Thursday, May 27, 2010

Favo(u)rite things, set to music

I've really enjoyed all the chemistry favorites lists -- they've all been wonderful. However, no one has gone to the lengths of Chemjobber reader Leo, who submits the following musical version:


Easy quick workups and a column that cleanses
The smell of ether and a product that fluoresces
Brown Aldrich packages the courier brings
These are a few of my favourite things.

White powdery solids and high yields and ee's
Ground glass and valves brass and multiple degrees
Sealed vacuum chambers with rubber o-rings
These are a few of my favourite things.

Low-boiling solvents that leave with no traces
Girls in white lab coats and Erlenmeyer vases
Clean NMRs on a Friday in spring
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the flask breaks
When my hand stings
When I'm still a grad
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don't feel so bad. 

Count me impressed. (Good luck with the thesis, Leo.) 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Daily Pump Trap: 5/21/10 edition

Good morning! There are 28 new positions on the ACS Careers website. Of those, 8 (29%) are academically connected and none are from Kelly Scientific Resources.

Sun and (black? white?) sand, too: Dow is looking for a Ph.D. analytical chemist for its Basic Plastics division; 3+ years as a polymer chemist desired -- industrial experience appreciated. Located in Freeport, TX.

Biorefinery: FPInnovations is the world's largest private forest products research institute (world's tallest midget?); they are looking for a chemist ("ideally Ph.D.") to lead a team develop "novel bio-materials" from wood, pulp and paper products.

Quite a claim: Astellas ("the bright spot in the pharmaceutical industry") desires a Ph.D. chemist with experience in both organic chemistry and protein conjugation technology. Experience with HPLC, ELISA and pilot-plant scale bioreactors is desired. (Oh, that's all.) 5+ years experience is also desired.

La vie in chimie: Publival Multiservices is looking for a postdoc to participate in medicinal chemistry projects; also cheminformatics and molecular modeling involved. Located in Paris, France. 

Little Lost Lamb: Why is a Portland, Oregon engineering consulting firm looking for a transportation planner in the American Chemical Society? Dunno.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Daily Pump Trap: 5/14/10 edition

Good morning! From May 11 through May 13, there were 17 new positions posted on the ACS Careers website. Of these, 4 (24%) are academically connected and none are from Kelly Scientific Resources.

GSK DMPK: GlaxoSmithKline desired a B.S/M.S. chemist for DMPK research in their Infectious Diseases CEDD. At least 5 years of experience is desired.

Vertex!: Vertex, the reigning champ of the ACS Careers database, is (once again) searching for candidates for 5 positions. One of those is the Head of Medicinal Chemistry, for which they want a Ph.D. with at least 10 years in industry. Good luck with that. (So is that your official title? Who's the Toe of Medicinal Chemistry, anyhow?)

Blues, BBQ and chemistry: Vesicol is looking for a M.S/Ph.D. chemist to do product development R&D for them; the ability to do analytical support in a plant setting is also desired. It's in Memphis, which might be desirable.

Top Secret Chemistry: Midwest Research Institute is looking for a chemist (B.S. + 6 years, M.S. + 3 years or Ph.D. with 0 years) to perform spectroscopic analysis. "Familiarity with intelligence/DoD community preferred, but not required." Hmmmm....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hi, there!

Boy, there are a lot of people visiting! Welcome! I had no idea that the "My Favorite Things" meme would be as successful as it is. And here I was just avoiding writing up another depressing post on graduate school. (If you're interested in seeing a complete list of all of the different lists, go here.)

I hope you like what you see when you visit. This blog is about the current chemistry job market; I use the Daily Pump Trap and the Chemjobber C&EN Index to attempt to measure the number of available positions for bench chemists in the marketplace. I also try to flesh out basic questions about chemical employment and I have an interest in chemical safety, especially the case of Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji. Again, thanks for visiting and I hope you stay.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


From here.

Priceless, just priceless.

May unemployment numbers: Um...

On Friday, the April unemployment numbers came out. The official unemployment rate (U3) inched up to 9.9%, up from last month's 9.7%. The broader measurement of unemployment (U6) is up to 17.1%, from 16.9%. It's believed that the increases in both of these are due to more folks looking for work, now that they believe the economy is improving. Let's hope that's the case.

In other measurements of the overall job market, hiring was up in March, even though the number of job openings and labor turnovers were flat. Layoffs were down. Small business hiring is also quite low and the number of people who have been unemployed for extended periods (27 weeks +) is high by historical standards. On a happier note, temporary hiring is quite strong, even though Kelly Scientific doesn't seem to be reflecting that on the ACS Career boards. One step at a time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Daily Pump Trap: 5/11/10 edition

Good morning! Between May 6 and May 10, there have been 21 new positions posted on the ACS Careers website. 6 positions (29%) are academically oriented and 1 (5%) position was with Kelly Scientific Resources.

