Friday, September 18, 2020

Have a good weekend


Well, we've made it through another one. Have a great weekend, and see you on Monday.

AbbVie CEO wants people back in the office

Via CNBC: 

A “critical part” of pharmaceutical company AbbVie’s success is “face-to-face” interaction, CEO Richard Gonzalez explained in an Aug. 27 email outlining its process for bringing thousands of U.S.-based employees back to work. 

Gonzalez said “cross-functional collaboration” was a cornerstone of AbbVie’s high performance, adding that employees needed to “preserve and nurture our culture so we can continue to accelerate, to climb higher and to help the next generation of patients.” 

All of that, he said, “means returning to our workplace,” according to the email viewed by CNBC. The company expects employees — even those who say they’ve been able to work from home just fine — to report to the office to foster creativity and innovation under its phased-in return-to-work plan, according to interviews with three current employees, anonymous complaints in public forums and internal company documents....

...Other drugmakers have announced flexible work-from-home policies. Novartis, for instance, has said its workers can return on-site voluntarily without any pressure to do so. Tylenol maker Johnson & Johnson is bringing employees back in “waves as it is safe to do so,” spokeswoman Lisa Cannellos told CNBC. The company declined to say when its return-to-work program would begin. Cannellos said it’s currently offering “flexible work arrangements for those who need it based on dependent care or underlying health conditions.”

Really depends on the office. If it's a scenario where an office (especially AbbVie!) can have access to plenty of tests, lots of good airflow analysis, plenty of masks and lots of social distancing, then... that might be all right. Returning to February 2020? That ain't happening any time soon...

Thursday, September 17, 2020

18 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 18 new positions for September 13.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company list, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.

Job posting: sales rep, Waters, Boston, MA:

Waters is seeking a dynamic contributor to fill the role of an Account Manager. This person will have the exciting opportunity to drive the sales of our full range of products and services, which include: Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography System, Mass Spectrometers, software, consumables and services for the Metro West Boston Region. 
The desired candidate should be highly self-motivated to develop and implement a territorial business plan, while working in unison with their assigned specialists and marketing colleagues in order to deliver a strong call cycle and business development activities. The foundation of the account manager's role is to develop a keen understanding of the customers' needs to design solutions with lasting and meaningful impact.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Warning Letter of the Week: dirty homeopathic equipment edition

In an epistle from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the CEO of Mayon's Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd in Maharashtra, India:
API Deviations 
1. Failure to clean equipment and utensils to prevent contamination or carry-over of a material that would alter the quality of the API beyond the official or other established specifications. 
Your firm manufacturers homeopathic in process materials and [redacted] from various raw materials. Our investigator observed unidentified debris in the [redacted] of your [redacted] equipment, which is used to process multiple raw materials for homeopathic [redacted], including [redacted] containing [redacted]. This equipment was marked as clean. 
Your response states that you filed a deviation and re-trained your staff. This response is inadequate because you failed to identify the observed debris and perform an impact assessment for the drugs that were manufactured using this dirty equipment.
There are API in homeopathic remedies? How do they test for them? What's the limit of detection?*

*I’m sure there’s some way

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 74 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 74 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On September 17, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 290 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching faculty positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

Discord for new chemistry faculty

Professor Nadia Korovina has created a Discord server for new assistant professors to talk. It can be found here: https://discord.gg/Fkk3jXv

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 17 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 17 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

From Dr. Josephson: This year we will try to utilize the list further by circulating among the professors, as well as using the hashtags #facultychemEjobs and #MeettheCandidatesChE2020.

The open thread is found here. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 40 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 40 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, September 14, 2020

"No German chemical industry recovery expected until 2022"

In this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, this short piece from Alex Scott:
VCI, Germany’s main chemical industry association, says the country’s chemical sector is on course for a 3% drop in production and a 6% decline in sales for 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A return to prepandemic performance levels will not occur before the end of 2021, the association states in a financial report. In the first half of 2020, production and sales were down 2.5 and 6.1%, respectively, compared with the same period a year earlier. Below the headline figures, VCI highlights specific areas of concern, including a drop in plant-capacity use to 77.5% and a lack of orders at one in fourcompanies.  
Despite the negative outlook, VCI sees reason for optimism, with a member poll indicating that operational disruption caused by the pandemic is declining and that domestic and international demand is showing signs of picking up slightly. “We are seeing the first signs of recovery,” Christian Kullmann, president of VCI and chairman of Evonik Industries, says in a press release.
My gut feeling is that we're not going to see major layoffs from the chemical industry, but I can't imagine entry-level hiring keeping pace in the chemical (not pharma) industry. We shall see. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Have a good weekend



Well, we've made it to another weekend. Have a great one, and see you on Monday. 

