Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thoreau: what's wrong with "weeding out"?

Further comments from undergraduate science professor Thoreau on both "weeding out" and the logistics of large courses. First, on weeding out: 
1) When I was a freshman, I was surrounded by aspiring scientists, engineers, and doctors.  When I was in my second year, I was surrounded by people with a much wider range of career ambitions, in part because some of them got their asses kicked in intro STEM classes.  I understand that this trend has largely continued. 
2) At my current veal farm, I see people who are in their third year and still taking intro STEM classes (and are still getting mediocre grades) because they placed into math classes lower than calculus, floundered and failed in some classes, repeated classes, etc.  Nobody wants to tell them to change majors. 
3) My current veal farm has a graduation rate that is pathetic compared to my alma mater. 
4) Time is money.  Delayed graduation means more loans and delayed income.
Is it really so bad to use freshman classes to weed people out, and encourage those who are floundering to consider a different major?  Indeed, from a social justice perspective, might weed-out freshman courses be ethically necessary responses to a world where students are paying higher and higher tuition and taking out more and more loans?
I agree with much of what Thoreau is saying, although I suspect the rejoinder from the anti-weeders is "Look, your course structure/lecture style/whatever is what is unintentionally doing the weeding. Maybe if you changed how you lecture, you'd get more kids who understood things better." I'm not really sure that's been borne out in the literature, though.

Also, over at Just Like Cooking, Thoreau has some interesting comments about the logistics of large classes and how seemingly draconian rules are really about teaching life skills and also taking edge-case decision making out of the hands of TAs who may otherwise be put in difficult spots. All worth thinking about.

One more thing I don't think that New York Times article addresses -- how much "new hotness" interactive-style courses would cost (in time and money) in comparison to classic large lecture courses.

Warning Letter of the Week: No drawers!

From the FDA's list of recently issued warning letters, one to the folks at Novacyl Wuxi Pharmaceutical Co:
Our investigator observed specific deficiencies during the inspection of the API manufacturing facility, including, but not limited to, the following:

1.    Failure to manage laboratory systems with sufficient controls to ensure conformance to established specifications and prevent omission of data.
Our inspection revealed serious deficiencies related to your documentation practices, including missing raw data. It is a basic responsibility of your quality unit to ensure that your firm retains the supporting raw data that demonstrates your APIs meet specifications that they are purported to possess.

For example, during the inspection, our investigator found a chromatogram related to [redacted], API in the trash, dated October 15, 2013, which reported an additional chromatographic peak when compared to the standard. During the inspection, your firm stated that the analyst discarded the chromatogram because it was present in the blank injection. However, the analyst was unable to retrieve the blank chromatogram from the system because it was overwritten by a subsequent injection.

In addition, the inspection documented that your firm made changes to integration parameters for the impurities test without appropriate documentation or justification. Your firm relied upon hand written notes on a chromatogram discovered in a drawer at the laboratory as the documentation for this change. Furthermore, your firm implemented this change without an audit trail that would have captured the date of the change and who made the change.

Other significant deficiencies noted in your laboratory system include:

a)    Failure to have a written procedure for manual integration despite its prevalence.
b)    Failure to use separate passwords for each analyst’s access to the laboratory systems.
c)    Use of uncontrolled worksheets for raw analytical data in your laboratory.
d)    Presence of many uncontrolled chromatograms, spreadsheets and notes of unknown origin found in a drawer.

The lack of controls on method performance and inadequate controls on the integrity of the data collected raise questions as to the authenticity and reliability of your data and the quality of the APIs you produce.
Well, you know, I always have a junk drawer for my chromatograms.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"High-salaried, unaligned lab drones"

Dear Peter, I love you too.
Cheers, a low-salaried, all-too-often over-aligned lab drone
Via biotech trader @chasingthealpha, some complimentary thoughts on biotech/pharma scientists from Peter Thiel's book "Zero to One."

(See my accompanying critique here.)

Peter Thiel is more ignorant of pharma/biotech than I knew

Following that lovely picture, I looked up Peter Thiel's recent book on start-ups titled "Zero To One" and found the relevant section on "indefinite optimism" and how it distorts societal decision-making and planning. I can't get very excited about rich software tycoons and their critiques of society (and I often find that Thiel makes good points.) But this section in his text is full of baloney that indicates that he does not know what he does not know: 
...Modern drug discovery aims to amplify Fleming's serendipitous circumstances a millionfold: pharmaceutical companies search through combinations of molecular compounds at random, hoping to find a hit.  
But it's not working as well as it used to. Despite dramatic advances over the past two centuries, in recent decades biotechnology hasn't met the expectations of investors -- or patients. Eroom's law -- that's Moore's law backwards -- observes that the number of new drugs approved per billion dollars spent on R&D has halved every nine years since 1950. Since information technology accelerated faster than ever during those same years, the big question for biotech today is whether it will ever see similar progress. Compare biotech startups to their counterparts in computer software. 
[comparison table here]  
Biotech startups are an extreme example of indefinite thinking. Researchers experiment with things that just might work instead of refining definite theories about how the body's systems operate. Biologists say they need to work this way because the underlying biology is hard. According to them, IT startups work because we created computers ourselves and designed them to reliably obey our commands. Biotech is difficult because we didn't design our bodies, and the more we learn about them, the more complex they turn out to be.  
But today it's possible to wonder whether the genuine difficulty of biology has become an excuse for biotech startups' indefinite approach to business in general. Most of the people involved expect some things to work eventually, but few want to commit to a specific company with the level of intensity necessary for success. It starts with the professors who often become part-time consultants instead of full-time employees -- even for the biotech startups that begin from their own research. Then everyone else imitates the professors' indefinite attitude. It's easy for libertarians to claim that heavy regulation holds biotech back -- and it does -- but indefinite optimism may pose an even greater challenge for the future of biotech. 
My readership is far more knowledgeable about pharma than I am. Suffice it to say that Thiel's characterization of modern medicinal chemistry is a lot closer to, say, Marcia Angell's understanding than it is to someone in the industry. "combinations of molecular compounds at random" Eyeroll.

