Thursday, December 9, 2021

35 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Common Organic Chemistry is resolving some technical difficulties, but has ported over the list to Google Drive for now. There are 35 new positions for December 7.

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

Global organic chemistry job market link

Via organic-chemistry.org, a link to the job market section. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Urea prices are going up

That's a big bag of urea. 
Credit: NYT
Via the New York Times, a story about rising urea prices: 

This is a story about one of those unsung forces that quietly keep the world running. It is a story about the clockwork interconnectedness of modern civilization, about how disturbances in one part of the planet can kick up storms in another.

This is a story, naturally, about urea.

Prices for the humble chemical — yes, the stuff in urine — are soaring to levels not seen in over a decade. In this time of everything shortages and inflation worries, that alone might not sound too surprising. But urea links up several disparate-looking strands of global economic disruption, showing how easily extreme weather and shipping turmoil can cause supply shortfalls to radiate.

People and industries of all kinds are feeling the shocks. In India, a lack of urea has made farmers fear for their livelihoods. In South Korea, it meant truck drivers couldn’t start their engines...

...China and Russia, two of the biggest producers, have restricted exports to ensure supplies for their own farmers. In China’s case, an energy crunch led some areas to ration electricity, which forced fertilizer factories to slash production.

Hurricane Ida drove several large chemical plants to suspend operations when it tore through the U.S. Gulf Coast in August. Western sanctions on Belarus have hit that nation’s production of potash, the key ingredient in another fertilizer. Port delays and high freight fees — plant food is bulky stuff — have added to costs.

This seems like something directly tied to high energy prices, as well as high shipping prices. It will ultimately end up with higher food prices, which is not great. Will be interesting to see what the Fed does in response... 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 499 research/teaching positions and 50 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 499 research/teaching positions and 50 teaching positions. 

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

On December 8, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 219 research/teaching position and 21 teaching positions. On December 10, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 493 research/teaching positions and 36 teaching 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? This will be the third open thread. Go to the second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

Here is Sean Edington's status summary spreadsheet.

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.

Job posting: assistant professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

From the inbox: 

The Department of Chemistry at Case Western Reserve University invites applications  for a tenure track Assistant Professor in Chemistry. Successful candidates will have  research programs concentrated in applications of chemical synthesis towards  important problems in chemical biology or energy and materials chemistry. The  successful candidate also will be expected to develop an internationally visible research  program supported by external funding, teach undergraduate and graduate levels  courses, and be committed to diversity and inclusion. The normal teaching load for  faculty with active research programs is one course per semester plus ancillary duties. 

This position is related to recent departmental and university strategic initiatives, and  the ideal candidate will be expected to establish collaborations with either or both of the  major strategic areas of research within the department: (a) Energy and Materials and  (b) Chemical Biology. Furthermore, intellectual adjacencies across campus and at  nearby Cleveland research institutions afford outstanding opportunities to build  collaborative research programs. 

A Ph.D., research publications, and postdoctoral (or comparable industrial) experience  are required. To be considered, a letter of application, CV, summary of research plans  (up to five-pages; if special equipment or needs are required please describe), diversity  statement, summary of teaching experience, and three confidential letters of reference should be submitted online at http://apply.interfolio.com/97875 by February 5, 2022. The diversity statement should address a) How your research, teaching, and/or  service have contributed to diversity, equity, and inclusion within their scholarly field(s)  and how these efforts have promoted structural justice inside and outside institutions of  higher learning. 

Best wishes to those interested.

Job Posting: assistant professor, organic chemistry, North Park University, Chicago, IL

From the inbox: 
The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at North Park University invites applicants for a tenure-track position in Organic Chemistry beginning in August 2022. The qualified candidate will have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and a commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching. Post-doctoral research experience is preferred. Teaching responsibilities include Organic Chemistry lecture and lab along with electives in the candidate’s expertise. Candidates will be expected to develop a program of research that incorporates undergraduate students. Preference will be given to applicants who can teach undergraduate Medicinal Chemistry and/or Biochemistry.

Best wishes to those interested.  

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 66 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 66 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

Want to talk? Go to this year's open thread. 