Chemical plant explosion in Palm Bay, FL on Tuesday

Via Florida Today:
The cause of several large explosions heard in the area of U.S. 1 and R.J. Conlan Boulevard at FAR Chemical, Inc. in Palm Bay Tuesday just before 11 a.m. is under investigation, but appears to have originated from an industrial storage area on site, fire and company officials said. 
The storage area contained 30 to 40 50-gallon barrels containing an isopropyl alcohol-based solution, said Palm Bay spokeswoman Keely Leggett. "The fire occurred at a material storage pad where flammable materials were stored and then spread to an adjacent building," said Joe Beatty, vice president and general manager of FAR. "No one was injured and all employees have been accounted for." 
The explosions generated a large cloud of black smoke visible for miles.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Professor Erick Carreira issues a statement of regret for the Guido Koch letter

Erick Carreira has been appointed the new editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Here's the news summary from C&EN, with the inclusion of a short paragraph about a letter to a certain Guido:
News of Carriera's appointment reignited debate over a letter he wrote in 1996 describing the long working hours he expected of those in his research group at the time. In a statement released Sept. 5 Carriera said "I regret writing this letter, as it in no way reflects my leadership approach today. . . . Whether I am leading a lab or leading a journal, I am committed to promoting a sustainable and positive cultural shift in our industry."
The full text of Professor Carreira's tweets follows:
A statement from Prof. Erick Carreira: 
“I regret writing this letter, as it in no way reflects my leadership approach today. I have made peace with those impacted by the letter. (1/3) 
In the decades since it was written, I’ve grown as a teacher, as a mentor, as a researcher and as a person. I am proud of the way I work with my colleagues and students and believe that a healthy work-life balance is now more important than ever. (2/3) 
Whether I am leading a lab or leading a journal, I am committed to promoting a sustainable and positive cultural shift in our industry.” - Erick Carreira (3/3)
It has literally been 10 years since this letter was first posted in the chemistry blogosphere, and I don't wish to replow this particular bit of thorny ground. I felt these statements from former students are relevant in terms of testifying to life in and around the Carreira lab, and that this letter seems at least a bit of an anomaly.

I do think it is very likely that senior academics and administrators who select editors-in-chief of major publications were not aware of this letter's impact among chemists in the 2000s and beyond, who are far more plugged into life online than those who were trained in other times. This is not the only letter of its genre, but I think it's the emblem of a certain culture and a certain attitude within organic chemistry. I think that the letter took on a life and a meaning of its own on the internet beyond an interaction between a specific professor and a specific postdoctoral fellow, and it's bluntly clear that The Powers that Be were unaware of that.

As I noted this weekend, it would have been better if this letter were to have been repudiated openly and repeatedly by the broad chemistry community for the last 24 years. That we have a statement of regret from Professor Carreira now is a start. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 66 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 66 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On September 10, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 254 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching faculty positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 16 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 16 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

From Dr. Josephson: This year we will try to utilize the list further by circulating among the professors, as well as using the hashtags #facultychemEjobs and #MeettheCandidatesChE2020.

The open thread is found here. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 40 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 40 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, September 7, 2020

Friday, September 4, 2020

Have a good weekend



Well, I have a new car, so all is not lost. We made it through yet another week. I hope you have a good weekend. 

94 year old chemist learns his compound went into the clinic

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A former Texas A&M University chemist received a letter in the mail that surprised him. It was addressed to him and came all the way from Japan. As Ralph Zingaro opened the letter and began reading, he said he realized receiving it was no mistake. 
A compound that Zingaro helped create at a Texas A&M lab half a century ago, is being used to cure a specific kind of cancer through clinical trials in Japan. “My arsenic attached to the glutathione had passed all of the clinical testings and would be released soon as a cancer-curing agent for a particular kind of cancer. It’s called T-Cell Lymphoma,” said Zingaro. 
...According to a press release from Solasia, they named the compound Darinaparsin. The release says, “Darinaparsin is a novel mitochondrial targeting drug (organic arsenic compound) that has been developed for the treatment of various hematological cancers and solid cancers. This study was conducted as a multinational, multicentre, single-arm, open-label, non-randomized study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of darinaparsin monotherapy in relapsed or refractory patients with PTCL in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.”
To quote a favorite musical, "What is a legacy? / It's planting seeds in a garden you never get to see." Glad to see Dr. Zingaro got to see this particular sprout.  

Thursday, September 3, 2020

31 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 31 new positions for August 29.

For the month of August, 117 positions were posted.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company list, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Recommendations from former coworkers

Interesting article about DIY vaccine makers in the New York Times, with this beaut of a quote about one of the DIY scientists: 
...In the 1990s, Mr. Stine worked for Patrick Gray, a molecular biologist who contributed to the discovery of a hepatitis B vaccine and is now the chief executive of a biotech company. 
Dr. Gray said in an interview that the science Mr. Stine published at Icos, the biotech company where they worked together, was “sound” but that the young scientist had a penchant for making too much of too little. “Johnny was in a hurry to publish his work and advance his career,” he said. “We often insisted on more confirmation and more controls.”
 I probably wouldn't get any complimentary quotes from my former coworkers either...

DuPont published more in JACS than Caltech in the 1960s?

The scale of the change since the 1970s is huge—big businesses have retreated from research. In the 1960s, DuPont, the chemicals giant, published more in the Journals of the American Chemical Society than both MIT and Caltech combined. R&D magazine, which awards the R&D 100 to the hundred innovations it judges most innovative in a given four year period, gave 41% of its awards to Fortune 500 companies in its 1971 iteration and 47% in 1975. By 2006, 6% of the awards were going to firms in the Fortune 500. The great majority of these awards are now being won by federal labs, university teams, and spin-offs from academia. The lone inventor is back. 
This is reflected by declines in the shares of patents going to the biggest businesses, and in the shares of scientists working there. In 1971 just over seven per cent of scientists in industry tracked by the US National Science Foundation worked in firms with under 1,000 employees; by 2004 this was 32%. In 2003 around a quarter worked at firms with fewer than ten employees. Even pharmaceuticals, the one area where large internal research labs are still significant, has been affected—around half of the drugs approved so far in the 2010s were originally discovered by small biotech startups.
I suspect there are a lot of changes as to why companies have slowed their publishing in the scientific literature. It's worth a read. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 61 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 61 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On September 3, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 216 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching faculty positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first 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).