What I am really stunned by is Thiel's suggestion that biotech startups having insufficient willpower and intensity for success. Most of the time, they're structured just like software startups, with a staff of smart, hungry young scientists who are fully employed by the companies and strongly incentivized by their pay structure to make big impacts and meet their milestones. I'm not really sure that it matters that the professors are only consultants -- most of the time, it's the relevant laboratory folks (postdocs, grad students) that get hired in full-time to really get the laboratory work started.

Why does Peter Thiel think that software startups have sufficient willpower to wield the Green Lantern ring, but biotech startups do not? I'd love to know what kind of interactions with biotech that he has had that he's come away with such a poor (and misinformed, in my opinion) viewpoint. We'll never know, I suppose. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Where have you seen 'gatekeeping'?

The New York Times had an interesting article about new, more interactive approaches to freshman courses in chemistry and biology, partially focusing on a UC-Davis lecturer in chemistry. It's an interesting read, even if it's a little bit "lecturing is old and busted, this is the new hotness". But I found these to be an interesting set of statements: 
“A lot of science faculty have seen themselves as gatekeepers,” said Marco Molinaro, an assistant vice provost here at Davis and director of its effort to overhaul science courses. The university has received grants from the Association of American Universities, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust. 
Rather than try to help students who falter in introductory classes, he said, “they have seen it as their job to weed people out and limit access to upper-level courses.”
Does anyone in science see themselves as "gatekeepers" or try to actually "weed people out" and/or "limit access to upper-level courses"?

I am sure there are TAs or professors on power trips who love to intimidate young students, but it seems to me that the majority of educators of undergraduates try to help students as much as possible. Maybe I am wrong, but I see gates as far more implied than explicit and far more inferred (and/or imagined?) than actual. I could be wrong, though.

So, prove me wrong. Readers, have you ever heard a professor or a dean (not a TA) explicitly say "We are trying to weed students out" or an equivalent statement?*

*This is of a piece with my assertion that "look to your left, look to your right" is essentially an urban legend and very few people have actually heard that sentiment expressed by a professor in a classroom. 

UPDATE: As a professional in the field, Thoreau has an opinion on the matter. Worth a read, especially since I don't think about the logistics of upper-level undergraduate classes. I'd also like to know -- who is supplying this 'sweet, sweet pipeline money'? (Thoreau's answer: NSF.)

UPDATE 2: See Arr Oh talks about strict grading standards for teaching a freshman chemistry laboratory. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

UAlaska-Anchorage: "We have been unable to fill an organic chemistry faculty position that has been open for several years."

From the Alaska Dispatch, news that the University of Alaska - Anchorage "can't find" an organic chemist to fill its empty faculty position: 
Trouble finding faculty members and a growing hole in the state budget have forced the University of Alaska Anchorage to suspend its degree programs for chemistry majors.
UAA said the decision would not affect current chemistry students, but the school will not be accepting new chemistry majors until the program can be restarted. 
John Stalvey, dean of UAA's College of Arts and Sciences, said there are 95 chemistry majors enrolled at UAA. Ten of those are co-enrolled at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which will retain its chemistry degree program.  
The program's suspension came as a surprise to students and professors, Stalvey said, but the program could not be sustained. 
"It's one of those things that has happened over a period of years," Stalvey said. "We have been unable to fill an organic chemistry faculty position that has been open for several years, with several failed searches. One of our young professors will leave this year. Unfortunately his family didn’t love Alaska as much as we love Alaska, and we have another retirement coming up in May." 
The university is in the process of finalizing its Program Prioritization Report, which is due for release in a few months. That report will help UAA officials decide which programs to enhance and which to potentially cut, as the state -- the main source of the university's funding -- faces an estimated $3.5 billion per year shortfall over the next two years....
I'm not an academic, but it seems to me that the hiring and retaining of young faculty is one of the most prominent responsibilities of department chairs and university administrators. Instead, we have a dean throwing a (soon-to-be)-former employee's family under the bus. Well done, Dean Stalvey!

Pardon my language, but there's no f---in' shortage of people who want to be academic organic chemists. You could hire this position on at $39,000 and there'd be takers. If you can't fill this position, it's on YOU. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Back on Friday. Until then, Merry Christmas from my family and I to you and yours. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

A typical ACS approach to #chemjobs

Also in this week's issue of C&EN, a farewell missive from Dr. William Carroll, the outgoing chairman of the ACS board of directors. The relevant sections: 
...Members always tell us that communicating scientific knowledge—through meetings, journals, and particularly C&EN—is most important to them. On the other hand, our ability to help with career maintenance and advancement has been working its way up the importance ladder. I think we’ve made good progress on both counts. 
We’re doing a better job of linking the three pillars of the American Chemical Society—Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), ACS Publications (Pubs), and the membership organization—into a cohesive member- and customer-facing unit. There are now basic benefits in Pubs and CAS that come with membership, including free article downloads and SciFinder tasks. There are opportunities for purchasing additional articles and subscriptions at low prices. For the retired, self-employed, or unemployed chemist this provides substantial value. 
We’re thinking more globally in all three units. Most of our revenue as a society comes from outside the U.S., and a growing number of authors and editors for our publications are based around the world. A substantial portion of the articles and patents that CAS indexes comes from other countries. And as people the world over become more familiar with our products, we can credibly make the case that membership is a benefit that draws them yet closer to the largest and most diverse scientific society in the world. 
Our Career Pathways Workshops do a great job of teaching members, and particularly students, what the world is like out there and how to break into it. I know these tools are useful because as an ACS Career Consultant, I’ve helped people launch themselves. There is nothing more gratifying than when one of your students gets a job. 
...Looking toward the future, alongside those achievements lie two important challenges: how to increase membership in countries where it is uncommon to belong to any membership organization, including a professional society, and how to keep recent graduates in the U.S. engaged with us as they move into and through their careers—especially if those careers are not in traditional chemistry jobs.
My comments:
  • No mention of the historically high unemployment rates for new graduates and current members during his tenure on the board. 
  • The implication that 25 free downloads or 25 free SciFinder searches is a "substantial value" is laughable on its face. It's helpful, but far from the generosity one would hope from a scientific society that seems to be able to be quite generous to its senior executives. 
  • What I find most depressing is the recognition from the Chairman of the Board of the American Chemical Society that students who graduate with degrees in chemistry won't be working in "traditional chemistry jobs." No attempt to struggle with this problem -- just a seeming shrug. He'll be gone, but we'll still be here. 
And again, someone at the top of the organization who worries about just getting more and more members and not caring about the organization's ability to connect with its current members and their actual quality of life (i.e. how chemistry helps them make a living.) Quantity, not quality -- that's what the American Chemical Society is focused on these days. Sigh. 

