Friday, May 26, 2023

Have a good week

All things considered, I think I had a good week. Here's hoping that I make my flights home, and I hope that you had a great week too. I am looking forward to a long weekend, and I hope that you have a great one. See you on Tuesday. 

Good luck, New York City AI regulators

Via the New York Times, this news: 
European lawmakers are finishing work on an A.I. act. The Biden administration and leaders in Congress have their plans for reining in artificial intelligence. Sam Altman, the chief executive of OpenAI, maker of the A.I. sensation ChatGPT, recommended the creation of a federal agency with oversight and licensing authority in Senate testimony last week. And the topic came up at the Group of 7 summit in Japan.

Amid the sweeping plans and pledges, New York City has emerged as a modest pioneer in A.I. regulation.

The city government passed a law in 2021 and adopted specific rules last month for one high-stakes application of the technology: hiring and promotion decisions. Enforcement begins in July.

The city’s law requires companies using A.I. software in hiring to notify candidates that an automated system is being used. It also requires companies to have independent auditors check the technology annually for bias. Candidates can request and be told what data is being collected and analyzed. Companies will be fined for violations.

I have no doubt that New York City government means well, and that I have no doubt that companies will attempt to apply AI to the task of searching through job applications and screening the candidates. I also have little doubt that this rule will be easily bypassed by both technology and clever lawyers (probably more the latter than the former, but we shall see.) 

I have little doubt if the Workdays of the world were informed by Silicon Valley that chicken entrails were the best means of screening job candidates, that soon Jimmy John's and (I dunno) Salesforce would be out there, slaughtering chickens by the thousands in order to find fresh meat for the grinder get the best entry-level candidates. Soon, academics would be calling for chicken entrail regulation, law firms would be out there racking up billable hours in the slaughterhouses of Enterprise Rent-a-Car performing audits, and New York City would be moving towards banning chicken entrails in the screening of hiring candidates. Then Silicon Valley would show that goat entrails actually have a better R-squared (of a whole 0.15) and the cycle would start again...


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A bit of praise for Timbuk2

Many years ago, I bought a Timbuk2 messenger bag after asking the readership what their favorite laptop bag was. 

It's been to China and Europe, and suffered a fair bit of abuse and daily use. I've sent it back for repairs twice, and not been charged anything for these repairs. If there's a Timbuk2 store in your area, you can drop the bag off to be shipped for repair, and that worked out all right as well. All in all, I've been quite pleased with them. Strong recommend. 

ACS demographics

Via Chemical and Engineering News, news that ACS has released a demographics report (article by Krystal Vasquez): 
The American Chemical Society has released its first report exploring the demographics of its membership. According to the report, tracking this data will help the society achieve the fifth goal of its strategic plan: to “embrace and advance inclusion in chemistry.” The data can also help ACS better tailor programs and services to its members, the report says.

The report was produced by the ACS Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect, with help from ACS Society Business Solutions, using a number of internal data sources for 2022, such as the annual ACS salary survey. It examines demographic data across multiple axes, including gender, race and ethnicity, and age. 
  • Men and women are also more evenly distributed in the overall US workforce at 52% and 48%, respectively, according to the US Census Bureau.
  • In terms of race and ethnicity, 70.3% of ACS members identify as white. That value falls to 64% in the overall US STEM workforce and drops another two percentage points in the US workforce more generally.
  • Asian and Pacific Islander ACS members make up the next-largest racial and ethnic group at 19%, followed by Hispanic members at 4.5%, and Black and African American members at 2.9%.
  • ACS members lean older than the general workforce. Over half list their age as 51 years or more, compared to 35% for the overall US workforce, according to the Census Bureau.
  • The report says 63% of members have a doctorate or equivalent, and nearly half work in academia
It is amusing to see in the numbers that the ACS leans older, more PhD-heavy and academic. That's about right, and it's fascinating to see it. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

60,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate went missing; leaky train car is current explanation

Via KQED: 

Some 60,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used as both fertilizer and a component in explosives, went missing as it was shipped by rail from Wyoming to California last month, prompting four separate investigations.

A railcar loaded with 30 tons of the chemical left Cheyenne, Wyoming, on April 12. The car was found to be empty after it arrived two weeks later at a rail stop in the Mojave Desert, according to a short incident report from the explosives firm that made the shipment.

The company, Dyno Nobel, made the report May 10 to the federal National Response Center, or NRC. The report also appeared last week in an NRC database of California incidents managed by the state Office of Emergency Services last Wednesday.

There appears to be an innocent explanation: 

Dyno Nobel says it believes the material — transported in pellet form in a covered hopper car similar to those used to ship coal — fell from the car on the way to a rail siding (a short track connecting with the main track) called Saltdale about 30 miles from the town of Mojave in eastern Kern County.

“The railcar was sealed when it left the Cheyenne facility, and the seals were still intact when it arrived in Saltdale. The initial assessment is that a leak through the bottom gate on the railcar may have developed in transit,” the company said through a spokesperson.

A Federal Railroad Administration representative, though, says the investigation points to one of the hopper car gates not being properly closed.

Here's hoping this simple explanation is the correct one, and that this material is not actively being mixed with fuel oil. 

C&EN: "Earnings for Japanese chemical makers slumped in fiscal 2022"

In this week's C&EN, news from Japan's economy (article by Alexander H. Tullo):

Japanese chemical companies ground through a tough fiscal year 2022. For the period, which ended on March 31, sales rose for nearly every major firm, but earnings were down almost across-the-board as companies grappled with sluggish economic conditions and rising energy and raw material costs.

Looks like things are tough all over - curious as to when it hits the US economy in force, and what impact it will have on hiring...

Friday, May 19, 2023

Have a good weekend

Been a busy, but quiet week. Some small successes, so I guess that will have to do for the week. Hope that you had a good week, and that you have a fantastic weekend. See you on Monday. 

The stealing/borrowing of credit

Via Derek Lowe, this remarkable article about the modern ibuprofen process, and the chemistry behind it, and the people behind it. This description of the politics was rather revealing and unfortunate: 

Did learning about and employing a “Quality” approach solve all my problems, or bring a big personal reward at Celanese? The answer was clearly no, at least in my individual case. Some of the unfortunate facets of human behavior intervened.