From Dr. Josephson: This year we will try to utilize the list further by circulating among the professors, as well as using the hashtags #facultychemEjobs and #MeettheCandidatesChE2020.

The open thread is found here. 

Postdoc: Beyzavi Group, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

The Beyzavi Group in the Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas is accepting applications for a highly motivated and hard-working Postdoctoral Fellow in Transition-Metal Based Catalytic Systems with the focus on utilizing Covalent Organic Frameworks (COFs). 
This project is interdisciplinary as we are interested to incorporate catalytically active metal complexes into COFs to address the current challenges in catalysis such as catalyst self-quenching or deactivation.  
This position involves organic synthesis of ligands, preparation and characterizing of transition-metal based complexes, testing their properties, catalytic activities and reporting results to the Professor Beyzavi. The position requires mentoring of junior researchers, manuscript preparation and submission of proposals for further work.
This initial appointment will be for one year, with expectation for renewal. 
Regular, reliable, and non-disruptive attendance is an essential job duty, as is the ability to create and maintain collegial, harmonious working relationships with others.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 39 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 39 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, August 31, 2020

Mexican acetic anhydride

Via random clicking, this remarkable Bloomberg article:
...Acetic anhydride has legal uses in laboratories and factories—the most common use is in the production of cigarette filters. But under international drug laws it’s one of the most strictly controlled “precursor and essential chemicals” for the production of illegal narcotics. For 30 years the U.S. government has aggressively pushed almost every nation in the world to sign on to global treaties and pass domestic laws to keep potential drugmaking chemicals away from narcotics syndicates. Acetic anhydride was placed in the highest category of control in 2001. Yet the acetic anhydride seized that morning in Sinaloa was bottled, branded, and sold in Mexico by a $12.3 billion publicly traded U.S. company, Avantor Inc. 
During the decade-long U.S. heroin epidemic, Avantor has cultivated a remarkable line of business: selling acetic anhydride across Mexico in containers that are big enough to make lucrative quantities of illegal narcotics but small enough to load into the trunk of a car. Sales come via a network of distributors, online sellers, and stores spread across the country...
It sounds like there are a lot of different things to blame here, but it's pretty clear that Avantor knows that it is selling acetic anhydride to manufacture heroin (i.e. someone would have been asking 'why are we selling acetic anhydride in such large quantities in 5 gallon containers?') 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Have a good weekend



I read C.S. Forester's "The Good Shepherd"*, and there is so much discussion about the (World War II destroyer) captain's enjoyment of a fresh pot coffee as he struggles through ~48-72 hours of intense convoy defense and battling against U-boats. So, of course, my favorite song about coffee.

Hope everyone has a good weekend, and see you on Monday.

*yes, inspired by the recent Tom Hanks film (which I have not seen yet)

Job posting: associate chemist, IsleChem, Grand Island, NY

From the inbox:
IsleChem LLC, an analytical, process development and chemical manufacturing service company, is searching for an Associate Chemist to work with PhD's in Process Development of new products. Previous experience in experimental design, construction, operation, and data collections is beneficial. Send resumes to careers@islechem.com  
Best wishes to those interested. 

August 2020 Chemical Activity Barometer up 2.5% (3MMA)

From the American Chemistry Council:
WASHINGTON (August 25, 2020) – The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), rose by 2.5 percent in August on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a 3.0 percent gain in July. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer was down 6.1 percent in August. 
The unadjusted data show a 1.8 percent gain in August following a 1.5 percent gain in July and a 4.1 percent gain in June. The diffusion index rose from 41 percent to 59 percent this month – the first time since January that it has been above 50 percent. 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 1.08 points and that for June was revised upward by 0.77 points. 
“With four consecutive months of gains, the latest CAB reading is consistent with recovery in the U.S. economy, which is likely to be slow,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “The August reading is only 5.8 percent below its pre-coronavirus level, and the indicator appears to be improving at a fairly good pace.”
Good to see things are slowing coming back; I imagine this augurs relatively well for chemical industry employment for the rest of the year. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

What if the boss wants you to drink?

This stuff was awful - do not recommend
Via the New York Times, a classic problem, but a Chinese version: 
The new guy did not drink. 
During a company dinner in Beijing on Thursday, his boss at Xiamen International Bank demanded that he order an alcoholic beverage. When he refused, he said, another executive slapped him. It was the slap heard around the country, prompting broad reflection on a professional drinking culture in China that rewards excessive drinking and alienates those who do not imbibe.
But the lawyer, who is abstinent, said he had never been coerced into drinking against his will. Many social crowds are formed based on drinking habits, he noted, and dinner banquets can be divided into two tables: one for those who love to drink and another for those who do so moderately or not at all. 
“If you can drink and make professional connections, that will help,” he wrote. “But if you don’t have this ability, you can still make a good lawyer.” 
...Banquets can be an especially intimidating environment for young working women in China, who are often seated next to older executives and are expected to laugh at their jokes while being plied with alcohol, experts say. Some employees have dealt with the pressure to drink by resorting to discreet tricks, like pouring one’s drink on the floor.
A story I once heard was that Frank Sinatra would keep up his reputation for heavy drinking by taking a sip from any drink he was given, and then he would set it down. Probably won't work for these salarymen.