This week's C&EN

This week's issue is mostly a year in review, with lots of short articles:

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Chemjobber holiday tradition

A new edition for a new year. Print out and send to your family -- it works!

A neat ozone+UV paper pointed out by See Arr Oh

Check out this really interesting Science paper highlighted by See Arr Oh, one where the authors transform cyclohexane to adipic acid (among other transformations) using ozone and 300 nm UV light. Obviously, this is a pretty neat method and one that should be highlighted to the broader scientific community.

I think it's obvious to the authors that a batch reactor approach is/would be sufficient for the laboratory, but not for industrial applications to large-scale polymer needs. From the Supporting Information:
In the current photo irradiation process, liquid reactant was gradually converted to solid precipitate. At the late stage of reaction process, a small amount of liquid reactant/intermediates were trapped in the solid precipitate. It is therefore inherently difficult to reach more than 90% conversion. Nevertheless, the problem can be overcome by designing a dynamic flow reactor allowing regular removal of solid precipitated products from the bottom of the reactor when a large scale production of solid adipic acid is concerned.
In my favorite formulation of the moment, "can" is doing a lot of work in that last sentence there. (Presumably, you'd need a ozone flow unit (and those exist), combined with a photoirradiation flow unit -- who knows, it could be done.)

I presume the economics would not work out for adipic acid, but would probably work out for higher-value monomers. Who knows? Either way, definitely a very interesting method -- congrats to the Hwang group. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What would you ask a former hiring manager?

I'm planning on speaking with M.R. Nelson, the author of the excellent e-book "Navigating the Path to Industry." What questions would you like me to ask? 

Guest post: A comment on the 2014 Employment Outlook issue of C&EN

CJ here -- Frank wrote in with a comment about this year's Employment Outlook issue in C&EN, focusing on Susan Ainsworth's survey of industrial demand. It has been very lightly edited. 

It's the winter season and everyone's busy these days, trying to finish work up before the end of the year and also preparing for the holidays.  Even CJ's been busy this November and December.  While he highlighted a couple interesting articles in the Nov 3rd edition of C&EN, there was a treasure trove of employment-related information in an edition where the cover article was entitled Employment Outlook.  I thought that issue deserved a more attention and have condensed many pages of articles into a shorter (but still lengthy) guest post for CJ.

The cover story is that the job market is starting to look up and that chemists should anticipate slow growth in 2015. However, as the article Pockets of Opportunity (pg 16) highlights, the growth is occurring in niche areas, primarily petrochemical and contract manufacturing areas.  In a September speech Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez indicated that economic relief is coming because "manufacturing in the U.S. is coming back, growing faster than at any point in the last 15 years” (pg 10), a statement that holds given the expansion plans for the chemical industry.  Numerous plants are at various stages of development, including:
  • an ethylene cracker and derivatives and also a possible gas-to-liquid for Sasol in Louisiana (pg 9)
  • an ethane cracker and polyethylene plant for Badlands NGL in North Dakota (pg 14)
  • an ethane cracker and two polyethylene units for Chevron Phillips in Texas (pg 17)
  • an ammonia plant and also a potential methane-to-propylene complex for BASF in Texas (pg 18)
  • two plant expansions for Clariant in Louisville and Texas (pg 18)
  • expansion of a specialty additives facility for Altana in Connecticut (pg 18)
These projects are primarily fueled by the fracking and horizontal drilling to access more shale deposits in the US, and the American Chemistry Council predicts these projects will create 61,000 jobs in the chemical industry over the coming decade (pg 14).  US GDP is expected to grow 2.2% and 3.1% for 2014 and 2015 respectively (3.2 & 2.7% for UK, 0.8 & 1.3% for EU, 7.4 & 7.1% for China, pg 12), including predictions that chemical manufacturing employment will increase 1.1 & 0.2% in 2014 and 2015 (pg 13).  3rd Quarter numbers were favorable across the board, with the titan and large employer Dow outperforming analyst expectations to a 6% profit margin and DuPont meeting expectations with a 6.4% profit margin (pg 7).

This positive outlook is supported by ACS 2014 data which shows increases in full time employment (91.9%) and decreased unemployment (2.9%).  Furthermore, Jamie Stacy of Kelly Services and Josh Albert of Klein Hersh international, both talent search firms, speak positively of job prospects, since demand for chemists and other scientists in pharma and biotech is "much stronger than it was a year ago" and "hiring in chemistry is really coming back. It's a robust time." (pg 16)  On the UIUC campus two career fairs sold out within hours and more companies are coming to campus to recruit in the fall.

But this picture sounds a bit too rosy to me.  Paul Hodges, chairman of International eChem, fears that the petrochemical sector is suffering from irrational exhuberance, since while capacity might increase the demand for these products is not that high right now (pg 14).  Further, the ACS survey indicates that salaries are stagnant in current dollars, which means they are losing spending power to inflation and therefore decreasing in 'constant dollars.'  If you get down into the specifics, the Employment Outlook seems to still be bleak.
  1. Pharma is estimated to have cut 9,923 jobs for the first three quarters this year. (pg 13)  Allergan plans to cut 1500 employees by the end of this year and Amgen intends to cut 4000 by 2016 (pg 10).  Lily announced back in January plans to cut R&D spending by $1 billion.
  2. GSK has hired 2 dozen chemists worldwide in 2014, which represents "a considerable increase relative to 2013" (pg 16).  This is because "GSK recognizes that chemistry is central to drug development...chemistry will continue to be an area for recruitment."  One needs only to point to the recently announced layoffs of ~900 employees in Research Triangle Park, NC to question their previous statements.
  3. Genentech plans to hire 35 new scientists in biochemistry and chemistry by the end of 2014 (pg 17).  And they have been active on C&EN Jobs and have shown up in the Daily Pump Traps.  However they seem to be asking anyone and everyone to apply so they can choose the best applicants.  "Genentech will be focused on finding M.S.- or Ph.D.-level scientists who are fresh out of school or who have up to eight years of industry experience. The firm will also consider Ph.D.s with postdoctoral experience. Among those recruited will be candidates with expertise in analytical chemistry, discovery chemistry, formulation, process chemistry, and biochemical and cellular pharmacology." (ph 17)
  4. Merck is "currently hiring in areas of strategic interest, across multiple scientific disciplines" and continuing to offer 26 PostDoc research fellowships.  This is after announcing cuts of 8500 and 7500 employees, half of which are expected to come from R&D. 
  5. Chevron Philips plans to hire 50 Chem Engineers worldwide, despite having a desire to support an "aggressive growth strategy as well as replace our retirement-eligible workforce" (pg 17)
  6. Huntsman plans to cut 900 jobs after acquiring another TiO2 producer. 
Cambrex, a contract manufacturing organization who is actively recruiting chemists to meet demand, considers candidates who have a BS in chemistry, extensive experience in a laboratory environment, knowledge of analytical instrumentation, a strong chemistry theory foundation, and a proven ability to handle multiple projects effectively. (pg 17)  Stacey of Kelly Services also sees increased demand for BS-level positions: She sees increased opportunity for chemists in quality-assurance and quality-control roles. “We are also observing a large need for analytical chemists who have varied instrumentation expertise,” she says, adding that B.S.-level chemists are more in demand than those with M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in those roles. (pg 16)
Clearly what we have here is a STEM shortage, not enough BS-level chemists to fill all these positions.  The ACS statistics would seem to disagree, with the unemployment among 2013 graduates with a BS sitting at a recent high of 14.9%.

And Stacey has more interesting things to say about the current job market (again emphasis mine):
Stacey says there’s been strong demand for chemists in the temporary-staffing market, something she does not interpret as bad news (?!?). The emergence of this trend is less a sign of companies’ aversion to hiring full-time employees and more a reflection of a new workplace paradigm, she says. “More employees want to work on their terms and that may mean working as consultants or doing temporary project work for multiple companies. And more companies across many businesses see the value of a workforce they can flex depending on their immediate business needs,” she says. (pg 16)

Maybe it might be just me, but I would rather have a stable full-time job to part-time contracting work.  Certainly people would prefer some work to no work, but please don't pretend that this current employment situation is due to employee preferences and not companies' aversion to hiring full-time employees.

I think the most positive piece of information in the issue, on top of the chemical industry having an all around good third quarter, is that 3M "plans to bring on 2,200 new hires in the U.S. in the next five years with an emphasis on high-growth geographies and on R&D and sales." (pg 18)  I hope their plans come to fruition.

In the end, I think that Martha Moore, senior director for policy analysis and economics for ACC, really hit the nail on the head.  "If you've got the right skills and you’re in the right geographic location, it could be a good opportunity.” (pg 15)  To me it looks like the right skills include engineering and a proclivity for Texas.

Frank, current grad student

CJ here again. Thanks to Frank for his worthwhile thoughts. 

Daily Pump Trap: 12/18/14 edition

A few of this past week's postings on C&EN Jobs: 

Pasadena, TX: I would love, love, love to see the applications that come in for this B.S. QC chemist position for Total's Bayport plant. They're asking for 5 years experience -- how much does that cost in the rather hot Texas chemistry job market? I'd love to know. 

Arlington, VA: This is such a weird B.S./M.S. policy position -- it sure seems like a government thing, but there's no obvious "security clearance needed" marker: 
CRDF Global seeks a highly motivated project manager who can develop and implement complex international projects and who is capable to work in a challenging, fast-paced environment. The ideal candidate will have a strong academic or professional background in international relations or security studies, or chemistry as well as an interest in nonproliferation and chemical security. 
CRDF Global is a collaborative, team based environment; the Project Manager will implement projects in the Chemical Security Program (CSP) and/or on other teams as assigned. CSP establishes cooperative partnerships to raise chemical security awareness among the international scientific community and secure chemicals that may be misused, in support of common nonproliferation objectives. Projects are mostly implemented the Middle East, Turkey and Southeast Asia.
Boston, MA: Biotage looking for a technical sales rep. I'd think you'd be a busy person.

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and show (respectively) 165, 1199, 6396 and 19 positions for the search term "chemist." LinkedIn shows 553 positions for the job title "chemist", with 29 for "research chemist", 77 for "analytical chemist", 6 for "organic chemist", 7 for "synthetic chemist" and 1 for "medicinal chemist." 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chemist mystery of the day: Who died in 2013?

Thanks to Twitter chatter about the deadliest occupations, I was looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and found this interesting tidbit: in 2013, 3 chemists died on the job. Their cause of death is not clear, but it seems to me (from the table) that at least 1 of them died from "violence and other injuries by persons or animals."

Any ideas? 

Book review: Molecules, by Theodore Gray

A page of "Molecules", by Theodore Grey
I am not really one for coffee table books (only recently having owned a coffee table, or a living room to have one in in), but I had the recent opportunity to look at a review copy of "Molecules", by software guru and chemical enthusiast Theodore Gray.

The photos (by Nick Mann) in the book are gorgeous. What is really worthwhile is his uniquely curated different sets of objects that he photographed (each representing a particular molecule or class of molecules). Each picture is accompanied by Gray's observations, which range from fun to whimsical to really insightful. Perhaps I am uninformed about the history of a variety of different molecules (indigo, in particular), but I learned a lot. There's a clever section on controversial molecules ("I Hate That Molecule") which include carbon dioxide, azodicarbonamide and thimerosal.

I do have a very minor "chemistry nerd" complaint about the structures in the book. It is difficult for me to see line drawings in anything other than the standard "ACS 1996" syle. As you can see above, the different atoms are individually labeled, including the hydrogens. Each molecule has a purple blur about it, which is supposed to represent the electrons. (I'm actually looking forward to explaining this to my kids.) This is an extremely picayune point and one that should really be ignored.

The book is listed at $30, so that is pretty pricey (according to this cheapskate), but it is really lovely and would make a nice present for a chemist or in particular, children who like science. I do not know lots of older children, but boys and girls from 3 to 6 have flipped through its pages and found that it entertains for at least 10 minutes at a sitting for multiple sittings. As a parent, that's high praise indeed.