The Exploratory Group Leader and his Research Manager from the Celanese exploratory fine chemicals group began to internally tell and very often repeat a narrative to upper Celanese management, to the effect that the ibuprofen success was “really” just an outgrowth of their own prior “discoveries” related to HF chemistry. Celanese upper management (based at other sites), and later many other people inside and outside Celanese didn’t know any better (up to and including the Presidential Green Chemistry evaluators, and most of the people who have subsequently read about the Presidential Green Chemistry Award for the BHC process). 

Most of them accepted local Celanese management’s narrative version of the ibuprofen story without question, and have often repeated it later, in print and elsewhere. . .Our names were listed on the ibuprofen patent because legally they had to be listed, but were almost never mentioned again with respect to the BHC Ibuprofen Process, inside or outside Celanese. Meanwhile, the Exploratory Group Leader and the Research Manager reaped great personal/career rewards, and multiple promotions, by telling and re-telling their ibuprofen narrative.

It is weird to me how people steal credit (or perhaps take more credit than they deserve); I don't get it.  Nevertheless, people do it, and it makes me wonder if organizations should do their part to squelch such behavior. It's a hard problem. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Job posting: Patent Agent (Organic Chemistry), Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds

Via C&EN Jobs, this posting: 

Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds, an intellectual property boutique with offices in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts, seeks a Patent Agent for its Life Sciences team. 

Candidates should be capable of working on all matters involving small molecules, and have experience drafting and prosecuting patent applications, conducting patent validity, non-infringement and freedom-to-operate analyses and supporting due diligences related to small molecule pharmaceuticals. 

Successful candidates will also have outstanding writing and interpersonal skills, as well as strong academic credentials. A Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry or related discipline and registration with the USPTO are required.

Best wishes to those interested.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Who is making "generic" semaglutide, part 2

I know I've covered this before, but it continues to bother me - who is making "generic" semaglutide? (via the New York Times): 
...Because the F.D.A.’s drug shortage website lists as Ozempic as “currently in shortage,” compounding pharmacies are allowed to buy semaglutide from pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturers and compound it into an injectable medication they dispense. They also often mix it with B vitamins or a metabolic compound called L-carnitine, which limited research has shown may contribute to weight loss. Some compounding pharmacies are distributing a different active ingredient altogether: semaglutide sodium, the salt form of semaglutide.

In recent weeks, regulators have raised concerns about semaglutide sodium, which is sometimes sold as a research chemical. Semaglutide sodium does not appear to meet standards for compounding in federal law, in part because the substance is not part of any F.D.A.-approved medication — and officials have expressed alarm at how widespread it is.

I don't wish to cover the questions that I've already asked, but I'll note some other questions that I have about this situation: 

  • Are we basically in a world where US consumers are ordering API from Chinese manufacturers directly?  
  • Why isn't the FDA stopping these shipments from coming in? 
  • Semaglutide doesn't appear to be a particularly easy peptide to make, but I suppose that these sorts of efforts are run by solid-phase synthesizers? Is it the fact that the dosages are relatively low that allow Chinese peptide manufacturers to participate in this? 
I'm genuinely surprised that people are willing to entrust their lives to a supply chain that is completely opaque and untraceable, but it is around weight loss, and so folks are pretty motivated to get themselves access to Ozempic, whether it's through their physicians or not. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

Who does well at Zoom

Via Marginal Revolution, this Insider article about why Zoom is weird, and how people can get better at it: 

In a study last year, people who were face-to-face responded to yes/no questions in 297 milliseconds, on average, while those on Zoom chats took 976 milliseconds. Conversational turns — handing the mic back and forth between speakers, as it were — exhibited similar delays. The researchers hypothesized that something about the scant 30- to 70-millisecond delay in Zoom audio disrupts whatever neural mechanisms we meatbags use to get in sync with one another, that magic that creates true dialogue.

...Cooney and Reece's first pass at the data suggests that "good conversationalists" on Zoom are those who talk faster, louder, and more intensely. They're the Tom Cruises, as it were, of the interactive back-and-forth. People rated by their partners as better conversationalists spoke 3% faster than bad conversationalists — uttering about six more words a minute. And while the average loudness of speakers didn't change across bad or good conversations, the "good" talkers varied their decibel levels more than the "bad" talkers did. Cooney and Reece's team speculate that the good ones were better at reading the Zoom room, calibrating their volume to the curves of the conversation.

I genuinely do not enjoy video conversations, but they seem to be important, so it's worthwhile thinking about how to get better at them. 

(I do not enjoy talking fast, nor loud nor intensely, so that's probably something to work on... I guess.) 

First Oregon company to be licensed to test mushrooms for potency

Via a Google News search for "chemist", this article from Oregon Public Broadcasting: 

Just a few weeks after naming the first licensed psilocybin manufacturer in the state, Oregon has granted a license to a Portland company to test the mushrooms for potency.

In naming Rose City Laboratories the first company to be allowed to do the testing, the Oregon Health Authority said: “Accurate labeling of psilocybin potency allows clients to participate in administration sessions with products that meet their needs.”

Björn Fritzsche is a chemist with Rose City Labs. He says the company’s years of experience in testing cannabis products will translate easily to this new work.

“The process for the potency testing is surprisingly similar,” Fritzsche says. “The solvents that we use for extraction are a little bit different, but the actual technology that we use — high pressure liquid chromatography — is very similar.”

Still, this is a new frontier in medicine, and Fritzsche is excited about the possibilities.

“I get to do something new, something that hasn’t really been done at scale before,” Fritzsche says. “I was actually able to develop new methodologies, do something that hadn’t been done before. And that’s really interesting.”

This isn't really my thing (psilocybin, that is), but it seems to me that it is important for these things to be regulated and standardized for the general public. Glad to see it's happening. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Have a good weekend!

Well, this was an interesting week, and it's ending early for me. Soooo much Mother's Day stuff to do. Hope you have a great weekend, and happy Mother's Day to those who celebrate/are to be celebrated. See you on Monday. 

Update on PCI Synthesis: acetone and IPA in reactors

From the Daily News of Newburyport, MA (article by Jim Sullivan): 

NEWBURYPORT — Demolition of the Seqens/PCI Synthesis pharmaceutical factory’s damaged addition won’t begin until next week, the city’s Building Department announced Thursday.

A 62-year-old Methuen man was killed and four others were injured May 4 in a chemical explosion at the Opportunity Way site that sent a massive vat through the addition’s roof and roughly 30 feet into a parking lot.

Firefighters and contractors have been at the site ever since but city Chief of Staff Andrew Levine said the Fire Department on Wednesday finished its “hero’s work” of overseeing the removal of two other vats containing potentially hazardous chemicals such as acetone and isopropyl alcohol.

Acting Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury III said a few drums still remain in the building and his department is on call on an as-needed basis.

Building Commissioner Greg Earls now has control over the building and said demolition of the addition will begin soon.

“I haven’t seen any plans for dismantling, so the clock hasn’t started at all,” he said. “No dismantling is going to happen until the plans are approved by the Building Department and that may be well into next week.”

Seqens issued a press release Thursday, stating the demolition should affect roughly 20% of the building’s capacity.

The company also stated that potential environmental impacts have been monitored ever since the accident and it will continue to monitor and communicate all relevant data to authorities, including the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

It is genuinely weird to me that the chemicals involved in the explosion don't seem to be particularly, well, explosive. I guess it would be important to understand what process was going on. Strange.  

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Job posting: physical scientist, Department of Energy Environmental Management

From C&EN Jobs: 
Decades of nuclear weapons production and energy research generated millions of gallons of liquid radioactive waste, millions of cubic meters of solid radioactive waste, thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel and special nuclear material, and large quantities of contaminated soil and water. Established in 1989, the Environmental Management (EM) program works to achieve the successful cleanup of this Cold War legacy. In a commitment to the safety and protection of workers and communities, EM pursues a safety culture built on trust, mutual respect, worker engagement and communication, fostering an atmosphere that advocates continuous learning, promotes a questioning attitude and employs effective resolution to reported problems. Our talent is vital to the success of our organization’s ability to grow, learn, develop, and contribute to our mission. We are looking for talented candidates like YOU!

This appears to be a direct hire (i.e. faster/more direct than the typical federal government hiring processes.) Here's the main website, and here is what I think is the listing. 

Best wishes to those interested.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The scale-up of Paxlovid

Also in this week's Chemical and Engineering News, a really interesting article by Beth Halford: 

On July 22, 2020, medicinal chemists at the drugmaker Pfizer made a molecule that they called PF-07321332, 1 of about 20 compounds they prepared that day. The scientists were searching for a way to shut down SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19—a disease that was responsible for more than 25,000 deaths in the US alone that same month.

The researchers didn’t know it at the time, but their discovery of PF-07321332 started a clock ticking. Over the next few months, scientists at the company discovered that PF-07321332 was a powerful inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2’s main protease (also known as the 3CL protease) and had the right mix of properties to be taken as a pill. They eventually renamed the molecule nirmatrelvir, and the race was on to make enough of it to treat millions of people with COVID-19.

Just 17 months after nirmatrelvir’s discovery, the compound was heading to patients. In December 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration gave an emergency use authorization for the antiviral Paxlovid to treat COVID-19.

Don't miss the discussion of the lithium and sodium salt!

I think it would be really interesting to see the ripple effects of the manufacture of Paxlovid, especially in China. Next article!

Mayor of Newburyport continues to cast doubt on PCI Synthesis/Seqens reopening

From the Daily News of Newburyport (Masssachusetts), written by Jim Sullivan:

NEWBURYPORT — Local firefighters and environmental crews returned to the crippled Seqens pharmaceutical site off Opportunity Way to continue the cleanup after a chemical explosion Thursday morning killed a Methuen man and injured four other workers.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sean Reardon told the City Council on Monday he would be surprised if Seqens ever resumed operations in Newburyport.

“I don’t envision them ever opening their doors here again,” he said.

Hours before speaking to the council, Reardon announced that Seqens must begin demolishing an addition to the building where the massive explosion took place. Demolition was expected to begin Tuesday afternoon but acting Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury III said that timeline would be pushed back at least a day.

Jack O’Keefe’s body was recovered roughly 18 hours after the 12:45 a.m. blast near where first responders expected to find him. He was 62.

In preparation for demolition, hazardous materials crews were busy Monday removing eight 55-gallon drums of chemicals, while roughly 2,000 gallons of chemicals were being drained from two vats.

The explosion sent a third vat through the roof and into the parking lot at least 30 feet away. Work was halted late Monday afternoon before the job was completed due to high winds. The cleanup resumed Tuesday morning....

It's pretty hard to imagine the people of that town agreeing to let PCI Synthesis start processing chemicals again. I would really like to know what the heck they were making. There was a brief reference to making something for burn patients, but I don't think we have further evidence of that. While I think it is possible that there was simply a fire, this report of the deceased operator finding a room that was too hot indicates there might have been a runaway. 

Continued condolences to the O'Keefe family and the entire PCI team. 

Monday, May 8, 2023

Mass spec on Mars

From friend of the blog Carmen Drahl, a really interesting article on the analytical instruments heading to Mars: 

...When the rover finally does, hopefully, blast off in 2028, it will carry a suite of advanced instruments — but one in particular could make a huge scientific impact. Designed to analyze any carbon-containing material found underneath Mars’s surface, the rover’s next-generation mass spectrometer is the linchpin of a strategy to finally answer the most burning question about the Red Planet: Is there evidence of past or present life?

“There are a lot of different ways that you can search for life,” says analytical chemist Marshall Seaton, a NASA postdoctoral program fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and coauthor of a paper on planetary analysis in the Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry. Perhaps the most obvious and direct route is simply looking for fossilized microbes. But nonliving chemistry can create deceptively lifelike structures. Instead, the mass spectrometer will help scientists look for molecular patterns that are unlikely to be formed in the absence of living biology.

It will be really cool to find out what these instruments find on Mars! (Gotta get to Mars first!) 

Boston Globe: PCI Synthesis shut down by city of Newburyport, MA until investigation is complete

Via the Boston Globe, this update: 

Authorities continued their investigation Sunday into the cause of an explosion at a pharmaceutical plant in Newburyport last week which killed one worker, sent four other employees to the hospital, and triggered a massive response by state and federal agencies.

The early morning blast Thursday at the PCI Synthesis facility was powerful enough to shake nearby homes, and blow a large industrial vat through the building’s roof and land about 30 feet away in a parking lot, officials have said.

Newburyport Mayor Sean Reardon said in an e-mail Sunday night that officials hope to demolish the part of the building damaged by the blast by the end of Monday.