Thankfully, I have never worked in an organization that valued heavy drinking. I'd like to think that I could put up with the peer pressure, but I've never been subjected to it. If my paycheck (and my future paycheck) depended on it, it's hard to say. It's worth noting that Chinese corporate culture is probably a lot more gotta-hang-with-the-team-and-the-boss than the United States. There just really isn't anything like one of these banquets in American culture.*

Happily, the drinking culture in the American chemical industry seems to be at a dull roar. If you were a non-drinker by contrast, I imagine that it would be a little more difficult. Readers, what do you think?

*maybe there is? but banquets (even in non-COVID times) seem like once a year events...

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 55 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 55 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On August 27, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 181 research/teaching positions and 3 teaching faculty positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 7 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 7 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

From Dr. Josephson: This year we will try to utilize the list further by circulating among the professors, as well as using the hashtags #facultychemEjobs and #MeettheCandidatesChE2020.

The open thread is found here. 

Job posting: faculty search, Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN

Via Twitter:
The Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics (CBT) at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital invites applications for Two Open Rank Faculty positions in Chemical Biology. We seek creative applicants with bold vision and demonstrated excellence in research at the interface of Chemistry, Biology and Medicine. 
The faculty rank of candidates will be commensurate with their experience. 
St. Jude offers generous start-up packages, including full salary for faculty and support staff; equipment funds; state-of-the-art chemical and computational facilities; and access to cutting-edge institutional shared resources. For additional information visit: https://www.stjude.org/research/departments-divisions/chemical-biology-therapeutics.html  
A curriculum vitae, concise summary of research contributions with links to three publications, well-articulated research plan (3-5 pages), and names and contact information of three references (for assistant member positions) should be submitted directly online.
Full posting here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 39 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 39 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, August 24, 2020

Do you know where your ammonium nitrate is?

Via the Washington Post, bad news about the state of ammonium nitrate storage around the world: 
Ports around the world are working to remove potentially dangerous chemicals, sometimes stored in huge quantities, following an explosion in Beirut this month that left at least 180 people dead, thousands injured and hundreds of thousands displaced. 
Officials in Dakar, Senegal’s capital city, announced Thursday they had requested the removal of almost 3,000 U.S. tons of ammonium nitrate from the city’s port — a larger volume of the chemical compound that caused Beirut’s explosion. 
Last week, Romanian officials at the Black Sea port of Agigea said they had found a single warehouse illegally holding about 5,000 tons of ammonium nitrate. A further 3,800 tons of the compound had been found in raids across the country, police said in a statement. 
...Other ports have seen similar problems. In India’s Chennai, port officials acknowledged this month they had been storing more than 800 tons of ammonium nitrate since its seizure in 2015. Some of the load was moved to Hyderabad via trucks last week. According to newspaper the Hindu, 10 containers were taken, accompanied by guards and the trucks equipped with dry chemical powder fire extinguishers.
I like the idea of giving the trucks fire extinguishers - yes, that will take care of it.

(So here's what I don't get: suppose that you seize a kajillion tons of ammonium nitrate - now what? Where are you going to put it? How will it actually be consumed/gotten rid of safely? Isn't that the problem with the Beirut situation, i.e. now you have it, it's in your warehouses, and you can't figure out where to put it?) 

(Also: does anyone know why ammonium nitrate is the fertilizer of choice? Is it just sheer low cost, or is it a combination of low cost and high nitrogen content? Any chance for us to figure out a safer way to deliver nitrogen to the soil?)

Friday, August 21, 2020

Have a good weekend



Well, we've (maybe just barely?) made it another week. Hope you're having a good one. See you on Monday.

*someone crashed into my parked car, which sucks

Swiss chocolate factory emissions are powdery, brown

At least it's not bits of a reactor!
Credit: Olten
From The Guardian:
But residents of a Swiss town got a bit of a shock when it started snowing particles of a fine cocoa powder after the ventilation system at a chocolate factory malfunctioned. 
The Lindt & Spruengli company confirmed local reports on Tuesday that there was a minor defect in the cooling ventilation in an area making roasted “cocoa nibs” in its factory in Olten, between Zurich and Basel. The nibs, fragments of crushed cocoa beans, are the basis of chocolate.
Combined with strong winds on Friday morning, the powder spread around the immediate vicinity of the factory, leaving a fine cocoa dusting. The company said one car was lightly coated, and that it has offered to pay for any cleaning needed.
I imagine that a plant manager will have pages and pages of paperwork to do, and maybe a maintenance manager to chew on... 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Job posting: safety leader, IsleChem, Grand Island, NY

From the inbox: 
Safety Leader 
IsleChem, LLC, an analytical, process development and specialty chemical manufacturing services company located in Grand Island, NY is seeking an individual to become our new Safety Leader.  Due to growth, IsleChem split safety responsibility out from an existing position to create a position dedicated to safety and other regulatory aspects.  Key responsibilities of the position included but are not limited to:
  • Education of personnel on safety and other regulatory aspects
  • Implementation of company safety systems 
  • Facilitation of safety improvements
  • Facilitation of solutions to safety incidents
  • Leadership of safety committee
  • Facilitation of mandatory reporting 
  • Safety Assessment of chemical and production processes
  • SDS development
  • Fluent in MXS Office products
The successful candidate will work closely with, and be mentored by, senior staff experienced in safety and regulatory. 
Please send resumes to careers@islechem.com
 Best wishes to those interested. 