(Next week: a review of the Molecules app.) 

Geopolitical news diversion

Bold predictions:

1. This drop in oil prices won't last. I predict that there will be no Russian bond default in 2015.

2. Anyone want to predict when pharma will start moving manufacturing to Cuba, now that the US will be normalizing relations? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anyone heard of paying chemists by the reaction?

The different ways to pay chemists:

1. A yearly salary
2. An hourly wage
3. By project (i.e. deliver X grams by Y time for Z dollars)
4. Subsistence wages, supplemented with food and alcohol (kidding)

Has anyone heard of paying people by the reaction? If so, how did it work out for you? How much did you get paid?

Seems to me that this is a bad deal for any chemist. (How do you determine how you get paid? Do you have to work up the reaction, or just set it up? How many stir plates do you get?) Surely there is some kind of labor law about piecework that might apply to such a scheme.

I haven't heard of this before, so I thought I would ask. Readers, what say you? 

Like the northern white rhino

From the 2nd latest C&EN issue, a Merck ad for positions in Rahway. Rather unusual these days. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

A great article about graphene or, Did I catch The New Yorker in an error?

I am not a graphene expert, but I really liked this John Colapinto article about graphene research in The New Yorker. Also, if you like Rice University's Jim Tour, he gets the full The New Yorker profile treatment. But here's an interesting section on using graphene in 3D printing (emphasis mine):
The group’s members were pondering how to integrate graphene into the objects they print. They might mix the material into plastic or simply print it onto the surface of existing objects. There were still formidable hurdles. The researchers had figured out how to turn graphene into a liquid—no easy task, since the material is severely hydrophobic, which means that it clumps up and clogs the print heads. They needed to first convert graphene to graphene oxide, adding groups of oxygen and hydrogen molecules, but this process negates its electrical properties. So once they printed the object they would have to heat it with a laser. “When you heat it up,” Aby said, “you burn off those groups and reduce it back to graphene.”
As any chemist could tell you, clumping and clogging is not the definition of 'hydrophobic' (although it certainly could be a symptom.)

I'm going to pat myself on the back for seeing an error/misinterpretation that slipped through The New Yorker's famed fact-checking department. 

Best wishes to Carmen Drahl

Also in this week's C&EN, Carmen Drahl writes on the chemistry of holiday tinsel, including the fact that they used to have lead tinsel (good gravy.)

This is just as good as any time to say that Carmen has announced on Twitter that she is resigning her position at the end of the year to become a freelance writer. I'm sad for the C&EN readership -- I will miss her articles. She's had a tremendous positive influence on me over the years and she has shaped the chemistry blogosphere from early on. I have always considered her a bit of a mentor (and she may be surprised to read that.)

My best wishes to her in her future journeys and I sincerely hope that we read her writing again soon. 

This week's C&EN

Back to blogging (and here's to a complete week, he said):

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bonus Process Wednesday: CSB speculation as to DuPont methanethiol deaths

From CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso's written testimony in front of Congress today, the relevant portion on the November DuPont deaths due to methanethiol exposure: 
...DuPont is certainly no “outlier.” In fact, DuPont has long been regarded as one of industry’s leading lights in safety, and it markets its safety programs to other companies. What happened last month, however, was the fifth release incident at a DuPont facility that the CSB has investigated since 2010, and three of these had associated fatalities. While the CSB investigation remains underway in La Porte, some preliminary facts are already emerging. 
The incident occurred following an unplanned shutdown of the methomyl unit due to inadvertent water dilution of a chemical storage tank several days earlier. Efforts were underway to restart the process, but problems occurred including plugged supply piping leading from the methyl mercaptan storage tank.  
As efforts were underway to troubleshoot these problems, it is likely that methyl mercaptan (and possibly other toxic chemicals) inadvertently entered the interconnected process vent system inside the building. The release occurred through a valve that was opened as part of a routine effort to drain liquid from the vent system in order to relieve pressure inside. We found that this vent system had a history of periodic issues with unwanted liquid build-up, and the valve in question was typically drained directly into the work area inside the building, rather than into a closed system.  
In addition, our investigators have found that the building’s ventilation fans were not in service, and that the company did not effectively implement good safety practices requiring personnel to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) that was present at the facility. Appropriate PPE would include equipment, such as supplied air respirators, for workers performing potentially hazardous tasks inside the building....
Not enough time to do a detailed analysis here, but the fact that MeSH inadvertently entered the vent system seems relevant, as well as the fact that the valve drained into the building. (How can a valve drain? That wording seems odd.) I suspect that the vent system and where it drained was poorly understood and that the amount of MeSH they were dealing with was not understood well, either. 

Well done, Intel

From an ad for a Materials Chemist (synthetically oriented) at Intel Corporation, these requirements (emphasis mine):
Minimum Qualifications:
The candidate must possess a Ph.D. in one of the following disciplines: Chemistry, specifically synthetic inorganic, synthetic organic, or synthetic organometallic chemistry 
Preferred Qualifications:
Strong synthetic background, especially as it relates to the handling of air-sensitive compounds  
Proficiency in using NMR spectroscopy, x-ray crystallography and other analytical techniques such as GC-MS, HPLC, UV-Vis and IR spectroscopy, TGA/DSC.  
History of collaboration with cross-disciplinary academic and/or industrial partners  
Three (3) or more 1st author publications in high-impact chemistry journals (e.g. JACS, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., Inorganic Chemistry, Adv. Mat., etc.)  
Willingness to apply academic background to semiconductor industry  
Unrestricted right to work in the US without requiring sponsorship.
In one sense, I think this is a silly preference. What if they were a 2nd author? Co-first author? (what a ridiculous designation, incidentally.)

In another sense, if Intel informally has these sorts of guidelines, by all means, I think that they should make them clear.

(Do pharma companies do this? I feel like the answer is "no", but I could be wrong.) 

Daily Pump Trap: 12/11/14 edition

A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs this week:

Norwell, MA: Battelle looking for a B.S. chemist (4 years experience) for a GLP study director -- looks to be pesticide-related. Posted salary: 60-105k.

Santa Cruz, CA: Another entry in the #cannabischemjobs database. SC Laboratories hiring a M.S/Ph.D. analytical chemist.

