)
7) Other (week of April 20)

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 550 research/teaching positions and 74 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 550 research/teaching positions and 74 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." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

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

On March 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 573 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth, ninth. The current thread is the tenth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 22 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 22 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. 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, March 9, 2020

Smoke taint in Australia

Credit: The New York Times
From the New York Times:
HUNTER VALLEY, Australia — The hills are lush and green, the grapes plump and ripe. But one bite of this famed valley’s most prized product reveals a winemaker’s worst nightmare. 
“It’s like licking an ashtray,” said Iain Riggs, a vintner here. “It’s really rank and bitter.” 
The bush fires that raged for eight months in southeastern Australia inflicted widespread damage on the vineyards of the Hunter Valley, not directly from flames, but through the invisible taint of smoke.... 
...The winemakers there have become chemists as they try to determine which grapes can be salvaged. Labeled glass beakers cover desks and shelves in the main office, and sheets with lists of numbers and ingredients are entered into computers. 
Testing grape sugars for compounds confirming smoke taint is a tricky business. Mr. Riggs calls it the “dark arts”; even with all the numbers in front of him, it’s a guessing game. The grapes themselves “look terrific,” he said, and “that’s why it’s so insidious.”
Surely some scientists have a means of testing grapes to detect smoke compounds? and at what level they're at? 

Friday, March 6, 2020

View From My Hood?: I-76 morning 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.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Do tenured professors think about leaving?

From the inbox, a good question:
"Do tenured chemistry faculty consider leaving their positions, if so, why?"
I am most certainly not a tenured professor, but I have a few ideas as to why someone might leave such a position: 
  • dissatisfaction with the money that their tenured position offers, or knowledge that they could earn significantly more in the private sector, or 
  • a belief that their institution was no longer (or never was) meeting their ideals, and the knowledge that another position might be better aligned with their values, or 
  • being lured away by an industrial or governmental position, or
  • a belief that leaving their position would bring them more personal satisfaction with their job. 
Readers, what do you think? Are you a tenured professor? Are you thinking about the greener grass of industry? 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 548 research/teaching positions and 72 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 548 research/teaching positions and 72 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." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

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

On March 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 573 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth, ninth. The current thread is the tenth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 20 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 20 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. 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, March 2, 2020

American Physical Society cancels its meeting 34 hours before start due to COVID-19

Citing the growing threat of the coronavirus, the American Physical Society (APS), the 55,000 member professional society for physicists and researchers in associated fields, cancelled its largest meeting of the year just 34 hours before it was supposed to begin. APS’s March Meeting was to be held this week at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, and the society anticipated more than 10,000 people from all over the world would attend. However, late yesterday, APS issued a statement abruptly calling off the meeting. 
“The decision to cancel was based on the latest scientific data being reported, and the fact that a large number of attendees at this meeting are coming from outside the U.S.,” including countries where the virus is circulating and for which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised people to avoid non-essential travel, the APS statement says. “[T]his decision was made out of deep concern for the health and well-being of our registrants, staff, vendors, and the Denver community.”
Best wishes to all involved, including the people who had been traveling internationally to get to Denver. In related news, the latest statement from the American Chemical Society is as follows:
ACS is closely monitoring the evolving situation related to COVID-19. At present, #ACSPhilly is on schedule. We encourage people to check http://acs.org for our official statement on current meeting plans. (1/2) 
Any updates or changes will be sent to registered #ACSPhilly attendees as well as posted on the homepage (2/2)
You gotta feel bad for anyone who's sitting on the Committee for Meetings and Expositions for ACS - making this kind of call is no fun. 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Does anyone have experience doing a postdoc at the NIH?

A friend of the blog would like to know what it is like to postdoc at the NIH. Anyone know anyone who has worked at NIH as a postdoc? Care to comment?

If you'd like to do so anonymously via e-mail, send me an e-mail at chemjobber@gmail.com and I'll connect you. 

Arkema management on trial in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Opening statements were given on Thursday in the unusual criminal trial against Arkema chemical plant and its executives after chemicals were said to have combusted during Hurricane Harvey. 
The French chemical company Arkema, its former Vice President of logistics Michael Keogh, CEO Richard Rowe, and Plant Manager Leslie Comardelle are all facing criminal charges. 
Prosecutors accused Keogh of putting Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies in harms way by telling local emergency officials that Arkema had real-time data monitoring of the tanks that 350,000 gallons of organic peroxide, which they knew would explode when they reached a certain temperature. 
"Chemical products, specifically peroxides, were exposed to rising water during Hurricane Harvey," said special prosecutor Mike Doyle during opening statements. "The choice these managers made, as Arkema always did, is to keep the product on the ground, in the threat of weather, every single time." 
A spokesperson from Arkema allegedly told emergency personnel the company was keeping track of its chemicals with off-site, real-time monitoring and would notify emergency personnel before they would be at risk of exposure to toxic chemicals from the plant. 
Prosecutors say the company resorted to asking its own workers to move the dangerous chemicals by hand, in barrels, as the waters rose around them. The chemical release and fires shut down a mile and a half around the plant for days. At least 21 first responders and other officials were injured after they inhaled some of the fumes while arriving at the plant. 
Attorneys for Arkema argued the company had a full hurricane plan in place, but nobody could have predicted the severity of Hurricane Harvey.
 I think it's a little unusual for putting plant management on trial for incidents, but I suspect the fact that first responders were those that were sickened by the peroxide fumes (what were those?) drove at least some of the decisions of the Harris County DA.