32 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 23 new positions for August 19 and 9 new positions for August 16.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company list, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Neat sour beer video from ACS



Via Laboratory Equipment:
...“Scientists are very interested in beer and especially sours because they are such complicated systems,” says Teresa L. Longin, one of the project’s principal investigators. “There have been several prior studies of the components in finished sour beers. What makes our study different is that we’ve been able to get samples of beer in progress from many different batches.” Their findings could help brewers make better products. 
Longin was drawn into the study by her husband and co-PI, David P. Soulsby, and both are at the University of Redlands. When Soulsby began the project a couple of years ago, he reached out to Bryan Doty, a master brewer at nearby Sour Cellars. Doty was eager to learn what was going on in his beer and has provided a series of samples from the same barrels as the beer has aged. 
Soulsby and undergraduate student Alexis Cooper examined each sample using NMR spectroscopy coupled with a new analysis method for quantitating the data. They used this approach to track the levels of acetic acid, the main component of vinegar; lactic acid, which gives sourdough bread its distinctive taste; and succinic acid, which is found in broccoli, rhubarb and meat extracts. They found that each acid stabilized at similar concentrations in the different batches, though some batches had greater variability.
I'm not really a sours guy myself, but it's interesting to see the various compounds that can derive from the fermentation...

Survey indicates pharma/biotech employees have mixed outlook on 2020 and 2021

Pandemic woes have workers fearing for their jobs across the U.S., but at least so far, the life sciences industry is largely immune. Pharma and biotech employees are feeling secure in their employment and salary prospects, according to a new study from EPM Scientific recruiting consultants. 
Fifty percent of those surveyed said they're confident or very confident they will keep their jobs over the next six months. That said, they recognize the economic downturn means a new position might not be easy to find: 41% said they're negative or very negative about the current job market. 
A similar dichotomy was repeated around compensation: 56% predicted a worsening economy over the next year, but 43% said their own compensation is likely to increase during the same timeframe.
I downloaded the survey and wasn't exactly bowled over with excitement about the robustness of the survey (140 people), but it feels vaguely reflective of what most people are feeling, I suspect... 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 43 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 43 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On August 20, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 152 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 6 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 6 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson), who says:
The new cycle has begun for the chem e's! This year we will try to utilize the list further by circulating among the professors, as well as using the hashtags #facultychemEjobs and #MeettheCandidatesChE2020.
 This post will serve as the open thread for this year's search. 

Job posting: assistant professor, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

From the inbox:
Tenure-stream faculty position in Biological Chemistry 
The Department of Chemistry invites applications for appointment to a tenure-stream Assistant Professor position from outstanding candidates with expertise in Biological Chemistry, especially candidates with interests that complement the strengths of our department (https://www.dal.ca/faculty/science/chemistry/research.html). This position is part of the Dalhousie Academic Renewal Incentive Program and is restricted to candidates who self-identify as a member of one or more equity-seeking groups. (See below.) 
The position requires a PhD degree, postdoctoral experience and an exceptional research track record. This appointment will be made at the rank of Assistant Professor. The successful candidate will be expected to teach undergraduate and graduate classes in chemistry and to develop vigorous and creative research programs with external funding. The anticipated start date is July 2021 or as negotiated. 
Review of applications will begin November 1, 2020, and continue until the position is filled. 
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 36 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 36 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, August 17, 2020

Momentive closing New York plant

Also in this week's issue of C&EN: (by Michael McCoy)
As part of a major corporate overhaul, the silicone maker Momentive Performance Materials plans to shut its basic chemicals plant in Waterford, New York, leaving Dow as the only US producer of the key raw materials needed to produce silicone fluids, sealants, and elastomers. 
Momentive says the shutdown will take place over 2 years, eliminating roughly 300 of its 1,000 employees in the Waterford region. At the same time, Momentive says it will spend $15 million to expand production of silicones for electronics in Waterford. And the company will sell Henkel its business in consumer sealants sold at hardware stores and home improvement centers. The consumer business has annual sales of about $120 million, roughly 5% of Momentive’s total sales. 
The shutdown will also affect Evonik Industries, which produces fumed silica in Waterford using a by-product generated by Momentive. Evonik says it will “explore all options” for the silica facility, which employs about 30 people.
Best wishes to those affected.  