Floyd, VA:  Hollingsworth & Vose Company is searching for what seems like a product development scientist with some combination of education and experience that I can't quite figure out.

North Chicago, IL: AbbVie continuing its hiring spree, looking for an experienced fragment-based drug discovery biochemist.

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and shows (respectively) 165, 1132, 6356 and 17 positions for the search term "chemist." LinkedIn shows 555 positions for the job title "chemist", 76 positions for the search term "analytical chemist", 34 for "research chemist", 6 for "organic chemist", 1 for "medicinal chemist" and 6 for "synthetic chemist." 

A good non-traditional careers story

Anonymous helpfully points out the continuing Fazlul Sarkar saga at Retraction Watch, including the affidavit in support of PubPeer by Dr. John Krueger, a former ORI investigator who stood up their forensic image group and:
My direct expertise in forensic image analysis stems from 20 years of relevant federal work in my second career, starting as one of the original Investigator–Scientists in the Division of Research Investigations (or later the Division of Investigative Oversight), Office of Research Integrity (1993–2013). In this position, I was responsible for the initial assessment of allegations of data falsification and also for the oversight of investigations into allegations of falsification of research. Both tasks involved a heavy commitment to forensic assessment of the evidence, either for the allegations (sometimes made ‘anonymously,’ meaning that ORI had no way to determine the source the allegation) for referral to institutions, or in the evaluation of the resultant institutional findings. This was one of the more interesting ‘silent’ jobs in science, as it provided many new opportunities.
It's quite a good read from both an non-research science job and a forensic analysis position, if you have the time for it.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The 2013 Survey of Earned Doctorates is out

How did the Ph.D. chemists do? From "TABLE 59. Statistical profile of postgraduation plans of doctorate recipients in physical sciences fields, by sex and field of study: 2013" (PDF)

Let's remember this for the future: the modal outcome of a Ph.D. in chemistry in 2013 was a postdoctoral appointment, just like it has been for the past 20 years.

I've taken the Excel file and isolated it to just the chemistry Ph.D.s. Plenty of data to chew on.

(Year after year, the thing that continues to amaze me is the number of people who fill out the Survey of Earned Doctorates (i.e. their graduate school gives them the "YOU ARE OFFICIALLY GRADUATING" paperwork and the SED is part of that) and are still seeking employment or study. I should note that this number is always higher than I expect, but I don't have historical data to draw a conclusion about 2013's numbers.)

Daily Pump Trap: 12/9/14 edition

A few of the postings from this week's C&EN Jobs:

Baton Rouge, LA: Albemarle is looking for an entry-level Ph.D. NMR spectroscopist. Not every day that you see that.

Rolla, MO: Brewer Science, searching for a B.S.-level senior research associate.

San Francisco Bay area: I think this Bolt Threads engineering job sounds pretty interesting. Why it is at C&EN Jobs is beyond me, though.

More engineering positions: Myriant is located in Lake Providence, Louisiana. Looks like they're hiring chemical engineers and paying decently (?). 

Academic job posting open thread

I got a request for a "academic job hunt" thread recently, so I thought I would give it a try.

So, if you're giving a talk somewhere and feel like telling other people how it went and for people to keep track of who has received an offer, etc., feel free to use this post's comments.

I strongly suggest to those who want to do such a thing to be very careful about providing too much detail. I also suggest that if you decide that you want to mention the fact that you gave a talk at a moderately prominent Iowa liberal arts school, say, that you might try Google-proofing by adding "/
"s to the text, e.g. "Yesterday, I interviewed at Gri/nel/l College. It went fine and Professor Sn/ark/lepan/ts was a wonderful host."

If you'd like to tell me why this is a bad idea, I'm all ears: -- thanks. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 12/9/14 edition

A variety of the academically-related posts on C&EN Jobs:

Athens, TN: Tennessee Wesleyan College is looking for an assistant/associate professor of chemistry. Chance to develop a forensic chemistry course, looks like.

Brooklyn, NY: Long Island University - Brooklyn is searching for an assistant professor of inorganic or analytical chemistry.

Hong Kong, China: The Chinese University of Hong Kong is searching for a Ph.D. theoretical chemist to be an assistant professor. "A working knowledge of the Chinese language will be an advantage." Salary is "HK$675,960 to HK$867,300" which works out to a starting salary of 87k? Wow. (I presume that life is expensive on the island of Hong Kong.)

Newark, NJ: The New Jersey Institute of Technology desires an assistant professor of biochemistry and an assistant professor of environmental science. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The latest ACS form 990

You still don't get (much) money for being a board member, I see. 
The latest ACS form 990. More notable for the lack of top compensation for the editor-in-chief of C&EN.
Healthy looking compensation, I see. 

The particulars of ACS pay. 

This week's C&EN

A variety of the many interesting articles in C&EN this week:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Book review: "Navigating the Path to Industry", M.R. Nelson

I have had the chance to review "Navigating the Path to Industry" by M.R. Nelson recently and I wanted to recommend it to readers, especially those who are looking for their first position in industry. Dr. Nelson has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and was a hiring manager in both the biotech and information technology industry before striking out on her own as a consultant.

The book is easy to read and written in a funny, conversational style. It consists of 2 parts, the first being the "preparing yourself to apply" and the second is the basics of applying for a position in industry. In the beginning, Dr. Nelson offers some great advice about the right mindset for the process: 
Even if you aren’t aiming for the perfect job, a job search is a hard, ill-defined process that is almost guaranteed to humble you from time to time. Remember, it is hard for everyone. Don’t lose faith in yourself. I have conducted several successful job searches over the course of my career, but I have never conducted one that did not involve rejection.  
You need to develop methods for maintaining your self-confidence and positive attitude in the face of the inevitable rejection. Potential techniques for this include: keeping a folder of positive feedback and evidence of your past successes to review when you are struggling, developing a closure routine to “say good-bye” to jobs you wanted but did not get, and practicing the “fake it until you make it” method of pretending to be more confident than you feel.
That's great advice and something that I think people need to remember about applying for positions -- it's mostly writing people and telling them, "please, reject me." No getting around it, that's no fun and it helps to be prepared for it.