Chemistry Bumper Cars

Check out the latest moves here! 

To submit information, click here or e-mail chembumpercars@gmail.com

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, December 6, 2021

DEA pictures offer glimpse of industrial butane hash oil lab

Credit: DEA/Fox 5
Via San Diego TV station Fox 5, this news: 
EL CAJON, Calif. (CNS) – Federal agents this week raided and shuttered a large illicit marijuana-processing operation in an industrial area near Gillespie Field, seizing hundreds of pounds of cannabis and barrels of potentially explosive chemicals, authorities reported Friday.

The illegal drug lab in the 1400 block of Fayette Street in El Cajon was being used to process hash oil, a cannabis concentrate, via processes involving the highly flammable solvents butane and hexane, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

During the raid, DEA personnel impounded nearly 400 pounds of unprocessed marijuana, 150 pounds of chemically contaminated cannabis plant waste, 139 pounds of hash oil, sophisticated laboratory equipment and chemicals, including 55-gallon drums of hexane, the federal agency reported.

The agents also arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of illegally manufacturing a controlled substance. His name was not released.
I've never seen one of these butane hash oil labs before, but it looks reasonably professionalized. Of course, bluntly speaking, I don't know what one of these labs looks like, but it's not too different than a kilo-scale lab, and uses basically the same equipment. I'd love to understand if this lab was set up by a former pharma-type or not...

(55 gallon drums of hexane?!?! The local chemical distributors had to have known something was going on...)

Friday, December 3, 2021

Have a good weekend

I can't wait for the end of this week, to be frank. But that's all right. I hope you had a better week than I, and I hope that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday. 

Science Magazine on the Charles Lieber case:

Science has a pretty comprehensive review of the state of affairs before the upcoming Charles Lieber trial, including a helpful notation of the next upcoming 6 trials for the DOJ's China Initiative. Here is some legal analysis of the letter from the reporter, Jeff Mervis: 

For Lieber to be found guilty of lying to DOD and NIH, the prosecution must prove he knew his statements were false and that the information was germane to his grants from those agencies. In Anming Hu’s case, U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan found Hu hadn’t intentionally misled NASA. Varlan also said noted university officials had assured Hu that NASA rules on working with China didn’t apply to his research project and found that NASA had gotten the research it paid for, rejecting the government’s argument that Hu had defrauded the agency.

The tax and banking charges against Lieber—which were added several months after his arrest—and are less open to interpretation. “You either check the box or you don’t” on the relevant paperwork, said one lawyer familiar with the case who requested anonymity. The lawyer speculates that the government added the charges to induce Lieber to negotiate a plea deal (which can happen at any time). “You don’t always criminalize [those banking violations],” the attorney says, “but it increases the pressure on a defendant to plead guilty to something.”

It seems to me to be a bit risky for Dr. Lieber to be taking this risk, especially when there are clear contradictions between his statements to law enforcement and his actual actions. (Of course, this is why people shouldn't talk to federal agents without an attorney.) It will be interesting to understand if a federal jury would be more or less sympathetic to him or to Dr. Hu. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Making the nickel better

Neat interview with NIST metallurgist Carelyn E. Campbell (article by Prachi Patel)

Why do we need new alloys for coins?

The project discussion started in 2013. The US Mint asked if we could design new coinage alloys to reduce the cost of making coins. The nickel at the time cost 9 cents to make. It’s made of 75% copper and 25% nickel by mass, and they wanted to reduce the amount of nickel in the alloy. The new alloy still has nickel, but less of it, and would cost only 5.9 cents to make a 5-cent coin. The primary goal was to reduce cost but to keep all the properties of the current coin.

What properties are important for coinage alloys?

One of the most important properties is the electrical resistivity. That’s the signature vending machines use to identify the type of coin, so a dime needs a different signature than a quarter or a nickel. Others are corrosion resistance and wear resistance. We also had processing constraints. The Mint doesn’t want to have to change the processing mechanisms for the new alloy, such as the annealing temperature range.

Was there anything unexpected that rerouted the alloy development?