This week's C&EN

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



Friday, August 14, 2020

Have a great weekend



Well, we've made it another week. Have a great weekend! See you on Monday. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 34 research/teaching positions and 5 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 34 research/teaching positions and 5 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On August 13, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 126 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

Job posting: assistant professor, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

From the inbox:
Princeton University Department of Chemistry Assistant Professor  
The Department of Chemistry at Princeton University invites applications for a tenure- track assistant professor position. The department is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through their strong commitment to research, teaching, and mentoring. The search is open to all areas of chemistry, with an emphasis on catalysis, broadly defined, in areas including synthetic organic, inorganic, materials and biological chemistry. We strongly encourage women and minorities to apply. Candidates are expected to have completed the Ph.D. in chemistry or a related field at the time of appointment. Applicants should submit a description of research interests, curriculum vitae, a list of publications, and contact information for three referees online at https://www.princeton.edu/acad-positions/position/16881  
The deadline for applications is October 15, 2020. Princeton University is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. This position is subject to the University’s background check policy. 
Best wishes to those interested. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 32 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 32 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, August 10, 2020

2750 tons of ammonium nitrate in one place...

What a tragedy:
BEIRUT (AP) — At least 10 times over the past six years, authorities from Lebanon’s customs, military, security agencies and judiciary raised alarm that a massive stockpile of explosive chemicals was being kept with almost no safeguard at the port in the heart of Beirut, newly surfaced documents show. 
Yet in a circle of negligence, nothing was done — and on Tuesday, the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate blew up, obliterating the city’s main commercial hub and spreading death and wreckage for miles around. 
...Daher, the customs department head, told the AP before his detention that between 2014 and 2017, he and his predecessor sent six letters to the judge warning that the stockpile was dangerous and seeking a ruling on a way to remove or sell it. Daher said it was his duty to alert authorities of the danger but that was the most he could do. He said he never got a reply. 
Earlier this year, State Security, after investigating the stockpile, issued a five-page report saying the material must be gotten rid of. It said the ammonium nitrate could explode and warned terrorists could steal it, saying one wall of the warehouse had a hole in it and a gate was open....
For those of us who deal with chemicals on the ton scale, this is a good reminder of the importance of knowing what's in our inventories, their hazards and the importance of addressing them in a timely fashion.

(God help me if I were ever stuck with 2750 MT of someone else's potentially explosive material.) 

BLS: Unemployment rate for July was 10.2%; payrolls rose 1.8 million positions

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the national unemployment rate fell to 10.2%, and payrolls rose by 1.8 million in July.

The broader U6 measurement of unemployment was 16.5%, down from 18.0% in July.

The chemical manufacturing subsector saw a drop in positions from 829700 in June to 825200 in July, a drop of 4500 positions (seasonally adjusted).

The unemployment rate of college graduates was 6.7% for July 2020, while by contrast the unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma was 15.4%. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Have a good weekend



Well, we've made it another week. Hope you have a good weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

New executive order on drug manufacture

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday directing the federal government to buy certain drugs solely from American factories. 
The so-called “Buy American” order could represent a seismic shakeup of the drug industry: No one knows exactly how much of the American drug supply chain is produced abroad, but some experts insist up to 90% of critical generic drugs are made at least partially abroad. 
It remains unclear, however, how broadly the order will be implemented — the executive order does not specify what drugs it covers. Instead, the order directs the Food and Drug Administration to decide which medicines will be subject to the new requirements. Certain drugs can also be exempted from the executive order if they’re too expensive to make in the U.S. or the U.S. isn’t already making them...
Direct manufacture of chemicals isn't a major driver of chemical employment, i.e. there are (I suspect) 3 or 4 research-oriented chemists for every one production-oriented chemist in industry. That being said, if this executive order (language here) succeeds in moving more chemical manufacturing to the United States from China and India, that cannot help but impact employment. Developing...

Thursday, August 6, 2020

40 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 14 new positions for August 4 and 26 new positions for July 31.

For the month of July, 104 jobs were posted. There is not much evidence of a slowdown in hiring in industrial organic chemistry jobs as measured by this list for the COVID-19 recession.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company list, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Beirut ammonium nitrate (?) explosion?

Via the New York Times:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The blasts came within seconds of each other. 
First, an explosion in Beirut’s port, possibly from a fireworks warehouse, sent a plume of smoke billowing over the capital skyline early Tuesday evening. 
Then a much larger explosion from a building nearby shot a chrysanthemum of orange and red smoke into the air followed by a massive shock wave of whitish dust and debris that rose hundreds of feet and spread out for blocks. 
The seaside capital rocked like an earthquake. Cars tumbled upside down and bricks rained down from apartment buildings. Glass flew out of windows miles away and roofs collapsed...
According to some reports, there were 2700 tons of ammonium nitrate in the warehouse. If you haven't seen some of the video, it's pretty remarkable.

(Pretty clear to me that governments should attempt to track and regulate storage of ammonium nitrate, but that seems like something that would be difficult to administer and would end up neglected.) 

Warning Letter of the Week: dancing festival edition

Via a comment at In the Pipeline, this funny missive from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the director of Centurion Laboratories Private Limited (emphasis mine):
3. Your firm failed to follow written procedures for cleaning and maintenance of equipment (21 CFR 211.67(b)). 
During the inspection, our investigator observed that equipment used to manufacture more than one product was inadequately maintained and cleaned. 
For example, our investigator observed in the [redacted] room a [redacted] identified as “cleaned.” However, this [redacted] was found to have visible product build-up inside the [redacted] and [redacted] of the [redacted]. Furthermore, the air filter of the equipment was damaged with multiple holes. This equipment was used to manufacture finished drug products shipped to the United States such as [redacted] tablets, [redacted] tablets, [redacted] tablets, and [redacted] tablets. Additionally, a memo provided during the inspection stated these cleaning and equipment maintenance deficiencies were because of a shortage in manpower related to a nine-day dancing festival and government holiday. Inadequately cleaned and maintained equipment can lead to cross-contamination and variability of drug products.
Must have been a good time. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 28 research/teaching positions and 5 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 28 research/teaching positions and 5 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On August 6, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 88 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