Reardon will order the plant shut down until investigators determine a cause for the blast.

Also, from WCVB, this comment: 

On Saturday, a man who previously worked at the Seqens chemical plant but asked not to be publicly identified said he could no longer tolerate the unsafe working conditions.

"So many times, there was stupid negligence on the management side of things," the man said. "It was an unsafe place to be and I left."

"I hope they have an interview to find out what went wrong, that it never happens again and that site never opens again," the worker said. 

It's hard to imagine how this plant reopens without a significant management change. Best wishes to the families of the victims. 

C&EN: "First-quarter chemical results fall"

In this week's C&EN (article by Alex Tullo): 
Major chemical makers are happy about their first-quarter results, even though sales and earnings were generally down from the prior year. Executives had thought the period would be rougher than it turned out to be and are taking solace in a few bright spots in the economy.

The German chemical maker Covestro saw sales decline by 20% and earnings run at a modest loss for the quarter. In a video posted on the company’s website, CEO Markus Steilemann blamed “the general economic condition and the weak demand that we were facing.”

However, Steilemann noted that earnings before taxes were $316 million, about twice as high as Covestro expected.In remarks to analysts, BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller said that chemical production had stagnated compared with the year-earlier quarter, and the weakness was most pronounced in Europe.

Sales at the firm, the world’s largest chemical maker, declined by 13%, and earnings fell 29%.

Broadly not great news for the economy - will be important to see if this trend continues... 

Friday, May 5, 2023

Have a good weekend

This wasn't a bad week overall, I think? There's work to be done yet, but I'm hopeful. Hope you had a great week, and that you have a good weekend. See you on Monday. 

Explosion kills one worker at PCI Synthesis in Newburyport, MA

The scene at PCI Synthesis (Newburyport, MA) 
credit: Jesse Costa/WBUR
A powerful explosion Thursday at a troubled pharmaceutical chemical plant in Massachusetts left one dead in a building the local fire chief said was too dangerous to search for hours.

Crews were finally able to enter damaged portion of the building on Thursday afternoon. They were removing barrels of chemicals and searching for a worker who had been missing since the explosion was reported in the early morning hours.

Acting Newburyport Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury III indicated that the body discovered was likely the missing worker.

"It's in a hazardous situation, located on the ground level, where we thought he would be located," Bradbury said Thursday evening, adding that crews got to that part of the facility "as quick as we could."
Click here to see what the explosion looked like. This is the third incident in three years - there was an explosion in 2020, and a chemical fire in 2021. The plant was shut down by the local fire chief before it was allowed to restart. It seems very likely that they will face local regulatory pressure, and I imagine that Seqens will have to think hard about what is required to make sure the plant is safe before it reopens. 

Best wishes to all involved, and to the families of those affected. 

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Job posting: experienced computational chemist, AstraZeneca, Sweden/UK

Via Nessa Carson: 

Do you have expertise in, and passion for computational modelling and deriving insights and knowledge from multidimensional data? Would you like to apply your expertise to implement transformative Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning based methods to drive the digital transformation in a company that follows the science and turns ideas into life changing medicines? Then join us in this exciting opportunity!

We now have an exciting opportunity for an experienced Computational Chemist in our Data Science and Modelling – Substance team based in Gothenburg, Sweden and Macclesfield, United Kingdom. The role could be placed either in Gothenburg or Macclesfield.

In this role you will get the opportunity to engage with key internal and external partners to identify and validate impactful solutions to provide scientific leadership and drive innovation. You will work at the forefront of the digital transformation within AstraZeneca, turning ideas into life changing medicines for patients!

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

ASMR chemistry - who knew?

ASMR really isn't my thing, but here's a chemistry professor (Karen McFarlane Holman, Willamette University) teaching chemistry with it. 


Job posting: Laboratory Program Director, Department of Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

From the inbox: 

The Department of Chemistry at the University of Kansas invites applications for the Laboratory Program Director position beginning June 1, 2023.  We seek outstanding candidates with a Ph.D. in chemistry to coordinate organic chemistry laboratory courses for approximately 500 students per semester, train and supervise teaching assistants and collaborate with faculty on developing and implementing curriculum. Successful applicants will have a minimum of two years of relevant teaching experience, including student supervision, and a strong commitment to excellence in undergraduate education in the laboratory setting. Exceptional candidates will possess hands-on experience with modern synthetic chemistry and compound characterization techniques. 

For a complete announcement and to apply online, go to:  

A complete online application includes a cover letter, CV, statement of laboratory teaching practices, and three letters of reference.  Review of completed applications will begin May 1, 2023 and will continue until the position is filled.  EO/AA Employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, national origin, disability, genetic information or protected Veteran status.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Monday, May 1, 2023

New College of Florida board of trustees denies tenure to assistant professors, including two chemists

Via Chemical and Engineering News' Krystal Vasquez: 
The New College of Florida’s board of trustees has denied tenure to five faculty members in a 6–4 vote. Among them were organic chemistry professors Rebecca Black and Lin Jiang.

All five faculty were recommended for tenure on Feb. 24, after completing their tenure packages a year ahead of schedule. Their last hurdle was approval by the board.

But in a memo to the trustees sent out 12 days prior to the April 26 board of trustees meeting, New College’s interim president, Richard Corcoran, recommended that the board either defer or deny the professors’ tenure, citing “extraordinary circumstances,” a point he reiterated during the meeting. The circumstances include changes to the administration and “a renewed focus on ensuring the College is moving towards a more traditional liberal arts institution,” the memo said.

...All five faculty have a second chance to be considered for tenure next year.

It's hard not to see this move as both a breach of the general understanding of tenure as well as the most significant of a number of moves by the board of trustees that have been appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

In other news, it is worth noting that Texas has a similar bill that has passed the Texas Senate (article from April 20); it is unknown what the bill's status is in the Texas House: 

AUSTIN, Texas — A bill passed by the Texas Senate on Thursday would ban public universities and colleges from granting tenure to professors, a Republican priority from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

Senate Bill 18, authored by Conroe Republican Brandon Creighton, would ban the practice of tenure, which grants academics assurance of employment regardless of their personal beliefs or discussions.

Sen. Creighton called the tenure practice "outdated and costly," saying it limits academic integrity by ensuring employment regardless of performance. Republican legislatures across the country have scrutinized tenure in recent years, with many working on "tenure reviews" every few years. Texas, though, is largely leading the way to an outright ban on tenure altogether.

It will be interesting to see if this will actually happen, and what would happen to chemistry departments in prominent public research universities in Texas. 

Analytical paper diagnostics to find fake and substandard drugs

In this week's C&EN, a really cool interview (article by Dalmeet Singh Chawla): 
An estimated 10% of medical products in low- and middle-​income countries are either falsified or substandard, according to the World Health Organization. It’s particularly difficult in low-income regions to quickly and easily spot subpar medicines and identify their flaws.

For years, chemist Marya Lieberman of the University of Notre Dame and her team have been developing analytical paper diagnostics that are a cheap, effective, and easy-to-use way of determining whether drug tablets contain the correct medicines. They now want to use the tools they’ve developed to aid harm reduction programs locally and to inform regulators internationally.

Lieberman and her colleagues sell multilane test cards called paper analytical devices (PADs) on their online store. After placing a drug sample on the PAD, users can read the card’s color-based results using an Android application also made by Lieberman’s team.Lieberman and her colleagues sell multilane test cards called paper analytical devices (PADs) on their online store. After placing a drug sample on the PAD, users can read the card’s color-based results using an Android application also made by Lieberman’s team.

I think this is so cool, and I'm so pleased that someone is tackling this problem with simple chemistry. Read the whole thing! 

Friday, April 28, 2023

Have a good day

Well, this week turned out better than I thought. Here's hoping that you had a good week, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday. 

Charles Lieber is sentenced; no more jail time

Via Chemical and Engineering News' Bethany Halford: 
Former Harvard University chemistry professor Charles M. Lieber was sentenced April 26, ending a legal process that took more than 3 years. Federal judge Rya W. Zobel sentenced Lieber to the time he served when he was arrested, on Jan. 28, 2020; 2 years of supervised release, the first 6 months of which Lieber will be confined to his home; and a $50,000 fine. The sentence included $33,600 in restitution to the US Internal Revenue Service that Lieber paid before last week’s sentencing hearing.

The sentencing follows Lieber’s conviction on Dec. 21, 2021, when a jury found him guilty of tax offenses and making false statements to investigators about his work with a university in China. He was prosecuted as part of the US Department of Justice’s China Initiative, a controversial program that ended last year. Lieber retired from Harvard on Feb. 1.

The sentence is more lenient than the US attorneys recommended. They asked for 90 days of incarceration and 1 year of supervised release, which would include 90 days of home confinement, as well as a $150,000 fine in addition to the restitution to the IRS.

I broadly can't get too excited by zero days of jail versus 90 days, but at the same time, I think this feels a touch lenient. I suppose that this is good evidence that the justice system isn't going to be very hard on professors who get caught lying to federal agents, even as I think we can pretty clearly say that part of the process of being charged with a federal crime is a punishment in itself. 

I genuinely think that the China Initiative was a 100% failure within the criminal justice system. Maybe the tours of academic science that the FBI did to talk about "research security" might have protected some American IP, but the clearly Chinese-targeted efforts by the DOJ and subsequent prosecutions have, in my opinion, harmed American science far more than the value of the hypothetically-protected IP. I'd like to think I could have designed a better program, but putting a bunch of stupid-not-evil Chinese engineering professors (and one truly moronic Harvard professor) through this wasn't what I would have done. 

What would I have done? I dunno, but here's my retrospective program: 

  • Visits to all relevant Thousand Talents professors from federal prosecutors, saying to these professors "pretty sure you filled this declaration out wrong, how about you fix it?" 
  • A thorough tour of academia by DOJ lawyers of top academia, focusing on the actual problem (potential IP theft), and what can/should be done
  • A thorough hardening of American industrial, governmental and academic labs for both cybersecurity and external intelligence threats
  • A diplomatic initiative to the Chinese government, going the opposite direction that the US government did - knock this "stealing IP" stuff off, or we're going to provide one-way tickets to all your top young people. They already come here to study - what if we made it easy for them to stay, and we started our own Million Talents program? 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Job posting: Sr. Scientist/Principal Scientist, Platform Delivery, 76 Bio, Brighton, MA

Via C&EN Jobs: 

76Bio is seeking a highly motivated and talented Medicinal Chemists to help build a delivery platform to realize the potential of our TPD platform. The individual will be responsible for the design of novel lipids and delivery materials to enable improved mRNA delivery to specific targets. The individual will work closely with the Formulation Science team to develop and drive the design of novel lipid-based delivery vehicles. They will be accountable for the design of screening cascades (in vitro and in vivo) and developing the structure activity relationships of different classes of lipid nanoparticles. They will be an integral member of a cross functional team, providing interpretation of data and contributing to the strategic direction of the project.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Develop the medicinal chemistry strategy and work in collaboration with the formulation scientists to execute on a formulation strategy for testing new lipid components
  • Design and develop novel lipid components and LNP compositions to improve LNP delivery to tumor
  • Manage external chemistry resources for the synthesis of new targets
  • Ensure efficiency of workflows and integration of high-throughput methods where feasible
  • Collaborate with biology colleagues on designing assays to better understand LNP biology
Open to all degree levels; you probably need a fair bit of industry experience. Best wishes to those interested. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

NYT: Chinese scientists are retracting their articles in response to PRC government pressure

Via the New York Times: 
Early in 2020, on the same day that a frightening new illness officially got the name Covid-19, a team of scientists from the United States and China released critical data showing how quickly the virus was spreading, and who was dying.

The study was cited in health warnings around the world and appeared to be a model of international collaboration in a moment of crisis.

Within days, though, the researchers quietly withdrew the paper, which was replaced online by a message telling scientists not to cite it. A few observers took note of the peculiar move, but the whole episode quickly faded amid the frenzy of the coronavirus pandemic.

What is now clear is that the study was not removed because of faulty research. Instead, it was withdrawn at the direction of Chinese health officials amid a crackdown on science. That effort kicked up a cloud of dust around the dates of early Covid cases, like those reported in the study.

...Soon, Chinese researchers were asking journals to retract their work. Journals can withdraw papers for a number of legitimate reasons, like flawed data. But a review of more than a dozen retracted papers from China shows a pattern of revising or suppressing research on early cases, conditions for medical workers and how widely the virus had spread — topics that could make the government look bad. The retracted papers reviewed by The Times had been flagged by Retraction Watch, a group that tracks withdrawn research...

....Journals are typically slow to retract papers, even when they are shown to be fraudulent or unethical. But in China, the calculus is different, said Ivan Oransky, a founder of Retraction Watch. Journals that want to sell subscriptions in China or publish Chinese research often bend to the government’s demands. “Scientific publishers have really gone out of their way to placate the censorship requests,” he said...
To get the full context, it's probably best to read the whole article. Sure sounds complicated to be a Chinese viral geneticist. 

Having read it all, and seeing the evidence of political pressure from the Chinese government on journals, it makes me wonder about ACS journals. I can't imagine what kinds of political pressures they might place on ACS (i.e. it's not like ACS is going to be publishing on COVID genetic sequences), but I'm sure something will eventually happen. 

C&EN: "For chemists returning to China, a mixed reception"

Via this week's Chemical and Engineering News, a story on Chinese scientists returning from the West:(article by Hepeng Jia): 
Chemist Ye Juntao completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Toronto, Columbia University, and Cornell University before setting up his lab at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in July 2019 as a tenure-track associate professor. He recently received a 2023 Thieme Chemistry Journals Award, honors that go to up-and-coming young researchers in chemical synthesis and catalysis.

“As a returnee scientist, I received good funding from the government and university that helped me enormously to roll out my research agenda,” says Ye, who primarily studies organic synthesis catalyzed by visible light. But, he adds, “I have to struggle for other support.”

Ye is one of the thousands of scientists of Chinese origin who in recent years have returned to China after studying at top overseas research institutions. They are finding that it can be tough as principal investigators to recruit enough doctoral and master’s students to work in their labs. Returnee scientists often have to strive to establish guanxi, a Chinese term for a network of relationships.

Most are happy they have returned to China, but the transition isn’t always easy.
It's quite interesting and nuanced - read the whole thing. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Have a good week

Well, this was an okay week, but I have plenty more work to get done before the weekend. Here's hoping that you had a good week, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday! 


EPA proposes banning all consumer and most industrial uses of dichloromethane

Via (among other places) the DCHAS-L listserve, this EPA press release: 
...EPA’s proposed risk management rule would rapidly phase down manufacturing, processing and distribution of methylene chloride for all consumer uses and most industrial and commercial uses, most of which would be fully implemented in 15 months. For most of the uses of methylene chloride that EPA is proposing to prohibit, EPA’s analysis found that alternative products with similar costs and efficacy to methylene chloride products are generally available.

...For the industrial manufacturing, industrial processing, and federal uses that EPA is not proposing to prohibit, EPA is proposing a workplace chemical protection program with strict exposure limits to better protect workers. EPA has received data from industry that indicate some facilities may already be meeting the stronger proposed methylene chloride exposure limits. These proposed requirements would allow the continued processing of methylene chloride to produce chemicals that are important in efforts to reduce global warming outlined in the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act. Climate-friendly refrigerants and other chemicals play a significant role in combatting climate change and EPA’s proposed rule supports continued efforts to reduce emissions. 
For those interested, here is the main page, and here is the proposed rule. 

What I've gathered so far (which could be incorrect): 
  • The proposed timeline for implementation is around 15 months. 
  • This would affect academic laboratories (laboratory use is one of the ten restricted uses that requires a workplace chemical protection program) 
  • This would affect industrial laboratories, as well 
  • Industrial use in the pharmaceutical industry may not be impacted, as pharmaceutical use is exempted from TSCA (page 14 of the proposed rule) 
I'm not an environmental lawyer, so I have no idea how real this is, but it seems like something that is pretty real? Readers? 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

It's hard to keep a telescope mirror clean!

Via the New York Times, this very amusing column: 
Few things in science appear to be as delicate or precarious as the giant mirrors at the hearts of modern telescopes. These mirrors — doughnuts of glass meters in diameter, weighing tons and costing millions of dollars — are polished within a fraction of a wavelength of visible light into the precise concavity required to gather and focus starlight from the other end of the universe.

When not at work, they are sheltered in lofty domes that protect them from the distortions of humidity, wind and changes in temperature. But this cannot shield them from all the vicissitudes of nature and humanity, as I was reminded on a recent visit to the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

As my hosts showed off one of their prized telescope mirrors — 20 feet of shiny, immaculately curved aluminum-coated glass — I couldn’t help noticing a small, suspicious smudge. It looked like the kind of smear you might find on your windshield in the morning, especially if you had parked under a tree.

“Birds,” one astronomer grumbled when asked what it was.

Do read the article, which has all kinds of details of objects damaging telescope mirrors.  

Where did the vinyl chloride come from?

Via the New York Times, these details as to the supply chain of the vinyl chloride train: 
When a freight train carrying more than 100,000 gallons of hazardous chemicals derailed and burned in East Palestine, Ohio, this year, it set off a panic over rail safety and the toxic fallout for communities downwind.

But less has been known about the origins of the chemicals themselves and their intended destination.

Much of the train’s vinyl chloride freight — which was ultimately incinerated by emergency responders to avert a wider explosion — came from a chemicals plant in La Porte, just outside Houston, Texas, that is run by OxyVinyls, the chemical arm of Occidental Petroleum, according to the shipment records released by the Environmental Protection Agency. The chemicals were on a 1,600-mile journey to an Oxy plant in Pedricktown, N.J., that makes plastic used in PVC flooring.

The details of the cargo were included in an administrative order filed last month by the E.P.A. that was based on shipment data provided by Oxy and other shippers. Oxy had more than 700,000 pounds of vinyl chloride on the train that derailed, the records show. An E.P.A. official on Monday confirmed the accuracy of the information.

It's surprising to me that Oxy does not have the PVC plant in Texas rather than New Jersey, especially since the logistics has got to add to the cost of the product. Well, something tells me that the railroads will start charging Oxy more and more to carry this material...

Monday, April 17, 2023

DOJ charges Chinese chemical manufacturers for shipping fentanyl precursors to Mexico

Via Reuters: 
April 14 (Reuters) - The United States has charged leaders of the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel with running a fentanyl trafficking operation fueled by Chinese chemical and pharmaceutical companies, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Friday....

