Thursday, February 20, 2020

Job posting: PhD analytical chemist, FutureFuel, Batesville, AR

From the inbox:
PhD Level Analytical Chemist (Chromatography) 
FutureFuel Chemical Company, formerly Eastman Chemical Company in Batesville, is looking for a new member for its Chemical Technology Team.  The primary responsibilities of the position are to provide analytical services to support new business opportunities, chemical development projects, manufacturing process improvement, and production troubleshooting.  The qualified individual will develop new analytical methods, improve existing methods, ensure the accuracy, precision, and robustness of instruments/methods, and communicate routinely with manufacturing and other personnel. The expectations also include supporting the implementation of and compliance with laboratory quality systems/standards; ISO, BQ9000, and others.  The documentation of work in the form of internal technical reports will be a critical part of the job. 
Qualifications

  • PhD degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry, emphasis on analytical chemistry preferred
  • Strong understanding and comprehension of analytical chemistry
  • Working knowledge of  GC, LC, IC, and other chromatographic techniques
  • Preferably five or more years experience as a bench chemist in analytical chemistry

Entire ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

13 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 13 new positions for February 16.

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List: 10 positions

The Analytical Chemistry Jobs List has 10 positions; this is curated by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Want to help out? Fill out this form. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Paragraphs of the week: Brandon Taylor, "Working In Science Was A Brutal Education. That’s Why I Left."

This is a beautiful memoir/essay by Brandon Taylor, a novelist and a former graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: 
...Science was beautiful and it was wild and it was unknowable. Science was spending days and weeks on a single experiment with no way to know if it would work and no real way to tell if it had worked. Science was like trying to find your way to a dark forest only to realize that you had always been inside of the forest and that the forest is inside of another, greater, darker forest. Science was laughing with my labmates about television the night before, about the song of the summer, about tennis, about the unruly nature of mold growing on our plates, about cheap wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. Science was being taught to think. Taught to speak. Science was a finishing school. Science was a brutal education. Science made me ruthless. Science made me understand the vast beauty of the world. 
But science was also working 15 hours a day for weeks or months. Science was working weekends and holidays. Science was being called lazy for taking a break. Science was the beat of doubting silence after I answered a question put to me. Science was being told that racism was not racism. Science was being told that I was fortunate that I had running water while growing up and that I was actually privileged because there are some places that do not. Science was being told that I was mistaken for a waiter at a party because I had worn a black sweater. Science was being told that I had to work harder despite working my hardest. Science was being told that I talked too much...
I thought Brandon's essay rang true for so many reasons, and I enjoyed reading the whole thing. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 539 research/teaching positions and 65 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 539 research/teaching positions and 65 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On February 19, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 562 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth. The current one is the ninth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 18 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 18 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. 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, February 17, 2020

Job posting: BS/MS development chemist, Boron Specialties, Ambridge, PA

From the inbox:
Boron Specialties, LLC (located near Pittsburgh, PA) is seeking a Development Chemist.  We develop and manufacture chemicals for high-value applications in markets like electronics and advanced materials, and we often serve as a chemistry technology development partner for our customers.  We’re looking for a new colleague who will thrive in an agile environment, contributing to both process and product development and production chemistry across a number of scales under the direction of senior scientific staff.  We seek energetic, enthusiastic applicants excited about playing an integral role in the growth of a small company.  
Requirements: 
  1. MS in chemistry with 3 years relevant synthetic chemistry experience or BS in chemistry with 5 years relevant synthetic chemistry experience.
  2. Willing and able to participate in a robust safety and regulatory compliance culture
  3. Experience with highly reactive, air-sensitive, and toxic materials, and an ability to safely manipulate materials under air-free conditions.
  4. Experience in multi-step chemical synthesis.
  5. Familiarity with multinuclear NMR, FT-IR, MS, ICP, and GC in the context of product and process development.
  6. Willing and able to learn and contribute beyond regular duties when needed, in areas like analytical method development and multi-kg syntheses.
  7. Able to solve complex technical problems using both inductive and deductive reasoning.
  8. Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  9. Able to excel in a team environment.
  10. Able to legally work in the United States.
Desirable attributes: 
  1. Strong mechanical aptitude in the laboratory.
  2. Experience in supervision and direction of technician-level employees.
  3. Experience with standard operating procedure development.
  4. Experience working in a project-managed environment
  5. Interest in occasional technical engagement with customers to help find solutions to their needs.
Full ad here. If interested and qualified, send a resume and contact information for 2 references to Bill Ewing (bill@boron.com).