Job posting: adjunct inorganic faculty, United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, ND

From the inbox, United Tribes Technical College (Bismarck, ND) is searching for an adjunct inorganic professor.
Summary of Duties:
  • Instructs students based upon the curriculum as approved by the Department Chair, the Curriculum Committee and the Vice President of Academic Affairs. 
  • Adjusts lesson plans and other course materials to meet the needs of students. Faculty must be sensitive to the cultures of the students they teach, learn about those cultures, and integrate culturally-appropriate and culturally-relevant material when appropriate.
  • Evaluates students’ progress and communicates with the student’s academic advisor when problems or issues arise.
  • Monitors and reports student attendance and academic progress in the Jenzabar system on a weekly basis throughout the semester.
  • Participates fully in the Jenzabar Early Alert Retention Module system by alerting, referring, and providing interventions that ensure student success.
Best wishes to those interested. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 27 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 27 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, August 3, 2020

More charges for Charles Lieber

A Harvard University chemistry professor was indicted Tuesday on federal tax-related charges for allegedly failing to report income earned from the Wuhan University of Technology, in China. 
The Harvard professor and former chemistry department chair, Charles Lieber, was previously charged with making false statements to federal authorities. Prosecutors say he lied about his contract with WUT and his participation in a Chinese government-sponsored talent plan. 
Federal authorities allege WUT paid Lieber a salary of up to $50,000 per month and living expenses of up to $150,000 and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT.
Doesn't look good for Professor Lieber... 

This week's C&EN

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

Friday, July 31, 2020

Have a good weekend



We've made it another week. I hope you have a good weekend, and see you on Monday. 

Chemical industry earnings in the second quarter take a beating

With countries in North America and Europe mostly under lockdown, the second quarter bore the economic brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that US gross domestic product shrank by a record 32.9%. 
For chemical companies, it was the worst quarter in decades, with nearly all firms posting double-digit drops in sales and earnings, and a handful posting losses. Most companies have been cutting costs, some opting for layoffs. 
Exposure to some sectors was particularly painful. For example, in his remarks to analysts on July 29, BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller estimated that the global auto industry saw a 45% sales decline during the second quarter. 
Aerospace might have been worse. “What we’ve seen in aerospace is just unprecedented,” Huntsman CEO Peter R. Huntsman told stock analysts. Hard-up airlines aren’t even taking delivery on airplanes that are already built, he said. 
Huntsman posted a $30 million loss for the quarter. It was driven by a sharp downturn in sales of advanced materials for aerospace, textile chemicals and polyurethanes for construction and auto markets. 
...Covestro executives said they have completed a previous goal of axing 400 jobs by year end. Further job reductions, numbering in the low hundreds, are still to come, they said. 
BASF has accelerated a program—announced a year ago—to reduce its workforce by 6,000 positions, about 5% of its total. The company plans to complete the cuts by the end of this year, rather than in 2021 as originally planned...
 Here's hoping the job losses stop here. Best wishes to them, and to all of us. 

More details on that Genentech cut

In a move away from a "national strategy" in favor of localized operations, Genentech is planning to part ways with hundreds of staffers over the next few months. 
The U.S. unit of Swiss drug giant Roche, Genentech is cutting 474 jobs, according to a notice filed with the state of California. While many of the cuts are in clinical operations, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that 44 division managers and 32 territory managers will be affected by the layoffs. Many of the cuts take effect in mid-September, but some employees will depart in August and some in October, according to the report. 
A spokeswoman told Fierce Pharma the company this year "launched a new customer-engagement approach that will transform the way we serve patients, physicians, providers, payors and pharmacies across the country."
Best wishes to them.  

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Kodak going into the pharma services business with $765 million of Uncle Sam's money

Via the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (articles by Victoria E. Freile and Brian Sharp), the best summary of this story that I've seen: 
Eastman Kodak Co. will receive a $765 million government loan to help expedite the domestic production of generic drugs to treat a variety of medical conditions and loosen the country's reliance on foreign sources, officials said Tuesday.  Specifically, the Rochester-based company will make the ingredients so often produced overseas so the country can produce its own medications.
The move is expected to create at least 350 new jobs, launching a new business unit for the Rochester-based company that — when at peak production in four to five years — could produce 25% of the active ingredients for  "non-biologic, non-antibacterial, generic pharmaceuticals."  
...Continenza told The Journal that the loan has terms similar to a commercial loan and must be repaid over 25 years. Kodak will produce “starter materials” and “active pharmaceutical ingredients” used to produce generic medicines, he said. “We have a long, long history in chemical and advanced materials — well over 100 years,” Continenza said. He added that Kodak’s existing infrastructure allows the company “to get up and running quickly.” 
...The operation will build on Kodak's existing Specialty Chemicals Group, a segment that is dispersed across a three-building complex at Eastman Business Park, with multiple cells or bays that operate as its own chemical factory so that multiple processes can be run concurrently. That operation already is working with various markets, including pharmaceuticals. In company brochures, Kodak touts the 88 reactors, more than 25 centrifuges, filter and membrane presses.
I think this is a pretty logical move on the part of the Trump Administration, i.e. they clearly want to reshore the pharmaceutical supply chain, and Kodak is (I strongly suspect) the largest group of not-currently-spoken-for large scale reactors in the country. They're making noises about making APIs there, and I'm pretty skeptical of that, but the better part of a billion dollars will get you at least partway there. This bears watching. 

Genentech cutting 474 Bay Area positions

I can't see the whole article, but the San Francisco Chronicle has the details:
Biotech giant Genentech will lay off more than 470 employees, the company reported to state regulators.
Well, that's not good. Best wishes to them.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 23 research/teaching positions and 3 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 23 research/teaching positions and 3 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On July 30, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 71 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 27 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 27 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, July 27, 2020

C&EN: Dow cutting jobs 6% as Q2 revenues down 24%

Well, we kinda knew this was coming (article by Alex Tullo):  
In an effort to preserve cash as the global economy fitfully recuperates from the COVID-19 pandemic, Dow is reducing its workforce by 6%—about 2,200 employees—and aims to shutter uncompetitive facilities. 
Dow is the first major chemical company to announce earnings for the second quarter, the period most impacted by the US lockdowns intended to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Its sales fell by 24% compared with the same period in 2019, to $8.4 billion; it posted a net loss of $225 million. 
Packaging and specialty plastics—Dow’s largest segment—saw growth in nondurable packaging, such as for food, but that was offset by poor sales to durable markets and lower selling prices. Overall, the business’s sales fell 23%...
Bad news for Dow employees, and this bears watching. Best wishes to them, and all of us.  

NYT: Tecan tips are in shortage

Via the New York Times, this interesting comment:
...The Swiss company Tecan, which supplies pipette tips for machines used by hundreds of laboratories in the United States, has been slammed with orders from U.S. customers in recent months, according to Martin Brändle, the firm’s senior vice president of corporate communications and investor relations. The demand has been so high, he said, that Tecan has tapped into an emergency stash, and is racing to install new production lines that he hopes will double the company’s output by fall. 
Pipette tips aren’t the only laboratory items in short supply. Dwindling stocks of machines, containers and chemicals needed to extract or amplify the coronavirus’s genetic material have clogged almost every point along the testing workflow...
An additional clarifying note via Twitter: "specialized tips for automated sampling handling robots to PCR specs." That's definitely something where I can imagine that Tecan was probably not ready for the surge in demand, and is just trying to keep up these days (or outsource?)

I find it continually frustrating, incidentally, that no organization seems to have determined which reagents are in shortage, and what can be done to increase their supply. Isn't this something simple to publish and continually inform the biotechnology/chemical manufacturing industry about? 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Have a good weekend



A little something rousing for the weekend. We made it another week. See you on Monday. 

New unemployment claims up this week

New state unemployment claims increased last week for the first time in nearly four months, disturbing evidence that the struggling economy is backsliding at a time when coronavirus cases are on the rise. 
After a flood of claims as the pandemic shut businesses early in the spring, weekly unemployment filings fell sharply before flattening in June. But on Thursday, the Labor Department reported more than 1.4 million new applications for state benefits last week, up from about 1.3 million in the preceding two weeks.
Here's the Calculated Risk writeup. Best wishes to unemployed folks, and to all of us.  

BMS layoffs

I have heard rumors of layoffs at BMS this week - can anyone confirm with details? Confidentiality guaranteed: chemjobber@gmail.com 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Why does ethanol-based hand sanitizer smell bad?

From the New York Times' "Wirecutter", this skepticism-inducing set of statements about off smells coming from hand sanitizers: 
...I contacted Bryan Zlotnik of Alpha Aromatics, a perfume manufacturer specializing in additive solutions used to mask unpleasant odors in sanitizers, for an explanation as to why there has been a sudden proliferation of unpleasant-smelling hand sanitizer. 
“That off-putting smell—sometimes described as rotten garbage or tequila-like—is the natural byproduct of ethanol being made from corn, sugar cane, beets, and other organic sources,” explained Zlotnik. “[Ethyl alcohol] production is highly regulated. It stinks because these new brands—many made by distillers who’ve pivoted from producing drinking alcohol to meet public demand for hand sanitizer—are making and using denatured ethanol. This ethanol costs significantly less than ethanol filtered using activated carbon filtration, which would typically remove almost all contaminants and the malodor with it.” 
Those organic contaminants aren’t the only reason unfiltered and denatured ethanol smells downright foul. According to Zlotnik, denatured ethanol is also intentionally tainted with an unpalatable cocktail of chemicals (denaturants) such as methanol, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and denatonium to make it undrinkable. In other words: The base material is intentionally stinky.
I could easily believe that organic sources could provide a bunch of various low molecular weight amines and thiols that could give a pretty nasty funk to ethanol. But methanol, acetone and MEK? No way. Does denatonium bromide have a smell, especially at the low levels used in hand sanitizer? I doubt it. Readers, your thoughts? 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The 2021 Faculty Jobs List: 18 research/teaching positions and 3 teaching faculty positions

The 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 18 research/teaching positions and 3 teaching assistant professor positions.

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

In 2020-2021, 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." We are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

On July 23, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 52 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread.