Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Update on the University of Hawaii explosion

On March 16, 2016, Dr. Thea Ekins-Coward was working in the laboratory of Dr. Jian Yu at the University of Hawaii on a biofuels project with a high-pressure hydrogen/oxygen mix. Because the mixture was in an inappropriate tank and the system was not grounded, the tank exploded and Dr. Ekins-Coward was severely injured. Here is the longer C&EN article about the investigative report about the incident. Via KHON (a Honolulu TV station, article by Manolo Morales), an update on the University of Hawaii Manoa hydrogen explosion:  
...In March 2016, a powerful explosion inside a laboratory rocked a building at the UH Manoa campus. HFD determined that a wrong pressure gauge was used, which caused a spark that led to the explosion. 
Ekins-Coward, a postdoctoral fellow was in that lab and lost part of her right arm. Her attorney says she has since moved back home to England and has struggled with getting her life back. 
“She still is very traumatized by the event, it distresses her to speak about it still and she still can’t do a lot of things,” said attorney Claire Choo. Things that most people take for granted. “Even eating a steak, cutting a steak, she can’t do it. Someone has to cut up her food for her so that takes a toll,” said Choo. 
She adds that Ekins-Coward is still trying to find the proper prosthetic. In the meantime, there’s the legal fight against UH which says that she was an employee at the time of the explosion. So she’s only entitled to workers compensation benefits, and cannot sue the university. “We think that the amount that she would be given at workers compensation is not sufficient to cover the pain and suffering and the injuries, and the injury to her career that she suffered through because of this incident,” said Choo. She says Ekins-Coward was never an employee and that UH made that clear when she was invited by UH to do her research. “They told her specifically that she was not an employee and she didn’t get the benefits of being an employee,” said Choo. 
She says UH then said it has an internal policy that considers researchers like Ekins-Coward as employees only to get workers compensation benefits. She is challenging this with the labor board. “So our position is she was not an employee. They made it very clear that she was never an employee, and that you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” said Choo. 
A hearing with the labor board is scheduled in December. Choo says it will likely take years before the issue is resolved because of appeals. UH says it is unable to comment on pending litigation.
It sounds like the case has not advanced much further than where it was in September 2018. Another reminder for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to not become Schrödinger's employee, and determine their status in terms of worker's compensation, benefits and the like. (Short answer: whatever status benefits the university? That's your status.) 

Warning Letter of the Week: inadvertent scrap yard edition

In a missive from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the Managing Director of Strides Pharma Science Limited in Bangalore, India: 
1.  Your firm failed to establish an adequate quality control unit with the responsibility and authority to approve or reject all components, drug product containers, closures, in-process materials, packaging materials, labeling, and drug products (21 CFR 211.22(a)). 
Your quality unit (QU) lacks appropriate responsibility and control over your drug manufacturing operations. 
During the inspection, our investigator observed discarded CGMP documents and evidence of uncontrolled shredding of documents. For example, multiple bags of uncontrolled CGMP documents with color coding indicating they were from drug production, quality, and laboratory operations were awaiting shredding. Our investigator also found a blue binder containing CGMP records, including batch records for U.S. drug products, discarded with other records in a 55-gallon drum in your scrap yard. CGMP documents in the binder were dated as recently as January 21, 2019: seven days before our inspection. Your QU did not review or check these documents prior to disposal. 
...The uncontrolled destruction of CGMP records, and your lack of adequate documentation practices, raise questions about the effectiveness of your QU and the integrity and accuracy of your CGMP records. 
In your response you state the binder of CGMP documents in your scrap yard was “inadvertently come [sic] to scrap yard” and that you were investigating the issue....
You hate it when controlled documents end up in a 55-gallon drum in a scrap yard... 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 38 positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 38 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On July 17, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 30 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Major budget cuts hit University of Alaska system

Also in this week's C&EN, a brief article about the cuts to the University of Alaska system, with an update from the perspective of UA-Fairbanks' department chair (by Andrea Widener):
The chemistry department at the school’s main campus in Fairbanks expects to be hit by the cuts, says department chair Thomas Green, but they don’t know exactly the impact yet. “This is all thrown at us all at once,” he tells C&EN from a rural Alaska beach where he is trying to keep up with the news while on vacation. “We are sort of in limbo now.”  
Before the failed override attempt, the university had already implemented a hiring and travel freeze and sent furlough notices to staff. Now they are waiting for a more detailed plan. “Of course everybody is worried,” Green says. The Fairbanks chemistry department includes 13 faculty and multiple staff, including a safety officer, stock room manager, NMR lab manager, and part-time administrative assistant. Green also doesn’t know what might happen to funding for the school’s 35 graduate students, about 15–17 of whom are supported through teaching assistantships each year. The university’s Board of Regents will meet July 15 to plan next steps.
Best wishes to all affected. 