Yes, color. Initially we weren’t thinking that the color would be a major part of our design, but it became one of the primary constraints of the alloy composition. The Mint wanted to keep color identical to the currently used coin alloy. We were trying to substitute manganese for the nickel. And the more manganese you add, the more yellow the coin becomes.

 An interesting problem! Great story, read the whole thing. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 482 research/teaching positions and 46 teaching positions

 The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 482 research/teaching positions and 46 teaching positions. 

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

On December 1, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 202 research/teaching position and 19 teaching positions. On December 3, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 484 research/teaching positions and 34 teaching 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 second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

Here is Sean Edington's status summary spreadsheet.

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.

Job posting: open rank search, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

From the inbox: 

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University is searching for tenure-track faculty members at the Assistant, Associate and Full Professor levels. Outstanding candidates with research interests in all areas of chemistry, but particularly physical, theoretical and quantum chemistry, are encouraged to apply. A Ph.D. degree is required, and postdoctoral experience is preferred.

The application materials should be submitted as specified below. The cover letter should clearly specify which sub-discipline and career stage best describes the applicant's proposed research program along with one area of secondary interest. Applications will be accepted until December 20th, 2021 with review commencing November 30th. Please direct questions to chemfacsearch@cornell.edu.

Best wishes to those interested.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 65 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 65 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

Want to talk? Go to this year's open thread. 

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, November 29, 2021

A fungus that eats charcoal? Cool

Pretty neat chemistry finding in this mycology paper covered by the New York Times: 

A new study, published last month in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, aimed to uncover the food source that allows Pyronema, a genus of pyrophilous fungi, to appear so quickly in such big numbers after a fire... 

To find out if Pyronema can eat charcoal, the authors grew the fungus from samples collected by Dr. Bruns’s team after the Rim fire in California in 2013. The Pyronema lived on charcoal, as well as three other nutrient sources for comparison. Then they dunked the fungus in liquid nitrogen and sent it off for RNA sequencing.

“If it’s trying to eat the charcoal, we would see a bunch of metabolic genes getting turned on — which is what we saw,” Dr. Fischer said. And many were genes involved in breaking down the complex ring structures that make up charcoal.

To confirm that the fungus was actually doing what it appeared to be doing, Dr. Whitman’s lab grew pine seedlings in an atmosphere with carbon dioxide containing carbon-13, an isotope whose unusual weight makes it easy to trace, and then put the trees in a specialized furnace to form charcoal, which was fed to the Pyronema. Like us, fungi take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, most of which comes from whatever they are eating. The fungus’s carbon-13-labeled emissions, then, suggested that it really was snacking on charcoal.

Of course, I'm terribly curious if there are industrial applications of this fungus, but I am guessing there are other, more practical ways of getting rid of charcoal...

C&EN: Fertilizer prices are shooting up

Via this week's Chemical and Engineering News (article by Matt Blois), this inflation story: 
Strong demand and the high cost of raw materials have dramatically increased the price of fertilizer in 2021.

In Illinois, the price of diammonium phosphate, the most widely used phosphate fertilizer, rose by more than 78% over the past year, according to a Nov. 4 report from the US Department of Agriculture. The price of two nitrogen-based fertilizers, anhydrous ammonia and urea, more than doubled over the same period. Much of the price increase has happened since the beginning of October.

The cost of natural gas, which is used to make many fertilizers, has been increasing, especially in continental Europe and the UK. In addition, Hurricane Ida shut down some fertilizer production in the US earlier this year. And power outages caused problems for fertilizer plants in China, prompting the country to start discouraging fertilizer exports to protect its own supply.

On earnings calls in early November, executives at the US fertilizer makers CF Industries, Mosaic, and Nutrien said all of those factors contributed to the recent spike in fertilizer prices.

On the other side of the equation, prices for major crops like corn and soybeans are also very high right now. Gary Schnitkey, an economist at the University of Illinois who analyzes farming costs, says farmers are eager to take advantage of those prices, which is increasing demand for fertilizer to be used this fall and next spring.