Fire at vinyl record plant in California

One morning last week just after 8 a.m., as Sarabjeet Ubbu was starting the day behind the counter of his 7 Star Food Store in Banning, Calif., he noticed black smoke billowing from the roof of the building across the street. 
The unassuming beige facility houses Apollo Masters. Owners of a manufacturing plant and a closely held formula for making and mounting a specific mix of lacquer onto aluminum discs, the company supplies a reported 75% of the world’s blank lacquers, the shiny circular plates essential for the production of vinyl records. 
Until last week, only the most devoted audiophiles appreciated Apollo’s place in the vinyl supply chain. Unlike uploading a newly recorded project to a streaming service such as Spotify, manufacturing records relies on techniques, processes and machines honed over the decades. 
...The whole thing is best understood via a mess of metaphors. In filmmaking terms, a blank lacquer is the original negative. It’s the fresh cement into which you carve your initials. Made with what Horowitz describes as “the purest of absolutely flat aluminum, ultrasonically cleaned and prepared,” the disc is then coated, like icing onto a doughnut, with a micro-thin layer of lacquer made with Apollo’s secret formula. After undergoing a six-week drying and curing process, followed by another six weeks repeating the steps for side B, each blank disc comes out as smooth as a mirror. A box of 25 costs about $900.... 
...The block housing Apollo is still closed to traffic. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Fernando Herrera, Banning Fire Dept. public information officer. Herrera says that Banning officials have told Apollo that it won’t be permitted to rebuild until the property has undergone hazardous waste remediation. Given the chemicals used to produce the lacquer, it’s not clear whether current California environmental laws would even permit the company to rebuild....
Definitely bad news for vinyl record lovers. I took a brief glance at Google Patents and it appears that they didn't reveal any of their techniques there. I also checked to see if they were a Large Quantity Generator for EPA, and they don't appear to be. I'd love to know what chemicals they use.... 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Explosion at Sequens North America plant in Massachusetts

Bad news from Massachusetts:
NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — Several explosions rocked a plant in Massachusetts that manufactures chemicals used in medicines Thursday morning, blowing a hole in the roof and leading to an evacuation but no injuries, authorities said. 
Authorities said there is no public health threat resulting from the blasts at the building occupied by Seqens North America, formerly PCI Synthesis, in Newburyport, about 35 miles north of Boston. But the explosions come a year after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found “serious” violations in the company's management of highly hazardous chemicals, according to online agency records. 
The company blamed a mechanical issue for Thursday's blasts. 
“At this time, we believe it was a mechanical issue from our steam line, and that there was no fire and that the sprinkler system was not discharged," the company said in a statement late Thursday morning. 
Firefighters responding to an alarm initially went to the building about 4:30 a.m. They encountered “heavy black smoke” and evacuated the building after hearing three explosions, Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury said. 
There were about 10 workers in the building at the time but no reports of injuries, authorities said. One employee was evaluated by emergency medical services at the scene but declined transportation to the hospital. Three more explosions took place about 15 minutes later, including one that blew a 5-foot-by-8-foot (1.5-meter-by-2.5-meter) hole in the roof, Bradbury said.
Steam lines don't provide black smoke, but we can wait for the follow-up reports. Here's hoping every one is all right.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Job posting: PhD synthetic chemist, Corteva Agriscience, Indianapolis, IN

Via Twitter, a position with Corteva Agriscience:
Synthetic Chemist
Research & Development - Indianapolis, IN
...The successful candidate will be responsible for driving projects in our discovery pipeline by designing and synthesizing novel organic compounds for crop protection, pest and vegetation management in a collaborative effort with biologists, computational chemists, formulation chemists, regulatory sciences, intellectual property and numerous other disciplines... 
Required: PhD in required discipline preferred: Post-doctoral experience or 3-5 years of industrial experience with focus on synthesis and SAR development
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

30 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 30 new positions for February 9.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What does supply chains look like post-COVID19?

...That is a major challenge for the supply chains that have developed in recent decades to deliver a constant supply of the materials that make Chinese factories hum. 
Commodities markets have tumbled as those factories idled. Iron ore is down more than 10 percent this year. Copper is down about 8 percent, as is nickel, a key ingredient for stainless steel. Zinc and aluminum are both down more than 5 percent in 2020. 
“There is a big drop in consumption and you need storage space,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity strategy at the French bank BNP Paribas, in London. “And if you don’t have storage space that’s one of the reasons why the buyers have invoked this clause.” 
One of China’s largest importers of liquefied natural gas, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, or CNOOC, was one of the entities to invoke a “force majeure” clause, according to multiple news reports. Asian gas prices tumbled in response; benchmark prices for North Asian liquid natural gas are down more than 30 percent in 2020....
 Developing...