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles from this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Friday, July 12, 2019

Chemical Activity Barometer Is Flat In June

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2019) – The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), was flat (0.0 percent change) in June on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis, following three monthly gains. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer is up 0.3 percent (3MMA). 
The unadjusted measure of the CAB retreated 0.2 percent in June and fell 0.3 percent in May. 
The diffusion index rose to 65 percent in June. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for May was revised downward by 0.38 points and that for April by 0.22 points. 
“The slowing economy and rising trade tensions have weighed on business confidence and investment, resulting in mixed manufacturing activity,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “In summary, the CAB reading continues to signal gains in U.S. commercial and industrial activity through late 2019, but at a moderated pace.” 
The CAB has four main components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators...
This isn't the greatest news, and of a piece with recent economic news that led the Fed to signal that it will be cutting rates soon.

A couple of crazy questions from a milquetoast economic doomsayer:
  • 2019 is turning out to be a seemingly decent economic year, as measured by GDP. Does anyone expect 2020 to carry this along? 
  • When will the next recession be? I got a dollar that the next recession (casually) two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth) will happen in the next 2 years. 
  • What is the American Chemical Society doing to prepare its members for that next recession? 
Here's hoping that 2020 will be a decent economic year, especially for those looking for jobs this coming fall and spring...

(For those students/postdocs who will be forwarded this post, in general, I'm pessimistic on the economy. Watch the trends, not the data points.)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 24 positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 24 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On July 10, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 18 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread.

Faculty position: assistant professor of biochemistry, The College of New Jersey, Ewing Township, New Jersey

Tenure-Track Chemistry / Biochemistry Faculty Position  
The College of New Jersey 
The Department of Chemistry at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) invites outstanding applicants for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in biochemistry, broadly defined, to join our community starting August 2020. 
TCNJ has a strong commitment to inclusive excellence and to supporting a healthy work-life balance for our faculty of teacher-scholars. TCNJ has been recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education on its honor roll of “Great Colleges to Work For.” 
For this position, we seek a broadly trained scientist who has the potential to establish a highly visible undergraduate research program and who will be passionate about teaching chemistry at all levels of the curriculum in a primarily undergraduate, residential, liberal arts-centered institution. We are especially interested in candidates whose research and pedagogy will connect and integrate chemistry with other disciplines and who have the potential to collaboratively contribute to interdisciplinary curricular and scholarly efforts within the School of Science and at the College. The successful candidate will also display dedication to inclusive excellence in STEM and higher education.... 
...Applications are due by October 1, 2019. Late submissions will be considered if a suitable candidate pool is not identified by the deadline. Final offer of employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background investigation.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Against food for your committee members in graduate school

Via Jen Heemstra on Twitter, this article from Science by Kate Bredbenner: 
I never thought I would spend so much of my time and money setting up still-life worthy displays of flaky croissants and shiny fruit for people who are judging my science, and that of my colleagues. Yet that’s the expectation: At my university, and many others, students bring food to our thesis committee meetings and defenses, adding to the already sky-high pressure. My first taste of it came 5 years ago, for my first committee meeting. I prepared furiously. I meticulously proofread my written proposal and aligned all the figures. My slides all used the same font. I had even prepared some extra slides to address possible questions my judges might ask. Even so, I was sure the meeting was doomed—because I didn’t know how to make coffee.
I believe I've heard of this tradition, but it wasn't a tradition where I went to graduate school and I'm really happy about that. Let's be clear - I'm not talking about providing food for a celebration after passing, we're talking about bringing food to a meeting where people will be judging your work product.

It is absolutely absurd that schools would allow this tradition. Yes, it would be smart not to have irritated committee members by scheduling a long meeting right before lunch (or maybe it is! -ed.) Perhaps it would be even better to provide a warm drink for your committee members! Students shouldn't be pressured into spending their time providing snacks for their committee.

In the discussion on Twitter, it sounds like a number of graduate schools actively or passively discourage this practice. I think that's the right approach. Readers, tell me why I'm wrong. 

Job posting: associate scientist, Protomer Technologies, Pasadena, CA

From the inbox, a position in Pasadena:
Associate Scientist, Peptide Chemistry 
Multiple Openings for MS, PhD, Postdocs
Protomer Technologies is an exciting biotechnology company based in Pasadena, California, which is engineering next-generation protein therapeutics. Protomer was founded by Caltech faculty and alumni, and has active collaborations with Caltech faculty.... 
As an Associate Scientist in Peptide Chemistry, you will lead efforts requiring design, execution, and management of chemical synthesis projects. Candidates with a doctoral degree in a related field are preferred, but all exceptional candidates will be considered at all levels. You must have the requisite experience to make technical insights in chemical library design, peptide synthesis, and chemical modification of peptides, and you will be encouraged to push the boundaries of these fields.... 
Minimum qualifications:
  • Advanced degree in chemistry or chemical engineering (or equivalent practical experience.)
  • 5 years of wet lab experience in chemistry, biochemistry, or chemical engineering or graduate level/post doc
  • 2 years+ of experience with peptide synthesis or other related chemical synthesis experience or experience with small molecule synthesis, SAR, or medicinal chemistry 
Preferred qualifications:
  • PhD degree in chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, or related field with strong publication record.
  • 2 years+ of relevant research experience in bio-conjugation, protein modification or protein engineering. 
  • Experience with mass spectrometry sequencing is a plus.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Independence Day