,,,Prosecutors also charged four owners of Chinese companies that allegedly provided precursor chemicals to the cartel.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday also slapped sanctions on China-based chemical companies Wuhan Shuokang Biological Technology Co Ltd and Suzhou Xiaoli Pharmatech Co Ltd.
On or about March 10, 2023, YAQIN WU, a/k/a "Lily," the defendant, told a buyer of fentanyl precursosrs, "What you want is a drug, not a normal product, and the normal time for delivery is about 7 days... This cargo is so special that the freight forwarder also needs to carefully disguise it."
Seems bad! Via the Treasury Department, here's the actual problematic compound: 
In 2021, PRC-based chemical company Suzhou Xiaoli Pharmatech Co., Ltd (苏州小栗医药科技有限公司) (SXPC) shipped 25 kilograms of N-BOC-4-Piperidone (CAS No.: 79099-07-3), a fentanyl precursor chemical to Guadalajara, Mexico with an ultimate destination in Sinaloa, Mexico. At the time of the N-BOC-4-Piperidone sale, the SXPC sales representative was aware that it would be used for the purpose of aiding in the manufacturing of illicit fentanyl and/or fentanyl pills. The SXPC sales representative additionally noted that SXPC was a supplier of fentanyl precursor chemicals for Mexico-based narcotics traffickers.
Who knew drug compounds were BOC-protected? 

FT: chemical engineering prof says ChatGPT will allow access to 'dangerous chemistry'

Via Insider, an interview with a professor of chemical engineering at the Financial Times: 
One professor hired by OpenAI to test GPT-4, which powers chatbot ChatGPT, said there's a "significant risk" of people using it to do "dangerous chemistry" – in an interview with the Financial Times published on Friday.  

Andrew White, an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Rochester in New York state, was one of 50 experts hired to test the new technology over a six-month period in 2022. The group of experts – dubbed the "red team" – asked the AI tool dangerous and provocative questions to examine how far it can go.

White told the FT that he asked GPT-4 to suggest a compound that could act as a chemical weapon. He used "plug-ins" – a new feature that allows certain apps to feed information into the chatbot – to draw information from scientific papers and directories of chemical manufacturers. The chatbot was then able to find somewhere to make the compound, the FT said. 

I genuinely can't be very excited about this, since I can think of various places where you can find procedures to manufacture explosives in the open chemical literature. I guess if you can type "how to make (bad things)" into chatGPT, it makes it a lot easier. I still can't get very excited about this, because you still have to get the precursors... 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Have a good weekend

This was a stressful week, even as it was pretty chill in parts. Here's hoping you had a great week and Got Stuff Done, and that you have a good weekend. See you on Monday! 


The history of PV solar cells

Via the Substack "Construction Physics": 
...In 1881, American inventor Charles Fritts used this discovery to build the world’s first solar PV cell. Fritt’s cell consisted of a thin layer of selenium on top of a copper plate, covered with semitransparent gold leaf. Fritts found that when exposed to light, his cell could produce a current “that is continuous, constant, and of considerable force”.

Fritts showed his invention to famous inventor and industrialist Werner von Siemens, who encouraged other scientists to explore the potential of solar generated electricity. But Fritts’ selenium solar panels were incredibly inefficient, converting less than 1% of the light’s energy into electricity. Development of light-sensitive selenium panels continued (they later became popular as light meters for cameras), but selenium PV cells were never widely used as a source of electricity.

For a dumb organic chemist, this was a pretty good read. Enjoy!  

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Job posting: senior organic chemist, Holocene, Knoxville, TN

Via random clicking, Holocene (Knoxville, TN) is a startup looking for an organic chemist to perform carbon capture research: 

...we are seeking a Senior Organic Chemist focused on Carbon Removal to lead R&D and optimization for our organic chemistry derived DAC system.


  • Lead chemistry optimization for a novel direct air capture process
  • Analyze existing synthesis pathways for the materials used in our process and discover new ones
  • Diagnose and find mitigation measures for technical risks related to the chemistry
  • Work with external partners to produce necessary reactants at scale
  • Investigate the costs, carbon footprint, energy, and materials consumption for our reactants

Qualifications and Skills:

  • PhD in Chemistry
  • 4+ years of work experience as an analytical organic chemist
  • Experience leading experiments in a laboratory environment
  • Knowledge of process chemistry and chemicals supply chain
  • Management and mentorship abilities
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Dick Zare calls for investigation into C&EN during Spring ACS meeting

Pretty remarkable statement during the recent Rudy Baum symposium at the Spring ACS meeting in Indianapolis. I can't imagine that there will actually be an independent investigation (by whom?) of what transpired within C&EN, but it is notable nonetheless. 

Someone stole a really big gold coin

AKA a really cool article about both a heist and the purity of gold: 
The idea for the Big Maple Leaf coin formed as the RCM was launching a new series of pocket-sized coins made of 99.999 percent pure gold, often referred to as “five nines pure.” Raw gold is typically muddied with other elements like silver, aluminum, or zirconium, and needs to be processed so that there are less than ten parts per million of other elements. The typical standard is four nines. That extra decimal represents hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional value, and a source of technical pride for an organization like the RCM.

But the RCM wanted to signal a little more to the world, to draw attention to the new line of coins. In 2004, the Austrian Mint had created what was at that time the world’s biggest coin: a 31 kg coin made of 99.99 percent pure gold. In doing so, Austria hadn’t issued a direct challenge, but because there is an unofficial rivalry between international mints, they might just as well have. What if the RCM combined one accomplishment with another? What if they created a big, 99.999 percent pure coin? Really big. Big enough to draw attention.

 Read the whole thing, it's fascinating. 

Monday, April 10, 2023

A minor rantlet about LinkedIn connecting

In last week's C&EN, this comment about social media and LinkedIn-based networking: 

Friend. For people you know and trust, you can move up a level and connect with them on LinkedIn. This is a two-way relationship, in which you each have value to share with the other. Once you connect, you should put in the time and effort to maintain the relationship—build up a conversation (and trust). The best long-term relationships are mutually beneficial and are developed before you actually need something from the other person. This means you can’t add too many people too fast or it will be challenging to keep up with all of them.

I have to say that I agree with this advice. I find it irritating when people attempt to connect with me without any idea as to who they are, especially when I get the generic "X would like to connect with you" message without any added context. I find it especially irritating when salespeople use the connect function to sell me products or services. 

(My work pays for LinkedIn Premium*, and its sole useful product is "InMail", which allows you to contact non-connections.) 

(*if you're a job seeker, it is not worth the price.)  

