Monday, February 29, 2016

Why big companies are better, infertility treatment edition

Also in this week's C&EN, letters to the editor about Linda Wang's article on chemists and infertility:
...Unfortunately, I also found that many employers, including mine, offer no benefit beyond “the diagnosis of infertility”—that is, they do not cover the most effective treatment of the disorder: assisted reproduction. However, I was quite heartened to find that a meaningful portion of companies across the chemical industry, such as Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Chevron, and Merck, reportedly offer some infertility coverage. Within big pharma, almost 70% of the 13 companies for which I could find detailed information offered some form of a reproductive health benefit. Generally, the benefit was limited to a lifetime maximum benefit of $10,000 to $25,000. It is reasonable to expect employers to limit their exposure to financial risk, but even a limited benefit is a huge opportunity to a devastated employee. 
After having spent my twenties in subsistence living in graduate school earning my Ph.D., I find myself in my thirties trying to start saving for retirement and a home and worrying about an old car. Infertility is by its very nature a disease that strikes in the early part of one’s career. When I’m asking my employer to offer a comprehensive reproductive health benefit, I’m not asking for the moon. I’m asking for a chance.
Name withheld upon request
Does anyone think that the named companies are going to hiring more scientists or fewer scientists in the next ten years?

It's a sad confluence of events for Ph.D. scientists of a certain generation. Graduate school in the sciences (and the inevitable postdoc) entails a delaying of marriage, children, "a real job" with an income approaching the median household income in the US, home purchases and all the other life decisions that make up an middle-to-upper-middle income life in the US. Those delays extend well into one's early-to-mid thirties. To leave academia and enter into a world where fewer and fewer companies are large enough and willing to offer health benefits like these to their employees is a tragedy indeed. 

This week's C&EN

A few articles from this week's issue of C&EN

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Job posting: medicinal chemistry postdoc, Phoenix Nest, Brooklyn, NY

Via Twitter, Sean Ekins is looking for a postdoc at a rare disease biotech in Brooklyn, New York named Phoenix Nest, Inc:
Looking for self starter postdoc Med chemist to work on a rare disease proj start-up 4 at least a yr- base in NY. Ideal 4 local
Contact Dr. Ekins at Best wishes to those interested. 

Weekend discussion: "The 'skills gap' is fake"

Via the progressive magazine The American Prospect, an interview by Rachel Cohen with Marshall Steinbaum, an economist with the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Mr. Steinbaum has a lot of interesting points, but I really enjoyed this set of comments: 
...What kinds of evidence challenge the "skills gap" narrative? 
There are two broad sets of evidence that show it’s false. The first is that people who do have skills haven’t been getting wage increases. Even in sectors like tech and engineering, nobody is getting raises. The only people who do get raises are in the top 1 percent. 
What about people who are not trying to get raises but who just want to earn a decent salary? 
That gets to the second set of evidence. People who do have good skills, credentials, and qualifications are generally taking jobs that are lower down the job ladder than they would have taken before. You have a lot of people with BAs taking jobs that before wouldn’t have required a BA, and you have people without BAs basically getting forced out of the labor market altogether. 
A 2014 National Bureau of Economic Research study* found that although students who major in things that traditionally lead to higher-paying jobs are historically more “protected” against the effect of graduating into a bad labor market, the extent of that protection was substantially lower in the Great Recession. In other words, it helps to have a STEM degree, but much, much less than it used to. 
How do your views compare to those of other economists who are looking at these issues? 
The whole idea that the “skills gap” is fake and that higher educational attainment is not a solution to the labor market’s problems is gaining traction within the academic economist community. But that basically creates a vacuum....
Of course, this is music to my ears. Mr. Steinbaum goes further in the rest of the article, saying "college is not the solution to multi-generational wealth inequality." I think that is a real challenge to the conventional wisdom around college, and an important counter-narrative to consider. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

The View From Your Hood

Boulder, CO
Anonymous submission, 2/12/16.

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption, please) at; will run every other Friday.)

I hate this game

The combined management of the DowDuPont merger has forced Iowa, Indiana and Delaware to compete against one another to preserve the agricultural chemistry jobs they have. Here's a comparison of the different incentives offered by the states to DowDuPont from the Des Moines Register's Christopher Doering and Kevin Hardy: 
Delaware: Offered a strategic fund grant worth $9.6 million over five years. Part of that amount includes $3.6 million the company will receive for the creation of 400 jobs. Other strategic fund grants were awarded in the form of matching up to 3 percent of the company’s capital expenditures up to $6 million, which would require the company to spend at least $200 million in the state over a five-year period to receive the full amount. 
The new ag company will be headquartered in Wilmington, currently the home of DuPont. 
Indiana: Officials offered no retention incentives up front, instead focusing on performance-based incentives the company could be eligible for if they create jobs going forward. 
Indianapolis will become a "global business center" for the new company though the company has not said what effect the change will have on the 1,400 employees at the existing Dow AgroSciences, which specializes in crop protection and seed products.  
Iowa: Offered $17,238,000 in state, city and county incentives to the company. Officials say the incentives assure that the company will more or less maintain current staffing levels of about 2,600 in Johnston. But much of the state incentives are tied to the 250 to 500 research and development jobs the company expects to retain. 
Johnston will also become a "global business center," keeping research and development, sales and marketing teams, and business support functions. 
I am amused to read that the director of the Iowa Economic Development Commission considered their incentives "extremely modest."

(I sure as hell hope there was some level of collusion between Iowa, Indiana and Delaware to cap the level of incentives they were willing to offer.)

When I was younger, I used to think the use of public funds to attract corporate investment (and jobs) made a lot of sense. Over the past fifteen years or so, I've changed my mind. It seems that the balance has shifted (as has so many things) in favor of corporations, and playing American locality against American locality on who is more willing to drop their property taxes just doesn't seem wise anymore. I am not exactly a "there oughta be a law" type, but it'd be pretty wonderful if there was a federal law that discouraged this sort of race to the bottom. 

Petition to protest potential dissolving of the College of Chemistry

I don't know if anyone has heard about this issue at the University of California - Berkeley, but there is apparently a move afoot to dissolve Berkeley's College of Chemistry. I heard about it from former Berkeley chemistry professor Carolyn Bertozzi.

You can read the petition against the move here, and read the Reddit thread about the dissolution here.  

Seems smart

It has been almost a month, but I did want to highlight this article ($) by Susan Ainsworth about an annual meeting of pharma chemistry management: 
For the 13th consecutive year, the ACS Pharma Leaders Meeting brought together the pharmaceutical industry’s chemistry research leaders to discuss issues and challenges of common concern. 
Executives representing 12 companies attended the meeting, which was held Oct. 22–23, 2015, at Merck & Co.’s Rahway, N.J., facility. 
Coorganized by Merck and ACS Industry Member Programs, this year’s meeting was again aimed at exploring areas of mutual interest and possible collaborations on precompetitive and noncompetitive issues. 
With the common goal of accelerating drug development, the group explored the possibility of creating a consortium to share chemical building blocks and the potential benefits of sharing or commercializing tool compounds—highly selective chemical probes that help researchers determine the biological function of a given target...
I didn't know that this happened, but it seems smart. I wonder if Dr. Zaluchi from Detroit ever gets to talk. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quits are vaguely back to normal - is this a good thing?

Credit: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Last week, I was irritated at this comment from Business Insider:
Americans are quitting their jobs like crazy, and this is good news for wages. 
The latest monthly "Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey" (JOLTS) showed that in December, the total number of quits was 3.1 million, the highest level in a decade, while the quits rate was 2.1%, the highest since April 2008. 
This rate, which takes the number of quits divided by the number of employees who worked or were paid for work, is one of the labor-market metrics most closely watched by Fed chair Janet Yellen.
I find it highly ironic that "the highest (quits rate) since April 2008" is "quitting their jobs like crazy", as opposed to, say, "quitting their jobs like people do during vaguely normal economic times" or "quitting their jobs when they're not scared that they will be homeless and jobless otherwise."

That said, it does appear to be true that job quits are at a local maxima. Anyone have any good stories of recent job quits, and why?  

Ask the readers: when should I tell my boss about a tentative offer?

From the comments, a pretty common question: 
I have a question to pose. I am currently a postdoc(6-12 months in), but would like to make the move to industry. I have a tentative offer right now, and am waiting on a firm offer. I wish I could of told my boss about the TO, but I was told not to tell anyone until I have the bird in hand. I may not be able to give two weeks notice due to the job being 12 hours away from my current position, and the start time being a little too soon(I need to look for a place to live, and then move my stuff there).  
I do not want to burn any bridges at my current job, but I feel that a postdoc is just a temporary job and I can't turn down this permanent offer. I have been reading the literature and seeing how people do postdoc, after postdoc, and then they want just any permanent job they can get. Like I said earlier in the post, I wish I could of told my boss about the TO, but no job is secure unless you get the firm offer. If you were my boss how would you feel if you only got a week or little over a week because of the circumstance? 
I would also like to add that I genuinely feel bad for not being able to give two weeks notice. I also want to add the postdoc I am in is not in an academic environment. Chances of getting hired on full time are about 10% or less.
I gotta say, Anon9:13a, take the job and R-U-N run. Readers, do you agree?  

Daily Pump Trap: 2/25/16 edition

A few (single) positions posted on C&EN Jobs:

Kenilworth, NJ: Interesting bioprocess development director position at Merck:
Required Experience:
  • Solid experience in chemically defined medium and feed development for fed-batch and/or perfusion processes.
  • Experience in applying innovative tools such as Systems Biology (e.g. transcriptomics, metabolomics, proteomics, and other omics approaches) or PAT for cell culture process development and characterization.
  • Excellent scientific understanding of cell biology and engineering principles for recombinant protein production with mammalian cell culture, including molecular biology, cell metabolism, upstream process development and scale-up.
B.S./M.S./Ph.D. with experience needed. 

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and USAjobs show (respectively) "1000+", 480, 10,782 and 33 positions for the search term "chemist." LinkedIn shows 2,058 positions for the job title "chemist, with 226 for "analytical chemist", 52 for "medicinal chemist", 36 for "research chemist", 34 for "organic chemist", and 4 for "synthetic chemist."

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What is the price of HPLC acetonitrile?: 2/24/16 edition

Something that bothers me about spending on lab supplies is that it is very difficult to track the price of certain supplies. The amount of transparency is quite low; with that in mind, I plan to track the price of a 4X4L case of HPLC-grade acetonitrile weekly indefinitely as a public service.

I initially plan to look three places: the Sigma-Aldrich website, EMD-Millipore's site and also P212121, a site of Sean Seaver, a chemblogosphere stalwart. I have also added an unnamed lab supply house:

Sigma-Aldrich (4X4L, HPLC grade, ≥99.9%, 34851-4X4L): $1,150
Unnamed Very Large Supplier (4X4L, HPLC grade, 99.8% min (GC assay)): $190-230
EMD-Millipore (1X4L, HPLC grade, 99.8% min (GC assay), AX0145-1): $288.00*
P212121 (4X4L, HPLC grade, Purity >99.9%, PA-30000HPLCCS4L): $135.00**

*I know that EMD-Millpore offers 4X4L cases, but I can't find them on their public websites.

**There's a minimum of 5 cases. 

Process Wednesday: cameras in process chemistry?

Thanks to Jyllian, I am reminded that Organic Process Research and Development has come out with its occasional (and wonderful) "Safety Notables" article [1]. Here's an interesting summary of an unusual set of experiments from a not-typical sector of research:
DSC Analysis of Liquid Sodium-Silica Reaction. 
Sodium-cooled fast reactors, used in the nuclear power industry, are typically built with steel-lined concrete. In the case of a structural failure, the liquid sodium coolant could potentially leak out and react with the concrete. This article (J. Therm. Anal. Calorim. 2015, 121, 45) looks at kinetic studies performed on the reaction of sodium with silica (SiO2) using differential scanning calorimetry. Samples of the reaction were run in open stainless-steel crucibles at different heating rates using a DSC within an argon glovebox. From the DSC data, five reaction stages were separated out using statistical deconvolution, and kinetic  parameters were calculated using the Kissinger and Ozawa methods. An interesting point about the experimental setup was the use of a videoscope with an optical fiber cable inserted into the sample crucible for viewing the sample as the reaction progresses. This allowed for a better understanding and characterization of the different reaction stages.
Certainly something I had not considered (that hot sodium and concrete could react), although it certainly seems reasonable.

It's also interesting to me that the article talks about using a "videoscope" to view the sample as the reaction progresses. I am intrigued by the possibility of sticking cameras in places we don't typically see them, i.e. inside a lab reactor or a plant reactor. I haven't heard about too many places where people are doing that, though - readers?

1. Brown, D.B.; Ironside, M.D.; Shaw, S.M. "Safety Notables: Information from the Literature." Org. Process. Res. Dev. DOI: 10.1021/acs.oprd.6b00013

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Daily Pump Trap: 2/23/16 edition

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

Elkton, MD: Orbital ATK is looking for a genuine (solid) rocket (fuel) scientist; Ph.D. in chemistry. I'm going to take a wild stab and say there are 50-200 people in the United States who have the qualifications they're looking for.

Cambridge, MA: Moderna is looking for a lot of folks.

Fremont, CA:  So is Verseon. (C&EN Jobs is not where I'd be looking for a mathematician, though.)

Shanghai, China: Symrise is looking for a director of QA/QC.

San Francisco, CA: Nurix is looking for a cheminformatician; Ph.D. desired. (You can get a Ph.D. in cheminformatics?)

Frederick, MD: Leidos Biomedical Research is looking for a B.S. analytical chemist with experience in the characterization of nanoparticles. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 2/23/16 edition

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

Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University is searching for two assistant professor positions in chemistry.

Atlanta, GA: Spelman College is searching for an assistant professor (tenure-track) in chemistry.

Chula Vista, CA: Southwestern College, looking for a B.S./M.S. assistant professor of chemistry; $49,789.00-$74,916.00 offered.

Cambridge, MA: MIT, looking for an instructor in organic chemistry (no grad students/postdocs available?)

Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar, looking for two visiting professors.

Terre Haute, IN:  Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is looking for a visiting assistant professor of chemistry.

New Wilmington, PA: Westminster College is seeking a M.S./Ph.D. visiting assistant professor.

Waco, TX: Baylor University is looking for a mass spectrometry technician. 

Job posting: coating formulation engineer, Charlotte, NC

From the inbox, a position with Celgard LLC:
At the center of battery innovation. Celgard is a global leader in the development and production of high-performance membrane separators. Our products are used in a broad range of energy storage applications, including rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, disposable lithium batteries and specialty energy storage.... 
To be a good fit for the Coating Formulation Engineer opportunity, you also should have:
  • A Master’s or PhD degree (highly preferred) in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Polymer Science, or Materials Science
  • A minimum of 3 years’ experience of product development in the area of polymer, formulation, and coating development
  • Academic or industrial experience for monomer and polymer synthesis 
  • An understanding of the structure-property-relationship of small molecules and polymer 
  • Hands on experience in formulating ceramic and polymer for thin-film coating application
  • The ability to plan experiments based on statistical methodology (designs of experiments)
The respected reader who sent in this position notes that the company may be going through tough times, so that is to be considered. Best wishes to those interested - link here.

For those who love #chemjobs statistics...

Friend of the blog Lisa Balbes has gathered a really nice set of statistics on the basics of #chemjobs, including:
  • How many chemists are there? 
  • How many chemistry faculty positions are there? 
  • How much do chemists make? 
...and many more questions answered. Check it out! 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ask CJ: synthetic chemistry jobs in Toronto?

A reader with experience as a M.S. pharma chemist asks about suggestions for synthetic chemistry positions in Toronto? I haven't heard of too many places (isn't/wasn't Montreal the city for organic chemistry in Ontario* eastern Canada?)

Either way, readers, I'd love to hear your opinions.

*UPDATE: CJ is an idiot about Canadian geography.

2 million bucks is all it takes

Another way to scrape together 2 million dollars
Credit: WVLT
In this week's C&EN, a really fun article by Lisa Jarvis about Forge Therapeutics' hunt for investors
at 2016's JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. The company's founder is Seth Cohen of UCSD, with Zak Zimmerman as CEO and David Puerta as head of chemistry. Here's a fun little detail about their current funding situation:
Launched in early 2015, the firm secured “seed” funding—a small influx of cash from private individuals—to set up labs and start generating data. Zimmerman and Puerta are hoping in 2016 to attract a first round of funding from venture capitalists or secure a partnership with a big pharma company—maybe even both... 
The two chemists knew the science, but they needed help on the business side. One day in December 2014, Puerta took his kids out to play soccer and ran into another family. “Zak was out there with his kids, and it turns out we had worked across the street from each other in Cambridge,” Puerta recalls. 
It was a fortuitous meeting. Zimmerman had led business development at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and was lured to San Diego when the firm spun off the microRNA business Regulus Therapeutics. In other words, he had years’ worth of industry, venture, and banking contacts that could be exceedingly helpful to a young business. 
It turned out that Zimmerman, Puerta, and Cohen lived within a mile of each other. And they discovered that in addition to the usual commonalities—kids, soccer, science—they had an easy rapport. Conversations about a potential company quickly turned into the launch of an actual one. Zimmerman put his network to work to come up with a list of metalloprotein targets that were of interest to big pharma companies. If Forge’s novel chemistry yielded inhibitors, partners might be interested. 
Meanwhile, the team scraped together about $2 million from family, high-net-worth individuals, and the San Diego-based private investor network, Tech Coast Angels. Last spring, the three hired several researchers and set up shop in JLABS, a sought-after Johnson & Johnson incubator in San Diego where tenants share lab and office equipment. A pilot agreement with J&J soon followed.
The rest of the article is just as interesting - I think I had as much fun reading it as Lisa had in writing it.

(Isn't vorinostat a good example of a hydroxamic acid drug?)

The small company experience seems to be just as much about about "let's ask people for some money" in addition to "let's come up with some new science ideas." I should grow up about that, and acknowledge that getting money from people is a skill, and one that I should get better at.

Can today's assistant professor candidates walk on water?

I was surprised and at the same time amused when I noted the sudden escalation of academic openings in the final three September 2015 issues of C&EN. In previous months, the number of advertisements had been mired at a few or several, encompassing one page or less. Suddenly, the number jumped to 12 pages and 90 positions in the Sept. 14, 2015, issue; tapered off to three pages and 17 openings in the Sept. 21, 2015, issue; and continued at three pages and 21 openings in the Sept. 28, 2015, issue. 
Though it is encouraging to see more listed academic positions, almost all positions had one unifying theme: Namely, to meet the requirements listed, applicants must be able to walk on water. What has happened to the simple requirement that all a potential employee has to do is be able to teach and maintain current knowledge about his or her specialty? Instead, in almost all the cases advertised in C&EN, the successful candidate is expected to initiate a research program, obtain outside funding, and bring glory to the department. 
Is the sudden escalation in positions available a result of increased enrollment, departure of faculty, or faculty retirement? In any event, if any other position, whether industrial or government, were available, I would suggest that any recent Ph.D.s should avail themselves of that opportunity with a workweek of 40 hours or less. 
Nelson Marans
Silver Spring, Md.
First, I think Mr. (Dr.?) Marans misses that the uptick is seasonal: it both marks the beginning of faculty hiring season and C&EN's academic hiring issue.

However, he points out something that I remember from recent conversations with those running faculty searches: the quality of modern assistant professor candidates is far higher than the incumbents. "I could not get hired these days" is something I've heard from tenured professors (albeit those with potentially non-median levels of humility or self-awareness.)

I doubt this is something that can be objectively measured, but it indeed is interesting.

This week's C&EN

A few articles from this week's issue of C&EN:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sep-pak cartridges

Small, useful things (links):
Readers, an open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring you millions thousands hundreds tens of dollars joy and happiness. Send me a link to your post, and I'd be happy to put it up.

Have a great weekend! 

You could see North Korea from your front porch!

From the inbox, a real winner of a position: 
Wanhua Chemical Group CO.,LTD. - Columbus, OH  
$30,000 a year 
Job Description 
Positions for Fresh PhD Graduates:
PhD, major in chemical engineering, chemistry, polymer, material science or related fields;
committed to industrial R&D;
proactive, self-motivated, results-oriented;
Candidates with both international education background and 1-2 years' working experience are also welcomed. 
Compensation: RMB 200,000+ per year 
Working Location: Yantai, China
Limited vacancies in Beijing and Shanghai
Job Type: Full-time
Salary: 15,000.0元 /month
Required education:
Job Type: Full-time
Salary: $30,000.00 /year 
Required education:
The final line means "Ph.D. and above", according to Google Translate.

(I really wonder what the median chemist salary in China is. Someday, many years later, maybe I will meet "化学工作人" or whatever he or she will call themselves.)

The Chemistry Behind the Flint Water Crisis explained

Also in this week's C&EN, a phenomenal article by Michael Torrice about the problems of lead in Flint, MI. I had been looking for a detailed explanation of the chemistry issues, and here we are: 
...Most important, the treated Flint River water lacked one chemical that the treated Detroit water had: phosphate. “They essentially lost something that was protecting them against high lead concentrations,” Giammar says. Cities such as Detroit add orthophosphate to their water as part of their corrosion control plans because the compound encourages the formation of lead phosphates, which are largely insoluble and can add to the pipes’ passivation layer. 
Flint didn’t use orthophosphate despite a recommendation to do so from Veolia, an environmental services company that studied the quality of the treated Flint River water after the switch­over. In a March 2015 report, Veolia suggested that the city spend $50,000 annually to add the corrosion inhibitor.* By press time, C&EN was unable to get a comment from Flint city officials about why a corrosion inhibitor wasn’t added to the river water. 
The entire Flint water crisis could have been avoided if the city had just added orthophosphate, Edwards says. He bases his opinion, in part, on experiments his group ran on the treated Flint River water. The researchers joined copper pipes with lead solder and then placed the pieces in either treated Flint River water or treated Detroit water. After five weeks in the Flint water, the joined pipes leached 16 times as much lead as those in the Detroit water, demonstrating just how corrosive the treated Flint water was. But when the scientists added a phosphate corrosion inhibitor to the Flint water, the factor went down to four. 
Still, orthophosphate isn’t the only corrosion solution. Some water utilities treat water so it has a high pH and high alkalinity, Giammar says. Such conditions decrease the solubility of lead carbonates, which also contribute to the pipe’s protective mineral layer.
The treated Flint River water had a relatively low pH that decreased over time. 
According to monthly operating reports from the Flint treatment plant, the city’s water had a pH of about 8 in December 2014, but then it slowly dropped to 7.3 by August 2015. Environmental engineers say that if water pH drifts too low in the absence of orthophosphate, the water can start to leach high levels of lead from pipes.
In the comments (keep scrolling), a very interesting statement from a former operator at the Flint water plant:
I was an operator at the Flint water plant in 2014-15. To answer your question about a target pH, it was 8.5-9.0. I would add that Flint utilized lime softening so the pH was raised to a target range of 11.0-11.6 and subsequently reduced through the addition of carbon dioxide.  
As far as the decision to not implement optimized corrosion control, that was a decision by committee including the city, their engineering firm and the Michigan DEQ. It was the DEQ that misinterpreted the Lead and Copper Rule requirement for communities with over 50,000 residents to implement corrosion control immediately after a source water change. Instead, the DEQ allowed Flint to conduct the two consecutive six month monitoring periods first....
As a parent that is incredibly paranoid about lead, this is pretty awful. It seems to me that whatever systems are in place to attempt to avoid these sorts of issues is not robust enough.

(We don't usually think about infrastructure like water treatment very much, but it probably is an area that we, as a country, should think a little more about (and probably pay a little more financial and scientific attention to.))

*UPDATE: Michael Torrice writes in the comments that this sentence has been corrected by C&EN. Veolia recommended the addition of polyphosphate, which would not have prevented the corrosion issue. 

This week's C&EN

A little late in the week, but here's a few articles from this week's C&EN:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Business guy to former coworkers: I ain't running a charity here - as we have already demonstrated

Kind of an unfortunate angle, I feel
Credit: DelawareOnline
Via DelawareOnline, a recent entrepreneurial event filled with laid-off DuPont employees (article by Scott Goss) was graced with a current DuPont employee: 
Bill Provine, DuPont’s director of science and engineering global operations, provided the group with additional information on how they can apply for permission to access the company’s intellectual property for their commercial ventures. 
DuPont on Friday issued a memo to current and former employees with an email address where they can submit nonconfidential requests related to patent use and product data.
“Looking at our legacy in Delaware, we’re obviously very proud of what we’ve done here and proud of what you’ve done with us,” he said. “We want to be able to support you as you move to those small business enterprises.” 
Any deal of DuPont intellectual property is expected to take the form of licensing or some other arrangement that would effectively turn its former workers into customers. 
“At the end of the day, it’s got to be a mutually beneficial outcome,” Provine said. “Convince us that you’re credible, serious and want to do something.”
He indicated DuPont would not be interested in proposals that seek to resell intellectual property. 
“What we don’t want is for this to be a fishing expedition,” he said. “What we’re trying to enable here is people who have worked on something or are associated with something and want to spin it out into an enterprise.”
There was a response from one of the laid-off technical folks:
Michael Brown, who spent 35 years working in DuPont’s various polymer divisions before being laid off in December, is interested in starting a company based on intellectual property from his former employers. Like many ex-DuPonters who attended Tuesday’s seminar, he declined to discuss his details of his future venture to avoid attracting potential competitors, including former co-workers. 
But Brown did said he wasn’t thrilled by what Provine had to offer. “I’ve got a half dozen patents with DuPont,” he said. “And what I heard here today was the concept of selling the technology to us is not their intent.” 
Brown, meanwhile, said the rest of the program was useful for guiding him to become entrepreneur.  
“I’ll definitely attend a few more of these,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in starting a business of my own. Now have the severance package and lots of time on my hands."
I suppose that I should be somewhat grateful to DuPont that they are offering this opportunity to their former employees, but like Mr. Brown, I'm somewhat skeptical of it all.

Best wishes to the former DuPonters - and to all of us.  

Job posting: senior research associate, Revolution Medicine

I think it's interesting that Martin Burke's company, Revolution Medicine, is hiring a scientist:
As a key contributor to our dynamic chemistry team, you will:
  • Develop new cutting-edge chemical technologies, focused on catalysis for RevMed’s platform chemistry
  • Lead efforts to translate complex methodologies into procedures suitable for automation
  • Collaborate with project teams to identify and refine experimental strategies...
Desired Skills and Experience
  • MS degree in Organic or Organometallic Chemistry with 5-9 years of experience or PhD degree in Organic or Organometallic Chemistry with 0-2 years of experience
  • Experience in homogeneous catalysis and C-C coupling reactions required
  • Total synthesis experience (natural products) preferred...
Not every day you see that... fascinating. 64 applicants already. 

Daily Pump Trap: 2/18/16 edition

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

Fremont, CA: Verseon is an company I had not heard of; they're looking for two positions, both chemistry oriented.

Greensboro, NC: Syngenta is looking for a M.S. formulation chemist; company may have new owners before long.

Greenville, SC: NUBAD, LLC is looking for a postdoc. I would like to know: how is this a postdoctoral position as opposed to an entry-level position?

Riverside, CA: Babcock Laboratories is looking for an organics department manager.

RTP, NC: SCM Metal Products is looking for a "R&D Engineer/Product Specialist" to work on Nonferrous Metal Powder brazing paste technologies. I have no idea what that is.

Hmmmm: Three job postings from a "Food Safety Net Services." The Glassdoor reviews don't look so hot.

Little lost lamb: Pretty sure Charles Schwab didn't mean to ask a bunch of chemists to be a senior model validator, but hey, who knows? 

Ivory Filter Flask: 2/18/16 edition

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

Beaumont, TX: Lamar University has posted two tenure-track faculty openings; the positions have not been funded (so why are they advertising?). They're looking for "applicants with expertise in Environmental Chemistry, Biochemistry, Analytical Chemistry or Forensic Science."  

Rolla, MO: The Missouri University of Science and Technology is looking for a M.S./Ph.D. NMR facility manager; 62-110k offered. I suspect that's really quite good. 

Columbia, SC: The University of South Carolina is looking for a research assistant professor to run their X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy facility. 

Richmond, IN: Earlham College is looking for a visiting assistant professor in environmental/analytical chemistry. 

Tracking faculty job applicants: Did you apply for a tenure-track faculty position in chemistry during the 2015-2016 academic year? Talk about your experience in this survey, set up by me. 

What is the price of HPLC acetonitrile?: 2/17/16 edition

Something that bothers me about spending on lab supplies is that it is very difficult to track the price of certain supplies. The amount of transparency is quite low; with that in mind, I plan to track the price of a 4X4L case of HPLC-grade acetonitrile weekly indefinitely as a public service.

I initially plan to look three places: the Sigma-Aldrich website, EMD-Millipore's site and also P212121, a site of Sean Seaver, a chemblogosphere stalwart.

Sigma-Aldrich (4X4L, HPLC grade, ≥99.9%, 34851-4X4L): $1,150
EMD-Millipore (1X4L, HPLC grade, 99.8% min (GC assay), AX0145-1): $288.00*
P212121 (4X4L, HPLC grade, Purity >99.9%, PA-30000HPLCCS4L): $135.00**

So it's been 3 weeks since the first time I posted, and prices remain flat. We shall see.

*I know that EMD-Millpore offers 4X4L cases, but I can't find them on their public websites.

**There's a minimum of 5 cases. 

Odd question about glovebox gloves

Via Twitter, Ian Tonks asks if anyone has noticed anything about glovebox gloves recently: 
We are burning thru glovebox gloves at incredible pace. Anyone know any tricks/more durable gloves? #realtimechem Not a prob for me in GS.
they are straight up destroyed--just falling apart/cracking btwn fingers. I only replaced ONE in 5 yrs at Caltech. Confused.
In response to a query from me about the material of the gloves, he says:
Butyl, 30mil from North, same as always. Cracks both inside and out, mostly out.
Anyone have any ideas?  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

There might have been something else going on....

In the midst of an interesting article about peak phosphorus, an interesting statement: 
Phosphorus is not a renewable resource 
Reserves are limited and not equally spread over the planet. The only large mines are located in Morocco, Russia, China and the US. Depending on which scientists you ask, the world’s phosphate rock reserves will last for another 35 to 400 years – though the more optimistic assessments rely on the discovery of new deposits. 
It’s a big concern for the EU and other countries without their own reserves, and phosphorus depletion could lead to geopolitical tensions. Back in 2008, when fertiliser prices sharply increased by 600% and directly influenced food prices, there were violent riots in 40 different developing countries.
Seems to me there might have been a recession or something going on then?

(I get that it's all interconnected, but it seems to me that the real issue was the incredibly high price of oil at the time...) 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Job posting: Scientist / Sr. Scientist, Computational Chemistry, Moderna, Cambridge, MA

From the inbox, a position at Moderna Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA:
Position Summary 
Moderna is seeking an exceptionally talented and highly motivated Computational Chemist with a deep technical skill base to work as part of a highly collaborative, multi-disciplinary, and fast-paced team. 
The successful applicant will be characterized by intellectual curiosity, a strong collaborative work ethic, and a desire to contribute to the development of novel mRNA therapeutics and vaccines that will improve the lives of patients. 
  • Contribute to the development of novel building blocks of modified mRNA therapeutics and their formulations, including nucleotides, caps, tails, and formulation components
  • Develop and apply novel computational chemistry and cheminformatics approaches to enable the above
  • Collaborate closely with colleagues in the Chemistry and Formulation groups to identify opportunities for impact
  • Serve as a technical expert in computational chemistry within the broader Moderna ecosystem
Ph.D. in computation chemistry desired, with 3 years of industry experience preferred. 

