Friday, September 17, 2021

Have a good weekend

Well, here we are, at the end of the week. I hope you had a good one, and that you'll have a restful weekend. We'll see you on Monday. 

*this piece isn't symbolic of anything, it's just a piece I heard recently that I found really arresting

Borax and zinc made Stradivarii?

Via a friend of the blog, this Ars Technica piece by Jennifer Ouellette:
Along with Andrea Amati and Andrea Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari dominated the so-called Golden Age of Violins (roughly 1660 to 1750), and the instruments they crafted remain the gold standard today in terms of acoustic quality. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma has long favored a Stradivarius instrument, as does violinist Joshua Bell. But scientists have been arguing for years about precisely why these instruments have such superior sound. A recent paper published in the journal Angewandte Chemie confirms a theory dating back to 2006: the secret lies in the chemicals used to soak the wood, most notably borax, zinc, copper, alum, and lime water.

Good piece - if it was indeed the treatments, good luck reproducing that!  

Thursday, September 16, 2021

31 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

 Common Organic Chemistry is resolving some technical difficulties, but has ported over the list to Google Drive for now. There are 31 new positions for September 11.

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 195 research/teaching positions and 11 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 195 research/teaching positions and 11 teaching positions. 

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

On September 15, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 74 research/teaching position and 7 teaching positions. On September 17, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 290 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.  

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 18 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 18 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

Want to talk? Go to this year's open thread. 

Chemistry Bumper Cars

Check out the latest moves here! 

To submit information, click here or e-mail chembumpercars@gmail.com

Job posting: instrumentation support technician, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

From the inbox: 

The Instrumentation Support Technician will be responsible for the validation of chemical structures of submitted samples by using mass spectrometry.

  • Process submitted samples using mass spectrometry instrumentation to collect scientific data.
  • Analyze data collected. And generate reports
  • Routine maintenance of instruments

Required Qualifications (As evidenced by attached resume):  

Bachelor’s Degree (foreign equivalent or higher degree)  in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical engineering or a related discipline. Two (2) years of work/research experience in the operation of a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) instrument.

Preferred Qualifications:  

Master's degree in Analytical Chemistry.  Experience with LC-MS instrument maintenance.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 39 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 39 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, September 13, 2021

C&EN on the 2020-21 academic job market

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, a worthwhile article from C&EN's Bethany Halford (NB our data was used): 
...So how bad was the job market for chemistry professors? Since 2016, C&EN columnist Chemjobber and industrial chemist Andrew Spaeth have maintained a list of open tenure-track and teaching positions in chemistry in the US and Canada. They say the numbers tell a clear story: chemists looking to start their careers as professors were competing for far fewer opportunities in the 2020–21 hiring season than in years past.

The academic hiring season in the US starts in earnest in September and wraps up the following June. Throughout that time, schools post positions that will be open for the following academic year. Chemjobber and Spaeth’s final tallies each June from 2017 to 2020 indicate that more than 550 academic chemistry jobs were posted each year. By June 2021, only 339 job openings had been posted—a roughly 40% decrease from years past.

Job seekers who spoke with C&EN found that the 2020–21 hiring cycle was unusually drawn out, with offers delayed by months. Restrictions on travel and campus visitors meant that candidates had to interview using Zoom and had to rely on video tours to get a sense of their potential lab space. Job seekers, who were deciding where to spend those critical early years of their independent careers, had a tough time. And they weren’t alone. Employers, who were making significant investments in new hires, also say the process was difficult...

Go read the whole thing. 

C&EN on the hot pharma/biotech market

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, Rick Mullin writes on the hot pharma/biotech market: 
...The combination of a healthy drug industry, heavy venture capital investment in start-ups, and new targets for small-molecule drugs is spurring a hiring spree, allowing some young PhD chemists, particularly in medicinal and computational chemistry, to skip the traditional years of postdoctoral training and go quickly to work in the pharmaceutical industry. The boom is great for chemists looking to start their careers, but it is raising questions about the role of the postdoc in the training of chemists today.

