A fun week on the road that was better than deserved. Here's hoping that you had a great week, and that I make it home in one piece, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday.
Friday, March 24, 2023
Thursday, March 23, 2023
Job posting: Researcher - Chemist, FDA, College Park, MD
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) in College Park, Maryland seeks to hire scientists to participate in our food safety research program. The Office of Regulatory Science (ORS) within CFSAN conducts laboratory investigations in a variety of research areas which include, but are not limited to, food additives, allergens, protein toxins, bacterial identification, plant incorporated protectants, nanomaterials, free radical formation, seafood toxins, species identification, economic adulteration, non-targeted analysis, and industrial contaminants in CFSAN-regulated food, packaging, and cosmetic products. Candidates with expertise in any of the following areas are encouraged to apply: mass spectrometry, non-targeted analysis using HR-MS, spectroscopy, (including IR and Raman), total organic fluorine, antibody-based analyses, and elemental analysis.Candidates should have a Ph.D. in chemistry or a related field. Job responsibilities can include, but are not limited to, (1) developing, adapting, and validating quantitative analytical methods for the determination of a variety of compounds in foods, packaging, and cosmetics, (2) operating and maintaining highly complex and specialized scientific instrumentation, (3) writing reports, scientific papers, and scientific publications, and (4) representing the organization on scientific committees and participation at scientific conferences and meetings.U.S. citizenship is required, and the start date is negotiable. Starting salary is dependent upon experience. If interested, please email your CV to ORS-DACfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes to those interested.
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Retraction Watch: chemist who had PhD revoked still claims it
By the time Shiladitya Sen was officially declared guilty of research misconduct in 2018 by U.S. federal officials, The Ohio State University had long since stripped him of his doctorate in chemistry.Years later, however, Sen is still billing himself as a PhD in the signature of his work email at a company that provides lab mice and other animals to many scientists, Retraction Watch has learned.Sen, now a director of analytical chemistry at Charles River Laboratories, with headquarters in Wilmington, Mass., confirmed to us by phone that he has not earned another doctoral degree. He hung up when asked why his email signature claims he has a PhD.According to an investigation by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI), Sen “knowingly and intentionally” falsified and/or fabricated data in a now-retracted 2013 paper in PNAS, his PhD thesis, a poster presentation, and two grant applications to the National Institutes of Health. He agreed not to seek federal funding for three years.A Charles River Laboratories spokesperson told us company’s policy is “not to comment on employees of Charles River.”
I have to say, I am a bit surprised at this, but then again, it's not like people really check transcripts and diplomas. It happens, I guess.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 614 research/teaching positions and 73 teaching positions
The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 614 research/teaching positions and 73 teaching positions.Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.
To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.
Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.
Job posting: assistant professor, Morehead State University, Morehead, KY
The Chemistry department at Morehead State University is accepting applications for a full-time position as a Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Chemistry (Organic). The anticipated start date is August 7, 2023.Morehead State University is located in Morehead, KY, a designated Kentucky Trail Town, nestled in the Daniel Boone National Forest, in close proximity to Cave Run Lake. This location provides opportunities for a wide-range of outdoor recreation activities. Morehead State University is recognized as one of the top public universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, Morehead State University is relatively close to a number of larger cities including Lexington, KY, Louisville, KY, and Cincinnati, OH. Morehead State University delivers a strong and affordable education for friendly, ambitious students who thrive in a student-focused learning environment defined by small class sizes and faculty committed to teaching and student success.RESPONSIBILITIES: Teaching responsibilities will include upper division chemistry courses in area of expertise, chemistry courses for science majors, agriculture and allied health majors, and associated labs. Lab preparation duties may also be required. The successful candidate is expected to establish an active undergraduate research program and participate in various service activities.REQUIREMENTS: The applicant must have a Ph.D. in Chemistry or Biochemistry (Organic preferred). ABD with completion by December 2023 would also be considered.
Priority date of April 11, 2023. Best wishes to those interested.
Monday, March 20, 2023
C&EN on elemental analysis
Via C&EN (article by Alla Katsnelson):
A few years ago, Saurabh Chitnis, a synthetic chemist at Dalhousie University, did some math that spurred a radical decision. He calculated what it was costing him to send lab-made compounds away for elemental analysis, a classic technique in which a compound is burned to determine its molecular composition. Then, fueled by that enormous sum, he sat down and wrote a grant to buy a $75,000 machine. Installed last September, it allows him and six other chemists in his department to do the analysis on-site.
“I’m not an analytical chemist who would typically have this instrument,” Chitnis says. “It’s very specialized and expensive, not just to purchase but also to maintain.” But his calculations showed it was worth it. “At one point, 12% of my research funding was going towards burning my chemistry.”
These days, chemists who need to conduct elemental analysis often have to send their compounds to companies, or to other universities that do elemental analysis for a fee. For each sample, these testing companies typically send back three numbers, without the raw data to back them, indicating what percentage of the burned sample consists of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen.
It seems to me elemental analysis is not well suited for confirmation of purity for many compounds! Hard to say what could take its place, though...
Friday, March 17, 2023
Have a good weekend
Well, this week wasn't a complete disaster, even though it really felt like it might get there. Some good, some bad. I hope you had a good week, and I hope you have an even better weekend. See you on Monday.
C&EN: Anticompetitive behavior at fragrance manufacturers?
The European Commission has begun investigating fragrance ingredient manufacturers for possible anticompetitive practices that could hurt buyers of their products. The EC, along with authorities in Switzerland and the UK, carried out raids on March 7 to collect evidence at the premises of some of Europe’s biggest fragrance ingredient firms. The US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division is also involved in the probe.In addition to the raids, the EC says it has sent formal requests for information to several companies in the sector. International Flavors & Fragrances, Firmenich, Givaudan, and Symrise have confirmed to C&EN that they are part of the investigation, and all say they are cooperating fully with authorities.The Swiss competition commission says it “has indications that several undertakings active in the production of fragrances have violated cartel law.” It adds that “there are suspicions that these undertakings have coordinated their pricing policy, prohibited their competitors from supplying certain customers and limited the production of certain fragrances.” Swiss authorities say they will examine whether competition in the fragrance sector has been restricted in ways prohibited by cartel law.
I gotta say, I genuinely do not understand how a group of firms could get together like this without one of them defecting, either to the market or to the authorities, but I suspect that the history of guilds would prove me quite incorrect. This will be interesting to follow...
(also, how could the Unilevers of the world not notice this?)
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Ask CJ: transition to data science
From the inbox (redacted for privacy):
I was wondering if you have any advice on getting OUT of Chemistry? After [3-6 years] of industry after grad school [with a master's] I have found I liked coding & analyzing data a lot more than doing R&D and the issues that come with it in an industrial setting.
I was just wondering if you know a lot of people who HAVE transitioned to data science/data analytics, so I can manage my expectations on if I should expect a paycut, how long the process takes, how much technical experience people had when they left, etc. [redacted]
A lot of my technical skills are self-taught and not on-the-job experience. I don't think my career path is unheard of, I was just wondering if you have any advice coming from an R&D synthetic chemist perspective that might help me get to an interview.
For past data science questions, here's an old post.
I don't have much expertise in this, and so I will leave it to the commenters. I think that what a person needs to demonstrate interest in moving to a new field is the basic educational background (which probably can be made clear with some kind of programming/coding certificate) combined with sufficient on-the-job/off-the-job experience in the field to the point that you've demonstrated some kind of level of understanding.
Readers, I'm genuinely not familiar with this, so do you have any thoughts?
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Eastman chemist plays newly composed work on Erlenmeyer flasks
From an Eastman press release:
As an Eastman chemist for more than 20 years, it might seem unusual for Stephen Orth to be apprehensive working with lab ware. But Orth was anxious during a recent Saturday experiment that included Erlenmeyer flasks, beakers and test tubes.
“I was pretty nervous at first, from the standpoint that this was not my forte,” Orth admitted.
Orth quickly found his rhythm and the experiment was a success — music to the ears of any scientist. And this was, in fact, music created with the tools Orth knows so well on a musical stage in Kingsport, Tennessee, instead of in an Eastman lab. With drumsticks, Orth played percussion a range of lab glass during a Symphony of the Mountains performance titled “Isotone: A Collision of Science and Music” that celebrated Eastman and the wonders of science.
Something tells me that there is a grad student out there who has done a mean version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" on a 24/40 column out there, but they probably aren't on YouTube...
Monday, March 13, 2023
What ChatGPT means for chemistryRecent inroads made in chemistry seemingly have little to do with historical techniques that advanced the central science. The discovery of a new organic reaction or mechanism, invention of click chemistry, development of powerful light sources for X-rays, advent of 3D nuclear magnetic resonance and cryo-electron microscopy techniques, hyphenation of analytical techniques, and ab initio computation to solve chemical and biochemical problems seem “so yesterday.” Today, these rigorous and pejoratively “incremental” techniques have been broadsided by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and programs such as AlphaFold, which has predicted over 200 million structures to date.AI’s rapid growth has predictably resulted in the creation of an interactive graphical platform called ChatGPT. Its ramifications for those in academia and the chemical craft cannot be ignored.ChatGPT’s “dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests,” OpenAI, the company that made the program, says on its website. ChatGPT has revolutionized the search function to upend traditional engines such as Google. Its capacity to improve and accelerate the pace of research is significant. It paves the way for easy and rapid access to tomes of information.Yet ChatGPT is not designed to substitute human intelligence. Nor is it capable of doing so. It ought to be regarded as a tool that supports, synergizes with, and amplifies researchers’ efforts. ChatGPT’s ability to write abstracts, rectify information, correct mistakes, and even coauthor publications is both welcome and worrisome. While there is no undoing this behemoth, it behooves the student of science and chemistry, be it a high schooler, undergraduate, graduate student, postdoctoral scholar, or academic or industrial researcher, to use it in a manner akin to the library and the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics of the days of yore.Establishing a culture of responsible use that educates individuals about the capabilities and limitations of ChatGPT is crucial. This can be accomplished by creating rules, best practices, and training programs on how to use ChatGPT responsibly rather than dismissing it, as might be the wont of a purist. Its application should not diminish the significance of contributions that human intelligence and creativity may provide to health, ecological well-being, and general good. While it is incumbent upon us not to subjugate ourselves to it, it is yet another inroad that can take chemistry skyward.Disclaimer: This article was not written by ChatGPT.Payam Kelich and Mahesh NarayanEl Paso, Texas
C&EN: Bachem increasing peptide capacity
In this week's C&EN (by Rick Mullin):
Bachem inks peptide supply pactBachem has signed an agreement to supply large volumes of peptides to an undisclosed customer. Manufacturing will primarily take place at the company’s large-scale production facility currently under construction in Bubendorf, Switzerland. The Swiss firm says the order commits it to supplying a volume of peptides valued at over $530 million between 2027 and 2031. The facility at Budendorf, scheduled to open in 2024, will nearly double its manufacturing capacity for peptides and oligonucleotides.
Friday, March 10, 2023
Have a good weekend
Well, I got my big project done. It wasn't pretty, and who knows if it will have the intended effect, but it's done. On to the next thing. Hope that you had a good week. Have a good weekend, and we'll see you on Monday.
Rumors of export bans on photoresist to China are circulating
Shares in Chinese suppliers of materials for semiconductors surged after unsubstantiated reports of impending Japanese export curbs circulated on social media, underscoring the nervousness surrounding US efforts to isolate Beijing’s chip industry.
Shenzhen RongDa Photosensitive Science & Technology Co., provider of compounds known as photoresists that are essential in chipmaking, soared 20%. That leap follows a similar gain Wednesday after several posts on WeChat, which Bloomberg News has not verified independently, that an unnamed Japanese company had cut off supplies of the compound.
Japanese companies such as Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., JSR Corp. and Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co. are the world’s biggest producers of photoresists. The report comes as US allies including the Netherlands agreed to join the US in restricting the export of advanced chipmaking gear to China, part of Washington’s broader plan to contain a semiconductor sector it’s accused of aiding the military.
The Netherlands, home to chip gear industry linchpin ASML Holding NV, is preparing to rein in exports of so-called immersion DUV lithography products, adding to restrictions that already exist for the most cutting-edge machines. Japan is expected to flesh out its own curbs too.
It will be fascinating to see if these chipmaking curbs begin altering the supply chains for the chemicals as well...
Thursday, March 9, 2023
17 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs
At Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 17 new positions for March 5. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.
Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
2023 Chemistry Jobs Scramble is open
Crashing a deadline, will post in the next two hours
UPDATE: It's open now. - CJ, 7:00 PM
Monday, March 6, 2023
Yet /another/ depressing blog post on chemistry graduate student mental health
This is a post about mental health and self-harm in graduate school in chemistry. There's some sad news here, but you don't have to read it. Your personal mental health is important to me.
The 2023 Chemistry Jobs Scramble: open for another 24 hours for job seekers
Welcome to the 2023 Chemistry Jobs Scramble.
Are you a job seeker? Enter your contact information here.
Are you an employer? Enter your job posting and contact information here.
UPDATE: To encourage more employers, we're pushing the close back one day to March 8.
- Registration will open for one week, starting today, February 28, 2023. It will close on 11:59 PM Eastern, March 6, 2023. Employers will get one more day to enter (March 7).
- We will register both potential employers and job candidates.
- Potential employers will be required to post a position with an intent to hire before September 30, 2023.
- Job seekers will have to attest that they have not accepted a position with another employer.
- On March 8, job seekers will be offered access to the list of potential positions. They will not be offered access to the list of job seekers.
- On March 8, potential employers will be offered the list of job seekers. They will not be offered access to the list of potential employers.
- There will be no matching - simply the provision of potential openings or candidates.
- This year, there will be an opportunity for a "signal" for job seekers; job seekers will be allowed one opportunity to send a short message (140 characters) to a single employer. To deploy the signal, job seekers will communicate to Chemjobber via e-mail (email@example.com)
- Access to the scramble will be revoked on March 22, 2023.
- This is primarily intended to provide an opportunity for unfilled academic and industrial openings and unmatched job seekers to find matches and permanent employment. Therefore, postdoctoral positions or adjunct positions will not be included; visiting positions of one year or longer will be permitted. Industrial positions are welcome.
Friday, March 3, 2023
Have a good weekend
The power of increasingly sensitive analytical instruments
Katerina Nash, a mountain biker and cross-country skier who represented the Czech Republic in two Winter and three Summer Olympics, avoided a four-year doping sanction after minute traces of a banned substance showed up in her system. Authorities determined the substance got there through her skin during the messy struggles she faced in forcing medicine drops down the throat of her ailing dog, a Vizsla named Rubi.
...Nash lives in California and was tested by authorities from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The results that showed up several days later at USADA offices raised eyebrows. A trace amount (0.07 billionths of a gram per milliliter) of a substance called capromorelin had shown up in Nash’s urine. Though the amount was minuscule, it was enough to trigger an adverse finding. And though capromorelin isn’t specifically mentioned on the banned list, it still falls in the category of “other” prohibited substances that are related to human-growth hormone.
Much as they had in a previous instance where an over-the-counter sunscreen was determined to have caused positive tests, members of the USADA science team went to work.
First, they discovered that capromorelin was present in a medicine called Entyce, which is given to boost the appetite of sick dogs. Then, USADA’s lead scientist, Dr. Matt Fedoruk, and others went about applying the medicine to their own skin. Within days, they were testing positive. It was the latest example of the pros and cons of anti-doping’s use of increasingly sensitive instruments that can detect minuscule traces of drugs.
I'm genuinely glad to see that USADA chemists seem to be quite good at detecting xenobiotics in athlete urine, and that there is some level of rationality and flexibility to their rules. (Apparently, WADA rules are not nearly so flexible.)
(It's also pretty interesting to see how different molecules seem to wander into our bloodstream at different rates. I wouldn't have guessed that capromorelin could get past the skin barrier, but apparently it did.)