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 537 research/teaching positions and 59 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 537 research/teaching positions and 59 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On February 12, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 559 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth. The current one is the ninth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 18 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 18 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady and @nmr_chemist. 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, February 10, 2020

Arkansas chemistry professors arrested and charged for methamphetamine manufacture

Via Bethany Halford at C&EN, this unusual story of academic chemical manufacturing (emphasis mine):  
Terry David Bateman and Bradley Allen Rowland, the two former Henderson State University chemistry professors who were arrested in November for allegedly making methamphetamine, pleaded not guilty to all charges on Feb. 4. The chemists are formally charged with making methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia for making methamphetamine, possession of the methamphetamine precursor phenylpropanolamine, and manufacture of a controlled substance in a drug-free zone (the university). 
According to an affidavit filed by Sheriff Jason Watson, in Dec. 2018 HSU faculty reported that Bateman and Rowland were behaving in a suspicious manner that led the faculty to believe the two were involved in illegal activity in one of the chemistry laboratories. The HSU staff told a university lawyer that Bateman and Rowland had “exhibited drastic changes in their personal hygiene and weight loss.” Both professors were seen in the laboratory late at night and early in the morning and “were extremely guarded towards other faculty and students who came into the laboratory.” 
...The next month police officers visited one of the school’s laboratories and discovered an overwhelming odor they recognized as phenyl-2-propanone (P2P), a precursor used in the synthesis of amphetamine and methamphetamine... 
...In November, officers executed a search-and-seizure warrant on Bateman and Rowland’s offices at HSU. The officers forced open a locked metal safe in Bateman’s office. It smelled strongly of P2P and contained 190 glass vials with visible chemical residue. Preliminary field tests of two vials and a flask from another HSU laboratory indicated the presence of methamphetamine, according to the affidavit.
I'd sure like to understand what these professors were thinking... (What does phenyl-2-propanone smell like?)

Friday, February 7, 2020

US Attorney in Lieber case speaks out, Chinese 'coopt'-ing US scientists

Science has a news interview with the Massachusetts US attorney who charged Professor Charles Lieber with federal felonies. It is interesting to understand why the Department of Justice is thinking about this:
[US Attorney] Lelling recognizes that international collaboration has helped make U.S. science the envy of the world, and thinks that U.S.-trained scientists should be free to live and work anywhere. But those who decide to mingle their federal funding with support from Chinese institutions are playing a dangerous game, he warns, adding that Lieber is a perfect example. 
“The Chinese government has a very strategic approach to obtaining technology,” Lelling says. “It targets researchers who specialize in areas where the Chinese are deficient, in the hopes that they can piggyback on their expertise to close that strategic gap.” 
“What concerns us … is that a scientist who accepts their support becomes dependent on it to the point where they are willing to accept [an assignment] from the Chinese government or a Chinese university for whatever it is they need. Those of us that work on public corruption cases develop a radar for when person or entity A is attempting to coopt or corrupt person or entity B. And a large enough amount of money can shift loyalties.”
(Incidentally, I found Lelling's indication that "And so, unfortunately, a lot of our targets are going to be Han Chinese" to be pretty chilling. I'd like federal prosecutors to be a little more precise with their language, thank you very much.)

In other Lieber news, another Science article indicates Professor Lieber was working on battery research in Wuhan, which is odd, because that's not the main thrust of his work in the United States. Interesting...

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Tell me your job story

Dear blog friends:

Help allay my fears that I am falling behind in understanding the industrial job market. No matter your education level or your professional status (beginning, mid-career, etc), please tell me how you got your last job. 

Helpful details: 
  • Timeframe 
  • How you found the position
  • How you applied to it (LinkedIn? e-mail, etc) 
  • The process (phone interview? Skype interview? On-site?) 
  • The negotiation after an offer
  • Relocation packages
  • Sector of the economy
  • General idea of pay
Please do so in the comments, or if you would like, send me an e-mail. Confidentiality guaranteed, this is purely for my own edification. Or, if you would really like to, you can send me a text or call at (302) 313-6257.

Thank you so much - I really appreciate it.

Cheers, Chemjobber

11 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 11 new positions for February 5.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Warning Letter of the Week: scraps of paper edition

In a letter to the general manager of Sunstar Guangzhou Ltd. in Guangdong, Guangzhou, China from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, this amusing tidbit:
4. Failure to establish an adequate quality control unit and the responsibilities and procedures applicable to the quality control unit are not in writing and fully followed. (21 CFR 211.22(a) and 211.22(d)). 
Your quality unit (QU) failed to ensure that you have adequate procedures and did not provide adequate oversight of your manufacturing activities. For example: ·
  • You lack adequate control over the issuance, use, and reconciliation of manufacturing batch records and equipment maintenance sheets. Uncontrolled copies of manufacturing batch records and in-process control forms were pre-printed and kept in a room with unrestricted access.
  • Several test reports of your drug product assay were reviewed and the raw data for the standard curve could not be located. It was noted that scrap pieces of paper were used to record data which was later entered to calculate the [redacted] concentration for the assay test.
  • Your firm failed to establish and follow procedures for calculating production yields.
In your response, you stated" ... starting July 2019, relevant personnel will be handed just enough blank forms on a [redacted] basis and they must account for the whereabouts of all blank forms at the [redacted]." You stated that all documents will be archived and procedures will be drafted and/or updated to meet CGMP requirements.
"Scraps of paper" may have described some of my grad school jotted notes, but definitely not my experience in a QC lab...

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 535 research/teaching positions and 58 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 535 research/teaching positions and 58 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On February 5, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 55 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventheighth. The current one is the ninth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Impact of the 2019 Coronavirus on the Chemical Industry

Chemical Makers in India May Gain From China Virus Lockdown 
The worsening coronavirus crisis has emerged as a threat to global economic growth. But if it leads to disruption in production of chemicals in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, then it may benefit Indian manufacturers, according to JM Financial. 
Hubei has a large chemical industry, and the closure in 2016 of Hubei Chuyuan -- one of China’s top producers of dyes -- led to a jump in prices and saw shares of Indian producers rally multifold, the brokerage said in a report Monday. 
“Currently none of the Hubei industries seem to have been impacted and dye intermediate prices have also not rallied,” analysts led by Mehul Thanawala wrote. Prices could start to climb if the epidemic continues to spread and restrict movement, they said....
I think it's too soon to tell what the impacts with the global chemical industry would be, but it could be pretty broad if the Chinese chemical industry goes down for a month or two...

Friday, January 31, 2020

New Periodic Bagel episode: O Canada! with Meagan Oakley and Anika Tarasewicz


Meagan and Anika subject CJ and Alex to a quiz this time. We talk about Canada and about Meagan and Anika's research. Finally, we talk about the upcoming "Leaders Overcoming Gender Inequality in Chemistry" (LOGIC) retreat, which happens immediately before the CCCE conference in Winnipeg, MB. At the CCCE conference, Meagan and Anika are also hosting a special session on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Key dates:

EDI Abstract Submission Deadline: February 10, 2020
LOGIC Abstract Submission Deadline: May 1, 2020.
LOGIC Retreat: May 23-24
CCCE: May 24-28

Rate and review us on iTunes!

Feel free to ask questions, add comments and suggestions for guests and topics in the comments.

White House official speaks on the Lieber case

...Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, director of OSTP, in his statement on the case said that “failures to disclose the receipt of substantial resources, participation in certain types of programs, and dual employment distort decisions about the appropriate use of taxpayer funds.” 
The result is “hidden transfers of information, know-how and time.” 
He went on to say that “this is exactly why OSTP launched the Joint Committee on the Research Environment,” known as JCORE. Droegemeier emphasized that JCORE has a “coordinated approach that includes the research community as a whole.” That means working with the full spectrum of federal agencies, along with the private, academic, professional society, and nonprofit research worlds. 
It’s important to continue “successful international collaborations,” Droegemeier said, but “protecting the integrity of our research system” has to be done at the same time. 
“The challenges posed by foreign-government sponsored talent recruitment programs” are met by “behavior-based” approaches, he explained, echoing comments made by Assistant Attorney General John Demers at a Homeland Security Experts Group event held at the Wilson Center earlier this month.
I don't think we've seen evidence of "hidden transfers of information", but I guess this will come out at some point. I suspect there are a lot of university professors who are looking very carefully at their grant application boilerplate and filing changes...

==

This was an interesting profile of Professor Lieber in the Wall Street Journal. Lots of quotes from former students, including this one:
Mr. Timko recalled Mr. Lieber as being in his lab office six days a week, often from 8 a.m. to midnight, driving a nondescript car, dressing down and reading scientific literature for pleasure. 
His hobbies included growing pumpkins in his backyard, one of which weighed 1,870 pounds, the largest in the state in 2014.
So my thought process around Professor Lieber's motivations is that he was financially motivated by the Thousand Talent program's large payouts ($50,000/month (pro-rated?) and $158,000 of living expenses). But if he doesn't have an extravagant lifestyle, where did the money go? 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

BREAKING: Charles Lieber released on bail for $1 million

From C&EN's Bethany Halford and Andrea Widener:
Lieber appeared at a Jan. 30, 2020, hearing shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit. His bail was set at $1 million cash. He also had to agree to surrender his and his wife’s passports, to disclose foreign bank accounts, and to have no contact with Wuhan University of Technology, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Here are Beth's two tweets from the courthouse. Did anyone have the "Harvard CCB chair in jumpsuit" spot on their 2020 bingo card?  