Full job description here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

New feature: The View From Your Hood

Sometime in the last week.

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption, please) at; will run every other Friday.) 

Twelve reasons why it could not be that your sample is not pure enough

So you get your results back from QC or maybe from your friendly local NMR or mass spec person and they don't look like what you want them to look like. OF COURSE, it couldn't be your fault, so here are some handy questions to ask while you're denying reality being thorough :
  1. Uh, did you switch the sample with someone else's? 
  2. When was the last time your instrument was maintained? 
  3. We did have an outage last week.......
  4. Run it again, please. 
  5. Look, I recrystallized this stuff twice. 
  6. I know this is a difficult method.....
  7. Say, do you have a calibration curve for that measurement? 
  8. I knew I shouldn't have taken that left turn at Albuquerque...
  9. Have you power cycled your instrument? 
  10. How does it compare to a standard? 
  11. Is there a different instrument we can run it on? 
  12. Why won't your magic silver god give me the right answers?!?!? 
NB actually saying these things out loud is not a good idea 

Job postings: Nanosyn, Santa Clara, CA

From the inbox, positions at Nanosyn, a Bay Area CRO:
Research Associate, Synthetic Organic or Medicinal Chemist: We are seeking several M.S./B.S. level synthetic organic or medicinal chemists to join our expanding medicinal chemistry department. Candidates must have a M.S./B.S. in synthetic organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, or closely related field with 0-5 years of industrial experience involving drug discovery. Strong organizational, communication and interpersonal skills are critical. The successful candidate must have the ability to work on multiple projects and adapt rapidly to new projects, must be a highly motivated, independent, and productive team player. Candidates with a demonstrated record of expertise in modern synthetic organic chemistry methods or medicinal chemistry are preferred.
Ph.D. Medicinal and Synthetic Chemists: We have multiple openings for organic chemists with a Ph.D. degree in synthetic organic chemistry. Applicants must have 1 or greater years of industrial experience, be highly motivated, with good problem solving skills, good organizational skills, ability to work in a disciplined team, good communication skills, methodical and diligent. The successful candidate must have the ability to work on multiple projects and adapt rapidly to new projects. Applicant will work on early stage drug candidates, advance these to lead candidates and to development candidate selection. The successful candidate must be familiar with techniques in synthetic organic chemistry, including but not limited to laboratory skills, data interpretation from various spectroscopic techniques. Nanosyn offers a very competitive compensation package and the company is dynamic and fast paced.
Best wishes to those interested.  

I wonder if layoffs inspire disloyalty...

In the midst of an absolutely phenomenal read by Del Quentin Wilber in Bloomberg Businessweek about a plot to steal DuPont titanium dioxide processes by a Taiwanese businessman, Walter Liew, (in association with a Chinese chemical firm), something that sounds pretty darn familiar...:
They found Tim Spitler, a 49-year-old former DuPont engineer living in Reno, Nev...  
According to the FBI documents, the relationship between Liew and Spitler lasted for years. Liew flattered Spitler, who was bitter about DuPont’s business strategies and its decision in the ’90s to fire thousands of employees. Spitler also admitted to agents that he felt insecure about not having attended a top university (he got a degree from Tri-State University in Angola, Ind.) and was constantly worried about losing his job. Liew made Spitler feel valued and understood. He sent him a gift basket every Christmas, the FBI reports show, and helped pay for the funeral of Spitler’s daughter, who’d committed suicide in 2006. When Spitler would call to thank Liew for his generosity, the businessman would steer the conversation to business and titanium dioxide. 
Spitler provided Liew with information about DuPont’s processes—even sketches of key components—and allowed him to root through boxes in his house and take whatever records he found. Spitler told federal agents that Liew paid him $15,000 for DuPont-related documents, including a blueprint to a plant in Delaware. The schematics provided details of flow rates, pipeline sizes, temperatures, and chemical compositions. As such, it was considered one of DuPont’s most critical trade secrets, U.S. law enforcement officials contend, and Liew used the documents to prove his bona fides to Chinese executives.
Spitler killed himself after Walter Liew was arrested in 2012.

It seems apparent to me that DuPont's reliance on the law to keep their current and former employees from leaking valuable company secrets was not very effective in the face of someone who was a seemingly talented intelligence officer.*

I wonder if a kindler, gentler approach to layoffs may have inspired a little more fidelity. Maybe some day, some company will run that experiment - I am not holding my breath.

*In case anyone is keeping score, it's apparent that of Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego, it was a combination of Money, Ideology and Ego...

The UT case

I have been remiss in not covering the UT-Austin kerfluffle resulting from a Organic Letters retraction that resulted in UT-Austin's attempted revocation of a Ph.D. Here's a small portion of the Austin American-Statesman article about it: 
A woman who graduated from the University of Texas with a Ph.D. in chemistry has filed suit for the second time in an effort to keep the university from revoking her degree. 
Suvi Orr, who received her doctorate in 2008, first sued UT in February 2014 after school administrators informed her that “scientific misconduct occurred in the production of your dissertation,” including “falsified and misreported data.” 
Now a plaintiff identified as “S.O.” has sued UT in state District Court in Travis County. Although the lawsuit refers to the plaintiff by those initials for privacy protections under federal law, the circumstances of the case leave no doubt that she is Orr. 
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, said UT officials revoked her degree but promptly reinstated it for “a do-over” during the first round of litigation. The suit contends that UT now plans to subject her to a “kangaroo court” whose members include undergraduate students lacking the expertise to interpret scientific data stemming from her research involving synthesis of chemicals.
There's a lot of discussion in the comments, both at Retraction Watch (who has been covering this case for a while) and at In the Pipeline.

It is certainly surprising that UT went to the trouble of revoking a doctorate; I would presume such extraordinary action must have some extraordinary evidence behind it, but beats me, I guess.

What is also surprising to me is the apparent willingness of both of these parties to involve their respective lawyers. I guess that it makes sense from Dr. Orr's perspective - it is the foundation of her career. But why is UT fighting this so hard? Why attempt revocation for a second time? 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"How much did you make in your last position?"

I had been meaning to blog about this Wall Street Journal article*, but the ever-productive H1b skeptic Norm Matloff beat me to it. The article (by Lauren Weber) is quite a sad one: 
After more than 20 years as an electronics engineer, Pete Edwards reached the low six-figure pay level. Now, as he looks for a job following a layoff, he finds that salary success a burden. 
Although his experience includes the sought-after field of 3-D printing, the 53-year-old hasn’t been able to land a permanent full-time job. Time and again, he says, employers seem to lose interest after he answers a question that they ask early on: “What was your last salary?” 
That question comes up sooner than ever nowadays. Hiring managers used to broach salary history or requirements only in later stages, after applicants had a chance to make an impression and state their case. 
Today, pay increasingly is mentioned early in the process, either as a required field in online applications—which are used more often—or during initial interviews, say recruiters, compensation consultants and job seekers. 
The shift is vexing applicants, mostly those of a certain age and pay level, who are concerned that a salary they worked to attain now gets in the way of having a job at all. “I’m unemployable now as a result of getting to the top of the tree,” Mr. Edwards lamented....
Until people like this man are hired, you'll have a difficult time convincing me there's a STEM worker shortage.

(And like we've talked about many times before on this blog, the question "what was your last salary" is an invitation for a non-answer or a lie from HR. I wish they knew that.)

Having problems with the WSJ paywall? Search on Google for the title of the article ("High Salaries Haunt Some Job Hunters") and it will give you temporary access.

Daily Pump Trap: 2/11/16 edition

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

Melbourne, FL: Another one of these important-sounding AFTAC positions - this one for a "Lead Nuclear Measurements Scientist." 71,056.00 - 92,372.00 offered.

Opelika, AL: Pharmavite looking for a "manager of technical operations." (What do they do there, I wonder?)

Columbus, OH: Hexion looking for a B.S./M.S. adhesives chemist.

I hear Dharan is nice in the spring: Saudi Aramco looking for an engineering specialist. 15-20 years chemical engineering experience desired (yes, this is the typical ACS member for sure.)

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and show (respectively) "1000+", 471, 10,074, and 19 positions for the search term "chemist." LinkedIn shows 1916 positions for the job title "chemist", with 212 for "analytical chemist", 32 for "research chemist", 25 for "organic chemist", 29 for "medicinal chemist", and 3 for "synthetic chemist".

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bonus Process Wednesday: life tips from Neal Anderson

On page 19 of the second edition of "Practical Process Research and Development", a really smart comment:
"Don't trivialize the work of others, especially if you don't understand their job." 
A temptation that strikes even the best of us; an excellent reminder that it's unwise.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Daily Pump Trap: 2/9/16 edition

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

Cambridge, MA: Novartis, looking for a head of cheminformatics.

Des Moines, IA: Not every day you see an IP law position located in the Hawkeye State.

Dayton, OH: I would really like to know what this position is about:
UES is seeking a Chemical Biologist to lead the toxicology-high content analysis effort in support of USAFSAM at the Air Force Research Laboratory – Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH. The successful candidate will focus on automation and cell culture screening for toxicants and genetic/phenotypic markers as well as high-throughput analysis. Some of the primary functions of the role will include:
  • Development of cell culture screening system
  • Development of high-content analysis pipeline
  • Attending and presenting at lab meetings, conferences and workshops
  • Provide broad technical support to the HCA team
  • Write and publish manuscripts
PhD in Biology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Toxicology or related field of study. Must have experience developing and testing cell culture screening systems, including laboratory automation. Experience working with high content analysis systems is required. Must have excellent interpersonal communication and writing skills. 
USAFSAM is the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, which I did not know existed before today.

(Also, it's not clear to me why this position is posted as a chemical biologist.)

Rolla, MO: Brewer Science, posting a research associate II position.

Racine, WI: S.C. Johnson, looking for an mid-level formulator.

South San Francisco, CA: Genentech, looking for a computational postdoc.

Job posting: NMR facility manager, Texas Tech, Lubbock, TX

From the inbox, a position at Texas Tech:
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry seeks applications for an NMR Spectroscopy Facility Manager. A Ph.D. is required for this position, preferably in the area of organic, inorganic, or polymer chemistry with an emphasis in advanced NMR experimentation. Additional postdoctoral experience is strongly preferred. The manager will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operation of the facility, including: enabling advanced modern analyses, creating written operational protocols for standard 1D and 2D experiments, and providing technical expertise for writing multidisciplinary instrumentation and research grants. Excellent verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills are required. Experience with Varian software and instrumentation is also preferred. 
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 2/9/16 edition

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

"GUACIMO, LIMON":  Not every day you see an ad for a chemistry professor in Costa Rica.

Birmingham, AL: The Department of Radiology is looking for a postdoc for radiotracer synthesis; previous radiosynthesis experience desired, but not required.

Spokane, WA: "The Spokane-based Applied Sciences Laboratory (ASL) of the Institute for Shock Physics (ISP) at Washington State University is looking for a postdoctoral research associate to spectroscopically identify chemical decomposition products under extreme conditions." Sounds interesting. (Never quite figured out what they do there, but they routinely post on C&EN Jobs.)

Berea, KY: Berea College looking for a one-year visiting assistant professor to teach general chemistry and organic chemistry.

Decorah, IA: Luther College is searching for a visiting assistant professor in general and organic chemistry.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Job posting: research associate, Novartis, Emeryville, CA

From the inbox, a position in Emeryville, CA:
The Novartis Infectious Disease Medicinal Chemistry group is seeking a highly motivated scientific associate to join their team in Emeryville, CA to help perform innovative research in the preparation of novel organic molecules to aid in the discovery and development of new therapeutically relevant compounds.  We are looking for candidates with a BS + 3 years of industrial research experience or an MS in organic chemistry.  Must have a strong understanding of organic reactions and mechanism and relevant synthesis experience.  Industry experience a plus.
Apply here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Job posting: B.S./M.S. research associate, South San Francisco, CA

From the inbox:
This is an exciting opportunity for a B.S./M.S. synthetic organic chemist to participate in our innovative drug discovery program. The position is within the Genentech Small Molecule Drug Discovery Chemistry Department, located in our South San Francisco, CA research headquarters.  The position requires an individual with a strong work ethic that is highly motivated and excited to work in a collaborative environment. A successful candidate will be responsible for designing and synthesizing analogs for biological targets of interest.
Two positions available. Apply here; best wishes to those interested.  

Chemists and infertility

Also in this week's C&EN, a heart-rending read by Linda Wang about chemists who experience infertility: 
Still, the pressures of pursuing a scientific career lead many to choose to wait to start trying to have a family. “Richard,” who is in his early 30s and is a faculty member at a midwestern university, says he and his wife, who is a speech therapist, have been trying to have a baby since 2010. “We had both decided to postpone trying to have children until we were done with graduate school,” he says. 
Looking back, he wishes they would have started sooner. “Don’t take fertility for granted,” he says. “Putting off a family for the sake of a career has consequences that you may not be prepared for.” 
But for many chemists, particularly women, it remains taboo to have a baby during graduate school. “When you’re in graduate school, the implicit understanding is, ‘Thou shall not get pregnant,’ ” says “Rebecca,” who, with her husband, waited until they both had jobs before trying to have a baby. Their first child came relatively easily, but Rebecca was diagnosed with secondary infertility and was never able to have a second child. 
Some people simply don’t meet the right person until later in life. “I didn’t meet anybody that I wanted to get married to,” says “Betty,” who is now a chemistry professor at a large research university. “I worked all the time.” 
She got her first faculty appointment at age 34. “I was an assistant professor, and I still hadn’t met anybody. It gets really hard as an assistant professor to meet people because you’re working your butt off to try and get tenure.” She acknowledges that when she was 38, she seriously considered getting a sperm donor and having a baby alone. She also considered freezing her eggs, a procedure with no guarantees of success. 
At age 39, she finally did meet someone, and they got married. “I met him through the personal ads in the local newspaper, and he was widowed with two teenage children,” she says. “We got married four months after we met, and I got pregnant right away at 39 years old.” 
After the birth of their first child, they tried unsuccessfully to have a second one. “We tried artificial insemination for a year, and we did two or three rounds of that.” She then used a donor egg and got pregnant, but that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. 
A second miscarriage followed shortly after. “It was horrible,” she says. Her grief over the loss made it tough to focus on her teaching and research that semester, she says. “My students gave me really bad evaluations, and I didn’t feel comfortable talking to hardly anybody about it.” 
Betty estimates she and her husband spent around $40,000 out of pocket for two rounds of in vitro fertilization. “At that point, I was 47, and I just quit trying.”
This is a tough one to read, but it's a good article. The difficulty in talking about this sort of thing is quite understandable; would that we all had more workplaces where we could talk about it more openly.

Manager thinks chemists need to be flexible and are appropriately paid, news at 11

Also in this week's C&EN, some responses to Donna Nelson's presidential address about chemist employment issues. There's an interesting comment about chemical engineers and their salaries; it attempts to transfer some of the quantitative skills of engineers (without, of course, making comments about the relative supply of chemical engineers. (There were 34,000 in 2014, as opposed to 93,500 chemists.) And then there's this gem: 
Nelson is seeking to better understand the demand side of chemical employment, with fewer inquiries into the supply side. From my 37-year career view, most of it on the managerial side, I would suggest that the larger issue is actually on the supply side: the employability of chemists, which stems from their versatility, flexibility, and adaptability. These attributes are derived from both personal characteristics and educational experiences. And the education part is strongly influenced by those same personal characteristics. 
I found early on that chemists were about the most employable specialists in our economy. They weren’t the highest paid, but they had the widest range of possible employment situations, shared with few others. To me, the rate-limiting step in employability comes from the attributes previously mentioned. Anything that enhances those attributes in the selection and training of chemists will transcend any specifics regarding how the job landscape is changing. 
I don’t think that spending a lot of time and effort on the other factors described in Nelson’s article will be anywhere near as productive as the issues mentioned previously. Instead, I suggest that she and her study group focus on the unique qualities that are presented by individuals trained in chemical science and engineering and how that contributes to their employability in a continuously changing marketplace. In short, it’s how readily employees can adapt to changing conditions around them that determines their long-term value to their employers, particularly in an environment with a continuously increasing change rate. 
To begin, one might refer to the academic studies conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management under professor Edward Roberts (I’m most familiar with his group’s work), plus similar work at Northwestern University and others. They collectively published quite a bit about the versatility, flexibility, and adaptability issues, which led chemists to be employable well beyond conventional chemical research, development, and production positions. That describes the capability of a group of people, which allows them to adapt to whatever specifics that may appear in the future. 
Lou Floyd
Independence, Ohio
You peons never mind about what us managers are up to, just make sure to brush up on your transferrable skills!

The inability of some managerial types to express any sort of empathy or have some level of emotional intelligence about their employees is on full display in that letter. There's not a hint of data, or an attempt to grapple with the negative-trending statistics about chemist employment or wage stagnation. 

This week's C&EN

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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

10 microliter pipette tips

Small, useful things (links):
Readers, an open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring you millions thousands hundreds tens of dollars joy and happiness. Send me a link to your post, and I'd be happy to put it up.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Red flag? I don't see no red flag

I challenge UC's call. Credit: PFT
You may have heard about this New York Times story by Amy Harmon about Jason Lieb, the University of Chicago molecular biology professor who resigned after the university administration made conclusions about his behavior at an off-campus retreat (this is a longer post, so the rest is after the jump.) 
...The professor, Jason Lieb, 43, made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students at an off-campus retreat of the molecular biosciences division, according to a university investigation letter obtained by The New York Times, and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent.” 
Dr. Lieb, who has received millions of dollars in federal grants over the last decade, did not respond to requests for comment.
“In light of the severity and pervasiveness of Professor Lieb’s conduct, and the broad, negative impact the conduct has had on the educational and work environment of students, faculty and staff, I recommend that the university terminate Professor Lieb’s academic appointment,” reads the letter, signed by Sarah Wake, assistant provost and director of the office for equal opportunity programs. 
Dr. Lieb stepped down last month before any action was taken....

Job posting: experienced process chemist, Gilead, Foster City, CA

From the inbox, a position at Gilead in Foster City*:
Specific Responsibilities and skills for Position: 
LEAD and COORDINATE - chemistry project teams.
  • Identify process improvements.
  • Devise novel solutions and strategies to complex synthetic problems and implement in the lab and Pilot Plant.
  • Deliver high quality API requirements on time.
  • Prepare timely documentation (batch records, reports, development reports, etc).
  • Provide technical, problem solving, and scientific leadership.
  • Preparation of documents for regulatory submission (e.g. IND filing / update, NDA filing etc.)
  • Proven track record of significant accomplishment in Process Development
Knowledge, Experience and Skills: 
  • 7+ years of experience and PhD in a relevant scientific discipline.
  • BS or MS degree with extensive industry experience. 
Apply to the opening here. Best wishes to those interested. 

*Hey, Gilead readers: what's it like to live in Foster City? Do you actually live there? or where do you live?