Saturday, October 31, 2015


Weekend discussion: the economy

I have been trying to figure out the broader economy for months now, and I have had little success with accurate predictions or a good sense of where things are headed. 

Data points from this week: 
  • 3rd quarter GDP for the US in 2015 was 1.5%, well below the 3.9% seen in the 2nd quarter. 
  • WSJ: there are lots of US companies that are saying their sales are down, including one company's CFO that sells nuts and bolts saying "The industrial environment’s in a recession. I don’t care what anybody says." 
    • While some of that is in defense of their results, I think there's something to it. Most of these concerns are about the (relatively) strong dollar. 
  • The Fed decided not to rate interest rates at its October meeting. 
  • The September employment report was a fair-to-middlin' one at best.  
Prediction time: 
My gut feeling is that the Fed will raise interest rates by a quarter point at its mid-December meeting, but I dunno. 

I think GDP will be below 2.5% in 2016, but I hope to be wrong. 

Readers, your thoughts? 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rainbow flame incident injures 5 students in Virginia

I shouldn't be surprised at this story, but I am. 5 students and 1 teacher were injured at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, VA this morning. (click here to hear the description from a student)
What I find most frustrating about this is that it sounds exactly like the Beacon School incident in New York in December 2013. It is the combination of:
  • fire
  • methanol being added to the flames
  • from a bulk methanol container with
  • students being too close
that has caused injuries and teachers getting fired* and lawsuits being filed in this country time and time again. 

Another reminder that the American Chemical Society's Committee on Chemical Safety specifically asks teachers to "Stop Using the Rainbow Demonstration." 

"The Bart Simpson Peak"

Credit: @dbfulton/@sarahdcady
From @sarahdcady, that's an awfully cute little multiplet on glucose 1-phosphate. 

It is a myth that people have seven careers in their lifetime

I was surprised the other day to hear a knowledgeable person repeat the old saw that "the typical person has seven careers in their lifetime." Here's a 2010 Wall Street Journal article saying what we all knew - it's not true: 
Do Americans really go through careers like they do cars or refrigerators? 
As workers take in the latest round of monthly unemployment data over Labor Day weekend, Americans are focused on volatility in the job market. Much of what they hear points to growing job instability and increased autonomy of workers. Among the most-repeated claims is that the average U.S. worker will have many careers—seven is the most widely cited number—in his or her lifetime. 
Jobs researchers say the basis of the number is a mystery. "Seven careers per person sounds utterly implausible to me," says Ann Stevens, professor and chair of the economics department at the University of California, Davis.
Here's the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Does BLS have information on the number of times people change careers in their lives? 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) never has attempted to estimate the number of times people change careers in the course of their working lives. The reason we have not produced such estimates is that no consensus has emerged on what constitutes a career change. A few examples may help to illustrate the difficulty of defining careers and career changes. Take the case of a BLS economist who is promoted to a management position. Before the promotion, she spent most of her time conducting economic research. After the promotion to the management position, she still may conduct research, but she also spends much more time supervising staff and reviewing their research, managing her program's finances, and attending to a variety of other management tasks. This promotion represents an occupational change from economist to manager, but does it also represent a career change? It depends on how you define a career change. 
Did a construction worker who decided to start his own home-remodeling business experience a career change? What about a newspaper reporter who became a TV news anchor? Each of these examples involves a change in occupation, industry, or both, but do they represent career changes? Most people probably would agree that a medical doctor who quits to become a comedian experienced a career change, but most "career changes" probably are not so dramatic. 
What about the case of a web site designer who was laid off from a job, worked for six months for a lawn-care service, and then found a new job as a web site designer? Might that example constitute two career changes? If not, why not? Is spending six months at the lawn-care service long enough to consider that a career? How long must one stay in a particular line of work before it can be called a career? 
Until a consensus emerges among economists, sociologists, career-guidance professionals, and other labor market observers about the appropriate criteria that should be used for defining careers and career changes, BLS and other statistical organizations will not be able to produce estimates on the number of times people change careers in their lives.
 Short answer: it's not true. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Paula Stephan on chemistry jobs: "declining"

A week ago, the postdoctoral/graduate student advocacy organization called Future of Research held a symposium in Boston; they had a hell of an opening panel with Professor Paula Stephan (author of "How Economics Shapes Science") and Dr. Michael Teitelbaum (author of "Falling Behind? Boom, Bust & the Global Race for Scientific Talent"). I was listening to Professor Stephan's talk (the morning session) and, near the beginning of her talk, she had the following comment: 
So some of these trends, I want to say, are long term trends. But some really reflect what we can think of as structural changes in demand. And for example, I think, in chemistry right now, we're really seeing a structural change in demand.  
It used to be that over 50% of all new chemistry Ph.D.s went to industry; they went quickly to industry and they worked in industry for the rest of their career. Well, jobs in industry for chemists have been declining.  
There's lots of evidence of that. The major large labs such as DuPont downsized remarkably or closed, so that piece of the market has gone, and there's been a lot of restructuring in pharma and we believe the data show that pharma has not been hiring nearly as much.  
And Howard Garrison and Susan Garbi in their (FASEB) article say that, since 2011, salaries for new Ph.D.s in chemistry have been declining. 
Here's my brief recording of Dr. Stephan's comment on chemistry:

I wonder if the job market for chemists in industry is recovering/will ever recover? I hope so. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The most bizarre video you will see this week: China's 13th 5 Year Plan

The Chinese government wants Americans to believe that their governmental planning processes are very, very deliberative, I guess.

(To me, this tells me there are a lot of young, bored American expats in China, and LSD must be cheap.)

Quote of the day: "...the sugar sanded"

From Louisa May Alcott's Little Men:
Jack Ford's peculiar pastime was buying and selling; and he bid fair to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, a country merchant, who sold a little of everything thing and made money fast. Jack had seen the sugar sanded, the molasses watered, the butter mixed with lard, and things of that kind, and labored under the delusion that it was all a proper part of the business. 
I regret to say that I may have seen the sugar sanded now and again (not recently, of course.) 