18 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 8 new positions for January 26 and 10 positions for January 24. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

C&EN: Harvard chair in federal custody over charges

C&EN on the Charles Lieber case (emphasis mine, article by Bethany Halford and Andrea Widener): 
Charles M. Lieber, the chair of the chemistry and chemical biology department at Harvard University, was arrested on Jan. 28 and charged with fraud. The complaint alleges that Lieber hid his financial ties to China’s Thousand Talent program from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense (DOD), as well from as his own university. 
At a court hearing on Jan. 28, Marianne Bowler, a judge with the US District Court for Massachusetts, denied bail and ordered Lieber to stay in the custody of the US Marshals Service after US prosecutors argued that he is a “serious flight risk.” His next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30. 
Lieber is charged with a single felony count for making false statements to US government agencies. The maximum sentence for such a charge is 5 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine, the Department of Justice says. His attorney is Peter K. Levitt of the firm Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar. 
Lieber could also face federal debarment, which would prohibit him from receiving federal grant money. Federal agencies may debar people for reasons including a fraud conviction or a “willful violation of a statutory or regulatory provision or requirement applicable to a public agreement or transaction” (2 CFR § 180.800).
As I said yesterday on Twitter, I didn't expect to be considering whether or not the chair of the Harvard chemistry department was a flight risk. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

BREAKING: Harvard chemistry chair charged with lying to US government re: Chinese academic funding

BOSTON — Charles M. Lieber, the chair of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, was charged on Tuesday with making false statements about money he had received from a Chinese government-run program, part of a broad-ranging F.B.I. effort to root out scientists suspected of stealing biomedical research from American laboratories. 
Dr. Lieber, a leader in the field of nanoscale electronics, was one of three Boston-area scientists accused on Tuesday of working on behalf of China. His case involves work with the Thousand Talents Program, a state-run program that seeks to draw talent educated in other countries... 
...Federal prosecutors said on Tuesday that Dr. Lieber made false representation to questions about his participation in the Chinese program to the United States Department of Defense. He is also charged with misrepresenting his involvement in Thousand Talents and his affiliation with Wuhan University of Technology to officials at the National Institutes of Health. 
According to charging documents, Dr. Lieber was paid up to $50,000 per month in salary and $150,000 per year in living expenses by Wuhan University of Technology. He was also awarded more than $1.5 million by the university and the Chinese government to build a laboratory in Wuhan. 
Researchers are legally obligated to disclose such payments  to their academic institutions. 
A representative for Dr. Lieber could not immediately be reached for comment....
NBC indicates this is the shakeout from a Boston-wide investigation, including a PLA lieutenant who was studying at Boston University. Here are details from NYT on that:
...Yanqing Ye, a physicist who had been studying at Boston University until last spring, was also charged on Tuesday, accused of lying to authorities about her status as a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army. Ms. Ye, who was charged with visa fraud, making false statements, acting as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy, is in China and was not be arrested...
This is moving a bit fast for me to understand what is happening, but here are my priors:
  • I do believe it is clear that there is a Chinese government-wide priority to use whatever means available to obtain economically- and militarily-important scientific and engineering IP from the US. 
  • I am very skeptical as to the FBI's ability to distinguish between scientists who were stupid (i.e. broke laws accidentally) and those who were evil (those who intended to break laws and transfer science/technology illegally.) 
    • I believed this before the current Administration, I note
  • I suspect that this effort on the part of the FBI will be broadly unproductive for everyone involved. 
So, those are my priors. We'll see how this goes. Updates as news becomes available. Looks like Harvard is cutting ties quick - their statement, via NBC: 
"The charges brought by the U.S. government against Professor Lieber are extremely serious," Harvard said in a statement. "Harvard is cooperating with federal authorities, including the National Institutes of Health, and is initiating its own review of the alleged misconduct." 
The university added that Lieber has been put on "indefinite administrative leave."
 Bonkers.

UPDATE 1:48 PM: The Justice Department press release, and the actual indictment. After reading the indictment, it sure seems like the FBI has Professor Lieber dead to rights on lying to the FBI agents who visited him.

CJ's advice: Don't talk to the cops. If you must talk to the cops, don't lie. (Also, don't talk to the cops without a lawyer. But better yet, don't talk to the cops.)

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 526 research/teaching positions and 56 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 526 research/teaching positions and 56 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On January 29, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 549 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventh. Current: the eighth. After noon Eastern on January 28, this will be the ninth open thread.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Scientists detect illicit Chinese CFC manufacture through atmospheric detective work

...Between 2002 and 2012, CFC-11 emissions averaged 54,000 tonnes per year, owing to gradual leakage of old stores of the compound contained in foam insulation and appliances made before the mid 1990s. But the researchers found that between 2014 and 2016, average emissions grew to 67,000 tonnes a year — an increase of roughly 25%1. They also noted that, in 2013, the flask data at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii suddenly showed increased levels of CFC-11 in the pollution plumes regularly recorded at the site. On closer investigation, they found that the sources of those plumes, and the uptick in CFC-11 emissions, came from eastern Asia. 
A team of scientists immediately began to look for clues in an independent set of measurements, in particular those from the AGAGE stations on Jeju Island in South Korea, and Hateruma in Japan. Data from these stations revealed spikes in CFC-11 whenever plumes of pollution passed by. And the spikes had grown since 2013. 
With this information, the scientists ran computer models using atmospheric circulation data and the monitoring-station measurements to determine where the pollution was coming from. Four independent modelling groups worked on solving the puzzle, and all came back with the same answer: about 7,000 tonnes per year were coming from the Chinese provinces of Shandong and Hebei...
I think it's pretty cool that they were able to detect this with some gas chromatographs. Read the whole thing.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Juuuuuust right



Great shot by indoor bowler Nick Brett. (Who knew this was a sport?)

Watching that ball go through the two red balls, I am reminded of the exquisite details of the work we do as chemists, shimming NMRs, titrating reagents smartly and efficiently or designing catalysts to work perfectly. It feels so satisfying when we get things dead on.

Have a great weekend. 

This week's C&EN

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

Thursday, January 23, 2020

20 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there are 20 new positions for January 20

Postdoctoral position: Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ

Postdoctoral Associate in Pharmacokinetic Core Laboratory 
Newly established PK Lab is seeking a PhD level scientist (postdoctoral associate) to join our team at BNI! 
About BNI: The Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) (Phoenix, AZ), has been ranked in the top 10 best hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery since the US News and World Reports began reporting such data. The BNI leads the largest pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics-driven clinical trials program for primary brain tumors in the United States. To support the clinical trial program, a centralized CAP/CLIA certified Pharmacokinetics Core Laboratory is being developed with the mission of providing state-of-the-art bioanalytic technology and a broad range of pharmacology expertise to enable evaluation of critical pharmacological endpoints in clinical trials. 
Summary of Position: PK Lab is currently in the process of CAP/CLIA certification and will be supporting healthcare professionals and patients in health management through accurate, precise and state of the art testing and research.
We are looking for an individual to join the PK Lab team as a postdoctoral associate (at the level I, II and III depending on the experience). The candidate should have a strong background in pharmaceutical sciences and ideally in PK with a reasonable working knowledge in translational sciences. Candidates who have worked in the regulated environment to develop LC-MS/MS-based methods and can demonstrate competence in pharmacology and toxicology will be preferred. The candidate should be highly motivated, able to work well in teams, and have excellent communication skills. Potential areas of application include: drug PK, instrumental method development and validation, biomarker analysis, drug metabolism, PK analysis and modeling, medicinal or analytical chemistry.
Posting here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Warning Letter of the Week: Excel spreadsheet edition

A note from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the Chief Executive Officer of Tismor Health and Wellness Pty Limited in Kingsgrove, New South Wales:
3.   Your firm failed to establish laboratory controls that include scientifically sound and appropriate specifications, standards, sampling plans and test procedures designed to assure that components, drug products conform to appropriate standards of identity, strength, quality, and purity (21 CFR 211.160(b)). 
Your firm failed to validate the Excel spreadsheet used to perform the assay calculation for your “[redacted].” Your procedures lacked guidance on how to check and manually verify the calculation sheets. During the inspection, our investigator identified a calculation error within the spreadsheet. The incorrect formula for averaging the Internal Standard peak area was used. 
There is no assurance that the associated assay results recorded are reliable and accurate.
In your response, you stated that you have retrospectively tested products in the market using correct procedures and will update the validation master plan to ensure that spreadsheets are included within the scope of validation efforts. You created a new procedure which details the approach for validating spreadsheets as well as protecting the file from accidental changes. You also stated all Excel spreadsheet calculations for your [redacted] batches have been retrospectively reviewed. 
During the review, you identified another error within your Excel spreadsheets. The assay test result for [redacted] batch [redacted] was incorrect due to a transcription entry error for active peak area. Your firm used a new spreadsheet and entered the correct active peak area. The result was recalculated, and the final result was reported. The product had already been released with test results using the incorrect calculation, although the recalculated test result was still within specification. You have committed to manually check calculations until the spreadsheet has been validated. 
Your firm relied on Excel spreadsheets to calculate assay and determine the reportable result for final batch release. Your computerized systems must perform their functions satisfactorily and that your firm establish a written program to ensure ongoing proper system performance. 
Your response is inadequate. You have not fully assessed the potential impact of using data from unvalidated, unsecured spreadsheets for critical CGMP functions.
Excel spreadsheets are so useful, and who knew they had to be validated? (answer: lots of people)

(who among us have not transposed a number on Excel?)

Chemical Activity Barometer up in January

WASHINGTON (January 21, 2020) – The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), jumped 0.6 percent in January on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a 0.1 percent gain in December. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer rose 1.4 percent. 
The unadjusted January data showed a 1.0 percent gain following a 0.5 percent increase in December and a 0.4 percent gain in November. The diffusion index rose to 62 percent in January. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for December was revised upward by 0.33 points and that for November was revised downward by 0.22 points. 
“The CAB signals gains in U.S. commerce into the third quarter of 2020,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC.
Well, that's good news. Here's hoping it keeps chemist jobs safe.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 523 research/teaching positions and 54 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 523 research/teaching positions and 54 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On January 22, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 543 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventh. Current: the eighth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 28 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 28 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, January 20, 2020

Imagine having to worry about this in your backyard

Residents catch truck dumping chemical waste into Vrishabhavati river 
Alert residents of a gated community caught a truck driver trying to dump chemical waste into the Vrishabhavathi river on Saturday night. 
The truck was seized and the keys were taken away by the residents. But, when the residents, accompanied by the beat police, went to the police station to file a complaint, the driver vanished along with the truck.  
Nagaraju, Ramaraju, M.K. Kulkarni, C.J. Prakash, all residents of GoodEarth Orchard, noticed the truck belonging to a factory trying to dump the waste and caught hold of the driver. But he managed to escape....
I'm sure there was a time when this was a problem in America, but I'm guessing it's not very common now... 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Spanish ethylene oxide plant explosion kills 3

Reactor part crashed through an apartment in Spain
credit: Mossos/BBC
Bad news from the chemical manufacturing world from Spain:
MADRID (AP) — A massive explosion at a petrochemical plant in northeastern Spain on Tuesday killed one person and injured at least nine others, three seriously, regional authorities said. 
A press spokesman for the port city of Tarragona, where the plant is located, said a preliminary investigation indicated the force of the blast killed an individual in a nearby neighborhood. 
The spokesman said he had no further details. He spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with City Hall regulations. The regional fire service tweeted that the man had died in a building affected by the blast. They said one other person was injured in the building. 
The interior minister of Spain’s Catalonia region said eight workers at the factory were injured, three seriously, and one person remained missing....
The video of the explosion is pretty horrifying, and the aftermath of the plant blast is awful. As someone who works in a plant environment, I am particularly haunted by the photograph above, which is a part of a reactor who killed a man in his apartment 3 kilometers away. We work in a dangerous business. Best wishes to all involved. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Newest Periodic Bagel episode: Derek Lowe, medicinal chemist (not the former MLB pitcher)


Sixth episode of The Periodic Bagel, with guest Derek Lowe (@Dereklowe), chemistry jobs, the future of pharma and rock music.

Rate and review us on iTunes!

Feel free to ask questions, add comments and suggestions for guests and topics in the comments.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 516 research/teaching positions and 51 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 516 research/teaching positions and 51 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On January 15, 2019, the 2019 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 538 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventh. Current: the eighth.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

Faculty position: assistant/associate professor of computational chemistry, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

The University of Georgia Department of Chemistry (chem.uga.edu) invites applications for a tenure track faculty position in computational chemistry, beginning August 1, 2020, at the level of either Assistant or Associate Professor. Tenure upon appointment is possible at the associate level. All areas of computational chemistry will be considered, but priority will be given to candidates whose research interests complement existing expertise in the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry (ccqc.uga.edu) and who can engage in collaborations with faculty within the Department of Chemistry and other units across campus, including the Center for Drug Discovery, the New Materials Institute, the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, the Institute of Bioinformatics, the Department of Microbiology, and the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases.
The selected candidate will be appointed in an Assistant Professor or Associate 
Professor. To be eligible for tenure upon appointment, candidates must be appointed as an associate professor, have been tenured at a prior institution, and bring a demonstrably national reputation to the institution. Candidates must be approved for tenure upon appointment before hire.  
To receive full consideration, completed applications should be received by February 15, 2019.
 Best wishes to those interested. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Decent job growth gains in December 2019

The American labor market completed a decade-long marathon of hiring in the final month of 2019, and still shows few signs that it is running out of breath. 
Payroll gains in December capped a year of steady but slowing gains in employment, the government reported Friday, nudging the year’s total past 2.1 million jobs. That was fewer than 2018’s additions but more than enough to outpace population growth. 
“We had relatively strong and steady job growth over the year despite a number of headwinds including a trade war with China, weaker global activity and heightened policy uncertainty,” Gregory Daco, the chief United States economist at Oxford Economics, said. Employers added 145,000 workers in December. 
Cooling job creation is normal in the 11th year of an economic expansion and a record-breaking streak of job gains. Looking ahead, Mr. Daco said the nation’s job machine was likely to crank down further.
The chemical manufacturing subsector had 861600 employees in December 2019 (down 200 since November), 564500 production employees (up 1100) and the unemployment rate was flat at 1.2%. Not too shabby since the high of 10.3% or so in 2010. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Seen at the chemical shop

Credit: @difluorine
Context here. Difluorine's Twitter account is very clever (I am in love with this drawing), very much worth a follow.

(Before this week, I had never heard of male-to-male power cords.)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Warning Letter of the Week: aborted HPLC run edition

From a missive from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the managing director of GPT Pharmaceuticals Private Ltd in Balanagar, India:
3.  Your firm failed to exercise appropriate controls over computer or related systems to assure that only authorized personnel institute changes in master production and control records, or other records (21 CFR 211.68(b)). 
Our investigator observed your laboratory equipment lacked appropriate controls. For example, from January 1, 2018, to June 25, 2019, audit trails from [redacted] Agilent 1260 Infinity Series II high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) instruments showed a pattern of aborted runs and single run entries for testing [redacted]. Single run entries included analyses of multiple peaks or split peaks without documented investigations or adequate scientific justifications. Your employees used the Agilent Service Account login, with full administrative privileges, to abort HPLC testing runs without being attributable to a specific individual. 
Your response identified the number of deleted, aborted, and single runs during your HPLC testing. However, your response did not provide adequate investigations or evidence of corrective actions put in place to prevent these data integrity issues from recurring.
Clever move, with the extra account. 

This week's C&EN

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

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 508 research/teaching positions and 49 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 508 research/teaching positions and 49 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at chemjobber@gmail.com

On January 8, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 530 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventh. This will be the eighth open thread.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 85 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 85 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 28 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 28 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, January 6, 2020

Frances Arnold retracts 2019 Science paper

American scientist Frances Arnold, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, has retracted her latest paper. 
Prof Arnold shared the award with George P Smith and Gregory Winter for their research on enzymes in 2018. 
A subsequent paper on enzymatic synthesis of beta-lactams was published in the journal Science in May 2019. It has been retracted because the results were not reproducible, and the authors found data missing from a lab notebook.
Sounds like there's a story here, but I don't think we're going to hear it any time soon.

Manufacturing numbers not looking so great

American manufacturing activity contracted last month more than it had in a decade, data released Friday showed, a sign that economic damage from President Trump’s trade war could linger even after the United States and China sign an initial trade deal. 
An index published by the Institute for Supply Management dropped to 47.2 in December, the lowest reading since June 2009 and the fifth straight month of contraction. A reading below 50 indicates the manufacturing sector is contracting.
Definitely not good news - will be interesting if this shows up in hiring numbers for the chemical manufacturing subsector before long... 

Friday, January 3, 2020

Chinese researcher pulled off Boston plane with medical research samples

Via the New York Times, this rather interesting story about a researcher (postdoc?) at Beth Israel Hospital who was detained by the US government:
Zaosong Zheng was preparing to board Hainan Airlines Flight 482, nonstop from Boston to Beijing, when customs officers pulled him aside. 
Inside his checked luggage, wrapped in a plastic bag and then inserted into a sock, the officers found what they were looking for: 21 vials of brown liquid — cancer cells — that the authorities say Mr. Zheng, 29, a cancer researcher, took from a laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 
Under questioning, court documents say, Mr. Zheng acknowledged that he had stolen eight of the samples and had replicated 11 more based on a colleague’s research. When he returned to China, he said, he would take the samples to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital and turbocharge his career by publishing the results in China, under his own name....
Presuming this is what it looks like, I can't really feel very sorry for Mr. Zheng. Outside of ethics and morality, if you steal something, being caught within federal law enforcement jurisdiction is really dumb. (Here's a redacted copy of the affidavit, apparently.)

It is rather shocking to me how heavily federal law enforcement seems to be taking (waves hands wildly) the acquiring/stealing (?) of scientific work product from the United States in the life sciences. I think it's pretty reasonable to really crack down on industrial IP theft from the US (i.e. this is material that someone is already making money on), but the taking of random samples from biology labs? It's really hard to believe any one (or 21) vials are worth anything.

Still, a story like this will encourage those who are being dumb about stealing stuff (like this guy) to be a little smarter or perhaps not to do it. Not an altogether bad thing.