Friday, June 24, 2022

Have a great weekend

This was a quieter week than I expected, but that's nice. Next week will be quite busy and stressful (especially before a July 4 weekend!) but that's okay. Have a good weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

A Survey of Industrial Organic Chemists

Did you find an entry-level position in industrial organic chemistry in the US in 2020-2022? If so, please take this short survey to help future job seekers. 

Please let others know about this survey! I would really appreciate it if you could send it to relevant friends. 

Thanks, Chemjobber

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

A Survey of Industrial Organic Chemists

Did you find a position in industrial organic chemistry in the US in 2020-2022? If so, please take this short survey to help future job seekers. 

Please let others know about this survey! Thanks, Chemjobber

Nine basic hiring practices from Edward Nevraumont

Via Marginal Revolution, a list of hiring practices from Edward Nevraumont, an advisor at a private equity firm: 
Most of the time you can win candidates by getting the basics right:
  1. Reach out to people, don’t wait for them to come to you.
  2. Build relationships before you need them.
  3. Develop followership (so people that work with you once will want to work with you again).
  4. Get candidates excited for the job before you start screening them.
  5. Make your workplace a good place to work for smart and talented people (which is NOT the same as making it a “good place to work” generally, or anything from the HR/PR lists.)
  6. Be the type of manager that top talent will want to work for.
  7. Ensure that you have someone selling the candidate once you know you want to make an offer and start the selling process before the offer is made.
  8. Be polite.
  9. Be fast.
If you take care of these type of basic things, you will out-compete almost every rival — without the need for experimental interview techniques that push people “off script.”

I broadly think this is correct, but I really think it is numbers 1 and 2 that are really important for small organization. In other words, if you're running a faculty search for Harvard, you could post the ad on a 3X5 card in a random bathroom in Cambridge and get all the candidates you need. For the rest of us, I really believe that recruiting (especially targeting specific people) is important and probably a much better route than simply posting an ad, and wading from a sea of CVs. 

I also think that numbers 8 and 9 are difficult, but important. Making the process fast is appreciated by everyone, especially if you can get back to everyone, even just to reject their application. 

Job posting: Ambercycle, senior scientist, Los Angeles, CA

From the inbox, this position: 

About Us

...We're developing and scaling a breakthrough technology to manufacture yarns and fabrics from old clothes, without a sacrifice in quality, rather than from petroleum or new agriculture resources. Our apparel products avoid the use of new raw materials and go into the highest quality applications, exceeding the expectations of end customers with a fraction of the environmental footprint. Using our technology, we are fundamentally changing the fashion industry and building the infinite textile ecosystem. For more information, visit www.ambercycle.com

The Job

 We are looking for a highly motivated Senior Scientist who will develop and help scale our technology for making brand new yarns from old clothing. You will help bring Ambercycle’s innovative technology out of the lab and into commercial operation. You will be responsible for experimental process design and implementation and will work closely with the R&D team and the Research and Engineering leadership.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 10 research/teaching positions

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 10 research/teaching positions. 

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

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

On June 22, 2021, the 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 14 research/teaching positions. On June 23, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 7 research/teaching positions and two teaching faculty positions. 

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. 

Chemistry Bumper Cars

Check out the latest moves here! 

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

Monday, June 20, 2022

A Survey of Industrial Organic Chemists

Did you find a position in industrial organic chemistry in the US in 2020-2022? If so, please take this short survey to help future job seekers. 

Please let others know about this survey! Thanks, Chemjobber

C&EN: "What I learned from my lab accident"

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this article from Francesca Lorandi:
In February of this year, I was injured in an accident in a chemistry laboratory. I had set up an experiment that involved the separate use of hydrogen and oxygen gases fed into a glove box from compressed cylinders located in the lab. Though this was a well-established experimental procedure in my research group, something caused an explosion. The specific cause of the accident is still under investigation.

When the explosion occurred, the experiment had been paused for a few hours, and I was standing by the glove box. I spent 7 days in the hospital undergoing surgery for wounds on my face and neck and getting splints and implants for dental trauma. A neck fracture meant I had to wear a brace for 2 months. There are also invisible consequences that I’m still discovering day by day. I’m not confronting them on my own: I ask for help or talk to my partner, family, mentors, friends, and colleagues.

The accident triggered extensive discussions at my institution about safety measures in all the departments that conduct potentially hazardous experiments. Department heads and safety services are implementing changes. Importantly, these changes are aimed at germinating a culture of safety rather than just implementing stricter regulations and promising compliance.

It's quite remarkable to have a pretty open incident report this early on. I'm glad that Dr. Lorandi wrote this article, and I hope that it begins a trend. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Have a great weekend


This was a pretty good week, really. Could have used not going to urgent care for stitches, but other than that, it was a good week. I hope that you have a great, fun weekend, and we'll see you on Monday.

 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

28 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 28 new positions for June 12. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Science: Professors report difficulty in recruiting postdoctoral fellows

Via Twitter, this article: 

When Jennifer Mason posted an ad for a postdoc position in early March, she was eager to have someone on board by April or May to tackle recently funded projects. Instead, it took 2 months to receive a single application. Since then, only two more have come in. “Money is just sitting there that isn’t being used … and there’s these projects that aren’t moving anywhere as a result,” says Mason, an assistant professor in genetics at Clemson University.

She isn’t alone. On social media, many U.S. academics have been pointing to widespread challenges in recruiting postdocs. An investigation by Science Careers bears this out: More than 100 U.S.-based researchers were contacted because they advertised for postdoc positions this year on scientific society job boards, and of the 37 who responded with information about their hiring experiences, three-quarters reported challenges recruiting. “This year is hard for me to wrestle with: … we received absolutely zero response from our posting,” one wrote. “The number of applications is 10 times less than 2018-2019,” another wrote.

I'm somewhat sympathetic to professors (especially early-career professors) who rely on postdocs for their work. At the same time, what we are hearing right now (i.e. professors offering lower wages not being able to compete with industry) is the ideal situation. I hope this is the new normal. 

We'll get a chance to find out if it is. I have not been shy in predicting a relative slowdown in hiring this year, and I imagine that within a year, professors will once again have no problem in selling inferior goods filling their postdoctoral positions. We shall see. 

(I suspect this situation has to do with Trump-era tightening of immigration, i.e. it has been more difficult to get international students and Ph.D. graduates to get visas. I haven't articles contrasting the Biden Administration's positions on this - anyone have relevant knowledge to share?) 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 8 research/teaching positions

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 8 research/teaching positions. 

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

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

On June 15, 2021, the 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 9 research/teaching positions. On June 16, 2020, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 6 research/teaching positions. 

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: director of instructional and research support, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, St. Mary's College of Maryland

From the inbox: 
St. Mary’s College of Maryland at Historic St. Mary’s City is accepting résumés for the position of Director of Instructional and Research Support for Chemistry and Biochemistry. The director acts as the department laboratory manager in support of instructional and research activities, and teaches the equivalent of six laboratory sections per academic year.

Non-sectarian since its founding, St. Mary's College of Maryland, a public Carnegie Baccalaureate, Arts and Sciences institution located in Historic St. Mary's City, 70 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., has been designated as Maryland's public honors college.  Undergraduate and residential in nature, with a diverse coeducational student body numbering approximately 1600, St. Mary's emphasizes excellence in teaching.  The institution was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1997.  The quality of life is enhanced by the recreational opportunities of the Chesapeake region and close proximity to the amenities of Washington D.C., Baltimore and Richmond.

Qualifications: Master’s degree in biochemistry, chemistry, or related scientific field, or bachelor’s degree with documented equivalent experience.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

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Monday, June 13, 2022

Bloomberg: CSB chair Lemos quits

Via Bloomberg: 
The head of a federal safety agency that investigates major industrial accidents has submitted her resignation, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg.

Katherine Lemos’s departure would leave the five-person US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board with two members, though the White House said this week it would nominate Catherine J.K. Sandoval, a professor at California’s Santa Clara University, to the board.

The turmoil at the Chemical Safety Board is, by now, not really news, but the fact that it keeps happening, across three presidential administrations tends to indicate there's something strange going on there...  

Post-pandemic, the US private sector is almost all the way back

Via Axios, this economic news: 

Stunning stat: The private sector has recovered 99% of all jobs lost, but public sector has regained just 58% — one illustration of the gaping hole that persists in certain areas of the economy.

Other industries have recovered and then some: the transportation and warehousing sector — think package couriers or truckers — has never made up a bigger share of the workforce, reflecting, for one, the historic appetite for goods.

The manufacturing sector is currently 17,000 positions short of its pre-pandemic peak (so close to 99%?), and that's where chemists mostly are. 

Friday, June 10, 2022

Have a great weekend


This week wasn't quite as rough as I might have been worrying, but here we are at the end of it. Hope that you had a good week, and that you have a great weekend (maybe with some sunshine in the outdoors?) See you on Monday. 

 

C&EN on Karen Wetterhahn

In the pages of Chemical and Engineering News, this remarkable profile of Karen Wetterhahn in her life and her legacy in her death from dimethylmercury poisoning: 
...On Aug. 14, 1996, Wetterhahn was working in a fume hood in her research group’s lab. By that point in her career, she didn’t get to spend much time at the bench, but this was a task she didn’t want anyone else doing...

This article by Sam Lemonick is really worth a read - good thoughts about both chemical safety and her far-reaching legacy within. 

Thursday, June 9, 2022

64 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

 Over at Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 64 new positions for June 5. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

OPRD: A Call for Papers to Openly Discuss Chemical Incidents

From the inbox: 
...We believe that ACS Chemical Health & Safety is well positioned to “fill the gaps” to help the scientific community learn from the experiences of others by sharing our experiences in a Virtual Special Issue (VSI) that highlights chemical incidents. In VSIs, manuscripts are initially published in a regular issue shortly after they are accepted for publication. Once all VSI papers have been accepted, they are collected onto a single webpage, giving additional exposure to each author’s work. Our goal in collating this VSI is to promote an open and informative environment where incidents and near misses can be shared by researchers, without blame or shame for those involved, to educate and prevent others from experiencing similar consequences. 

...We can start by normalizing the discussion of safety incidents where we openly discuss chemical incidents, missing safety information, ineffective risk assessments, and even our own mistakes. To that end, we seek submissions related to incidents and near misses involving the following:
  • unexpected hazards from chemicals, processes, and equipment
  • organizational reviews of repeated incidents
  • chronic and acute exposure to chemicals
  • proactive and reactive responses to natural disasters
  • mental health outcomes related to incidents, near misses, or general safety culture
  • other experiences and challenges in transitioning from a blame culture to a just culture
Seems like a good thing to do. Full call here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Is a difficult name a problem in your job search?

Via Marginal Revolution, this interesting paper: 
This paper tests for the existence of labor market discrimination based on a previously unstudied characteristic: name fluency. Using data on over 1,500 economics job market candidates from roughly 100 PhD programs during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 job market cycles, we find that having a name that takes longer to pronounce is associated with 1) a significantly lower likelihood of being placed into an academic job or obtaining a tenure track position; and 2) an initial placement at an institution with lower research productivity, as measured by the research rankings in the Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) database. We obtain similar results using two alternative ways of measuring pronunciation difficulty, a computer generated algorithm based on commonality of letter and phoneme combinations and a subjective measure based on individual ratings, and they hold after the inclusion of many control variables including fixed effects for PhD institution and home country.

Would be interesting to see what is "difficult to pronounce" (i.e. do Xi, Krishnamurthy or Krzyzewski count?) I could imagine all three being either easy or difficult, depending on the pronouncer. Also, I strongly suspect that this would reproduce in chemistry and for industry...

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The 2023 Faculty Jobs List: 4 research/teaching positions

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 4 research/teaching positions. 

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter 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? This will serve as the first open thread. 

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

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 592 research/teaching positions and 110 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 592 research/teaching positions and 110 teaching positions. 

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

On June 7, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 339 research/teaching position and 67 teaching positions. On June 2, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 557 research/teaching positions and 80 teaching positions.

This will be the last post for the 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List. 

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 fourth open thread. Here's the third open thread. Go to the second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

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

Chemistry Bumper Cars

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Monday, June 6, 2022

The geographical distribution of chemistry jobs from 1991, 2011 and 2021

An ad from 1991 
Credit: Chemical and Engineering News
I am pleased to find myself back in the pages of Chemical and Engineering News, this time looking at pages of old back issues and analyzing the geographical distribution of the various jobs. I think you'll be somewhat surprised at what I found, so read the whole thing. 

ACC: Weekly Chemistry and Economic Trends

Via the American Chemistry Council, their weekly report of economic trends: 

Employment

Nonfarm payrolls grew by 390,000 in May, the smallest monthly gain since April 2021. Notable job gains were in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services and transportation and warehousing. Employment in retail trade declined. Employment remains below pre-Covid levels by 822,000. Manufacturing payrolls grew by 18,000, the 13th month of consecutive monthly gains. Average hourly wages for non-supervisory and production workers grew by 6.5% Y/Y to $27.33, the slowest annual pace since December. The labor force grew and most new entrants moved into the ranks of the employed. The participation rate ticked up to 60.1%, tying March for the highest rate since the pandemic began. The unemployment rate remained steady for a third month at 3.6%. 

Chemical industry employment 

Chemical industry employment (including pharmaceuticals) rose by 3,700 (0.4%) in May as gains in production workers offset a decline in supervisory and non-production workers. Compared to a year ago, chemical industry employment was up by 27,400 (3.2% Y/Y). Average hourly wages in chemical manufacturing rose 1.4% Y/Y to $27.12. The average workweek expanded by ½ hour to 41.2 hours. Combined with employment gains, the labor input into the chemical industry was up 2.2% which was consistent with the ISM Manufacturing PMI report that suggested the chemical industry experienced moderate-to-strong growth in May. 

Chemical shipments

Within the details of the ISM Manufacturing PMI report, chemical products was listed as one of the industries reporting moderate-to-strong growth in May. Chemical industry respondents reported growth in new orders, higher  inventories, increased employment growth, new export orders, and imports and paying higher prices for raw materials in May. They reported no change in order backlogs, that customer inventories were “too low” and slower supplier deliveries reflecting continued obstacles across the supply chain, with labor and through the transportation and distribution network. One plastics and rubber products respondent provided a comment: “Price increases haven’t let up. I thought 2022 was going to be better, but it hasn’t been. Shortages (among other issues) are disrupting the supply chain.” 

Mostly good news, it seems. 

Friday, June 3, 2022

Have a great weekend


Well, I didn't get quite as much done as I would have liked, but a couple of the big things we wanted to do got done. I hope you have a great weekend, and see you on Monday. 

Can the Fed engineer a soft landing?

Via the New York Times, thoughts about the current state of the economy: 
When it comes to the economy, more is usually better.

Bigger job gains, faster wage growth and more consumer spending are all, in normal times, signs of a healthy economy. Growth might not be sufficient to ensure widespread prosperity, but it is necessary — making any loss of momentum a worrying sign that the economy could be losing steam or, worse, headed into a recession.

But these are not normal times. With nearly twice as many open jobs as available workers and companies struggling to meet record demand, many economists and policymakers argue that what the economy needs right now is not more, but less — less hiring, less wage growth and above all less inflation, which is running at its fastest pace in four decades...
And some thoughts within from progressive economist Mike Konczal: 
...The Fed’s efforts to cool off the economy are already bearing fruit, Mr. Konczal said. Mortgage rates have risen sharply, and there are signs that the housing market is slowing as a result. The stock market has lost almost 15 percent of its value since the beginning of the year. That loss of wealth is likely to lead at least some consumers to pull back on their spending, which will lead to a pullback in hiring. Job openings fell in April, though they remained high, and wage growth has eased.

“There’s a lot of evidence to suggest the economy has already slowed down,” Mr. Konczal said. He said he was optimistic that the United States was on a path toward “normalizing to a regular good economy” instead of the boomlike one it has experienced over the past year.

My broad prediction continues to be that the job market for entry-level chemists in fall of 2022 will be less good than the fall of 2021, but how much less is the question that is truly difficult to answer. I suspect that it will be "somewhat less good" (0-10% fewer job openings?), but not "significantly less good" (10-25+%), but I genuinely have no good way to measure this, other than the Faculty Jobs List (?). Perhaps Organic Chemistry Jobs is the place to monitor. 

Anyway, this is something that I am continuing to watch, so if you would like to enter a prediction with falsifiability in the comments, I would welcome that. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Column's Product of the Day: orthopedic casts

Via the always excellent The Column, orthopedic casts: 
“The material casts are made of is a knitted fiber soaked with a polyisocyanate prepolymer. The fiber is typically fiberglass (long strands of glass surrounded by a polymer) or a polyester like PET. The polyisocyanate prepolymer is a usually a polyether polyol (like this polypropylene glycol from Covestro) with MDI end caps. When this stuff hits water it cures (forms crosslinks) and become the rigid polyurethane that protects your (or someone else's) healing bones.“

ACS CEO Thomas Connelly to retire at the end of 2022

Via C&EN (article by Bibiana Campos Seijo):

American Chemical Society chief executive officer Thomas Connelly will retire at the end of 2022 after more than 7 years of service as its CEO. ACS publishes C&EN.

“Tom has provided strong leadership for ACS throughout his tenure, especially over the past two years as we experienced a once in a lifetime challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Paul W. Jagodzinski, chair of the ACS Board of Directors, in a press release. “We look forward to Tom’s continued leadership through the rest of 2022 and wish him all the best as he enters the next chapter of his life in 2023.”

...The ACS Board of Directors will start the search for a new CEO immediately. The Board intends to identify a successor before the end of the year to ensure continuity.


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 591 research/teaching positions and 110 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 591 research/teaching positions and 110 teaching positions. 

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

On June 1, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 338 research/teaching position and 67 teaching positions. On June 2, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 557 research/teaching positions and 80 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 fourth open thread. Here's the third open thread. Go to the second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

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

Chemistry Bumper Cars

Check out the latest moves here! 

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

Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day; back tomorrow

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas
Credit: KENS5

Today is Memorial Day in the United  States; it's a national holiday.

Back tomorrow. 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Have a great weekend

I had a decent week (of course, it helps that I had a shortened week, and a long weekend.) Here's to a great long weekend for those in the US, and we'll see you on Tuesday. 

Q1 GDP down 1.5% (annualized)

Via Calculated Risk, this news from the Bureau of Economic Analysis: 
Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the first quarter of 2022 (table 1), according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 6.9 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the "advance" estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the decrease in real GDP was 1.4 percent. The update primarily reflects downward revisions to private inventory investment and residential investment that were partly offset by an upward revision to consumer spending. 

It will be important to see if this continues, or if indeed was a one time event... 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

68 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

 Over at Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 68 new positions for May 20. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Nope, I don't see it either

Via the New York Times, a lament about the lack of productivity growth in recent years: 
For years, it has been an article of faith in corporate America that cloud computing and artificial intelligence will fuel a surge in wealth-generating productivity. That belief has inspired a flood of venture funding and company spending. And the payoff, proponents insist, will not be confined to a small group of tech giants but will spread across the economy.

It hasn’t happened yet.

Productivity, which is defined as the value of goods and services produced per hour of work, fell sharply in the first quarter this year, the government reported this month. The quarterly numbers are often volatile, but the report seemed to dash earlier hopes that a productivity revival was finally underway, helped by accelerated investment in digital technologies during the pandemic.
Here's the article's example of AI helping productivity gains: 
At Anthem, a health insurer whose plans cover more than 45 million people, about 75 percent of the customer questions are now handled through its digital channels, including a web portal, a mobile app and speech recognition software. Three years earlier, the digital share was about 30 percent. The question-answering technology to help people with basic tasks like checking the status of a claim, paying a bill or finding a doctor is animated partly by A.I.

Digital automation has eliminated 10 million phone calls that Anthem’s call centers would have fielded, estimated Rajeev Ronanki, president of digital platforms.

Count me... less than impressed. It seems to me that both the chemical and pharmaceutical industries would be ripe for artificial intelligence boost productivity, especially on the research end. If artificial intelligence could tell us exactly what proteins to target with which molcules faster, we would be launching more and better drugs (or more and better materials)... but so far as I can tell, that hasn't quite happened yet. 

Introducing The Product of the Day, by The Column

The Column is a really great newsletter about the chemical industry - one of the neat features is the Molecule or Product of the Day. Thanks to The Column, I'll be presenting this weekly. This week, antiperspirant deodorants.
“Depending on the antiperspirant deodorant you buy (gel, stick, or aerosol) you'll find very different compositions. Gels are best described as cyclosiloxane emulsions, sticks as solid anhydrous cyclomethicone suspensions, and aerosols as hydrocarbon propellant suspensions.”

Read the whole thing!  

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 591 research/teaching positions and 110 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 591 research/teaching positions and 110 teaching positions. 

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

On May 25, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 338 research/teaching position and 67 teaching positions. On May 26, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 557 research/teaching positions and 80 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 fourth open thread. Here's the third open thread. Go to the second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

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

Chemistry Bumper Cars

Check out the latest moves here! 

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

Monday, May 23, 2022

The precariat?

Via Marginal Revolution, this economics paper abstract: 
There is a widespread belief that work is less secure than in the past, that an increasing share of workers are part of the “pprecariat”. It is hard to find much evidence for this in objective measures of job security, but perhaps subjective measures show different trends. This paper shows that in the US, UK, and Germany workers feel as secure as they ever have in the last thirty years. This is partly because job insecurity is very cyclical and (pre-COVID) unemployment rates very low, but there is also no clear underlying trend towards increased subjective measures of job insecurity. This conclusion seems robust to controlling for the changing mix of the labor force, and is true for specific sub-sets of workers. 
It would be fascinating to get a chemistry-specific measurement of worker-perceived precarity in chemistry, either firm-specific or field-specific. I imagine that workers of the last 20 years have felt more precarious (especially between 2003-2015 or so). I suspect we're at a relative global minima in "chemist-perceived precarity", but we shall see... 

C&EN: Agios to lay off 50 employees

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News (article by Jessica Marshall): 
Agios Pharmaceuticals is adding to mounting layoffs in the biotech sector. The Massachusetts-based company says it will eliminate as many as 50 employees—primarily in exploratory research—out of a workforce of nearly 400. It will retain staff working on later-stage drugs in its pipeline, which targets sickle cell disease, pediatric pyruvate kinase deficiency, thalassemia, and other genetically defined conditions. Agios has an approved drug to treat adult pyruvate kinase deficiency.

Best wishes to those affected.  

Friday, May 20, 2022

Have a great weekend

It's been a whirlwind week for me - it is fun to be on the road, even with the occasional awkward dinner event or the torrential downpour. I hope you had a good week, and I hope you have an even better weekend. See you on Monday! 

Fake job searches for diversity at Wells Fargo

I think we're all familiar with the "fake job search", where a candidate has been pre-determined, and yet the formal process of a job search takes place. I've actually taken the trouble of naming these as "coffee parrots", and I find myself identifying academic versions of them on a regular basis. 

There are also the private industry versions of these fake job searches. Via the New York Times, here's a rather offensive version of them: 

For many open positions, employees would interview a “diverse” candidate — the bank’s term for a woman or person of color — in keeping with the bank’s yearslong informal policy. But Mr. Bruno noticed that often, the so-called diverse candidate would be interviewed for a job that had already been promised to someone else...

...Don Banks, 31, a Black wealth manager living in Monroe, La., was contacted by Wells Fargo twice before he was hired. In 2016 and 2017, a human resources representative from the bank told Mr. Banks that he had advanced past an initial interview round for a financial adviser trainee position and would be getting a call from a manager. Both times, no one called.

Mr. Banks had been submitted to fake interviews, according to a former employee who was a manager in the area where Mr. Banks had applied, and who participated in the hiring process involving Mr. Banks’s application. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he still works in the industry.

Mr. Banks was eventually hired in 2018 by Wells Fargo in a more junior position. Two years later, he was laid off during cutbacks in the pandemic.

It seems to me that the fellow in the story (Mr. Bruno) had the right idea around recruiting candidates of color (i.e. specifically reaching out to professional associations for those groups.*) Fake job interviews are definitely the wrong idea. 

*a reminder that NoBCChe and SACNAS are both excellent organizations 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Job posting: synthetic chemist, Quadratic, Somerville, MA

Via Twitter: 

We are seeking a highly motivated chemist to aid and collaborate with senior staff in the design and synthesis of small molecules for next-generation 3D printing resins. Successful candidates will be passionate about synthetic chemistry, excited to solve complex problems in a fast-paced environment, and comfortable in the multidisciplinary environment of materials research. This unique opportunity will immerse the candidate in the vast world of application-oriented organic synthesis in materials science.

Responsibilities

  • Develop, troubleshoot, and optimize synthetic routes, especially divergent and/or modular approaches for rapid generation of lead candidates
  • Perform basic NMR, UV/Vis, IR, and mass spectrometric characterizations
  • Additional responsibilities include management of supplier relationships, development/maintenance of purchasing procedures, and/or development of standard operating procedures for new instrumentation.
  • Comply with EH&S requirements and promote safety in the work environment

Minimum Qualifications

  • BS or MS degree in Chemistry with 0-3 years industrial synthetic chemistry experience
  • Excellent command of the basics of physical and synthetic organic chemistry
  • Experience performing organic synthesis in a research environment, and a talent for experimental design
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

NYT on silicon carbide in modern electronics

Via the New York Times, this interesting article about silicon carbide: 
This wave of new materials burst from the lab in 2017, when Tesla faced a pivotal moment in its history. The company had released two successful luxury car models, but in its effort to become a major automaker, it gambled the company’s future on making a cheaper, mass-market vehicle.

When Tesla released its Model 3, it had a secret technical edge over the competition: a material called silicon carbide. One of the key parts of an electric car is the traction inverters, which take electricity from the batteries, convert it into a different form and feed it to the motors that turn the wheels. To get the pin-you-to-your-seat acceleration that Teslas are known for, traction inverters must pump out hundreds of kilowatts, enough power to supply a small neighborhood, while being dependable enough to handle life-or-death highway use.

Maybe you knew about SiC, but I did not!  

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 591 research/teaching positions and 110 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 591 research/teaching positions and 110 teaching positions. 

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

On May 18, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 338 research/teaching position and 65 teaching positions. On May 19, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 557 research/teaching positions and 80 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 fourth open thread. Here's the third open thread. Go to the second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

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

Job posting: instructor, Department of Chemistry, New Mexico Tech, Soccorro, NM

From the inbox: 

The Department of Chemistry at New Mexico Tech invites applications for a full-time Instructor of Chemistry position, with appointment to begin in August 2022. The successful candidate will serve as a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry, teaching primarily introductory courses (General Chemistry and Intro to Chemistry) and also helping attract students to our program. Strong candidates will have a record of excellence in teaching at the undergraduate level. Ability and interest in teaching Organic Chemistry would be considered a plus. A master’s degree in Chemistry is required at the time of application; a PhD is preferred. We welcome applications from women and underrepresented minority candidates. 

...Applications will be considered on a rolling basis starting May 15, 2022, as we seek to fill the position as soon as possible. Candidates must complete an online application and electronically attach a single PDF document, incorporating all of the following: cover letter including the names and addresses of three professional references; curriculum vitae (CV); summary of teaching experience; and statement of teaching approach. Materials should be sent to nmtjobapps@npe.nmt.edu c/o Rosa Jaramillo and copied to Sally Pias, sally.pias@nmt.edu

Put “Chemistry Instructor” in the e-mail subject line, and please let us know where you saw the advertisement. Inquiries should be directed to sally.pias@nmt.edu.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Chemistry Bumper Cars

Check out the latest moves here! 

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

Monday, May 16, 2022

Is tuition driving undergraduate enrollment decreases?

Also in this week's C&EN, this letter to the editor on college tuition: 

I share your concern on dropping undergraduate enrollment numbers as expressed in the editorial in the Feb. 7 issue of C&EN (page 2). The pandemic undoubtedly played a role, but the skyrocketing cost of tuition for higher education is a serious factor that cannot be overlooked. I’m old enough that I remember being able to work two jobs and pay for college tuition, food, and rent. Despite some availability of grants, this is no longer a possibility for the majority of undergraduate students without taking on burdensome student loans.

With a few exceptions, it appears that the ready availability of student loans has only encouraged universities to raise tuition rates to absurd levels. If the US government is to be a source of student loans, there should be accompanying restrictions on how much and how rapidly higher learning institutions can raise tuition. If we cannot make higher education more readily available without a decades-long student debt burden, we will see undergraduate enrollment continuing to decline, much to our detriment.

Robert B. Cody  

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

It seems almost axiomatic to me that, as tuition increases go up, student enrollments would go down, but that doesn't really seem to be the case for the last number of years? I would think that the demographic trends that are pointed to in the original editorial are the true source of the decline...


Chemical manufacturers have a strong Q1

Via this week's Chemical and Engineering News, the first quarter results for 2022 (article by Alex Tullo): 

First-quarter financial results for the major US and European chemical firms are in, and they show that the industry got off to a strong start in 2022.

A couple of problems have executives worried about the quarters ahead, however. They see strict COVID-19 lockdowns in China slowing operations, and they think that inflation—exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—hasn’t quite finished rippling through the economy.

Sales at the world’s largest chemical maker, BASF, climbed 19% in the first quarter from the same quarter a year earlier, while earnings jumped 35%. Higher selling prices, mainly in the firm’s chemical and materials unit, drove the results.

A 60% rise in earnings helped Celanese break a profit record set during the second quarter of last year. Acetyl chemicals remain enormously profitable for the company.

At Dow, results showed solid improvement, but profit margins in its core packaging plastic business thinned because of escalating raw material costs. Eastman Chemical and DuPont posted modest declines in earnings while sales rose.

The challenge for chemical makers, particularly those in Europe, has been keeping up with climbing costs. “The war has led to drastic price increases for energy and various raw materials in Europe and a high level of uncertainty regarding future supplies,” BASF chairman Martin Brudermüller told analysts. Over the past year, costs at the firm’s European operations have risen by over $900 million.

It's good news these large manufacturers seem to be doing all right - will be a good sign (I feel) for hiring for the near future.  Will be important to see the effects of interest rate increases...

Friday, May 13, 2022

Have a good weekend

I expected this to be a stressful week, and it will be, but it is seemingly a little bit less so than I expected. Here's hoping that your Friday is good, and that your weekend is restful. See you on Monday. 

Job postings: CDER, FDA, Silver Spring, MD

From the inbox, a variety of FDA positions, including this one:
Pharmaceutical Scientist 

The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), Office of Pharmaceutical Quality (OPQ), Office of New Drug Products (ONDP) is recruiting for a Pharmaceutical Scientist to be responsible for reviewing and evaluating comprehensive information and data on chemistry, formulation, manufacturing (including process monitoring and controls), biopharmaceutics (including drug release). 

 I believe the deadlines on these positions is May 16, so time is ticking. Best wishes to those interested. 

Chemist sentenced to 14 years in prison for trade secret theft

More on the Shannon You case (from a Department of Justice press release): 

Chemist Sentenced for Stealing Trade Secrets, Economic Espionage and Wire Fraud

A federal judge in Greeneville, Tennessee, sentenced a Michigan woman today to 168 months, the equivalent of 14 years, in prison for a scheme to steal trade secrets, engage in economic espionage and commit fraud. The defendant was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay a $200,000 fine.

In April 2021, following a 13-day jury trial, Xiaorong You, aka Shannon You, 59, of Lansing, Michigan, was convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, conspiracy to commit economic espionage, possession of stolen trade secrets, economic espionage and wire fraud.

“As the evidence at trial showed, the defendant stole valuable trade secrets and intended to use them to benefit not only a foreign company, but also the government of China,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of this offense, as well as the Department of Justice’s commitment to protect our nation’s security by investigating and prosecuting those who steal U.S. companies’ intellectual property.”

As someone who has seen and helped sign a great number of NDAs, I've rarely contemplated what I could do with the information that was to be protected, other than my job. I imagine that if I thought about it, I could come up with a case or two where I might have thought "I could buy some stock and make money from this"*. I simply cannot imagine a case where I would have thought "I'm going to take this information, give it to my own company and get investors." 

Here's hoping this case is the last one, but it won't be, sigh. 

*As a rule, I don't buy individual stock. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

54 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 54 new positions for May 8. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

When the boss buys a new toy...

Via hilarious Bloomberg writer Matt Levine, this funny story from the Wall Street Journal about a hedge funder purchasing the New York Mets and putting his people to work:  

Some senior employees from Cohen’s firm, Point72 Asset Management, have been moonlighting as Mets employees in crucial roles, according to staffers’ LinkedIn pages, the Mets’ website and people familiar with the matter. Many are tasked with improving the team’s once-outdated infrastructure, data-analytics capabilities and technological prowess. …

Since Cohen took over, the number of people working in data and analytics has grown from eight full-time employees to 35, some of them from Point72, a person familiar with the matter said. Cohen has embedded data scientists in the Mets’ scouting departments. A new data-engineering group is also stocked with people from Point72.

I gotta say, that's better than the PI making you pick up his dry cleaning! I also thought this was a funny detail (also pointed out by Levine): 

Cohen’s chief-of-staff, Michael Sullivan, said Cohen hasn’t missed a day of trading since he bought the Mets and continues to work seven days a week.

“Some members of his senior leadership team that were hoping he’d be distracted by the Mets on weekends have been horribly disappointed,” Sullivan said.

I'm guessing that buying the Mets would not make the boss more mellow, but you'd think that it would distract him. I feel like I've seen a number of bosses mellow because of life and age - guessing they'd get pretty busy if they bought a MLB team... 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 590 research/teaching positions and 109 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 590 research/teaching positions and 109 teaching positions. 

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

On May 11, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 337 research/teaching position and 65 teaching positions. On May 12, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 557 research/teaching positions and 80 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 fourth open thread. Here's the third open thread. Go to the second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

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

"Get a job, Ken!", the video

Many of you are familiar with Professor Ken Hanson's "Get a Job, Ken!" series, and also his "Keep Your Job, Ken!" series. Now, we have a video version! 

Chemistry Bumper Cars

Check out the latest moves here! 

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

Monday, May 9, 2022

BLS: total nonfarm payroll increased 428,000, unemployment flat at 3.6%

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Calculated Risk:
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 428,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, in manufacturing, and in transportation and warehousing.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised down by 36,000, from +750,000 to +714,000, and the change for March was revised down by 3,000, from +431,000 to +428,000. With these revisions, employment in February and March combined is 39,000 lower than previously reported.

This comment from Calculated Risk is notable: 

Excluding leisure and hospitality, the economy has added back all the jobs lost at the beginning of the pandemic.  Leisure and hospitality gained 78 thousand jobs in April.  At the beginning of the pandemic, in March and April of 2020, leisure and hospitality lost 8.20 million jobs, and are now down 1.44 million jobs since February 2020.  So, leisure and hospitality has now added back about 83% all of the jobs lost in March and April 2020.  

It is worth noting that the seasonally adjusted employment in the chemical manufacturing subsector for April 2022 was 889,000 employees. That level in January 2020 was 853,700, so there's been fairly significant job growth since then. 

Help the Percy Julian family home

Also in this week's C&EN, this update on the family home of prominent Black chemist Percy Julian (article by Ariana Remmel): 
The family home of Percy Lavon Julian sits on a corner lot in the Oak Park suburb of Chicago. Julian was already a renowned organic chemist when he bought the two-story stone house in 1950. His daughter, Faith Julian, remembers a time when the home was not just the center of their family life, but also a place where her father thrived as a scientist and entrepreneur until his death in 1975. Despite multiple racist attacks to push them out of the neighborhood, Percy Julian would not leave his home, she says. “My dad never wanted to move. He loved this house,” she says.

You can help Faith Julian with her home at this GoFundMe.

C&EN: Fertilizer industry developing new routes around supply chain problems

In this week's C&EN, a story on fertilizer manufacturing innovation (article by Matt Blois): 

Surrounded by 2,400 hectares of tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables near Fresno, California, the white shipping container looks small. Inside, light flashes through the porthole windows of a buzzing plasma reactor powered by two rows of adjacent solar panels.

The plasma oxidizes nitrogen from the air and sends it to absorbtion colmns where it bubbles up through water. Nitrogen oxides react with hydrogen and oxygen in the water to form a nitric acid solution, which is stored in tanks. A pipe connected to the farm’s irrigation system delivers the diluted nitric acid as an alternative to conventional nitrogen fertilizer.

Nitricity, the start-up operating this pilot-scale fertilizer factory, says its technology is one way to shorten a supply chain that has recently been pummeled by hurricanes, winter storms, export controls, coal shortages, high prices for natural gas, and a viral pandemic. Those disruptions sent costs for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizers to historic highs in 2021. Heavy sanctions on Russia and Belarus after the attack on Ukraine in February 2022 further increased the price of natural gas and cut off a major source of fertilizers, pushing up prices even more.

I'm guessing that this kind of modular system has its limits and its economics would require relatively high value crops, but this is fascinating and bears some watching... 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Have a good weekend


Well, this week was somewhat less stressful than expected. Here's hoping that my Friday is peaceful, and that yours is as well. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

 

RIP David Evans

Via Chemical and Engineering News, this sad news (article by Bethany Halford):

David A. Evans, the Abbott and James Lawrence Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, died April 29 at the age of 81.

Former students and colleagues remember Evans as a dedicated educator and a creative force in organic synthesis. He is best known for devising a way to use chiral oxazolidinone auxiliaries to control a target molecule’s stereochemistry. “That changed the whole mindset of how people thought about going about building molecules stereoselectively,” says David W. C. MacMillan, a chemistry professor at Princeton University who worked with Evans as a postdoctoral fellow in the late 1990s. Before Evans’s work, chemists used a small number of building blocks known as the chiral pool. “When Dave came along, he upended all of that thinking,” MacMillan says.

As a former total synthesis guy, I can't imagine what organic chemistry in the aughts would have been like without the Evans oxazolidinone. Best wishes to his family and friends.  

 

 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

71 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, curated by Brian Struss, there are 30 new positions for May 4 and 41 positions for April 29. The jobs can be viewed on the website or spreadsheet.

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Former chemical company CEO's past claims of greatness exposed as lies

Via random clicking, this is a pretty bonkers story of Nick Clark, a Virginia-area bike shop owner who claimed to have been a former pro cyclist, an international lawyer and also a former UN peacekeeper. Apparently, he was also the CEO of Alexium, a flame retardant company?

Immediately before he started cosplaying as a professional cyclist, Clark’s most prominent and prestigious role was as CEO of Alexium. That’s a chemical company headquartered in Perth, Western Australia, with links to cycling – for a season, it co-sponsored an Australian National Road Series team. The majority of its operations, however, are out of Greenville, South Carolina. 

...Clark played a major role as a cheerleader for the company, but testimony from within suggests that his leadership had its limits. 

One Alexium staff member, speaking to CyclingTips on the condition of anonymity, was hired during Clark’s time as CEO. This individual – who worked as a lab supervisor – came from a military and law enforcement background, and told me that he had no relevant qualifications and no experience in chemistry at the time. He was, he admits, hired purely on the basis of being riding buddies with Clark.

...Like others I have spoken to, this employee gradually built a perception that Clark was, like an actor, inhabiting a series of roles. And indeed, while during his Alexium days Clark is recognisably the same guy as he was when running ProBike FC, his demeanour and presentation is starkly different. Video footage of the time shows that despite his temper, he was far more polished in his corporate life – a dramatic contrast to the sometimes coarse, hyper-masculine persona he had at the bike shop.  

People get hired for all sorts of different reasons, and being buddies with the CEO is, I suspect, pretty common. You can get a sense for what Nick Clark was like as a CEO in the above video; it's a shame that they didn't have him spout some random technical mumbo-jumbo. 

NYT: Bureau of Labor Statistics reports record 11.5 million job openings in March

Via the New York Times: 

A government survey released Tuesday showed a record number of job openings, with 11.5 million positions listed as available in March, underscoring the continuing strength of the labor market.

The number of “quits” — a measurement of the amount of workers voluntarily leaving jobs — also reached a high, an indicator that many workers are confident they can leave their jobs and find employment that better suits their desires or needs.

The data released by the Labor Department as part of its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, is a fresh indicator of the anomalous nature of the economy as it recovers from the pandemic recession. A resurgence of household spending and business investment is colliding with a messy reordering of the supply of goods and labor.

Labor force participation has quickly recovered, nearing prepandemic rates, but has failed to keep up with the surge in job opportunities over the past year as business owners expand to meet the demand for a variety of goods and services.

I wonder if this will be a peak? I've predicted 15 of the 1 recessions, so I'm probably wrong...  

Monday, May 2, 2022

Death of Singaporean lab chemist in 2015 results in fines, charges

SINGAPORE: A former executive director of an industrial gas company was fined S$45,000 on Friday (Apr 29) for his part in a laboratory explosion that killed a chemist in 2015.

Gary Choo Pu Chang, 64, was the executive director of Leeden National Oxygen (LNOX), a firm that produces and sells specialty gases. His responsibilities included overseeing the safe operation of the laboratory.

The fatal explosion at the firm's Tanjong Kling premises on Oct 12, 2015 killed 30-year-old Lim Siaw Chian, who had just returned to work after giving birth.

Choo resigned on Aug 12, 2015, before the incident happened, but admitted to not establishing safe work procedures that could have prevented the blast.

Earlier this week, he pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to take measures to ensure the safety and health of his employees at work.

Last year, LNOX and the firm's CEO Steven Tham Weng Cheong were fined S$340,000 and S$45,000 respectively for similar offences.

Ms Lim was carrying out gas analysis on a cylinder when a series of explosions broke out at 21 Tanjong Kling Road on the day of the incident.
This is the first I've heard of this case (and I don't claim to understand Singapore EH&S law). but this is certainly interesting and a seeming contrast from the United States. 

Job posting: Research Scientist III, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

From friend of the blog Dr. Sarah Cady: 

The Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology seek a Research Scientist to be part of the Chemical Instrumentation Facility (CIF) and Biomolecular Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility (BNMRF) with a main specialty in biological solution NMR, natural products NMR, and/or biological solid-state NMR.

This is a three-year term position with the anticipation that the successful candidate will have the opportunity to apply for a continuous position by the end of the term. The Research Scientist will be responsible for oversight, training, and maintenance for three cryoprobe-equipped high-field solution NMR spectrometers (600 MHz in Chemistry and 700, 800 MHz in BBMB), in addition to other NMR-related and facility maintenance duties in CIF and BNMRF. The Research Scientist will work closely with faculty major users and their research groups, in addition to staff scientists in CIF and BNMRF. Applications should be submitted by May 31, 2022 for guaranteed consideration.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

C&EN: Nektar lays of 70% of employees

From this week's C&EN (by Jessica Marshall): 

Nektar Therapeutics says it will lay off 70% of its 700-plus employees. The news follows the April 14 announcement that Nektar and partner Bristol Myers Squibb were halting development of the interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy bempegaldesleukin. The drug was intended to stimulate growth of T cells, which can attack cancer, but it failed in late-stage trials. Nektar, which focuses on immune modulation, says it will keep working on other drugs in its pipeline. 

 Best wishes to those affected. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Have a great weekend!

Well, it's the end of the week, and I mostly survived. I hope you have a relaxed Friday, and a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

GDP fell 0.4% in the first quarter of 2022

Via the New York Times: 

The U.S. economy contracted in the first three months of the year, as supply constraints at home, demand shortfalls abroad and rapid inflation worldwide weighed on an otherwise resilient recovery.

Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.4 percent in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. It was the first decline since the early days of the pandemic, and a sharp reversal from the rapid 1.7 percent growth in the final three months of 2021.

But the negative number masked evidence of a recovery that economists said remained fundamentally strong. The decline — 1.4 percent on an annualized basis — mostly resulted from the way inventories and trade figure in the calculation, as well as reduced government spending as Covid-19 relief efforts wind down. Measures of underlying demand showed solid growth.

Most important, consumer spending, the engine of the U.S. economy, grew 0.7 percent in the first quarter despite soaring gas prices and the Omicron wave of the coronavirus, which restrained spending on restaurants, travel and similar services in January... 

Most of the economics commentators on Twitter seem to think this is no big deal, and I don't have any data to contradict them. But I certainly think this bears watching...

Moderna building a biomanufacturing facility in Montreal

Moderna is expected to announce Friday that it has chosen the Montreal area for a new biomanufacturing production facility that will include a research center.

The Massachusetts-based company, which has seen explosive growth in the wake of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, announced last year that it would build a Canadian facility along with other production expansion projects that include plans to build a $500 million plant in Africa.

The exact site of the Canadian mRNA vaccine facility, which is forecast to produce about 30 million doses a year and employ between 200 and 300 people when completed in 2024, hasn’t been determined, but Radio-Canada reported it will be in the greater Montreal region...
Good news for Canadian chemists, as Montreal seems to be a more and more popular destination for biopharma...

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Job posting: Quantum Chemistry Applications Scientist, Schrödinger, Portland, OR

From the inbox: 

Schrödinger, a technology leader specializing in software solutions for life science and materials science research and development, seeks an experienced scientist with a passion for the analysis, optimization and discovery of molecular materials systems using quantum mechanical simulations to join our team as a Materials Science Applications Scientist, Quantum Chemistry.

As a member of our materials science applications science team based in the US, you will gain high proficiency with Schrödinger simulation software and apply it to critical technology areas in the materials science industry including organic electronics, catalysis, energy storage, semiconductors, aerospace, automotive, and specialty chemicals.

What You Should Have

  • A PhD in Physical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry, Quantum Chemistry, Materials Science, Engineering, Physics, or a related scientific discipline
  • Multiyear experience using quantum mechanics to study molecular materials systems and/or chemical reactions
  • A solid understanding of the industrial process of applying and managing atomistic-scale modeling and simulation techniques
  • Experience in Python programming and/or machine learning is a plus

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

That's a pretty big spill!

Via a routine Google search for chemical incidents, this story from the Burlington Hawk Eye from a couple weeks back about a pipe manufacturing plant in West Burlington, IA: 
Just before 9 a.m., the West Burlington Fire Department was sent to the building after receiving an anonymous tip, according to Fire Chief Shaun Ryan. 

A pipe at the factory broke late Tuesday, resulting in a large spill of hydrochloric acid, according to Ryan. 
Ryan said the plant's manager told crews 2000-4000 gallons of the acid is estimated to have leaked. 

Shortly after West Burlington fire crews arrived on the scene, and due to the potential for hydrochloric acid to be explosive, Ryan said he ordered the plant to shut down and send employees home at about 9:15 a.m.

"I basically told the whole plant they had to evacuate," Ryan said. "(Hydrochloric acid) does have the potential to be explosive if the right conditions exist."  

2000 gallons of hydrochloric acid! That sounds bad. (I'm guessing it was dilute.) Further on in the article, some of the workers were reporting inhalation issues and using shopvacs to clean up the spill, which is not exactly ideal... 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 589 research/teaching positions and 108 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 589 research/teaching positions and 108 teaching positions. 

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

On April 27, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 333 research/teaching position and 63 teaching positions. On April 28, 2020, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 556 research/teaching positions and 80 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 fourth open thread. Here's the third open thread. Go to the second open thread. Here is the first open thread. The first open thread was closed on November 10, 2021.

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

Chemistry Bumper Cars

Check out the latest moves here! 

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

Monday, April 25, 2022

The best article you'll read about polyester today

Maybe you knew about the origins of polyester clothing, but I didn't: 
...For Patagonia, Smith wanted a polyester alternative. To find it, she went to South Carolina, presenting the problem to scientists at Milliken & Co., a textile firm renowned for its research lab. She said she was looking for a version of polyester that would ‘move moisture but absorb nothing’. Researchers spent months attacking the problem, eventually developing a chemical treatment that made moisture move along the fiber’s surface.

With that technology in hand, Patagonia developed a line of base layers that Smith dubbed Capilene to suggest capillary action. In fall 1985, the same season Synchilla hit the market, Capilene completely replaced the company’s polypropylene underwear. ‘Those two innovations – base layer and fleece – completely changed the world’s opinion of polyester, not just the outdoor industry’, says Harward. ‘It became seen as the high-end performance comfort fiber. Over time, polyester’s success as a performance fiber allowed it to reclaim its fashion luster. 

Read the whole thing!

NYT: Janet Yellen advocates for the reshaping of trade relationships

Via the New York Times, this news: 

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Thursday that global supply chains had proved to be unstable amid the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine and called for a reshaping of trade relationships oriented around “trusted partners,” even if it meant higher costs for businesses and consumers.

Ms. Yellen spoke at a news conference during the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, where policymakers around the world have been discussing how to revive economic growth and combat inflation while keeping pressure on Russia. The Treasury secretary said that protectionism, or taxing imports more, was not the answer, but that the economic benefits of the world’s network of supply chains were not worth the risk of a reliance on adversaries.

“Our supply chains are not secure, and they’re not resilient,” Ms. Yellen said at the Treasury Department. “And I think that’s something, in terms of long-term risk to the U.S. and to other countries, that’s a threat that needs to be addressed.”

Ms. Yellen added that trusted trading blocs would need to be big enough to avoid amplifying inflation while ensuring that supply chains were secure.

I think the likelihood of the world's supply chains being significantly rerouted in the near future is unlikely (especially with government action being the cause), but we shall see... 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Have a great weekend

Well, this week didn't go as badly as I might have thought, so there's that. Looking forward to the weekend, and here's hoping you have a great weekend as well. See you on Monday! 

Chemists in the US Army

Not every day you hear about civilian careers in the United States Army - this short article from the Army website offers some perspectives: 
...Kevin P. Wioland also serves as a chemist at CARA. He decided to choose a career with CARA because it was outside of the traditional “chemist” career that most envision.

“I believed my scientific knowledge, overall skillset and prior experiences aligned well with what CARA was looking for within a chemist,” said Wioland, who is from Jackson, New Jersey. “Being with CARA for some time now I look forward to coming into work each day knowing the work I and the other members of the team perform help to make this world a better and safer place.”

In addition to supporting exercises, Wioland has traveled the world in support of U.S. forces.

“I have traveled to many locations across the country as well as outside the U.S. within the Middle East,” said Wioland. “The highlight of my career was when I was given the opportunity to deploy with CARA in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, knowing the critical information I provided had an impact on real world decisions being made.”

“There is a lot that goes into being a part of the CARA team and one must be a well-rounded chemist who is motivated, willing to learn and not be afraid to get their hands a little dirty in the process,” said Wioland, who decided to pursue a career in analytical chemistry and forensic analysis while pursuing his master’s degree.

Probably a great way to collect frequent flier miles, although I suspect the U.S. Air Force does not offer a points back credit card.