She has quite detailed advice about each step of the process, from getting the right format for your CV/resume (PDF, of course) to the correct sentence structure in your accomplishments section to the structure of your cover letter to what kind of clothes you should wear to your interview. She tells some great anecdotes about her own job searches, including the inappropriate questions that (seemingly, inevitably) get asked of interviewees. I really liked the section on answering questions about "company culture" -- that stuff is hard and not something that graduate students and postdocs are typically ready to answer. In her next edition, I hope that there will be a section on the dreaded "job talk", but that could be a book in itself!

It's a fast read and it will prepare you nicely for the process of getting a job in our field -- as someone who writes daily on these issues, I really liked it and strongly recommend it.

Apart from getting a free PDF copy of the text to review, Chemjobber received no compensation for this review. 

The world has a skills gap, apparently

My weekly Google alert for "skills gap" 
Clearly we need to begin heavily recruiting skilled extraterrestrials from Mars to deal with our worldwide skills gap. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Daily Pump Trap: 12/4/14 edition

A few of the positions posted on C&EN Jobs this past week:

New York City, NY: Looks like D.E. Shaw is hiring computational chemists and postdoctoral fellows again. Interesting stuff -- I wonder what their interview process is like? (on the hedge fund side, don't they have to take a higher-level math test?)

Chicago, IL: AbbVie is continuing its strong hiring trend, with the posting of a B.S./M.S. bench organic chemist position as well as a Ph.D. process chemist (experienced) position.

Irvine, CA: Allergan has posted an interesting M.S./Ph.D. polymer chemist position:
This position develops new biomaterials for use in Dermal Fillers and Drug Delivery systems via synthesis, formulation, fabrication, and characterization with aim of achieving targeted bulk and surface properties.
Definitely not your usual sort of thing...

Cambridge, MA: Interesting bioprocess development engineering position posted by Moderna Therapeutics -- definitely for an experienced engineer/biochemist.

???, ???: S.C. Johnson is looking for a M.S. organic/analytical chemist. Can't quite tell where the position is, though. 

The GSK news

As you can obviously see, work and life were taking up a lot of time today. As tough as my day was (chemistry on a larger scale not being kind to me), it doesn't hold a candle at all to what has happened at GSK around the world today. There are lots of different write-ups on what happened, but here's what FierceBiotech had to say:
Hobbled by sliding sales of Advair, GlaxoSmithKline's U.S. group started to chop away at its large organization in North Carolina and Philadelphia on Wednesday as Glaxo's North American chief Deirdre Connelly began to outline exactly where the ax will fall. 
The company says that the bulk of the job cuts will be made in Research Triangle Park, NC, slashing R&D as it concentrates drug research work in Philadelphia and Stevenage in the U.K. No exact numbers were reported today by GSK, but the company filed a report with the state noting that it is eliminating 900 jobs. 
A total of 350 of those jobs will go in the first quarter of 2015, with another 450 following in the next three months, GSK noted in its WARN letter. The rest will be pink-slipped later in the year...
From what I can see at In the Pipeline, it appears that people weren't really being given the full details of whether or not they'll have a job, which is a little distressing. From Secret Glaxoid:
I'll confirm: the announcement to staff today was woefully vague. Basically the only thing announced today was the global strategy that we already knew ("yep, cuts are coming, its gonna suck."), followed by individual presentations from management at each site. 
Individual presentation at my site was equally not good at giving any specifics.
I don't think I can say anything to anyone at GSK that they haven't already heard before. (OK, I will make a note that you're not alone in this, and other chemists have been where you are before.)

My best wishes to you and to all of us. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A great question: why do holiday layoffs exist?

A respected reader writes in to ask, regarding the GSK announcement tomorrow:
"Why does a company opt to let people know they are losing their jobs three weeks before Christmas?" 
I would actually go so far as to propose that, in the United States, that large-enough companies declare some sort of truce during the holidays. If I were a CEO, I would choose not to hold any reductions in force between say, Thanksgiving and New Year's. I realize that would basically cut out a month in a half where there couldn't be any layoffs, but you've got 10.5 other months to do it.

This is why I won't ever be a CEO of a major corporation, I'm guessing (among other reasons...)

Daily Pump Trap: 12/2/14 edition

Just a few positions posted on C&EN Jobs this past week, not a whole bunch: 

Houston, TX: Aramco is looking for a lab tech with "Minimum two (2) years of college or an Associate Degree in related-science major required; Bachelor degree in related science discipline preferred. Nine (9) years industrial research lab experience"

Super specific -- H-1b related position? 

Morristown, NJ: Honeywell is looking for a M.S./Ph.D. analytical chemist to be a lead analytical chemist. Organic and polymer-directed research, looks like. 

Las Vegas, NV: MM Labs is a medicinal marijuana testing laboratory and they're looking for a M.S./Ph.D. analytical chemist for a senior analytical chemist position. "5 years of postgraduate experience focusing in one or more of the following techniques: LC/MS, GC/MS, GC, HPLC. Additional experience in elemental analysis (ICP/MS) and molecular biology (PCR) is desirable." 

Not that it means much, but I suspect that "analytical chemistry towards cannabis products" is the single fastest growing (by absolute percentage) subfield of actual posted laboratory position (in the sense that in 2012, it was probably 0-1 and now it's 3-5.) 

Ivory Filter Flask: 12/2/14 edition

A few of the academically-related positions recently posted at C&EN Jobs:

New Haven, CT: The University of New Haven is looking for an assistant professor of analytical chemistry. 

Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara City College is looking for a chemistry instructor. B.S./M.S./Ph.D. desired:
The current salary schedule range for a entering tenure-track faculty member is $55,435-$85,364, plus an earned doctoral bonus of $2,771.75. Depending on the entry step, the faculty member increase one step each year and has the potential to reach the current maximum step of $96,656, depending on the educational level attained.
Wooster, OH: The College of Wooster is looking for two visiting assistant professors, one in inorganic chemistry and another in organic chemistry. Black squirrels abound in that town. 

Scranton, PA: Marywood University desires an assistant professor of analytical chemistry. 3 years of "prior college teaching" is desired. Ye gods, are they wanting adjunct experience? 

Wilmington, NC: UNC-Wilmington would like an assistant professor of experimental physical chemistry.