It's Independence Day in the United States, which is a national holiday. We'll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Warning Letter of the Week: short attention span edition

In a note to the Managing Director of Aurobindo, this amusing comment from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (emphasis mine):
1.  Changes to methods or controls were not reported to FDA through a supplement to an approved [redacted]. (21 CFR 314.97(a) and 314.70(c)(6)(i)) 
...Investigators observed, in your [redacted] API, non-carcinogenic impurities of [redacted] and [redacted] at levels up to [redacted]% and [redacted]%, respectively, in residual solvent testing for [redacted] API batches. These impurities are present in drug substances at levels exceeding the [redacted] USP specification limit for Any other individual impurity (i.e. NMT [redacted]%). These impurity levels are also above the ICH Q3A(R2) reporting threshold for drug substance impurities. 
Your Quality Unit failed to report to FDA these impurities, which were also above your internal reporting threshold limit of no more than [redacted]%. You updated the information in your Drug Master File (DMF) only after FDA investigators communicated during the inspection that you should be reporting all observed impurities above the reporting threshold.  
In your response, you explained a “scheduled regulatory update skipped our attention.” In addition, you stated you would undertake an additional CAPA for controls of residual solvents. Your response is inadequate, as you did not commit to conduct a full review of all impurities observed in all your APIs above the reporting threshold and ensure that your DMFs and [redacted] are updated accordingly...
I hate it when things skip my attention. 

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles from this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 17 positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 17 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On July 3, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 12 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, July 1, 2019

BREAKING: Alonzo Yanes awarded $59 million by jury

A Manhattan jury on Monday awarded nearly $60 million in damages to a former Beacon High School student who was badly burned in a botched chemistry experiment five years ago. 
After a nearly three-week trial, the six-person jury panel — made up of three men and three women — agreed with Alonzo Yanes that the city and teacher Anna Poole’s negligence led to the Jan. 2, 2014, fire that scorched the then-16-year-old 10th-grader. 
Poole — who testified as a defense witness and attended the entire trial — had been conducting the “Rainbow Experiment” using highly volatile methanol to ignite four different salts to show the various flame-colors each displayed.
From the New York Daily News (by Stephen Rex Brown):
A Manhattan jury awarded $59 million Monday to a student disfigured by a botched chemistry demonstration that set him on fire in the classroom at a prestigious Manhattan high school... 
...Half of the award was for past pain and suffering, the other half for the mental and physical pain that Yanes feared will define the rest of his life.
Well, now we have a number for this, although I imagine that the lawyers of the New York City Department of Education will be working towards appeals and reducing the jury award.

Alonzo Yanes' lawyer: my client deserves $70 million

The lawyer for the Beacon High School teen who was badly burned in a botched chemistry experiment asked a jury to award his client more than $70 million in damages for past and future pain. Ben Rubinowitz asked for the stunning figure for Alonzo Yanes, now 21, who was disfigured after a fireball erupted while his teacher Anna Poole was conducting the “Rainbow Experiment” Jan. 2, 2014. 
“No matter what an award in a case like this is they [Yanes’ parents] would return it in a heartbeat if they could return their son to the way he was. But I can’t do that,” Rubinowitz said. Rubinowitz asked jurors to award Yanes the amount just for his past pain and suffering alone and didn’t suggest an amount for his future suffering but asked them to consider that his life expectancy is another 53.8 years.... 
...Earlier Thursday, lawyer Mark Mixson — who is representing the city and Poole — told jurors that Yanes should be awarded just $5 million for past and future suffering.
Jurors began deliberations Thursday afternoon and will resume again Friday.
Will be interesting to see if a verdict is reached by Wednesday afternoon. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 13 positions

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 13 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On June 26, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 9 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Alonzo Yanes, on the stand

Sad testimony from the victim of the 2014 Beacon School "rainbow demonstration" incident:
The Beacon High School student who was horrifically burned in a class chemistry experiment gone awry in 2014 testified Friday that he takes off his glasses to avoid seeing strangers’ stares. 
“I tried not to look at people directly in the eye. I took my glasses off. Then I can’t really see details far away,” Alonzo Yanes, now 21, said during his second day on the witness stand in his Manhattan Supreme Court civil suit trial. 
“This made it easier for me. Then I’m not really focused on peoples’ faces,” Yanes, who now bears scars on his face, neck, arms, hands and legs, continued as his glasses sat folded in front of him in the courtroom. “The world wasn’t very accepting of the way that I physically looked.”
Yanes — who was 16-years-old when a fireball engulfed him after his teacher Anna Poole performed a botched “Rainbow Experiment” — recalled his friends and sister’s shocked looks when they first visited him in the hospital...
Maybe we could stop doing the rainbow demonstration? 