Hall says he was prompted to start a conversation on Twitter after hearing multiple accounts of principal investigators in academic labs losing postdocs to industry. “And not in a scenario where they have done a 2- or 3-year postdoc, but 4 to 6 months in. I’m 44. I did a very long postdoc. I have a lot of friends who did two postdocs. That was not uncommon at all. Obviously, the opportunities are there now in a way they haven’t been for a while.”

Hall adds that it has become increasingly difficult to fill postdoc spots in his lab at NCATS. “I have chatted with a few people who applied for postdocs who basically said, ‘I’m not doing a postdoc. I have a job with pharma.’ ”

 Article has lots of good anecdotes from people who have successfully found industry positions. Oh, and I stand by my normative position. Lots of great angles to ponder - read the whole thing. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Have a good weekend

Well, here we are at the weekend. Hope that you had a good week, and that you have a wonderful weekend. Going camping, so that should be... fun? See you on Monday. 

Job posting: organic chemist, Beyond Meat, El Segundo, CA

From the inbox, this position: 

The Organic Chemist will use scientific principles and expertise, and a broad range of advanced technologies and industrial tools for achieving company goals. This successful, self-motivated, creative, and results-oriented individual will lead in their area of expertise to utilize cutting-edge chemistry  methods and techniques in the development of innovative food products and processes. The Organic Chemist will have a keen understanding of the field and extensive hands-on research experience with proven ability to think beyond standard methods, independently conduct research and reach conclusions, and clearly deliver results within a matrix organization.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Utilize cutting-edge chemistry methods and techniques to design and develop functional food ingredients, molecular systems for food, and innovative products
  • Conduct natural products isolation, compound characterization and validation, as well as develop new or optimized approaches to natural products discovery
  • Characterize chemical processes and systems in detail, and develop chemistry to effect control over such processes and systems
  • Synthesize known and previously unknown compounds at small scale and scale-up quantities, including support for chemical process development at scale

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Ph.D. in organic chemistry, with extensive experience in organic synthesis and mechanism, analytical methods, and physical organic chemistry. Minimum 5-year experience in academic or industrial chemistry research
  • Post-doctoral experience is desired, but not required
  • Prior experience with natural products chemistry, protein chemistry, lipid chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, and organic reaction chemistry
Link here. Best wishes to those interested. 

ICIS: over 75% of US Gulf oil production remains offline

From the excellent The Polymerist, this recent comment: 
In addition to oil refineries being shut down the chemical industry has also had closures. ICIS has been tracking the situation and as of September 1st here is a list of sites that have been offline. In the chemical industry I suspect there to be more raw material shortages and force majeures hitting supply chains in the coming weeks. Hopefully the buyers further down the supply chain have enough inventory to get through the next few weeks. Get ready for higher prices in the short term.

That update was from August 31, and here's the update from ICIS: 

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Over 75% of US Gulf oil production and natural gas production respectively remains offline as offshore producers continue to recover from the disruption in production caused by Hurricane Ida.

Currently, 76% of oil production and 77% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains shut in, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). 

Worth noting that there's an acrylonitrile plant that's been shutdown and has declared force majeure. Will be interesting to see when it starts back up.  

Thursday, September 9, 2021

19 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Common Organic Chemistry is resolving some technical difficulties, but has ported over the list to Google Drive for now. There are 19 new positions for September 3. 

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Taiwanese biotech CEO pleads guilty to theft of Genentech trade secrets

Via this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this story by Craig Bettenhausen:
The former CEO and chief operating officer of the Taiwanese biotech firm Eden Biologics—which changed its name from JHL Biotech in February—have been convicted in the US of stealing trade secrets from Genentech. The executives, Racho Ivanov Jordanov and Rose Lin, join staffers Xanthe Lam and Allen Lam, who were convicted on related charges in July. According to the indictments, the four worked together starting in 2009 to steal manufacturing protocols and other proprietary information from Genentech about its drugs Avastin, Herceptin, Pulmozyme, and Rituxan. Xanthe Lam worked at Genentech from 1986 to 2017.
The Department of Justice press release is pretty detailed as to what exactly happened: 
According to the plea agreement, Jordanov hired former Genentech employees to work at JHL Biotech, several of whom he learned surreptitiously brought, without authorization, confidential and proprietary documents with them from Genentech to JHL Biotech.  
The company used only some of the stolen documents, but Jordanov tolerated this practice by the employees of JHL Biotech and made no effort to discourage its employees from using the documents or information they brought with them.  The employees Jordanov hired provided the Genentech documents and information to JHL Biotech, which, at times, allowed the company to cheat, cut corners, solve problems, provide examples, avoid further experimentation, eliminate costs, lend scientific assurance, and otherwise help JHL Biotech start-up, develop, and operate its business secretly using the intellectual property and scientific know-how taken from Genentech.  
Jordanov admitted that he suspected that some or all the stolen information was brought to JHL Biotech in violation of relevant Genentech non-disclosure agreements and employment contracts, but he made no effort to verify whether that was true.

I've thought about this stuff before. Makes you wonder if companies have thought about ways that their documents leave the company, and how to track them... 

Lubrizol cuts Chemtool severance packages after fire

Via the Rockford Register Star, this bad news for the employees of the Chemtool plant in Rockford, IL that burned down: 
ROSCOE — Two weeks of pay for every year on the job up to 52 weeks was the severance package Chemtool employees were expecting after the company's Rockton plant was destroyed by fire. 

Taylor Vronch, a Chemtool foreman, called the severance package a "generous policy," that is before the company changed it.

Vronch was among 25 Chemtool employees who gathered Sunday at Mary's Market in Roscoe to talk about a recent change to the severance packages they say they were assured they'd get. 

The package now states employees with five years or more will receive one weeks' pay per year on the job with a maximum payout of eight weeks.

Gee, two months severance for a surprise shutdown of a plant seems pretty darn crummy to me. (What is it about Berkshire Hathaway companies and pay? I feel like I hear a fair number of complaints about them, but I think that's confirmation bias on my part.)  

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 165 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 165 research/teaching positions and 6 teaching positions. 

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

On September 8, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 66 research/teaching position and 6 teaching positions. On September 10, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 254 research/teaching positions and 7 teaching positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Go to the first open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.  

Job posting: Chemical/Biochemical Systems at the University of Toronto, Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry invites applications for a full-time tenure stream appointment in the area of the application of data science to chemical and biochemical systems. The appointment will be at the rank of Associate Professor or Professor with an expected start date of July 1, 2022, or shortly thereafter.

Applicants are expected to have a PhD in chemical, biological, environmental or materials engineering or in applied chemistry, biology, computer science, computer engineering or a related field at the time of appointment. Postdoctoral or industrial experience is an asset. The successful candidate will have a clearly demonstrated exceptional record of excellence in research and teaching, as well as innovation in research and teaching.

We seek candidates with outstanding expertise in the development and application of Data Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) or quantum computing methodologies to chemical and biochemical systems and whose research and teaching complement and strengthen our existing strengths in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. Areas of application for the candidate’s research may include, but are not limited to, chemical, biochemical and materials processing, sustainable energy/manufacturing/materials, environmental science and engineering, chemical/biomolecular modelling, polymers, catalysis, reaction engineering, transport phenomena, advanced separations, regenerative medicine, protein engineering, genomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, forest products, self-driving laboratories, surface and interface engineering.

All application materials, including reference letters must be received by January 10, 2022. Submission guidelines can be found at http://uoft.me/how-to-apply. If you have any questions about this position please contact chair.chemeng@utoronto.ca.

To apply at the rank of Assistant Professor in AI in Chemical and Biochemical Systems:

To apply at the rank of Associate/Full Professor in AI in Chemical and Biochemical Systems:

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 17 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 17 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

Want to talk? Go to this year's open thread. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 39 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 39 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, September 6, 2021

Happy Labor Day


Today is Labor Day, a holiday in the United States. Back tomorrow. 

 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Have a good weekend

Well, here we are at the weekend. I hope that you have a great one, and we'll see you on Tuesday, since Monday is Labor Day. 

I love Fermi problems

A delightful short column in the New York Times about Fermi problems: 
Whenever I got stuck on math homework while growing up, I would go looking for my mother. Often I would find her on the living-room couch unwinding after work, catching up on the news with both the local Cantonese news station blaring on the TV and The Economist open in her lap.

“I don’t know how to do this,” I would complain, settling on the carpet by her feet.

“Read me the question.”

I would recite: “Sarah takes six hours to paint a fence, and John takes 12 hours to paint the same fence. How long will it take to paint a fence twice as long if they work together?”

She wouldn’t even look at the page.

“How many hours do you think it’ll take them?”

“I don’t know, or I wouldn’t be asking you!”

“Single digit? Tens of hours? Hundreds of hours?”

“Mommm …”

I love Fermi problems, and making estimates. These days, I do it a fair bit for work, and I also do it a fair bit around chemical employment as well. How many professors do you think work on this problem? Maybe 1, maybe 10. How many working industrial medicinal chemists are there in the United States? I dunno, definitely 1000, definitely not 100,000, probably closer to 5,000. How many chemical plants are there in the United States? Well, that's probably a number less than 5000, but more than 100. 

Readers, what are your favorite Fermi-type questions and how do you go about solving them?

Thursday, September 2, 2021

38 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Common Organic Chemistry is resolving some technical difficulties, but has ported over the list to Google Drive for now. There are 21 new positions for August 31 and 17 new positions for August 27. 

Don't forget to check out the Common Organic Chemistry company map, a very helpful resource for organic chemists looking for potential employers.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

UW-Madison Chemistry has major ventilation problems

Via Twitter, an article from Kelly Meyerhofer of the Wisconsin State Journal
Problems with the new chemistry building addition on the UW-Madison campus continue with part of the ventilation system collapsing earlier this month, closing two wings of the University Avenue building.

A large duct on the ninth floor of the new tower collapsed Aug. 21, the university said in an announcement. The ducts that make up the ventilation system are key to exhausting chemical fumes.

The damaged duct is part of the system that serves the Mathews and Daniels wings, which house an unspecified number of research labs. All staff has moved out while a damage assessment takes place. 

The chemistry department is working with leaders of each lab to move their research to a different location or transition to operate remotely for a while. 

University officials have also either moved online or identified alternative locations for the eight course sections scheduled to take place in the two wings this semester.

The timeline to repair the system is unknown, according to UW-Madison.

The closure of the two wings comes on the heels of the university announcing a delay in the new tower's opening. That's because fire safety tests performed over the summer found the elevator shafts in the addition did not pass pressurization tests. Elevator shaft pressurization reduces the spread of smoke during a fire, making improper pressure a “life-safety issue.”

The $133 million construction project broke ground in September 2018.

Well, this sounds like a mess for the lawyers to handle. I imagine there will be a settlement sometime in 2027. Best wishes to the graduate students and postdocs most affected by this. 

Chemical Activity Barometer down 0.5% in August

From the American Chemistry Council:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), fell 0.5% in August on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following steadily easing gains in May, June and July. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer rose 12.5% in August (3MMA).

The unadjusted data show a 1.6% decline in August after flat readings in July and June. The diffusion index eased to 82% in August. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for July was revised downward by 0.53 points and the reading for June was revised downward by 0.33 points. The August data are provisional and subject to revision.

"The latest CAB reading is consistent with expansion of commerce, trade and industry, but clearly growth has peaked, with slower growth ahead." said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC.

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.

In August, production-related indicators were up slightly. Trends in construction-related resins and related performance chemistry improved. Resins and chemistry used in other durable goods increased. Plastic resins used in packaging and for consumer and institutional applications showed gains. Performance chemistry for industry was solid and exports grew. Equity prices declined amid geopolitical uncertainty and fears about the Delta variant. Product and input prices expanded.

Inventory and other supply chain indicators were positive.

If the economy starts cooling off in general, it's possible the very hot chemistry job market might slow down, especially since the CAB sounds like it's been dialing back since May - here's hoping otherwise. 

Best wishes to all of us.