Process Wednesday: clogging in flow systems

A recent Organic Process Research and Development ASAP [1] from a group at Bayer in Germany was on the operation of a low-temperature (-35°C to -50°C) flow unit performing lithiation (using hexyllithium) of difluorobenzene to make difluorobenzaldehyde, among other things. There are, towards the end of the article, a very detailed couple of paragraphs about everyone's favorite flow chemistry problem, clogging: 
During commissioning of the LT (low temperature) unit, a number of problems were identified for various parts of the unit. The major problem spots that were faced at the beginning of the development are summarized in Figure 10. The hexyllithium filter (1) was frequently blocked by a jellylike buildup. Hexyllithium pumps (2) failed every few days due to the deposits in the pump heads and valves. Another problem relating to the pumps concerned the pulsation of flow caused by gas buildup. The problem of clogging in microreactors by gas bubbles is seldom discussed, but it seems to be an important issue, especially in multichannel devices. The hexyllithium precoolers (3) were frequently blocked due to the freezing of impurities if the temperature was too low. The serious problem for the continuous operation was clogging in the structure of the micromixer in the first reaction stage (4). Every 20−40 h of operation, the IKSM reactor became blocked due to the deposits of salts (5). After a few hundred hours of operation, fouling by polymer-like deposits in the residence time reactors occurred (6).  
Also the DMS precooler was susceptible to clogging when using an aged DMS−THF solution (7). Finally, the second reaction stage (8) and the downstream part (9) were regularly clogged by the salt deposits. The detailed discussion of the origin of these problems, precautions, and countermeasures is given in the Supporting Information.  
Generally speaking, the MRT-based  unit was significantly less robust than a classical stirred tank reactor setup. Figure 10 illustrates that in order to make MRT technically viable know-how has to be collected also with the auxiliary equipment. Pulsation-free operation, which is simple to achieve in the laboratory, became a challenge with the industrial equipment. Clogging was certainly the largest obstacle restricting a smooth and continuous operation. There were several causes of the clogging, namely, formation of solids due to moisture in feedstocks, impurities, formation of salt as byproduct, solid formation in the hot spots, and polymerization. 
Overall, this is no surprise. However, still, studies intended to overcome such obstacles are rare. Principally, it is well known that the design of the microreactor plays a key role in minimizing clogging, but so far, there is no design available which proves to be completely insensitive to any solid deposition. In a number of studies, use of a second, dispersed phase has been proposed as a measure to eliminate solid deposits. However, for the organolithium-based chemistry described in this paper, use of water in the Taylor flow regime is not possible due to the low temperatures.  
Therefore, the only way to free up clogging consisted of a classical approach to remove the deposits by purging after increasing the temperature. However, this method was time-consuming, and after being purged, residues of water needed to be removed to avoid formation of lithium hydroxide.  
Finally, it was important to clean the unit before the reactor was completely blocked. Also, the application of external forces, such as ultrasonic treatment, has been proposed. This method is hard to realize, though, when a reaction is performed in a set of reactors as described in this study. Therefore, a clean-in-place concept has been applied.
Technically, two parallel trains of reactors were installed. One line was in operation, while the second one was in cleaning mode. The reactor trains were supplied by one set of pumps and valves.
The Supporting Information has even more details on these issues.

The authors' conclusion is reasonably positive, though:
There are no easy solutions available to counter clogging or fouling. However, addressing salt formation or reducing side reactions by optimal temperature control can help to minimize its impact. Furthermore, clean-in-place solutions might help to increase the robustness of this technology. Based on these promising results, commercial units for low-temperature organometallic reactions have been designed.
I haven't really worked enough with microreactor systems to have a truly informed opinion on the subject, but it does seem to me (from the experience of coworkers and some perusal of the literature) that the handling of heterogeneous solutions that are prone to clogging is one of the top issues that seem to be unsolved.

1. Laue, S.; Haverkamp, V.; Mleczko, L.* "Experience with Scale-Up of Low-Temperature Organometallic Reactions in Continuous Flow." Org. Process Res. Dev., ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/acs.oprd.5b00183

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ivory Filter Flask: 10/27/15 edition

A few of the academically-connected positions posted on C&EN Jobs:

Fayetteville, AR: The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville has two positions available, one in organic chemistry (broadly defined) and one in biological/biophysical chemistry.

Edmonton, AB: The University of Alberta is looking for an assistant professor to teach physical and inorganic chemistry. (Is this a smaller, regional college at Augustana?)

Ashland, VA:  Randolph-Macon College is looking for 2 visiting assistant professor positions, one in biochemistry/organic chemistry and another one for general chemistry.

Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University desires a Ph.D. chemist to be an analytical facilities manager.

Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee - Knoxville is looking for an advanced chemistry laboratory manager and lecturer. (Looks like you can get hired on full time after 5 years?)

Cambridge, MA: Interesting origin-of-life postdoctoral fellowships available at Harvard.

Guam?!?!: There's a university on Guam? Who knew? They're looking for an assistant/associate professor of organic chemistry.

A great little story of a single mom and an organic chemistry lecture

I enjoyed this story of an organic chemistry lecture and a small child by Professor Susan E. Swanberg: 
Longer ago than I care to mention, I was a single mother with a young infant. Too poor to afford a babysitter whenever I needed one, I had to bring my young son to the lecture portion of CH226 -- organic chemistry. I saved my pennies to pay for a babysitter when the laboratory sessions were scheduled. I could bring my son to lecture sessions, but couldn't bring a baby to the laboratory where we synthesized and analyzed chemicals that are banned from college labs today. 
This arrangement worked fairly well for a while. I would sit at the back of the classroom with my infant son on a blanket next to me. As he grew older, however, he became more restless. He was no longer satisfied to play for an hour with his fuzzy toy and pacifier.
One day during lecture, my son started fussing. I picked him up and took him out into the hall where I bounced and cuddled him, hoping against hope that he would calm down. Not more than a minute or two passed when I heard my name being called in a quiet, gentle voice. I turned and saw the professor heading my way. 
"Susan," he said, "I took a vote, and your baby isn't bothering anybody. Come back."
It takes a professor with a lot of heart to do that.  

Job posting: process development, Gilead, Edmonton, AB, Canada

From the inbox:
Gilead is actively looking to fill a PhD level position in Process Development in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We are seeking experienced candidates – ideally with 12 years of experience, but at minimum 5 – in the pharmaceutical industry (postdoc experience can also be included).

For a full description of the position, see here.
Please send application materials, including a Cover Letter, CV, and Research Summary to matthew.verwey -at- (CJ's note: note spamproofing)
Best wishes to those interested. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

A good set of thoughts from ACS President Donna Nelson

Also from this week's C&EN, a comment from ACS president-elect Donna Nelson on her presidential symposium on employment in chemistry at ACS San Diego this spring, including this interesting statement:
...We advise our students to study chemistry because it is interesting and rewarding, but this is only true if steady jobs await. While nothing in life is certain, they should have a realistic expectation that their years of study will be rewarded by a career in chemistry upon graduation. If this is not the forecast, then they should be told so they can make their own well-informed decisions....
I am sure I can find things to disagree with in this statement, but I like its boldness and straightforwardness most of all. More like this from all ACS senior members, please. 

The Dumbest Letter Written By An Old Guy (Who Should Be Smart) That You Will Read Today

Also from this week's C&EN, a potentially huge troll job? in the form of a letter to the editor: 
The cover story “How the Internet Changed Chemistry” (C&EN, Aug. 10/17, page 10) and the lab explosion at the University of California, Berkeley (C&EN, Aug. 24, page 36), may be related phenomena. 
After hiring a college student who had never used a handsaw, I am concerned the current generation of students, while extremely computer-savvy, has been raised in sterile urban or suburban environments, handled chemicals in microscale organic lab, and is missing a lot of practical knowledge of materials that was once taken for granted. 
The UC Berkeley explosion, involving 1 g of a diazonium perchlorate compound, is hard to fathom when the first thing you learn about diazonium salts is that they are generally explosive in the solid state and are handled in solution at low temperatures. The explosive nature of organic perchlorates is legendary, or at least it was when I was in school. No one who had set off cherry bombs as a youngster would consider isolating an entire gram of either class of chemical. 
The recent fatality at UC Los Angeles, mentioned in the article, gave me the same impression. I inferred that the California chemist failed to follow written instructions and then attempted to extinguish a minor tert-butyllithium fire by emptying a beaker of hexanes on herself. 
I think that the remedy for this situation is more time in the library, not more bureaucracy. The photo of the professor and the university “safety executive” working together reminds me of a quip my father once made, that knowledge did not result from the exchange of ignorance. 
G. David Mendenhall
Pomona, N.Y.
I don't have much to say in reply to former Professor Mendenhall's ignorance. Suffice it to say that I know that not all people of his imputed age and maturity are prone to such ignorant generalizations.

Let me correct the falsehoods that Dr. Mendenhall attempts to enter into the record:
  • In the Sheri Sangji case, there were no "written instructions" to her on that day, nor had any member of the Harran laboratory trained her in the use of t-butyllithium in a written format. 
  • I object to the description of possibly up to 60 mL of t-butyllithium being spilled on one's self as a "minor" fire. 
  • There is no evidence that she attempted to extinguish the fire by using the beaker of hexanes. 
I suspect Dr. Mendenhall enjoys getting into pie fights in the pages of C&EN, so maybe this is just an extra egregious first salvo. That being said, libel of the dead is just too far. 

This week's C&EN

A few articles from today's issue of C&EN

Friday, October 23, 2015

The economic culture that is Germany

From my ACC SmartBrief, a rather interesting bit of business news from Bloomberg (by Alex Webb): 
BASF SE pledged not to impose any redundancies at its 36,000-employee manufacturing base in Ludwigshafen, Germany for the next five years as it expects the number of retirements to increase. 
Europe’s largest chemical company will meanwhile invest 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion) on upgrading and maintaining its series of interconnected factories within the complex, BASF said on Wednesday. From 2018, more than 1,000 employees in Ludwigshafen will retire each year, and by 2020 more than half of the workforce there will be 50 or older. 
The agreement with labor representatives comes less than a month after BASF, which competes with Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co., said it would deepen a savings push by more than 1 billion euros over the next three years after becoming more pessimistic on global economic growth and chemical production. Germany’s strict labor laws mean employee representatives have seats on the supervisory board, while BASF’s so-called “Verbund” sites such as Ludwigshafen make it hard to untangle operations. 
In the Verbund system, chemical facilities are bound together by a web of pipes that both deliver feedstock and whisk byproducts off to adjoining plants that need them, so as little as possible is wasted. 
“Economic and social changes are occurring ever faster and are becoming less and less predictable,” said Margret Suckale, BASF’s board member for human resources and site management. “We will continue to substantially invest in the largest, integrated Verbund site.”...
That's amazing - I can't imagine a publicly-traded corporation in the United States making this same decision. (Are BASF chemists unionized?)

A Lego periodic table?

Not quite sure how I feel about this, but there are those interested in a Lego periodic table. Vote for it here. (ht friend of the blog Philip Skinner)

(I would honestly be much more interested in a Lego version of a standard organic chemistry molecular model set. That'd be a lot more interesting to me.) 

Was Peak Chemistry Postdoc in 2011?

Busy day, but I want to follow up on a very old post. This morning, Monya Baker of Nature's news group reports that the number of biomedical postdocs is beginning to fall: 
A decades-long surge in the numbers of US biomedical postdocs may finally have ended. 
From 1979 to 2010 the number of US postdocs in the biomedical sciences has risen steadily, from just over 10,000 to more than 40,000. But in the past three years, the tide has turned, according to official statistics. 
The population of US biomedical postdocs fell 5.5% between 2010 and 2013, to just under 38,000, with losses getting bigger each year, notes a study published on 6 October — although the number of new graduates with science PhDs continues to rise...
From the same NSF survey that the paper is based on (the NSF's Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates), here's the data for chemistry postdocs. I'll try to modify this over today to get something better up:

2001: 3,854
2002: 3,973
2003: 4,135
2004: 4,330
2005: 4,190
2006: 4,045
2007*: 3,952
2008: 3,943
2009: 4,219
2010: 4,179
2011: 4,005
2012: 4,016
2013: 3,850

Looks to me that there has been a steeper drop for chemistry postdocs between 2010 and 2013, with an 8% from between the two years.

It looks like I pseudo-predicted that Peak Chemistry Postdoc would be 2011 (that post was from 2012), but it looks like it was more like 2009. (In this sense, were new chemistry PhDs going to postdocs a leading indicator of problems in the #chemjobs market? I doubt it? Employment tends to be a lagging indicator of issues, although I could be wrong.)

I sincerely hope that the number of postdocs continues to fall, for the right reasons, i.e. only universities who sincerely want TT-level assistant professors to have them will be wanting them. Everyone else who wants their new entry-level PhD hires to have an extra 2 years of experience will should be required to pay for it. It seems to me that the "right" number of postdocs is in the 500-1000 range, but that's a personal preference, really.

* For this number, I chose the "2007 'new'" number. From the NSF: "In 2007, GSS-eligible fields were reclassified, newly eligible fields were added, and survey was redesigned to improve coverage and coding of GSS-eligible units. "2007new" presents data as collected in 2007; "2007old" reflects data as they would have been collected under 2006 methodology. Science fields "communication" and "family and consumer sciences/human sciences" are newly eligible. Data for these two fields are only in 2007new. Science field "multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary studies" is also newly eligible; these data may have been reported under other fields before 2007. "Neuroscience" is reported as a separate field of science in 2007new; these data were reported under health field "neurology" in 2007old and previous years. "Architecture" is reported as a separate field of engineering in 2007new; these data were reported under "civil engineering" in 2007old and previous years. See appendix A, "Technical Notes," for more detail."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Great story on New York silverware manufacturer

A rather heartwarming, although tough, story about a former Oneida silverware factory in Sherrill, NY: 
...Mr. Roberts, now 51, a Sherrill native and 14-year employee of Oneida, stepped in to buy the factory and find a way to retain at least a fraction of its work force. He recruited to his cause Mr. Owens, 52, a fellow manufacturing veteran he met in Toluca, Mexico, where both did management stints at Oneida’s facility there. The day after Oneida’s Sherrill plant closed in March 2005, it reopened — with a far smaller staff — as Sherrill Manufacturing. 
For 10 rocky years, the business has been groping its way toward a model that will let it operate profitably and keep at least a vestige of the town’s manufacturing heritage intact. Now, the company is starting to find some success with an approach it hopes will be sustainable: a direct-sales business aimed at customers willing to pay a bit more for American-made products. 
It’s a path being pursued by a handful of American manufacturers that have tried to adapt to global economic realities by recasting themselves as high-quality purveyors of goods that preserve local production heritages. The country now has just one remaining metal whistle maker, one barber pole manufacturer, one sparkler producer and one sneaker factory, among other vanishing industries.
Domestic employment in the manufacturing industry has fallen by nearly 30 percent in the last two decades, according to government data. Around 12 million people now work in the field. 
“When you lose these skills, they don’t come back,” Mr. Owens said. He’s determined to hang on to the expertise of local craftsmen like Eric Lawrence, 41, an engraver who started his career 17 years ago with Oneida. He now designs Sherrill Manufacturing’s patterns. 
Unsurprisingly, the manufacturing jobs for flatware appear to have gone overseas. The company is surviving, but it sounds pretty hand to mouth. Best wishes to them, and to all of us.  

Daily Pump Trap: 10/22/15 edition

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

New York, New York: It's not every day that the Metropolitan Museum of Art posts two positions on C&EN Jobs: assistant research scientist and research associate. Analytically-oriented.

Rensselaer, NY: Pulmokine, Inc. is looking for an analytical and bioanalytical chemist. 50-70k offered. I suspect that might go far in Rensselaer. This is funny:
This position is considered a management position. 
The Director will perform the following:
  1. Maintain HPLC/MS/MS system in working order.
  2. Perform HPLC/MS/MS method development and assays for designated drug candidates and active pharmaceuticals in formulations and biological matrices. Qualification of methods to include determination of standard curves, measurement of lower limit of quantitation, linearity, accuracy, precision, intra-assay variation, inter-assay variation, robustness. Establish standard operating procedures for each assay.
  3. Participate in quality control for outsourced GLP studies.
Sure does sound like a management position! 
Yuma, AZ: Gowan Company, looking for a B.S. chemist to work as a QA manager. "Ability to visit and audit toll manufacturing plants" - that doesn't necessarily sound so fun.

Hunt Valley, MD: I don't quite understand what this M.S. analytical laboratory manager position at Teledyne Energy Systems Sparks Facility is about, but it requires a security clearance, if you're into that sort of thing. 

Think that bloke will get a job? How much of your paycheck you want to bet on that?

Via my dose of pain that is a Google Alert for the term "transferable skills", the worst aspect of that term on display in this piece from the UK: 
Workers made redundant from the UK’s beleaguered steel industry have “excellent” skills that can be transferred into other sectors, recruiters say. 
Yesterday, Tata Steel Europe announced 1,200 jobs are being cut at its plants in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire. The news follows administrators being appointed to parts of manufacturer Caparo Industries' steel operations in the Midlands and the recent closure of the SSI steel plant in Redcar. 
But manufacturing staffing specialists say these workers have skills and attributes employers will be looking to hire into their businesses. 
A spokesperson for specialist recruiter Acorn, which has a contract with Tata Steel, told Recruiter it is continuing to support any workers directly affected by the redundancies, supporting them with outplacement where it can.  
“There are some terrifically well-skilled people in the industry who have some excellent transferrable skills of use to the other manufacturing and technical environments in which we work, such as logistics, plant and civil engineering, energy and power and automotive industries.”
These sorts of statements disgust me. "I'm sorry you lost your job - I am sure you'll find another one" from a recruiter should be backed up by some sort of financial guarantee.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

29/32 adapters

Small, useful things (links):
*corrected - thanks!

Job posting: associate scientist, Eli Lilly, Indianapolis, IN

From the inbox, a link to Lilly looking for associate chemists. B.S./M.S. (0-5/0-3 years experience.) Zeroes!
Integrate emerging computational design technologies, automation chemistry, and biophysical methods (eg. TDF, SPR, X-ray) into drug discovery.

Nice to see. Best wishes to those interested. 

Process Wednesday: Karl Fischer titration

From the second edition of "Practical Process Research and Development" by our mentor-by-literature Neal Anderson, a lovely little section on the determination of water content by Karl Fischer:
The Karl Fischer titration (or KF titration or simply KF) is the classic analytical method used to detect water, and is convenient to use. The basis of the Karl Fischer titration is the reaction of water with iodine and sulfur dioxide. In the early develop of this analytical technique, the solution containing water was titrated with a solution of I2 in benzene or MeOH until the I2 color remained, providing a sharp, reproducible endpoint to determine the water content. Today of course benzene is avoided as a solvent for the laboratory and scale-up, and less toxic solvent or solvent mixtures are used. The accurate and rapid coulometric assay, which can detect down to 10 micrograms of water, is generally preferred, I2 is generated elctrolytically at the cell anode, and the amount of water is determined by the current required for electrolytic oxidation of HI. 
My favorite thing about Karl Fischer is that it's a machine that spits out a number (assuming your molecules are compatible with the reagents, that is.) How much water is in there? You can find out, instead of the whole "I dunno, it's wet, I think." I highly recommend them. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crazy busy, but...

Do check out Lisa Balbes' Reddit AMA here on alternative jobs in chemistry. 

Here's an unusual one from the questionnaire:
Hi Lisa, 
Thanks for this AMA. I completed my PhD in organic synthesis in June of this year from a top tier program. Prior to completing my doctorate, I worked as a medicinal chemist at a large pharmaceutical company. The thing is, I don't want to go back to laboratory work. I enjoy working outdoors and doing field work. I am also known as a very good writer and I do enjoy writing quite a bit. Are there any potential career pathways that you may be be able to recommend based on my strengths and interests? Thank you so much.
Ph.D. in organic synthesis + field work + outdoors..... natural products extraction?  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Oklahoma changes graduate program in response to ACS graduate education report

Also in this week's C&EN, a report by Celia Henry Arnaud on the University of Oklahoma's changing of their graduate program in responding to the Shakhashiri report: 
The 28 students who entered the University of Oklahoma’s chemistry graduate program this fall are “newbies” in more ways than one: Not only are they beginners at the school, but they’re also the first to experience a completely revamped curriculum. That curriculum—more than a decade in the making—was inspired by the chemistry department’s participation in the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate and by the American Chemical Society’s 2012 report “Advancing Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences,” two efforts to modernize Ph.D. education and training. 
Over the years, “we had experimented piecemeal with changing our curriculum, but it was basically putting Band-Aids on what we already had,” says Michael T. Ashby, the professor who spearheaded the revamp. “Last year, we decided basically to burn everything to the ground and start from scratch.” 
As part of the overhaul, the department switched to a so-called modular approach composed of shorter, more focused classes and eliminated chemistry divisions—such as organic or physical—at the graduate level. (It still has divisions at the undergraduate level to help organize the curriculum and manage teaching loads.) 
“The chemical sciences have become very interdisciplinary,” says Ashby, who studies the mechanisms and kinetics of inorganic antimicrobials and antioxidants. “Although I’m in the inorganic division, half my group are microbiologists and half are chemists. My actual research doesn’t have much inorganic chemistry at all. That’s part of the issue with having formal divisions at the graduate level. It doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore.” 
Because the chemistry department has such a biological bent, some students entering the grad program have gaps in their chemistry backgrounds. The new curriculum has the flexibility to bridge those gaps up front. For example, during the first five weeks of this semester, seven students took an accelerated program in physical chemistry to bring them up to speed to join their fellow students when regular introductory graduate classes began in the sixth week....
It seems to me that we won't know anything until 2 years and 5 years from now. Still, good to see that schools are facing the time-to-degree problem.

UPDATE: As promised, I'm back for a tiny bit more commentary. Here's the quote I think is interesting:
The ultimate hope is that the new program will help students graduate faster. “The key is to ramp up the students’ ability to do original research,” Ashby says. “That means getting out of the classroom. This curriculum allows us to do that.”
Is there any indication that the overall increase in the length of time-to-degree (2013 median time-to-doctorate for chemistry of 6.5 years (from B.S. degree), 5.7 years from the start of graduate school (PDF)) is due to lengthening classroom time? 

This week's C&EN

A few of this week's stories:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

As requested, a reading of a portion of the Feynman lectures

Harry Elston of Midwest Chemical Safety donated $50 to the GeekGirlCon DIY Science Zone; he requested a dramatic reading of a portion (Volume 1, Chapter 2.1-2.2 (Intro + Physics before 1920)) of Feynman's lectures on physics. So, as requested, here it is:

I'll be doing GeekGirlCon next year; as this year (and every year), if you donate $20 or more to the DIY Science Zone, I'll write a post to your liking. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Twitter CEO's layoff e-mail, edited

I enjoyed this Quartz correction of the Twitter CEO's layoff e-mail. Here's a small excerpt (Quartz struck what they considered unnecessary text and the bolded text was their change): 
...The roadmap is also a plan to change how we work, and what we need to do that work. Product and Engineering are going to make the most significant structural changes to reflect our plan ahead bear the brunt. We feel strongly that Engineering will move much faster with a smaller and nimbler team We’ve got way too many engineers while remaining the biggest percentage of our workforce. And the rest of the organization will be streamlined in parallel and once we’ve cut that group we’ll have too many of everybody else. 
So we have made an extremely tough decision: we plan to part ways with fire up to 336 people from across the company. We are doing this with the utmost respect for each and every person. But it’s not their fault; we hired them when we shouldn’t have. Twitter will go to great lengths to take care of each individual by providing generous exit packages give them decent severance and help finding a new job...
It's the addition of "it's not their fault; we hired them when we shouldn't have" that would make it way too good to be true. 

Postings for the Pacific Northwest

From the inbox, a reminder for those in the Pacific Northwest that there are a fair number of Seattle-area positions posted at Washington Life Science. Sure does look like Juno Therapeutics and Seattle Genetics is hiring. 

Daily Pump Trap: 10/15/15 edition

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

Warrington, PA: Polysciences is commonly seen at C&EN Jobs; this QC/QA (?) analyst position doesn't sound very fun, but what do I know?

Rochester, MN: I see the Mayo Clinic is looking for a very specific person to be a mass spec research associate:
...Qualified candidates must have a Doctoral degree (PhD) in chemistry, or a human biological science plus a minimum of two years postdoctoral experience working on complex laboratory test development. Candidates must have presented at a minimum of five regional or national venues and is first author on a minimum of six full-length peer-reviewed articles. Candidates must have expertise in Protein/peptide analysis, including post-translational protein modifications. Minimum of 5 years of mass spectrometry experience, developed and validated laboratory tests on a variety of mass spectrometry platforms including triple quads, Orbi-trap (Q-Exactive), and TOF.
What do we think? H1b?

A couple of things: I really wish that there was a code word that employers could put in the ad so that it would mark these ads as "okay to ignore this." Maybe a set of bulleted points where the first letters would spell "FAKE AD."

Also, shouldn't we have a name for these sorts of ads? For some reason, "purple squirrel" doesn't cut it for me.

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and show (respectively) "1000+", 606, 10,461 and 15 positions for the search term "chemist." LinkedIn shows 935 for the job title "chemist", with 126 for "analytical chemist", 28 for "research chemist", 11 for "organic chemist", 6 for "synthetic chemist" and 2 for "medicinal chemist." 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tough times in the oil industry right now

Some interesting points in an article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Cutting Staff Pay to Keep Workers" (by Chester Dawson and Benoît Faucon): 
As layoffs become the energy industry’s main response to low oil prices, a handful of producers are aiming to trim personnel costs without pink slips by spreading the pain among their employees. 
Companies including Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. are employing hiring freezes, caps on bonuses, and even across-the-board wage cuts to preserve jobs. They and others that already have reduced payrolls—including many drilling and well servicing firms—are reluctant to slash further, say energy-industry experts. 
In part, they’re trying to avoid the type of skilled worker shortages that followed mass job cuts in prior downturns. But it’s also because their businesses can’t succeed without sufficient staff, especially if the downturn in oil prices reverses course....
Seems like a wise policy; perhaps they've learned from previous years:
...The last time Occidental disclosed large staff layoffs was in 1998, when it shed hundreds of jobs and cut its head-office workforce by half. That was during another period of mass layoffs in the oil industry stemming from low crude prices and consolidation. 
Those cutbacks led to a dwindling number of petroleum engineers followed by what some described as a “lost generation” that left the energy industry exposed to shortages of high-skilled professionals a decade later. 
“Everybody that went through this before all knows it really hurt oil companies in terms of not having a generation ready to move into management positions,” said Dan Hill*, who heads Texas A&M University’s petroleum engineering department. As students graduate, “We’re encouraging companies to hire them as technicians for half of what they’d earn as petroleum engineers,” he said...
Best wishes to folks in the oil industry; wage cuts and job loss are no fun. I wonder when pharma will take a lesson from the oil industry?

*It is worth noting that Dan Hill has been featured on the blog before, back when West Texas Intermediate was going above $100 a barrel ($46/barrel today) and he was warning their undergraduates that the petroleum engineering field was cyclical. Well done, sir. 

Warning Letter of the Week: "neglecting your job" edition

FDA sends a blistering 483 to Unimark Remedies Ltd. of Mumbai, India late last month, including this little gem:
1.    Failure to document production and analytical testing activities at the time they are performed.

During our inspection, we found that test results and other entries in the production records were not entered while batches were in production.  For example,

a.    The investigator observed [redacted] batch [redacted] production on March 18, 2014. The start and stop times and [redacted] for Step #[redacted] were not recorded or signed in the batch record contemporaneously.

b.    For your [redacted] products returned due to the presence of extraneous threads, the investigator found many inconsistencies in your reprocessing batch records.  Specifically, operators signed batch records for periods when they were not in your facility, indicating these activities were documented by personnel who did not perform them.  During the inspection, and in your written responses, your managers admitted that the batch records were created after the manufacturing process.

c.    Water testing records for sampling point [redacted] on March 19, 2014, were incomplete. Specifically, the analyst did not record observations at the time they were made on March 18, 2014.  Your microbiology records did not identify who prepared the samples, when they began incubation, who read the samples, or when the samples were read.

According to your responses to these FDA 483 observations, your manufacturing staff did not exhibit acceptable documentation practices, and your chemist or microbiologist each neglected his work. (emphasis CJ's) However, your management is responsible for routine oversight of manufacturing and testing operations, including the activities of operators and other personnel, and your responses do not address the failure of management and the flaws in your overall quality system.
That's a quiet day in the company breakroom, I'll bet.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What the heck is a statement of teaching philosophy?

A lot of these faculty applications will request a statement of teaching philosophy. I have no idea what that is, but I'm guessing that you will at some point deploy the words "dialectic" and perhaps "pedagogy."

A few questions for those who are so kind as to answer in the comments:
  • How important is this document? 
  • Do you have any helpful leading references? (Are any of these guides useful?)
  • How much time and effort should you put into this thing? 
  • Why do faculty search committees ask for this? 
Readers, your thoughts? Guidance for those who want to do this? 

Guest bleg: Novel organic chemistry demos

From the inbox, a good request:
Dear CJ Readers, 
I've been asked for some suggestions on creating a "modern-day" organic chemistry/general chemistry demonstration curriculum.  Basically I'm looking for some fresh ideas on how to make the S in STEM bigger.  This is what I'm looking for:
  1. A "modern-day" organic chemistry demonstration.  I know we've all had experience with making Nylon, silly putty, etc., but was hoping for some new ideas.  
  2. The demos need to be tailored toward K-12, and we are looking for some "hands-on" demonstrations.  Something that students can do on a desk/table.  
  3. We also would like ideas that could be "mobile."  That is we can take the demos from site to site, and/or have the students take part in the demo on a bus or some type of trailer.
  4. Since we're dealing with K-12 the demos need to cover a range of experience.  Older students could work on the more complicated demos, while the younger students can get exposure to more fun experiments.
  5. We are looking at developing some lesson plans as well and are thinking about making a crime scene investigation that students could work out over a course of a couple of days that would introduce some chemistry techniques that are used in the field.  
I know it's asking a lot, but I would appreciate any type of feedback and/or suggestions. 
With today's litigation-eager society, it's hard to come up with useful/fun/exciting organic chem applications for students.  A lot of demonstrations we were exposed to growing up are unable to be performed in today (guncotton for example).  That's why I'm asking for some help from you on a modern approach to organic/general chemistry demos. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your suggestions.
Signed, NZ 
My very preliminary suggestion - a very long time ago, I did the synthesis of aspirin in a vial, with salicyclic acid, acetic anhydride, complete with TLC.

Readers, I'm sure you can do better than that. Thoughts? 

Daily Pump Trap: 10/13/15 edition

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

Toledo, OH: Cooper Tires looking for a R&D chemist. B.S. in chemistry, 5+ years experience desired.

Rolla, MO: Brewer Science looking for a M.S.-level applications chemist. 

Middleton, WI: Ag Precision Formulators is searching for a B.S./M.S. agricultural research chemist; looks like research experience is preferred. 

Geneva, Switzerland: The World Economic Forum wishes to hire a "Community Lead, Chemistry and Advanced Materials Industry" to, among other things, "Manage relationships between the Forum and leaders from the chemicals industry and related sectors; be responsible for a community of up to 20 high-level executive, academics and experts." Sounds fascinating. 

San Diego, CA: Mintz Levin desires a couple of IP-related staff. 

Columbus, OH: I did not know that Abbvie had a facility in Ohio; they're looking for a QA project leader. 

Rockville, MD: NIH looking for the Director of its Therapeutic Development Branch; sounds important. Pay: $126,245.00 - 158,700.00

Durham, NC: Novozymes hiring lots of folks; does not appear to be directly bench chemistry-related? 

Ivory Filter Flask: 10/13/15 edition

A few of the academic positions posted on C&EN Jobs:

Los Angeles, CA: UCLA is searching for a physical chemist for a tenure-track assistant professor position.

Bozeman, MT: Montana State University is hiring an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

Muncie, IN: Ball State University is searching for two tenure-track positions in "analytical, biochemistry, inorganic or physical chemistry."

Erie, PA: Gannon University is looking for an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

San Antonio, TX: University of the Incarnate Word wishes to hire an assistant professor of biochemistry.

Worcester, MA: Worcester State University desires an assistant professor of bio-organic chemistry.

Colorado Springs, CO: The United State Air Force Academy is also searching for an assistant professor of bioorganic chemistry; I can't quite tell if this is a tenure-track position, but it is available for an initial 3 year appointment.

The List: The joint ChemBark/Chemjobber 2016 Faculty Jobs List has 328 positions, as of October 11. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

RIP Richard Heck

I presume that most folks have heard the sad news already, but if not, Reuters reported that Professor Richard Heck (co-winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Chemistry) died on Friday: 
American chemist and Nobel laureate Richard Heck died in Manila on Saturday after years of illnesses that left him almost penniless, relatives of his Filipina wife said on Saturday. 
Heck, 84, along with Japanese Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki, won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 2010 for inventing new ways to bind carbon atoms that were used in research to fight cancer and produce thin computer screens. 
He was affiliated with the University of Delaware in the United States when he developed his work on palladium as a catalyst, called the Heck reaction, in the 1960s and early 1970s. The two Japanese scientists came through with their variants of the same process in the late 1970s.
I liked Doug Taber's remembrance of him:
“Before Heck, all carbon-carbon bond formation required an equal amount of metal. Dick was the first to form carbon-carbon bonds using only a small amount of the expensive metal,” he said. “This was the beginning of organometallic catalysis, now the basis of everything from pharmaceutical synthesis to polymer production.” 
Taber also remembers Dr. Heck’s passion for horticulture. “When I first visited his home, in January, he disappeared into his heated greenhouse and came back with a perfectly ripe cherry tomato for me to eat.”  
My condolences to the Heck family. 

This week's C&EN

A few of this week's stories in this week's issue of C&EN:

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dayton manufacturer blames government for "skills gap", rather than low wages, news at 11

It was Manufacturing Day on October 2, which means a spate of planted stories about America's "skills gap", including Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Senator Franken from Minnesota bemoaning the state of America's workforce. But this story from Dayton, Ohio takes the cake: 
Machines are sitting idle at JBM Envelope Co. in Lebanon because the manufacturer can't find qualified workers to fill the job openings available. However, the likelihood of the company finding enough qualified people to hire is dim unless, top leaders are realizing, they take the matter into their own hands, said Chief Operating Officer Dan Puthoff. 
...About 140 employees work at the Warren County manufacturer today on Henkle Drive, but there are more than 10 job openings, including some positions that have sat empty for months, Puthoff said.  
Puthoff admitted the business was waiting for a development agency or educational institution to take action on the workforce issues. Now he’s realizing, his company and others like JBM can’t wait anymore. 
“I think we need to fix this problem for ourselves,” he said. 
“If we could market better to local high schools and have them at least get a glimpse of what is possible for them, that might go a long way to fixing the problem at least at JBM,” he said. “I think it’s such a monumental task that it really needs to be done at the grassroots level by companies like ourselves.”
And, typical to stories of this particular wretched genre, the wage number comes at the very bottom:
A manufacturing job at JBM offers benefits, a 40-hour work week and entry-level pay starting at $10.50 to $11 an hour plus more for second shift, Puthoff said. 
Clearly, a starting wage of $10.50/hr has nothing to do with their unfilled job openings. Of course, JBM Envelope needs more help from taxpayers and the government to solve their workforce problems. Good gravy. 

Invitation: Participate in the ACS PRES symposium on chemical employment

From the inbox, an invitation from Professor Donna Nelson (ACS president-elect): 
At the ACS National Meeting in San Diego next March, my Task Force on Employment in the Chemical Sciences is having a symposium on its activities.  One session in that symposium will be contributed posters.  Each ACS member is invited to submit a poster to that symposium. 
If you have ideas or experiences to contribute, please submit your poster in MAPS at    The deadline for submission is Oct 31st. 
You are welcome to speak on any aspect of the problems related to employment.  Some topics being addressed by the Task Force are:
  • What factors determine the balance between supply and demand?
  • What is the employment situation for technicians?
  • What are benefits and handicaps of possible certification, licensing, and registration of chemical professionals?
  • Do we prepare our graduates for jobs offered by industry?
  • What causes young graduate and mid-career chemical professional unemployment, and how can we help?
  • What is needed to increase underrepresented groups in the workforce?
  • What global factors influence the US employment situation?  Problems of outsourcing and immigration?
If you have questions about submissions to this poster session, please contact the TF Co-chair, Attila Pavlath (attilapavlath -at-, or the Program Co-organizer, Debbie Crans (debbie.crans -at- (CJ's note: addresses spamproofed) Please submit your poster by Oct 31st.
Additional potential ACS member concerns will be addressed in contributed poster sessions on “Diversity – Quantification – Success” (the use of data to help diversify the chemical sciences with respect to race, ethnicity, and gender) and “Is there a Crisis in Organic Chemistry” (the anticipated reduction of enrollment in traditional organic chemistry classes).

Please take advantage of these sessions via your attendance, ideas, and participation; they are intended to be opportunities for discussion and member contributions. 
Best wishes to those interested in attending.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why is France different?

Credit: Jacques Brinon/AP
I don't know if you saw this story, but it got sent to me by a frequent commenter. Apparently, a group of angry Air France employees stormed the headquarters, after they found out that, according to the New York Times, "900 flight attendants, 1,700 ground crew members and 300 pilots could be laid off." They tore the clothes off 2 executives' backs.

I don't know anything about this story or the structure of French airlines or French labor policy, but this story really shocks me, in the rather brutal violence of it (they don't have assault/battery laws?), that it was allowed to happen (they don't have security guards in France?) and, finally, that I cannot think of a case where similar things happened to American executives during the Great Recession.

As I said on Twitter the other day, I think acts of social shunning of CEOs and the like (refusing to shake hands, other signs of disrespect and unfriendliness) are certainly fair game, especially during rather brutal layoffs here. But it hasn't seemed to happen - why not? Do our HR departments just do a better job of keeping us peons away? Why is France different? 

A personal finance bleg: how often do you peek and rebalance?

Credit: Harold Pollack
I am a pretty big fan of this index card of financial advice from University of Chicago social scientist Harold Pollack.* It's not everything, but it's a lot of things I agree with in a short amount of space. 

A question for the personal finance nerds that isn't on the card: how often do you 1) look at your financial position (such as it may be) and 2) how often do you rebalance? I've, um, never rebalanced my very boring index-fund heavy portfolio. Is that important?

Update: Prof. Pollack e-mails in to note that he has a book coming out on this index card's advice.

San Diego job postings: Crinetics and others

From my Twitter mentions, Crinetics is now looking for experienced medicinal chemists.

(You know, I get the real sense that Sorrento Valley is a more happenin' place than it was ~7 years ago; I hope that's true.)

Also, I would love love love love to know the story behind this API manufacturing supervisor (?) ad in the San Diego Craigslist. Why does it need a B.S. in chemistry? 

Daily Pump Trap: 10/8/15 edition

Good morning! A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs this past week:

Bartlesville, OK: Chevron Phillips is looking for a Ph.D. polymer chemist for a position as a "Polyethylene Stabilization Chemist." Who knew such a position existed?

Alpharetta, GA: Lonza looking to hire an experienced (3-5 years) M.S./Ph.D. analytical chemist.

Berkeley, CA: Looks like Paul Alivisatos is looking for a B.S. chemist for a research technician position; probably a real plum, even if it is a one-year contract with an option (?) to extend.

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and show (respectively) "1000+", 643, 10,362 (whoa!) and 13 positions for the search term "chemist." LinkedIn shows 1504 positions for the job title "chemist", with 108 for "analytical chemist", 26 for "research chemist", 14 for "organic chemist", 6 for "synthetic chemist" and 2 for "medicinal chemist."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Auditor Will Come: from the archives of Leonidas, as translated by Chemjobber

Leonidas speaks to his employees:

"Let no one of us forget or misapprehend the reason we inspected our own facility here today. Not only to make them comply or to just annoy them, our colleagues, but to make them allies against a greater enemy. By persuasion, we hoped. By coercion, in the event. But no matter, they will be our cGMP allies now and we will treat them as such from this moment."

"The Auditor!"

Suddenly Leonidas' voice rose, booming with such explosive emotion that those closest to him started from its sudden power. "The Auditor is why we inspected here today. Her presence loomed, invisible, over every SOP and every logbook...."

"I know many of you think I am half-cracked, I and Kleomenes the plant manager before me. I hear the whispers, and sometimes they're not such whispers." More laughter. "Leonidas hears voices the rest of us don't. He takes no chances with out-of-specification product in an unprofitable manner and prepared for surprise FDA inspections that he has never seen and who many say will never come. All this is true..."

The staff laughed again. "But hear this and never forget it: the Auditor will come. She will come in numbers dwarfing those her corporation sent four years when the QC laboratory and our maintenance records were successfully audited so gloriously in the Pilot Plant. She will come tenfold, a hundredfold mightier and no production record will pass without inspection. And she will come soon."

(with apologies to Steven Pressfield)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Quote of the day (repost): why micromanagement is bad

From Lt. Gen. Gus Pagonis' book:
I never tell a subordinate how to carry out a specific goal. Dictating terms to a subordinate undermines innovation, decreases the subordinate’s willingness to take responsibility for his or her actions, increases the potential for suboptimization of resources, and increases the chances that the command will be dysfunctional if circumstances change dramatically. Our first month in the theater only underscored my sense that our team would have to be incredibly elastic.
I think about this quote a lot. (I first posted it in 2011.)

Job posting: assistant professor, analytical chemistry, Wabash College

From the inbox, a tenure-track position in analytical chemistry at Wabash College (Crawfordsville, IN): 
The Wabash College Chemistry Department invites applications for a tenure-track position in Analytical Chemistry to begin July 1, 2016. An appointment at the assistant professor level is anticipated; however, more senior ranks will also be considered for qualified candidates.  
Undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry required (Analytical or Experimental Physical Chemistry degrees recommended). A strong commitment to excellence and innovation in teaching and research in an undergraduate liberal arts setting with a diverse student body is expected. The successful candidate will teach the advanced analytical chemistry course (both classroom and laboratory components), contribute to the first-year chemistry sequence, and participate in all-College courses. Establishment of a research program involving undergraduates is expected, and will be supported with a generous start-up package.  
The Chemistry Department is ACS certified, has six full time faculty, and excellent facilities, instrumentation, and support for undergraduate research. Further information about the department can be obtained from A letter of application, vitae, undergraduate and graduate transcripts, statement of teaching principles, statement of research plans suitable for undergraduate participation, and e-mail addresses of three persons who will submit confidential letters of recommendation should be submitted on-line at by October 12, 2015.  Questions may be directed to Lon Porter, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chair, at 
Wabash College, a liberal arts college for men, seeks faculty and staff committed to providing quality engagement with students, high levels of academic challenge and support, and meaningful diversity experiences that prepare students for life and leadership in a multicultural global world. We welcome applications from persons of all backgrounds. EOE.​
 Best wishes to those interested. 

Daily Pump Trap: 10/6/15 edition

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

Ann Arbor, MI: IMRA America looking for 2 positions, including a position for a Ph.D. organic chemist. "Nanobiotechnology research scientist" would probably look good on a business card.

Hmmm: Mouse biology position that allows for telecommuting?

Laurel, MD: The Applied Physics Laboratory is searching for a synthetic chemistry postdoc; sounds interesting....

Ooops: It's over a month ago since this posting was put up (for which I apologize), but a company called Ignyta in San Diego is looking for an experienced Ph.D. synthetic/medicinal chemist.

Ivory Filter Flask: 10/6/15 edition

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

New Haven, CT: Yale's Chemical Biology Institute is hiring an assistant professor.

La Jolla, CA: UCSD has posted a minor raft of positions, including an assistant professor position in synthetic chemistry.

Miami, FL: Florida International University desires an assistant professor in radiochemistry. "A Ph.D. in Chemistry or a related field and experience with research in nuclear chemistry or radiochemistry are required." A little unusual, for sure.

Ames, IA: Iowa State University is searching for an assistant professor of structural biology.

Asheville, NC: UNC Asheville is looking for an assistant professor of biochemistry.

Tampa, FL: Synthetic postdoc opening at the University of South Florida. 

Postdocs: cheminformatics, UNC/Wake Forest, RTP

From the inbox, two postdoctoral positions are available in North Carolina:
1. Postdoctoral Research Associate - Cheminformatics
2. Postdoctoral Research Associate – Cheminformatics/Data Mining
Postings available here. For questions, please contact Dr Olexandr Isayev at olexandr -at- (not spam proofing)

Monday, October 5, 2015

There's child care at ACS conferences?

Also in this week's C&EN, an interesting letter to the editor: 
This summer our seven-year-old announced that he would rather stay home and attend a YMCA camp with his school friends than come to the ACS national meeting in Boston and attend Camp ACS (with child care provided for the children of meeting attendees). He is growing up. 
This seems like an appropriate time to say a big thank-you to the ACS presidents and committee members who have supported Camp ACS for the past seven years. It is a good program run by caring professionals. We felt completely confident leaving our son with them while attending sessions—and we enjoyed family time together visiting the various cities the meeting had landed in each evening. We took him to some of the early-evening social events, and he thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition each year. 
I would recommend the program, especially for single parents or chemistry couples who want to attend the meeting. You can attend the ACS national meeting with young children—in fact, it’s fun to do so! 
Fiona Case
San Diego
I had no idea this existed, but it's a pretty interesting idea. Readers, any use of this? 

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles in this week's C&EN:

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Daily Pump Trap: 10/4/15 edition

No DPT last week, so clearing the queue. Positions posted in the last week or so at C&EN Jobs: 

Somerset, NJ: Apicore LLC has two positions open: an analytical chemist position and a QC chemist position. 

Laredo, TX: Laquitex is a company that tests materials for tariff issues; they're looking for a B.S. chemist/supervisor. Offering $58,178. I suspect that's pretty good for Laredo. 

Boston, MA: Block Engineering ("a developer of advanced mid-infrared spectroscopy products") is looking for a Ph.D. chemist (with experience with Matlab) to be an advanced development scientist. 

New York, NY: SiGNa Chemistry is looking for a R&D director; 110-140k offered. 

Brevard, NC: I see PharmAgra Labs is at it, yet again. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Guest post: "Beatitudes for a Chemistry Department"

from "one we all have known."

Blessed are those who address the administrative assistants kindly.
They shall reap attentive loyalty.

Blessed are those who have patience with the safety officers.
They shall encounter few obstructions to waste disposal.

Blessed are the compassionate overworked teaching assistants.
Their influence on the lives of undergraduates may be profound.

Blessed are the postdocs who seek thoughtful advice from magnetic resonance.
Their samples will be run with care and the data interpreted with scrutiny.

Blessed are those who heed instructions for sample preparation.
They ensure the amiable nature of mass spectrometry staff.

Blessed are those who speak humbly to the storeroom clerks.
They will be notified of their deliveries with alacrity and shall not want for pipettes.

Blessed are those who approach the graduate advisor with reverent appreciation.
Their funding and insurance will continue uninterrupted despite obstacles of bureaucracy.

Blessed are those who remember janitorial staff before discarding shards of glass in the trash.
They shall sleep well in the knowledge they caused no suffering in the night.

Blessed are those who are grateful for the invisible support they receive.
The whole of the Department of Chemistry is theirs.

with apologies to Matthew.