Friday, June 21, 2019

View From My Hood?: Huangpu view edition

Shanghai, China
(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption and preference for name/anonymity, please) at chemjobber@gmail.com; will run every other Friday.)

Interesting new program for chemists who have 'taken a break' from the lab

This was an interesting posting from Johnson and Johnson:
Did you take a break from the professional world to pursue other priorities? Do you want to generate innovative solutions to synthetic and medicinal chemistry challenges within the context of small molecule drug discovery projects? If you are an experienced, medicinal chemist with excellent organic synthesis expertise with a break of two or more years, this “Re-Ignite Career Program is for you. 
This four (4) month paid internship as part of our Re-Ignite Career Program will refresh your technical skills while you work with a market leader in healthcare. In addition to key job responsibilities, we provide technical training, professional development, and peer mentoring with full access to the R&D chemistry community at Janssen and the possibility of becoming a full-time employee after completion of the program with the most dynamic health care organization in the world, Johnson & Johnson. Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C., a division of Johnson & Johnson's Family of Companies is recruiting Associate Scientists, Discovery Chemistry, for our site in San Diego, CA.
Qualifications
  • A current career break from chemistry of two or more years, required
  • A Bachelor’s Degree with 2 or more years of synthetic organic or medicinal chemistry industry experience is required.
~ OR ~
  • A current career break from chemistry of two or more years, required
  • A Master’s Degree in synthetic organic or medicinal chemistry with significant synthetic experience is required
  • Strong track record of achievement in organic synthesis, with a deep knowledge of modern synthetic, analytical techniques is preferred.
  • Proven track record of scientific contributions including peer reviewed publications, patents and presentations is preferred.
  • Independent thinking and the ability to effectively collaborate in a highly matrixed environment is required.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including preparation of presentations is required.
  • This position is based in our company location in San Diego, CA.
If this is what it says it is, it seems like a pretty great idea to bring folks back into the lab who may otherwise have a somewhat difficult time with such an aspiration. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Warning Letter of the Week: casual batch record edition

Via an epistle from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the Plant Manager of Vida International, Inc. in Taipei City, Taiwan:
The batch production record for lot [redacted] of [redacted] is deficient because it does not represent the formula and ingredients that the product purports on its label. Specifically, the batch record does not list all inactive ingredients included on the product label. The batch record also lacked the actual amounts of each active and inactive ingredient used during manufacturing, a calculation of theoretical or actual yields, documentation of the equipment used, and critical manufacturing parameters such as [redacted] speeds and [redacted] times.
Eh, just throw the stuff in there, let it stir around for a while, take it out. 

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 9 positions

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 9 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On June 19, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 8 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread. 

Job posting: Assistant Professor of Chemistry (1 Year), Utica College, Utica, NY

From the inbox: 
Assistant Professor of Chemistry (1 Year) 
The Department of Chemistry at Utica College invites applications for a one-year, non-tenure track faculty position beginning August 1, 2019. The successful candidate will teach courses in our General Chemistry sequence and our Liberal Arts Chemistry courses. While most sections will be in our General Chemistry sequence, there will be an opportunity to teach upper level courses in the area of the candidates’ expertise, such as biochemistry, analytical chemistry, or inorganic chemistry. Research projects involving undergraduates would be supported. Applicants must have a Ph.D. Experience teaching college level chemistry courses preferred; area of expertise might include biochemistry, analytical or inorganic. Will consider ABD.
Full listing here. Best wishes to those interested.  

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Civil trial of NYC teacher whose rainbow demonstration burned student underway

Via the New York Post's Priscilla DeGregory and Laura Italiano, this update from the lawsuit brought by Alonzo Yanes: 
All she remembers is her victim’s screams. 
In a deposition read aloud at the civil trial against Beacon High School chemistry teacher Anna Poole, she describes the moment a lab demo caused a fireball that engulfed 10th-grader Alonzo Yanes, who is now seeking $27 million in damages. 
“I remember looking up and seeing him rolling on the floor and I remember him screaming,” she said in a 2017 deposition, for which she was under questioning by Yanes’ lawyers. 
The reading of Poole’s deposition in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday is the first public airing of her account of the accident that left Yanes permanently disfigured.
But while the now-21-year-old will never forget that 2013 afternoon in Room 317 of the prestigious Upper West Side school, Poole herself said she has little memory of it. 
Yanes has lost his sense of touch, is permanently disfigured in his face, torso and hands, and has been too afraid of his looks to make friends or start an intimate relationship, his lawyer said during opening statements on Monday. 
Yanes is seeking damages from Poole and the city.
$27 million dollar lawsuit - that's pretty steep!  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Bad news from the agrochemical sector