The price of chemical inputs (especially natural gas) has been fascinating to watch over the last year. Will be interesting to see if there is an end in sight for this increase (I guess we'll watch the price of natural gas to be sure?) 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Have a great weekend

I've had a pretty chill week, overall. Here's hoping that you had a good week too, and that you have a great and peaceful weekend. See you on Monday. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year, I am incredibly thankful for my family, my friends, my community (physical and online) and my job. This year, I continue to be very thankful for the health and safety of our family and friends.

I am also thankful for you, my readers and commenters. Thank you for your reading, your advice, your e-mails and your brilliant, insightful comments. I am grateful for your continued reading over these many years. I sincerely hope that you continue to be safe from the pandemic, and that you and your family are both healthly 

[An additional note: if you would ever like to meet for a cup of coffee or a beer, please reach out to my e-mail address. I hope to find myself in many different places in 2022, and I love to meet readers of the blog.] 

My family and I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and if you're not in the United States, a happy Thursday and Friday! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 470 research/teaching positions and 44 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 470 research/teaching positions and 44 teaching positions. 

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

On November 24, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 195 research/teaching position and 17 teaching positions. On November 26, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 482 research/teaching positions and 32 teaching 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 second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

Here is Sean Edington's status summary spreadsheet.

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 64 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 64 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

Want to talk? Go to this year's open thread. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 44 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 44 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, November 22, 2021

Rainbow demonstration victim has lawsuit award cut by appeal

An old story for this blog but Alonzo Yanes, a high school student burned in one of the worst stories of the Rainbow Experiment, had the lawsuit award reduced on appeal (via the New York Post): 

An appeals court Thursday cut in half the $60 million jury award for a Beacon High School student who was horribly burned in a since-banned chemistry experiment gone awry — still making it the largest payout in New York.

Alonzo Yanes was awarded the massive sum in 2019 after jurors heard about his horrific experience getting third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body at age 16 after a chemistry teacher was demonstrating the “Rainbow Experiment” — which uses highly flammable methanol to light various salts to produce different-colored flames.

The Appellate Division, First Department Thursday acknowledged that the excruciating burns, recovery, and the struggles ahead for Yanes, as he must live out the rest of his life with disfiguring scars, but still found the jury’s award “excessive.”

The decision laid out that the verdict should be reduced to $12 million for past pain and suffering and another $17 million for the future.

Even after it's been cut back, it's still a very large award, and one that has seemingly caused New York City public schools to not perform this demonstration anymore. I hope schools around the country either stop doing the rainbow demonstration, or institute the simplest best practices, including removing bulk containers of methanol from the room during the actual demonstration. 

I hope that the award will bring Mr. Yanes a tiny amount of peace. Best wishes to him, and the other victims from the Beacon School incident. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Have a good weekend

Hope you had a good week. I'm almost recovered from the jet lag, but not quite yet. Have a good weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

Miami chemical vice?

Via Chemical and Engineering News' Cheryl Hogue, this funny tidbit about phased-out CFCs during the 1990s: 
Organized criminal entities “could be trafficking in something else, but they choose climate super-pollutants” over other items, such as illicit drugs, because of profitability, said Alexander von Bismarck, executive director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nonprofit group that probes and exposes environmental crime worldwide

A similar situation happened when the US ratcheted down its production of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the 1990s, von Bismarck said. Border agents began to find canisters of CFC-12 (also known as R-12) in the small, fast boats that drug runners used to sneak shipments of cocaine into the US. “What was found is that the risk-adjusted return was better for smugglers from R-12 than it was from cocaine,” simply because enforcement agencies didn’t place much importance on refrigerants, von Bismarck said. Then, border enforcement officers in Florida began to seek out refrigerants as well as drugs. “That had an enormous impact on the climate” by keeping CFCs, which are also greenhouse gases, off the market, he said. Eventually, HFCs replaced CFCs in many applications.

Funny to wonder what the border agents were thinking when they saw all those canisters...

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 451 research/teaching positions and 37 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 451 research/teaching positions and 37 teaching positions. 

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

On November 17, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 178 research/teaching position and 16 teaching positions. On November 19, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 470 research/teaching positions and 30 teaching 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 second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

Here is Sean Edington's status summary spreadsheet.

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 64 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 64 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

Want to talk? Go to this year's open thread. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 44 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 44 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.