But are there sharks?: LaserGen is looking for a Ph.D. synthetic organic chemist with experience in nucleotide chemistry. The significance of the company name is not immediately obvious.

Plastics!: Dow Chemical Company is looking for a Ph.D. polymer chemist (new grads considered) for its polyethylene product research division.

Lots to see: Evans Analytical Group is looking for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. scientist with experience in analysis with electron microscopy. I'm not familiar with areas of chemistry that use EM, but hey -- maybe there are.

Novan: Novan desires a M.S./Ph.D. process chemist with 5+ years of experience with pharmaceutical synthesis. Good luck!

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Favorite Things about Chemistry

Because sometimes the facts about chemical employment just aren't very fun. But this is!

My Favorite Things about Chemistry (by CJ)

1. A chromatography column that works well.
2. The treasure trove of literature, filled with truth, (a few) lies and idiosyncrasies galore.
3. Ground glass joints that fit snugly.
4. The first few drops of a successful vacuum distillation.
5. The little tips that "everyone" knows (DMF in your acyl chloride formation, etc.)
6. The prettiness of water flowing through Tygon tubing.
7. Watching product fall out of solution.
8. Crystals, beautiful crystals.
9. J-coupling that makes sense.
10. A clean 250 mL roundbottom.

Let's see if I can start a meme going around the chem-blogosphere. I tag mitch, azmanam, CBC, milkshake, Newscripts, The Haystack, The Safety Zone and Derek Lowe.

Have a good weekend!

UPDATE: azmanam, Newscripts and The Haystack have their lists up. Thanks for playing along, all -- I am honored. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Daily Pump Trap: 5/6/10 edition

Good morning! Between May 1 and May 5, there have been 33 new positions posted on the ACS Careers jobs database. Of those, 10 (30%) are academically connected while none are from Kelly Scientific Resources.

Biocides: Stepan Company is looking for a senior manager of its biocides business. They'd like you to have a lot of experience in the biocides field (10+ years) and good leadership skills.

Bond movie villain, Inc?: Draths Corporation is building a "next generation chemical company... covering the entire benzene value chain". Um, okay. They're looking for a Ph.D. analyst (5+ years exp.) to lead their analytical chemistry team.

Smell of success: International Flavors and Fragrances is looking for a M.S. chemist with 16 years experience or a Ph.D. chemist with 10 years to work on a project that "will include planning and execution of a complex technical multi-functional project of significant size." Intriguing...

Details, details: Adhesives Research, Inc. is looking for a B.S. chemist or chemical engineer to work on its wound care adhesives research project. Naturally, "wound care adhesion experience a must." 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A quick salary comparison between M.S. and Ph.D. chemists

The recent discussion on the differences between a M.S. and Ph.D. positions has set me to thinking about the differences between the degrees, skill sets and overall employability. But first, let's look at the salary numbers.

Assume that we have 4 individuals. They're all in the same group in graduate school, they're all the same age, gender, whatever. At year 0, they decide to take 4 different paths, as shown below:

Person A: takes M.S. immediately, goes to work for 60k, gets 1% raise a year
Person B: takes M.S. immediately, goes to work for 70k, gets 1% raise a year
Person C: stays in grad school, takes Ph.D. in 2 years, goes to work for 80k, gets 1% raise a year
Person D: stays in grad school, takes Ph.D. in 2 years, does 2 year postdoc, goes to work for 90k, gets 1% raise a year

At year 20, how will their earnings differ?

Person A, M.S. (year 20 total earnings): $1,321,140.24
Person B, M.S. (year 20 total earnings): $1,541,330.28
Person C, Ph.D. (year 20 total earnings): $1,569,179.81
Person D, Ph.D. + postdoc (year 20 total earnings): $1,553,207.80

My spreadsheet is here, for those of you who are interested.

Caveats: There weren't any promotions in these cases, so there weren't any considerations of pay grades and the like. The salaries are a bit made up (I doubt there are postdocs hired into industry at salaries 10k above their non-postdoc colleagues.) Also, there are layoffs to be considered (how do you calculate that?)

Conclusions? Hard to say, but in this idealized scenario, assuming all other things equal, Ph.D. chemists make up the 2 year difference in salary between their already-working M.S. brethren/sistren in the first ten years of their working life, if not sooner.

Is the salary difference really that great? It depends, of course, on the magnitude of the difference. In that first 20 years, the lifetime difference in total salary between Person B, (70k annual salary) and Person C (80k) is less than $30,000. (Note: of course, it's not completely fair to compare someone who's been in the workforce for 18 years as opposed to 20.)

Also, it's clear that postdocs aren't a great financial decision, in the short term. But that's not why people take postdoctoral appointments. Long term, obviously, if a postdoc gives you more training, better contacts and more job opportunities, then they're worth it.