A bad day for Wisconsin copy editors: Did they really post an ad titled "Tenured Faculty Positions for Thrust Area Leaders"? Surely "Thrust" is one of those words like "moist" that are just sort of icky. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Weirdest job ad you'll see today: extraction tutor

From the inbox (thanks, WW!), a pretty strange one: 
Temporary Organic Chemist  
Silverberry Botanica` - Wilmington, IL 
Organic chemist needed for a one-day position here at Silverberry Botanica'. Position consists of sitting in chair, dictating extraction instructions while company owner performs extraction of single alkaloid. Excellent opportunity for easy holiday cash. Experienced candidates ONLY! 
Successful extraction results absolutely necessary to receive payment!
Salary: $500.00 /day
Sadly, "This job posting is no longer available on Indeed." 

The phases of ammonium nitrate and the Takata/Honda airbag recall

I have been remiss in not posting on this November 20 NYT article flagged by an anonymous commenter (thanks!), which explains the detailed chemistry on why the Takata airbag recall may be happening: 2001 Takata had switched to an alternative formula, ammonium nitrate, and started sending the airbags to automakers, including Honda. That compound, according to experts, is highly sensitive to temperature changes and moisture, and it breaks down over time. And when it breaks down, it can combust violently, experts say. 
“It shouldn’t be used in airbags,” said Paul Worsey, an expert in explosives engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The compound, he said, is more suitable for large demolitions in mining and construction. “But it’s cheap, unbelievably cheap,” he added. 
More than a decade later, that compound is at the center of a safety crisis involving Takata and its airbags. More than 14 million vehicles with the Takata-made airbags have been recalled worldwide over concern that they can explode violently when they deploy in an accident, sending metal debris flying into the cabin. At least five deaths have been linked to the defective airbags. 
On Thursday, Takata’s decision to change the propellant is expected to be among the lines of questioning before the Senate Commerce Committee, which is investigating Takata’s defective airbags. Alby Berman, a spokesman for Takata, said the switch to an ammonium-nitrate-based propellant was not driven by cost considerations. Instead, the company’s engineers determined that the compound produced gas more efficiently with fewer emissions. “This breakthrough allowed us to make the smallest, lightest inflaters available, as well as significantly improve manufacturing safety,” Mr.Berman said. 
Two former Takata engineers said they and other employees had concerns over switching to such a risky compound. “It’s a basic design flaw that predisposes this propellant to break apart, and therefore risk catastrophic failure in an inflater,” said Mark Lillie, a former senior engineer with Takata at its propellant plant in Moses Lake, Wash. Mr. Lillie recently shared his concerns with Senate staff members.  
“It was a question that came up: Ammonium nitrate propellant, won’t that blow up?” said Michael Britton, a chemical engineer who worked with Mr. Lillie at the Moses Lake plant. “The answer was, not if it stays in the right phase.”...
If you were surprised to read about phases in the New York Times, prepare to get more surprised:
...But tetrazole, which is produced in limited quantities and can be expensive, started to squeeze margins at Takata, especially as the airbag market became more competitive, Mr. Lillie said. 
By 1999, Takata researchers in Michigan, pressured by executives, developed a propellant based on ammonium nitrate, he said. But the engineering team in the Moses Lake plant raised objections to basing a propellant on such a risky compound. To bolster its case, the team pointed to explosives manuals warning that the compound “tended to disintegrate on storage under widely varying temperature conditions” with “irregular ballistic” consequences, Mr. Lillie said. 
Ammonium nitrate cycles through five solid states. As the vehicle goes from receiving the heat of sunshine to the cold overnight, the temperature swing is large enough for the ammonium nitrate to change from one phase to another, experts say. Ammonium nitrate also absorbs moisture from the atmosphere readily. Those two things together make ammonium nitrate tablets prone to damage, experts say. 
A focus in the mushrooming recalls has been that the airbags are more susceptible to malfunction in high humidity areas. “Speaking generally, ammonium nitrate can be unstable. Its crystal structure can change according to temperature,” said Katsumi Kato, an assistant professor in safety engineering at Japan’s Fukuoka University. “It changes the burn rate. It leads to various malfunctions.”... 
...Still, at Takata, the answer at the time was to try to stabilize the ammonium nitrate to try to mitigate those cycling effects, but there are limits to just how far ammonium nitrate can be stabilized, said Mr. Worsey, the explosives expert. 
It looks as if the phase change from β-rhombic to α-rhombic happens right at 32°C, which is pretty warm, but still, right in the middle of summer temperatures in the American South. Yikes -- looks like some Takata engineers fought the good fight in this, but the bosses (and The Almighty Dollar) overruled them. Oops.

(The Senate hearing referenced in the article happened, and other than angry people and embarrassed Takata executives, there was no real news that happened.) 

DuPont goes for the Black Friday news dump: 23,000 pounds of methyl mercaptan released in accident

There are still no real details about what happened in the deaths of 4 DuPont workers at a LaPorte, TX facility, but I see that DuPont was being clever in when it decided to release news, according to the Houston Chronicle (emphasis mine):
About 23,000 pounds of a flammable, acidic, toxic chemical escaped in the building where four DuPont workers recently died at a pesticide plant in La Porte, the company reported Friday. 
That amount of gas could quickly displace the air in an enclosed space, leading to asphyxiation, which medical examiners identified as the cause of the workers' deaths. Although the company has not disclosed how quickly the liquid material escaped and vaporized, it's enough that, if it happened at once, it could fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools. 
"The displacement of oxygen would be very severe and very quick," said a former DuPont engineer familiar with the plant and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, adding "within the time it takes you to take a couple of breaths ... that's how quick it is, and you have no idea what's happening to you. Just all of the sudden you're unconscious." 
The company was required to submit the report to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Although DuPont disclosed the amount of gas in a three-paragraph news release, it declined to release the full report. Commission offices were closed Friday....
That works out to be about 2900 gallons of the material, if my math is correct. I understand that the vessel was under pressure, but I'm still a bit confused as to what happened with the incident. I presume the CSB report will tell all...

GSK cuts this week

Thanks to the anonymous commenter who picked up the Reuters article. Derek Lowe has speculation as to which sites it will hit (yikes).

Also, it looks like P&G may be making some moves.

Sincere best wishes to those who are nervously waiting. 

This week's C&EN

Lots of ACS business in this week's C&EN: