Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Job posting: Senior or Principal Scientific Researcher, Genentech, South San Francisco, CA

From the inbox: 
The Department of Protein Chemistry within the division of Large Molecule Drug Discovery in Genentech Research has an opening for a Senior or Principal Scientific Researcher to advance efforts on protein engineering of cell therapies. The Researcher will be responsible for discovery and implementation of new technologies and contributing to cross-functional teams. They will be expected to work independently, but also integrate closely with project teams, to generate and communicate results that drive project decisions. The successful candidate will also be expected to contribute to high-impact publications and presentations related to their responsibilities.

Primary Responsibilities:

Engineering, construct design, recombinant production, and in-cell production of protein components of cellular therapeutics. Examples include switch receptors, stimulus-responsive chimeric receptors, immunomodulatory cytokines, chemokine receptors, cellular logic circuits, context-dependent transcription factors, and other enhancements that enable the persistence, function, and phenotype of cell therapies. As a department representative on cross-functional project teams, the Researcher will work closely with Scientists and Researchers from across Research and Development to advance promising candidate cell therapies from concept to development handoff.
Qualifications:
  • PhD or Master’s degree with significant experience; post-doctoral experience demonstrating a breadth of knowledge is encouraged
  • Expertise in biochemistry, chemical biology, enzymology, biophysics, structural biology, protein engineering, or a related discipline, with deep knowledge of protein structure and function
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

How to address an ammonia leak, courtesy from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture

In the midst of a New York Times article about the Ukrainian tensions mounting, this chemical subplot: 

Ukrainian officials and U.S. diplomats have focused on one possibility in particular in the region: an accident at one of the most dangerous industrial sites in eastern Ukraine, an ammonia gas factory in separatist-held territory a few miles from the Ukrainian frontlines.

Ammonia is a component of fertilizer but can be lethal in high concentrations.

A chemical leak releasing a toxic plume is one prime possibility, potentially poisoning soldiers and civilians on both sides of the front, officials say. It might justify, for example, a Russian deployment of emergency cleanup crews with an escort of soldiers.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, have publicly warned that Russia shipped canisters of gas to the factory site, adding to vast stockpiles already there. The sprawling, rusty factory is poised for an accident, they say.

With both Russia and Ukraine now talking about chemical leaks in this area, local authorities have plans to sound a siren to warn civilians, though it is unclear how they might protect themselves other than closing windows.

This got me interested in how to deal with an anhydrous ammonia leak, which led me into this useful Minnesota government website: 

Applying water is the most effective tool to fight an anhydrous ammonia release. Before the decision is made to aggressively attach the release many factors must be reasoned through.

Vehicles must approach carefully from up wind or from the side. It is difficult if not impossible to drive across a freshly plowed or muddy field with fire truck apparatus not to mention hauling water out to the site of an ammonia release.

Having enough water is vital. As a rule of thumb, 100 gallons of water is needed for every gallon of product released. A 500-gallon apparatus will only allow a few minutes of support. A long-term sustained attack will require lots of water and in rural locations this means shuttle operations.

If a fire is impinging on the ammonia tank the pressure relief valves must be working properly. Keep the tank cool by applying water on its shell.

Something tells me that this factory doesn't have a lot of water available to whomever decides to response to a potential ammonia release... 

Quitting is contagious?

Via the New York Times, this interesting tidbit on quitting: 
...Quitting rates were high in August, September and October. Then, according to Labor Department data, they climbed even further: More than 4.5 million people left their jobs voluntarily in November, a record high in two decades of tracking.

Economists explained the numbers by noting that competition for workers led to better pay and benefits, driving some to seek out new opportunities. Psychologists have an additional explanation: Quitting is contagious.

...So quitting begets more quitting, a challenge that employers can’t always solve with raises or perks. Even a single resignation notice can breed a “hot spot,” said Will Felps, who teaches management at the University of New South Wales and was an author of a study of turnover contagion.

Mr. Felps and his team studied staffing at a hospitality company and a selection of bank branches, all in the United States, and found that one worker’s decision to leave is especially likely to inspire others who don’t feel strongly embedded at the company. In a recent poll of more than 21,000 LinkedIn members, 59 percent said a colleague’s departure had led them to consider quitting as well.

The office has long been a petri dish for infectious behavior. Lying, cheating and job satisfaction all tend to spread from desk to desk. Financial advisers, for example, are 37 percent more likely to commit misconduct if they encounter teammates who have done so, what researchers refer to as “peer effects,” noting that one case of misconduct results on average in an additional 0.59 cases. Employees also mimic the nutritional patterns of people they sit with in the cafeteria. Teammates are suggestible to one another in far subtler ways than they realize.

I've often wondered if there is a "cohort" aspect to quitting, i.e. as people gather a group of friends/associates at a workplace, they get comfortable with a small team or group of people. In the situations where one of that group leaves, I suspect that when one person leaves, all the other members of that small group decide to go as well...

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 540 research/teaching positions and 80 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 540 research/teaching positions and 80 teaching positions. 

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

On January 26, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 259 research/teaching position and 31 teaching positions. On January 28, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 526 research/teaching positions and 56 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.

Here is Sean Edington's status summary spreadsheet.

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

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 67 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 67 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

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 32 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 32 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, January 24, 2022

Intel to build manufacturing plants in Ohio

Intel has selected Ohio for a new chip manufacturing complex that would cost at least $20 billion, ramping up an effort to increase U.S. production of computer chips as users grapple with a lingering shortage of the vital components.

Intel said on Friday that the new site near Columbus would initially have two chip factories and would directly employ 3,000 people, while creating 7,000 short-term construction jobs and tens of thousands of permanent positions at suppliers and partners.

Patrick Gelsinger, who became Intel’s chief executive last year, has rapidly increased the company’s investments in manufacturing to help reduce U.S. reliance on foreign chip makers while lobbying Congress to pass incentives aimed at increasing domestic chip production. He said Intel hoped to invest as much as $100 billion over a decade to build up to eight factories on the Ohio campus, linking the scope and speed of that expansion to expected federal grants if Congress approves a spending package known as the CHIPS Act.
You could have won ~$100 from me if in 2012, you told me that Intel would be announcing a manufacturing plant in Ohio in 2022. I'll believe it more when we have a working fab in Columbus whenever it opens, but still, this feels like a bit more evidence of a potential onshoring shift. 

(It will be interesting to understand what this means for the employment of chemists and chemical engineers in Ohio!) 

Explosion at an Illinois chemical manufacturing plant

Credit: CBS Chicago
Via the Associated Press: 

HAMPSHIRE, Ill. (AP) — Authorities say a chemical explosion at a northern Illinois manufacturing plant killed one person and left another critically injured.

Hampshire Fire Protection District Chief Trevor Herrmann says the incident occurred about 10:45 a.m. Friday when two employees at the W. R. Meadows building materials plant in Hampshire were cleaning a tank inside one of the buildings.

Herrmann tells the Chicago Tribune it’s not clear yet what type of chemicals were involved or what might have triggered the accident. He says W. R. Meadows manufactures asphalt and concrete products for building construction.

Curious to know what happened here. Condolences to the families of the victims. 

Are students customers?

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this letter: 
In response to the letter to the editor in the Dec. 13/20, 2021, issue (page 7), I would respond to Ronald Hites with the following: You appear put out that your university asks students at the end of each semester to complete a survey on your ability to instruct in the specific subject matter and that the students are “customers.” Well, when someone pays for a service—such as for university education—you are a service provider, and that makes the person paying for your service a customer. Just like when you pay for the 15 min to see a physician. For the 15 min that the physician is with you (if you are lucky enough to garner 15 min), you are their customer. Frankly, I think it is long overdue to treat the service provider as being just that—a paid-for service provider. I wish I had been afforded the opportunity during my days in the university to rank some of my “service providers’ ” abilities. Many were brilliant in their fields but were lousy at teaching. Hopefully your university actually reads and reacts to the results of the survey to improve the overall quality of the “product” being sold.

Francis Walker
Tecumseh, Michigan.

I'm a bit of a traditionalist, so I do not consider students to be "customers", or at least, I believe that it is a bad idea for a provider-customer relationship to enter into the university professor-student relationship. That being said, I cannot help but think that as tuition increases, the likelihood of such transgressions is likelier... 

Dow invests in Kenyan plastics recycling

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News (article by Alexander Tullo): 

Dow is investing in the Kenyan plastics recycler Mr. Green Africa. The investment, Dow’s first in an African recycling firm, will allow Mr. Green Africa to expand in Kenya and elsewhere, creating 200 jobs and enabling it to recycle 90,000 metric tons of plastic waste over the next 4 years. The polymer maker and Mr. Green Africa plan to provide about 5,000 local waste pickers who collect plastic for recycling with better incentives, including bigger fees for plastic waste and local sorting centers. The two firms have collaborated since 2019.

I think it is really cool to see more and more manufacturing in Africa.  

Friday, January 21, 2022

Have a great weekend

Hope you had a great week. Mine was unexpectedly pleasant, and so I'm taking the win for the weekend. Hope you have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

Fascinating story on counterfeit whiskey in the New York Times

Via the New York Times: 
To the casual eye, there was nothing amiss about the bottle of whiskey sitting on a shelf at Acker, a wine store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But for anyone who knew what to look for, the warning signs were clear.

The whiskey, a bourbon called Col. E.H. Taylor Four Grain that Acker was selling for about $1,000, normally came packaged in a special cardboard tube; this one sat there tubeless. Its strip stamp, attached over the top of the cork, was on backward.

Still, when a producer from the TV news program “Inside Edition” asked in April about the bottle’s authenticity, the store assured him it was legitimate.

The producer bought the whiskey, then took it to Buffalo Trace, the Kentucky distillery that makes the Col. E.H. Taylor line of bourbon, for chemical analysis. The bottle, it turned out, was fake: It had been refilled with cheap whiskey and resealed, then sold to Acker as part of a private collection.
Always an opportunity for a very wide-bore NMR... 

Young Scientist Networking

Over on Twitter, some threads of chemists telling their story and encouraging networking: 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

33 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 33 new positions for January 15.

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

Global organic chemistry job market link

Via organic-chemistry.org, a link to the job market section. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

A delightful mix of reagents

Via the economics blog Marginal Revolution, this excerpt from the book "Enemy of All Mankind" on Indian textile science: 

What made Indian cotton unique was not the threads themselves, but rather their color. Making cotton fiber receptive to vibrant dyes like madder, henna, or turmeric was less a matter of inventing mechanical contraptions as it was dreaming up chemical experiments. The waxy cellulose of the cotton fiber naturally repels vegetable dyes….The process of transforming cotton into a fabric that can by dyed with shades other than indigo is known as “animalizing” the fiber, presumably because so much of it involves excretions from ordinary farm animals. First, dyes would bleach the fiber with sour milk; then they attacked it with a range of protein-heavy substances: goat urine, camel dung, blood. Metallic salts were then combined with the dyes to create a mordant that permeated the core of the fiber.

…The result was a [soft] fabric that could both display brilliant patterns of color and retain that color after multiple washings. No fabric in human history had combined those properties into a single cloth.

Sounds like the fabric workshops would be a joy to visit and smell. (What is the bleaching reagent in sour milk? the lactic acid?) 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 534 research/teaching positions and 79 teaching positions

 The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 534 research/teaching positions and 79 teaching positions. 

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

On January 19, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 252 research/teaching position and 31 teaching positions. On January 21, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 523 research/teaching positions and 54 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.

Here is Sean Edington's status summary spreadsheet.

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

Job posting: visiting assistant professor, Centre College, Danville, KY

From the inbox: 
Centre College invites applications for a three-year full-time visiting assistant professor of chemistry to start in August 2022.  Centre College has a strong tradition of excellence in the sciences; the chemistry program is ACS approved. We seek a colleague who will enhance the learning and teaching environment at Centre College with their experience, ideas, and perspectives. Teaching responsibilities may include General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, upper-level electives, and chemistry courses for non-science majors.  Priority will be given to candidates who have a Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree by the start of their appointment.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 67 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 67 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

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 32 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 32 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, January 17, 2022

Chemical plant fire in Passaic, NJ

Via the Bergen Record, this news of a chemical plant fire in Passaic, New Jersey over the weekend:  
Credit: New York Times
An 11-alarm fire in Passaic this weekend at a chemical plant packed with hazardous substances could have turned into one of the most catastrophic chemical disasters in the region in recent history, fire officials said. 

The crisis was averted due largely to the quick response Friday night by over 200 firefighters from some 100 neighboring towns who descended upon Majestic Industries and the Qualco chemical plant — which makes pool treatment supplies — to beat the blaze. 

With the fear of a potential chemical explosion goading them on, they battled soaring flames, frigid temperatures and iced equipment and prevented the fire from spreading to an area where as much as 3 million pounds of potentially hazardous substances are stored on an average day, according to state data. 

Glad that the firefighters were able to stop things from getting bad. Want to know what a chlorine plant has in its inventory? Click here. Do be sure to check out these photos from the frozen plant on the day after. 

C&EN: Supply chains and inflation worry chemical industry executives

From Alex Tullo's section in the cover World Chemical Outlook in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News: 

...Executives are frustrated. "We've seen across all of our markets very strong primary demand at the consumer level for our products that has generated a lot of growth for us, but it has been limited by supply chain constraints," Eastman Chemical CEO Mark Costa told C&EN in a December 2021 interview. "We're going to set record earnings this year. So you know we are doing quite well, but we could have done even better if it wasn't for those constraints."

The ACC forecasts that chemical production will bounce back to 4.3% growth in 2022. "There are signs that the bottlenecks are easing," ACC chief economist Martha Gilchrist Moore said at a recent press conference.

The forecast assumes 4.2% US economic growth for 2022. The Conference Board, a business think tank, has a more bearish expectation of 3.5% growth. The investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs expect 4.6% and 3.9% improvement, respectively.

But inflation is hanging over the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index has been registering its highest monthly increases in more than 20 years. In its 2022 outlook report, Goldman Sachs calls inflation—which it attributes to surging consumer demand and insufficient labor—"the biggest surprise of 2021."

Economists expect inflation to subside in 2022 but are worried about the consequences if it doesn't. "The biggest risk to the global economy may no longer be a renewed downturn because of fresh virus outbreaks, but may now be higher inflation because of tight goods supplies and excessive wage pressure," the Goldman report says.

It will be really interesting to see in inflation plays a role in changing the hiring outlook for 2022 - doesn't really look like it so far, but we will have to keep an eye out. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Have a great weekend

This was a pretty relaxed week for me, so that's been nice. We'll see what next week has to bring, but until then, I plan on having a fun weekend. I hope that you have a great weekend as well. 

A fun and funny-looking instrument

Chuck McGinley, using a Nasal Ranger
Credit: Caroline Yang for The New York Times
Via the New York Times, a very interesting (and interesting-looking!) instrument: 
Chuck McGinley, a chemical engineer, stepped out of his car, eyed the smokestack of an animal processing plant rising above the treetops, and inhaled deeply. At first he smelled nothing except the faint, sweet fragrance of the nearby trees.

Suddenly, the wind picked up. “We have an oh-my-God smell!” Mr. McGinley exclaimed.

Immediately one of his colleagues pressed a Nasal Ranger to his nose. The 14-inch-long smell-measuring device, which looks like a cross between a radar gun and a bugle, is one of Mr. McGinley’s most significant inventions.

Pretty interesting article. Also, you could really imagine someone with a GC/MS strapped to their back, connected to the Nasal Ranger, collecting chromatograms while they were locating smells around their neighborhood.  

Thursday, January 13, 2022

64 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 January 12 and 33 new positions for January 9. 

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

Global organic chemistry job market link

 Via organic-chemistry.org, a link to the job market section. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Chemical fire in northern Kentucky plant

Via the Cincinnati Enquirer: 
A shelter-in-place order issued for people who live within a mile of a chemical plant in Fort Wright on Monday night has been lifted. The precautionary order was issued after an explosion was reported at around 8:16 p.m. at the Interplastic Corporation at 3535 Latonia Ave.

The order was lifted about 2 a.m., according to Fox19.

Emergency crews from Fort Wright and several other surrounding agencies responded to the plant after an explosion was reported involving a storage vessel housing a polyester resin, according to a statement issued by the City of Fort Wright.
The statement had this little gem in it: 
The situation is active but contained and no immediate threat is believed to exist. As the chemical resin continues to cool down it is off gassing and occassionally emitting a loud popping noise. These are not considered explosions but rather a normal cooling process.
I'll have to slip "rather a normal cooling process" into my vocabulary. 

PFAS destruction may be on the horizon?

Via Chemical and Engineering News, this interesting article about destroying PFAS (article by Cheryl Hogue): 
At a Dec. 7 hearing held jointly by two subcommittees of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, lawmakers learned about one emerging approach to PFAS destruction, supercritical water oxidation. Battelle, a nonprofit research and development organization that does contract work mainly for the US government, presented its work developing the technology.

Battelle’s PFAS Annihilator technology relies on supercritical water plus an oxidizer to break the carbon-fluorine bonds in these persistent compounds, Amy Dindal, the organization’s director of environmental research and development, said at the hearing.

The technology uses water above its critical point of 374 °C and 22 MPa and breaks PFAS into smaller molecules including hydrofluoric acid. Sodium hydroxide is added to neutralize the acid and form sodium fluoride, the organization says in an email. Sodium sulfate also forms if the PFAS contained sulfonate functional groups. A separator removes some of the salts, the rest are released at low levels in treated water, Battelle says.

Battelle’s website says its technology works on PFAS regardless of their sizes or specific structures and lowers PFAS concentrations in water to nondetectable levels within seconds.

I like the sounds of "PFAS Annihilator" - well done, marketing team.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 531 research/teaching positions and 75 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 531 research/teaching positions and 75 teaching positions. 

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

On January 12, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 248 research/teaching position and 29 teaching positions. On January 14, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 516 research/teaching positions and 51 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? This will be the fourth open thread. Go to 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.

Here is Sean Edington's status summary spreadsheet.

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

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 67 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 67 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

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 32 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 32 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, January 10, 2022

Road salt use is enough to raise salt levels in drinking water

Via the New York Times, this interesting set of factlets (emphasis mine) 
Salt has been used to de-ice roads in the United States since the 1930s, and its use across the country has tripled in the past 50 years, Dr. Hintz said. More than 20 million metric tons of salt are poured on U.S. roads each winter, according to an estimate by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York, and the environmental costs are growing.

...Road salt is made from sodium chloride, the same chemical found in table salt. Of all salt consumed in the United States, about 43 percent is used for highway de-icing, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in 2020.

Ms. Kelly said the accumulation of salt in drinking water reservoirs in some places was harming people on low-sodium diets.

A 2018 study of wells in Dutchess County, N.Y., found that sodium concentration in wells reached levels as high as 860 milligrams per liter — much higher than the federal and state recommendation that levels not exceed 20 milligrams per liter for people on very low-sodium diets and 270 milligrams per liter for people on moderately restricted sodium diets.

 That's a lot of salt!

OSHA fines Daikin America for incident that killed two chemical plant workers

Via the Department of Labor: 
DECATUR, AL – Exposure to dangerous toxins at an Alabama chemical manufacturing plant – Daikin America Inc. – lead to the deaths of two workers and sickened another worker after the employer failed to provide appropriate protective equipment and implement safe work practices during maintenance activities on chemical processing equipment.

A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation found that on July 2, 2021, Daikin America exposed three chemical operators to toxic fluorocarbon and other hazardous chemicals that resulted in the workers suffering respiratory failure.

One worker spent nearly a week in a local hospital for respiratory failure treatment before he returned home. The other two employees were treated for respiratory failure at local hospitals but later died one on Aug. 10, 2021, and the other on Sept. 28, 2021.

The exposure occurred while the workers were conducting maintenance activities requiring a processing line break, a nitrogen purge, and atmospheric venting of equipment, resulting in the release of toxic fluorocarbons and other hazardous chemicals. The investigation revealed that Daikin America failed to institute critical safe work practices required under OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard and ensure workers used appropriate respiratory protection and personal protective equipment. The employer also failed to perform air monitoring to assess chemical exposures, provide written procedures that clearly identify the required level of respiratory protection, and communicate to workers the hazards associated with the chemicals.   

OSHA cited Daikin America for nine serious and one willful violation. The company faces $232,103 in proposed penalties.

I'm trying to find out what the chemicals were. Will be interesting to know if it is the fluorinating chemicals at the plant. 

Friday, January 7, 2022

Have a great weekend


Hope that you had a great week; mine was quite busy, and not too too stressful. Hope you have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. 

 

Where is the churn?

Via the Economic Policy Institute (a progressive think tank), this interesting news: 
The figure (to the right) tells us what’s happening with churn across the labor market, charting the hires rate against the quits rate for major sectors using the latest JOLTS data from November. The 45-degree line represents where hires and quits rates are equal. Notably, all the data lie above the 45-degree line, meaning that hiring exceeds quits in all sectors. So, while there are record numbers of quits, workers aren’t just leaving the labor force: most are taking other jobs, often in the same sector.

The size of the sector bubbles represents average hourly wages of private-sector workers in each sector: the smaller the bubble, the lower the wage. Accommodation and food services—with the lowest wages across sectors—is experiencing the highest churn, i.e. high rates of both quits and hires. Financial services—second in average wages only to the highest wage information sector—experienced the least amount of churn. Workers aren’t switching jobs in those higher paid sectors—which likely also have better benefits and working conditions, including safety and health standards—at nearly the rate they are in accommodation and food services.
It would be interesting to know where the churn within the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors is...

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Helium-3 for potential quantum computing

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this really interesting article by Craig Bettenhausen on 3He: 

The industrial gas giant Air Liquide has signed a long-term agreement to purchase helium-3 (3He) from a Canadian nuclear power firm. The arrangement creates the first significant private supply of the ultra-rare gas, a light isotope of helium used in deep cryogenics, nuclear science, and quantum computing.

Air Liquide will take 3He that Laurentis Energy Partners extracts from a nuclear power byproduct, further purify it, and package it for sale. Jennifer Chapin, director of projects at Laurents, says the initial output will be between 5,000 and 10,000 L per year. “This really does present a shift in terms of market availability,” she says.

Though the gas can be used for medical imaging and other nuclear science, Patrick Wikus, a cryogenics expert at the scientific instrument maker Bruker, expects the main application of the new supply to be in quantum computing, which requires operating temperatures near 0 K.

...Conventional liquid 4He cooling gets down to 1–4 K. To go even colder, scientists mix super-cooled 3He and 4He; the entropy gain from the mixing cools the system down even further. Called 3He-4He dilution, the process can get as low as 5 mK.

Adding 3He to a typical chiller costs $30,000 to $40,000, Wikus says, at a cost today of around $1,000 per L. At that price, recycling is a must. “When I did my PhD, I had 20 L of 3He. If I had lost those, that would have been it for my thesis,” he says.

 Read more to find out how the material is extracted (from hydrogen bombs!) 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The 2022 Faculty Jobs List: 527 research/teaching positions and 72 teaching positions

The 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 527 research/teaching positions and 72 teaching positions. 

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

On January 5, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 242 research/teaching position and 27 teaching positions. On January 7, 2019, the 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 508 research/teaching positions and 49 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 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.

Here is Sean Edington's status summary spreadsheet.

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

Coming: The 2022 Chemistry Job Scramble

Copying last year's Chemistry Job Scramble, Andrew Spaeth and I will be putting together a job market scramble to open on the week of March 7 for registration of employers and job seekers. This is an attempt to create a "thick" market for both job candidates and potential employers, especially those who did not get a faculty position this year. The basic contours: 

  • Registration will open for one week, starting March 7, 2022. It will close on 11:59 PM Eastern, March 12, 2022. We will register both potential employers and job candidates.
  • Potential employers will be required to post a position with an intent to hire before September 30, 2022. 
  • Job seekers will have to attest that they have not accepted a position with another employer. 
  • On March 14, job seekers will be offered access to the list of potential positions. They will not be offered access to the list of job seekers. 
  • On March 14, potential employers will be offered the list of job seekers. They will not be offered access to the list of potential employers. 
  • There will be no matching by Andrew or I - simply the provision of potential openings or candidates. 
  • Access to the list will be revoked after 2 weeks. 
  • This year, there will be an opportunity for a "signal" for job seekers; job seekers will be allowed one opportunity to send a short message (140 characters) to a single employer. 

Questions? Ask them in the comments, or email us at chemjobber@gmail.com. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 67 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 67 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson).

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

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 32 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 32 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, January 3, 2022

The Fed looks to start tightening | what will this do to the job market?

Over at Calculated Risk, Bill McBride notes what Goldman Sachs thinks the Fed is going to do: 
"High inflation is likely to keep the Fed on a quarterly tightening path next year. We expect the FOMC to raise rates three times starting in March and to announce the start of balance sheet runoff, which is likely to proceed more quickly than last cycle. Our forecast calls for three additional hikes per year in 2023 and 2024 and a terminal rate of 2.5-2.75%."

I'm not sure I remember a time in which there were three rate hikes in a single year - maybe 1999 or 2000? In my final column at C&EN, I made this pseudo-prediction for hiring in 2022: 

Will this strong hiring trend end in 2022? I genuinely do not know. Many uncertainties remain. If supply-chain crises continue, it will inevitably impact revenues for large-scale chemical manufacturers, especially those who sell to the automotive and housing sectors. Increasing inflation and corresponding interest-rate increases could also play a role in cooling down the broader economy, resulting in potential slowdowns in hiring.

While I cannot predict the future, I am extremely confident in advising people to apply now. Do not wait until “the right time,” whether it’s next month or next year. Do the work of putting together a résumé and a cover letter as soon as possible. This is an unusually good time to be a job seeker in industrial chemistry. Here’s hoping for a 2022 in which we can be free of this pandemic and we all have that job that we are seeking.

I am still confident (around a month later) that I am right - that interest rate hikes will slow down industrial chemistry hiring*, even in the red-hot pharma market. Maybe I'm wrong (there's plenty of folks who think business is still good), but we shall see. 

*just to narrow in even further, I'm not saying "hiring will slow to a trickle", just "fall 2022 probably won't be as hot as fall 2021."