Chemical suppliers to the US agricultural sector are blaming bad weather in the Corn Belt for a difficult year so far. Warnings about lackluster sales for the first half are piling up from firms such as Novozymes, DuPont, and Corteva Agriscience. 
A cold and snowy winter, followed by a rainy and cool spring, has caused flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota. 
Novozymes says it experienced a 2% sales decline during the first 5 months of the year. Nearly 20% of the company’s annual sales come from supplying products such as yeast and amylases to the ethanol industry. “Severe weather in the US Midwest are [sic] impacting grain-processing volumes and challenging the planting season,” the Danish company says. “The recovery of our US Bioenergy business has not progressed as expected, and demand in some emerging markets is soft.” Similarly, last month DuPont said it would take a charge of between $800 million and $1.3 billion. The company blamed slow demand in its biomaterials segment as well as “challenging conditions in U.S. bioethanol markets.” 
Farmers are indeed off to a slow start. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s June 10 Crop Progress report, only 83% of the available corn acreage across 18 states had been planted as of June 9, versus 99% last year. Additionally, only 59% of the planted corn is rated in good or excellent condition, versus 77% a year ago...
It will be interesting to see the second-order effects - does less revenue mean fewer chemists hired in Corteva R&D? Here's hoping that food prices don't go up too much...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

No hydrogen in the Bay Area due to transport concerns?

A recent chemical plant explosion at an Air Products and Chemical, Inc. facility in Santa Clara County has grounded fuel cell vehicles to a halt in the Bay Area. While there were thankfully no injuries, Air Products, a hydrogen supplier, told ABC7 News that as a precaution, it has pulled all hydrogen supply vehicles off the roads to perform an inspection to ensure the safety of these vehicles. 
The chemical plant explosion, which occurred on Saturday, June 1, reportedly shook buildings for miles in the San Francisco Bay Area, leaving many residents believing at first that they were experiencing an earthquake. 
It took fire crews over an hour to put out the blaze. According to preliminary investigation findings, the explosion occurred as a tanker truck was being filled with hydrogen. However, the official cause of the blast has yet to be confirmed. 
That being said, the explosion has left drivers of fuel cell vehicles unable to refuel their cars and so far Air Products does not know when service will resume....
I wonder what specifically downchecked the hydrogen trucks?  

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 5 positions

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 5 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

On June 12, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 4 positions.

Here's the link to the latest open thread. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Job loss with workers over 50 and long-term effects on earning power

I am not so naive to believe that age discrimination does not exist, either in overt or sub rosa forms. This New York Times article (by Patricia Cohen) offers some rather terrifying statistics (as well as some sad personal stories and comments on the difficulty with holding corporations accountable for their potentially discriminatory practices.)
...Workers over 50 — about 54 million Americans — are now facing much more precarious financial circumstances, a legacy of the recession. More than half of workers over 50 lose longtime jobs before they are ready to retire, according to a recent analysis by the Urban Institute and ProPublica. Of those, nine out of 10 never recover their previous earning power. Some are able to find only piecemeal or gig work. 
“If you lose your job at an older age, it’s really hard to get a new one,” said Richard Johnson, an Urban Institute economist who worked on the analysis....
This seems to me to be an issue that is worth exploring in the chemical industry. Is there age discrimination in either the pharma or the chemical industries? (My answer: of course.) This seems to me to be an issue that would be well-suited for both exploration and comment by the American Chemical Society, especially since the median age of members is north of 45...

Waters field sales positions, East Coast

From the inbox, four sales positions with Waters:
Chemistry Account Manager, Milford, MA (New Jersey)
Chemistry Account Manager, Milford, MA (NE US)
Field Sales Account Manager (Connecticut)
Field Sales Account Manager (Cambridge)
Best wishes to those interested. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

View From Your Hood: Midwest silo edition

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption and preference for name/anonymity, please) at chemjobber@gmail.com; will run every other Friday.)

Job posting: associate scientist, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University seeks an Associate Scientist to be part of its Chemical Instrumentation Facility with a main specialty in spectrophotometry, thermal analysis, and/or related mass spectrometry techniques.  
The Associate Scientist will be responsible for oversight, training, and maintenance for a variety of instrumentation (e.g., UV-Vis, FT-IR, polarimetry, TGA, DSC, ITC, combustion elemental analysis, and mass spectrometry instrumentation). The scientist will work with other scientists as part of a team running a large facility serving the entire university; the facility also includes NMR, X-ray, and mass spectrometry instrumentation. This position will be responsible for the training and indirect supervision of the research activities of graduate students, and collaboration on new methodologies and research projects when appropriate. The Associate Scientist will be involved in preparation of grant proposals, preparation of annual reports for funding agencies and internal purposes, evaluation and acquisition of new instrumentation, development of training materials, and development and implementation of outreach programs. 
The successful candidate will have excellent technical skills in at least one area noted and will be willing to learn new techniques and instrumentation. The successful candidate should have interest in or experience with maintaining websites and graphical or video editing software. Excellent communication and collaboration skills are required for working with faculty, graduate students, and instrument companies. Excellent writing skills are required for crafting training materials and grant proposals. 
Required Education and Experience: Master’s degree and 5 years of related experience; OR a Ph.D. or other professional degree and 2 years of related experience.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 332 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list (curated by Joel Walker and myself) has 332 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

22 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 7 new positions for June 5 and 15 new positions for May 29.

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 25 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 25 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 300 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 300 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

I love a happy story

Also from this week's C&EN, the story of a first scale-up attempt: 
The article on continuous processing (C&EN, April 29, page 28) recalls my first experience with the concept. It was in 1988, shortly after I joined DuPont. We had a Grignard reagent to be reacted with an α-chloroketone to make a chlorohydrin intermediate to DuP 860, an antifungal drug candidate. The addition generated so much heat, on scale it couldn’t be kept at the temperature range required for stability over a reasonable reaction period. Instead we fried our first attempt and had to work day and night in the lab running 12 L reactors to make the amount required. 
My engineer, Mark Lauritsen, considered our resources at our pilot plant at Chambers Works in New Jersey and asked me for a 4 L jacketed glass reactor. We set up a continuous process in the midst of a bay with two large feed tanks (Grignard reagent and α-chloroketone) leading into the glass reactor and an overflow line leading out to a 100 gal (378.5 L) quench tank. The tiny glass reactor, dwarfed by the other fixed vessels in the bay, seemed so out of place. But once it started up, the continuous process worked perfectly and we made our delivery! Such a logical and simple solution, and my first experience with continuous processing. 
Jaan Pesti
Yardley, Pennsylvania
That's one of the cool things about flow, i.e. the reaction vessel doesn't have to be very big at all to do a big job.  

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles from this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The 2020 Faculty Jobs List: 4 positions and first open thread

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 4 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor."

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List finished with 587 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? This will serve as the open thread.

Job posting: visiting assistant professor, The College of New Jersey, Ewing Township, NJ

From the inbox, a position at TCNJ:
The Department of Chemistry at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) invites applications for a 10-month, non-tenure-track Visiting Assistant Professor position starting August 2019. 
TCNJ has a strong commitment to inclusive excellence in our community and to supporting a healthy work-life balance for our faculty.  TCNJ has been recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education on its honor roll of “Great Colleges to Work For.” 
We are seeking broadly trained applicants from all areas of Chemistry, who are strongly committed to high quality teaching and deep student engagement in a primarily undergraduate, residential, liberal arts-centered institution. The successful candidate should be able to teach General Chemistry and/or Organic Chemistry courses. 
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, June 3, 2019

"Chemists are hypersensitive to the phrase 'toxic chemical'"

Via random Googling, an interesting letter to the editor in the Champaign News-Gazette from an unnamed University of Illinois chemistry professor: 
"Chemists are hypersensitive to the phrase 'toxic chemical.' Anything in excess is toxic (people can drown in water). So when I saw 'toxic halon gas' in your column, I was taken aback. Yes, Wikipedia says 'toxic,' but let's be a little more subtle here.  
The reason halons were chosen as fire extinguishers is not only because they work well but also because they are quite unreactive. Halocarbons are used for synthetic blood and for cardiac imaging contrast agents (a use to which they have been put for yours — truly three times in the last six months, and I still seem to be here). So saying 'halons are toxic' is about as enlightening as saying 'music is loud.' Well, some music is loud. Sometimes that loudness is intentional, and sometimes it's a side-effect of turning the volume control the wrong way.  
Same thing with halons. On an acute basis, they are utterly innocuous. Some halohydrocarbons are carcinogenic (in fact, Mike Plewa at the UI has shown that some halohydrocarbons that are the byproduct of chlorinating water are some of the strongest carcinogens known. But if we don't kill bacteria in our water, there are nasty acute diseases we'd get that also killed people worldwide until chlorination became common in the 20th century. If you want to live 'til next week, chlorination is good. If you want to live 250 years, it may not be).  
The ways that halons suppress fire are, first, by displacing oxygen and, secondly, by suppressing the chemical reactions active in fires. Some of the products of the latter activity are toxic, so I wouldn't want to hang around in the presence of both halon extinguisher and fire, but that's mainly because of the smoke and fumes, not because of the halon."
It'd be interesting to know which UIUC chemistry professor reads the News-Gazette.  

Friday, May 31, 2019

Got a career dilemma?

I'm always game for writing answer requests for advice in my column at Chemical and Engineering News. Please feel free to write me (chemjobber@gmail.com) if you have a career-oriented dilemma that you'd like me to write about in the magazine. Also, you can submit your questions with this handy web form. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Warning Letter of the Week: no confusion edition

1. Your firm failed to ensure that laboratory records included complete data derived from all tests necessary to ensure compliance with established specifications and standards (21 CFR 211.194(a)). 
On October 24, 2018, our investigator observed torn documents of stability study data, analytical testing sheets, analysis calculations, and release forms that were placed into clear trash bags. Stability study documents for three batches of [redacted] mg tablets were salvaged from the trash and compared to the official and approved records. Out-of-specification (OOS) results were among the data found, however the official results were recorded as within specification. Additionally, it was observed that blank stability study forms were prepared, pre-signed, and approved by the quality unit before recording the test data. 
In your response, you acknowledged the multiple trash bags containing torn quality control documents and the practice of signing documents before recording the data. You stated the torn documents were from scale-up batches in which you tore the documents so as “not to create confusion in the mind of the investigator.” Your response was inadequate because you did not explain the discrepancies between the torn documents with OOS values and the documents retained by the quality control laboratory that included passing values. Additionally, you did not complete a retrospective evaluation of all potentially affected quality-related records to determine the scope of data integrity practices, including, but not limited to, the signing of blank documents before performing laboratory tests.
That. Is. Amazing. Unreal. 

This week's C&EN

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 586 positions

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 586 positions. This post will be the final post of the 2018-2019 year.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

On May 29, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 550 positions.

Interested in how this is tracking overall? Check out these sweet graphics done by Andrew Spaeth.

Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

2018-19 Chemistry Bumper Cars is at Marshall Brennan's site.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day; back tomorrow

Tahoma National Cemetery (Kent, WA)
credit: Jackie Flores Jose
Today is Memorial Day in the United States; it's a national holiday.

Back tomorrow.

Friday, May 24, 2019

View From Your Hood: cloudy skies edition

Credit: Anonymous
Via a longtime reader, a view from their hood.

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption and preference for name/anonymity, please) at chemjobber@gmail.com; will run every other Friday.)

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News

Got a career dilemma?

I'm always game for writing answer requests for advice in my column at Chemical and Engineering News. Please feel free to write me (chemjobber@gmail.com) if you have a career-oriented dilemma that you'd like me to write about in the magazine. Also, you can submit your questions with this handy web form. Thanks!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 332 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list (curated by Joel Walker and myself) has 332 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

43 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 18 new positions for May 22, 15 new positions for May 20 and 10 new positions for May 16.

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 25 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 25 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 300 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 300 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Chemjobber’s Conditions For Becoming Chemistry Jobs Czar

Spotted in a spam folder somewhere:

Chemjobber’s Conditions For Becoming Chemistry Jobs Czar
  1. Office in Midland, MI
  2. Walk-in privileges with the CEOs of Dow, DuPont, Pfizer, Merck and Novartis
  3. Full professor rank - at highest pay level for faculty
  4. Staff of 12 people (3 labor economists, 3 research analysts, 1 scheduler, 3 social media people, 1 beer assistant, 1 organizer of blue dress shirts) 
  5. CEOs of major chemistry employers sits down individually with Chemistry Jobs Czar and tells their HR people to follow the directive of the Chemistry Jobs Czar without delay, subject to doing anatomically impossible things in cases of disagreement
  6. 24/7 access to either a private jet or a lifetime supply of Glenfiddich
  7. Ability to spend weekends in Bozeman, Montana with family on way from chemistry career fairs
  8. Security detail if deemed necessary after security review.
  9. Serve as the face of chemistry employment policy - the principal spokesman on television and social media
  10. Promise by November 1, 2019, Congress will ratify CJ Chemjobber to be Secretary of Labor, unless Chemjobber wishes to continue in Czar position

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 586 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 31 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 31 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, May 20, 2019

New York schools settle for over one million dollars for 2014 rainbow demonstration incident:

Well, this is a long time in coming. From the New York Daily News: 
Two students traumatized by a horrifically botched classroom science experiment in 2014 have received over $1 million from the city. Former Beacon High School student Julia Saltonstall received a $750,000 settlement. Her classmate Sara Salitan received $400,000, documents filed in Manhattan Supreme Court show. The deals were made official Monday, which was to be the first day of a trial over their injuries.
Saltonstall suffered burns on her forearms, including a third-degree burn on her right arm, when teacher Anna Poole screwed up the chemistry “rainbow experiment.” She’d since coped with emotional trauma. Salitan’s injuries were “purely emotional and psychological in nature, including post traumatic stress disorder and depression,” according to a recent filing in the case. Messages for Saltonstall and Salitan’s attorneys were not returned....
...The rainbow experiment was designed to show students how different mineral salts produce multicolored flames when burned. On Jan. 2, 2014 Poole poured methanol from a one-gallon bottle into hot Petri dishes containing nitrates that had been on fire only moments earlier. The chemical cocktail created a blazing ribbon that flew across the table where Poole’s students were gathered, engulfing Yanes.... 
...The Daily News exclusively reported last year that Poole had received a promotion and was now working in the Education Department’s central office providing instructions to other educators about science-teaching techniques. 
Poole could not be reached for comment.
Well, maybe after another 25 kids are hurt and another couple million dollars in settlements are paid out that we'll get some change.

Another reminder that the American Chemical Society's Committee on Chemical Safety specifically recommends teachers "that the “Rainbow” demonstration on open benches involving the use of flammable solvents such as methanol be discontinued immediately due to extreme risk of flash fires and flame jetting."

Friday, May 17, 2019

Got a career dilemma?

I'm always game for writing answer requests for advice in my column at Chemical and Engineering News. Please feel free to write me (chemjobber@gmail.com) if you have a career-oriented dilemma that you'd like me to write about in the magazine. Also, you can submit your questions with this handy web form. Thanks!

GC columns

A list of small, useful things (links): 
An open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring 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 good weekend!

Job posting: Scientist Urethane Catalysts, Huntsman Advanced Technology Center, The Woodlands, TX

From the inbox:
We are currently looking for a dynamic individual as a Scientist, Urethane Catalysts for our Performance Products organization at our Advanced Technology Center located in The Woodlands, Texas. 
This job exists to support our urethane catalyst business of our Performance Products Division.  Incumbents help develop and deploy new or modified products as well as troubleshooting issues that customers may have with existing products.  Assists the business to achieve these goals through laboratory experimentation, product/application development, customer trials, customer technical service support, and other activities....
What will be expected from you?
  • Conduct laboratory investigations in order to develop new products, application technologies and/or to provide technical service support which demonstrates the ability to effectively resolve a variety of moderately complex technical service or product development/modification challenges
  • All work must include well written concise reports which are completed on time and exhibit rigorous data analysis skills....
What are we looking for in the ideal candidate?
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, or Material Science is required.
  • 3+ years of relevant experience in a laboratory environment or
  • Demonstrated knowledge in isocyanates, polyols and related chemistry as well as a strong working knowledge of ridge and flexible polyurethane foam systems
  • Proven experience of formulating ridge and flexible polyurethanes foams...
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 332 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list (curated by Joel Walker and myself) has 332 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

26 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 26 new positions for May 12.

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 25 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 25 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 300 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 300 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"The Difference A Lab Coat Can Make"

Via a report in the Salt Lake Tribune (by Courtney Tanner) and help from Twitter, this rather alarming report from the Utah State Legislature about an incident at the University of Utah:
A University of Utah Incident Demonstrates The Difference a Lab Coat Can Make 
In February 2018, an incident in the University of Utah’s Chemistry Department led to chemical burns for two lab personnel. This incident involved air-reactive chemicals that combust when exposed to air, which was the hazard that led to the 2008 death of a UCLA researcher. In this incident, the researcher conducting the experiment and their spotter, who had a fire extinguisher, each received burns. Figure 1.2 shows the lab coat and burns resulting from the accident.  
In this case, the researcher was wearing a flame-resistant lab coat or more serious injury could have occurred. Unfortunately, we observed and OEHS has reported repeatedly that lab coats in general are not being worn consistently.  
Unlike the incident at UCLA, two major differences were observed in the University of Utah’s incident report. First, the researcher was wearing the flame-resistant blue lab coat shown in Figure 1.2. As the figure shows, the air-reactive chemical left burn marks in the material. However, an incident report noted that the clothing and skin beneath the coat were unaffected. The second major difference was that a spotter was present to extinguish the chemical. Neither of these safety precautions were present in the UCLA tragedy. 
After the Chemistry Department’s Safety Committee reviewed the incident, the following improvements to this specific lab group’s safety practices were identified.
  • Use Fire-Resistant Gloves: While the researcher’s nitrile gloves did not melt, second-degree burns were still incurred. Another research group in the Chemistry Department uses fire-resistant pilot gloves, which were recommended for future use when air-reactive chemicals are involved.
  • Build Larger Margins of Safety into Procedures: The fire resulted when the plunger of the 5 mL syringe came out while drawing 4.6 mL of the chemical. A proposal to fill syringes only to 60 percent of capacity when working with air-reactive chemicals was developed, a level significantly lower than 92 percent of syringe capacity that caused this incident. 
This is a good and regrettable reminder that it's hard to learn from our history, even incidents that were famous just ten years ago. I find it a little bit depressing that this incident happened, and that so much of it was predictable from the Sheri Sangji incident, i.e. the lesson from the incident that a syringe must be properly sized for the amount that it needs to withdraw was not followed in this case. 

However, there is cause for hope. If this had happened 10 years ago or 20 years ago, the student would not have been wearing a flame-resistant lab coat, and the researcher would have sustained far more life-threatening injuries. In addition, I suspect that the presence of a spotter with a fire extinguisher at the ready was also a procedure added post-Sangji. Little by little, I sincerely hope that academic chemistry's safety record is improving. 

(Questions that I don't have time right now: What the ##$$ is it going to take for us to get reports of serious incidents or near misses out of industry or academia on a regular basis? There should be some kind of central repository of these incidents that can be anonymized so that the community can learn.)

UPDATE 0515191700: Jyllian Kemsley reminds us about the Pistoia Alliance Chemical Safety Library.