Congressperson: government could use DPA to require 3M to manufacture PFAS

Via the Minnesota Reformer: 
Although 3M has said it plans to stop making toxic chemicals that have polluted the world, the U.S. Department of Defense is so reliant upon them the company may not have a choice.

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum, ranking member of the U.S. House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said until alternatives are found, the chemicals will need to continue to be used in microelectronic production, which has “national security implications.” And she suggested the federal government could require 3M to continue making the chemicals for essential uses under tightly controlled regulation, but she hopes that’s not necessary....

Elsewhere in the article, Rep. McCollum suggests that the Defense Production Act will come into play. It seems rather unlikely to me that the government can force 3M to continue production, but I suspect we're going to see unusual applications of the DPA in the next few years...

Friday, April 7, 2023

Have a good week

Well, this was a pretty kooky week, but it's Friday and the weekend is coming. Here's hoping you had a good week, and a great weekend. We'll see you on Monday. 

Blue days

And now for something very different. I like reading about other people's jobs (no surprise), and this writeup of the life of a woman long-haul trucker by Meg Bernhard was very interesting: 
...When I returned from the walk, Jess drove us to the facility for her 6 PM appointment. The day before, she’d picked up a load of picture frames from a small warehouse in Elkton, Kentucky, a town whose roads were hardly wide enough for a big rig. “This will be interesting,” she’d said, turning her wheel to the right and careening the truck onto a narrow two-lane road lined with red-brick homes and trim lawns, her fifty-three-foot trailer veering precariously. 
At the warehouse, a stooping man with shocking blue eyes gave us a tour of the long, mostly empty garage, its walls lined with stacks of boxes and palettes. “I do Lowe’s,” he said. “Also Walmart.” He’d started out working as a janitor for the company, then purchased it himself. A few years ago, he sold it for $3.8 million so he could retire but swiftly bought it back to save twenty-five employees from termination. “It’s a parable,” Jess said when we returned to the Black Widow.

I found this bit particularly poignant: 

Trucking saved her, she said, but she still got lonely. Solitude became its own source of claustrophobia. “I have blue days,” Jess said. “If I slammed my truck into a mountain, would anyone notice? Does anyone know I’m out here?”

...On blue days, Jess went through her phone’s contact list and called and called. If no one answered, she screamed.

I had a cell phone in grad school, but I didn't really call very many people on it. Makes you wonder if I would have been more social or less social in grad school if I had one... 

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Job posting: organic chemistry patent attorney, Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds, Boston, MA

From C&EN Jobs: 
Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds, an intellectual property boutique with offices in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts, seeks a Patent Agent for its Life Sciences team. Candidates should be capable of working on all matters involving small molecules, and have experience drafting and prosecuting patent applications, conducting patent validity, non-infringement and freedom-to-operate analyses and supporting due diligences related to small molecule pharmaceuticals. Successful candidates will also have outstanding writing and interpersonal skills, as well as strong academic credentials. A Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry or related discipline and registration with the USPTO are required.
At HBSR, you will be an integral part of a dynamic, highly-respected IP practice. You will build strong relationships with colleagues and clients, and contribute to deeply meaningful and interesting work in a collaborative team environment.  You will also have the opportunity to work remotely. 

To apply, please send your resume, cover letter, a writing sample and transcripts to

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 618 research/teaching positions and 75 teaching positions

The 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 618 research/teaching positions and 75 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 April 5, 2022, the 2022 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 584 research/teaching positions and 106 teaching faculty positions. On April 6, 2021, the 2021 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 322 research/teaching positions and 60 teaching faculty positions. 

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

Job posting: Full-Time Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

From the inbox: 
We invite applications for full-time lecturer positions starting in Fall 2023. Initial appointment is for one year with possible renewal for additional one-year terms. We are seeking candidates that are committed to excellence in undergraduate teaching, mentoring and service.  We are also seeking candidates that are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment. 

Candidates with a PhD in chemistry and demonstrated excellence in teaching college-level chemistry courses in physical, organic or bio-analytical chemistry are strongly encouraged to apply.

A normal teaching load for lecturers is two courses per semester. The expectation for these positions is to teach a combination of physical, organic or bio-analytical lecture and laboratory courses with multiple sections.

To apply, please submit a letter of application, CV, summary of teaching experience, diversity statement and three confidential letters of reference via Interfolio by April 10, 2023. 

The diversity statement should address a) How a candidate’s teaching, and/or service have contributed to diversity, equity and inclusion within their scholarly field(s) and/or how their individual and/or collaborative efforts have promoted structural justice inside and outside institutions of higher learning. This statement should also reflect on the ways in which the candidate’s continued efforts will foster a culture of diversity, pluralism, and individual difference at Case Western Reserve University into the future. 

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Job posting: 2 visiting chemistry/biochemistry positions, St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. Mary's City, MD

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at St. Mary's College of Maryland is accepting applications for two Visiting Assistant Professors of Chemistry/Biochemistry appointments, beginning August 2023. Each of these appointments will be of a duration of up to 2 years.  Teaching responsibilities will include lower-level required courses as well as upper-level electives. Additionally, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty are committed to creating a respectful community of educators and scholars and seek colleagues who are eager to nurture and support growth of students, staff, and faculty, including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, first generation and international community members, as well as community members with disabilities, among others.

Qualifications: Applicants must have a Ph.D. in chemistry, biochemistry, or related fields and be committed to excellence in undergraduate teaching. Priority will be given to candidates with expertise in any of the following areas: analytical chemistry, biochemistry, chemical education, or organic chemistry. The successful candidate must produce the necessary documentation to legally work in the U.S. upon hire. Employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a criminal background check and proof of COVID-19 vaccination, medical and religious exemptions will be considered.

Non-sectarian since its founding, St. Mary's College of Maryland, a public Carnegie Baccalaureate, Arts and Sciences institution located in St. Mary's City, 70 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., has been designated as Maryland's public honors college. With selective admissions policies, academically talented students, and a rigorous curriculum, we offer a small college experience similar to that found at exceptional private colleges. The quality of life is enhanced by the recreational opportunities of the Chesapeake region and by our proximity to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Full-time visiting faculty are eligible for a range of the College's professional development programming for academics, and use of our department’s excellent instrumentation for teaching and research. 

St. Mary's College ( embodies diversity and inclusion in its mission. We create an environment that recognizes the value of individual and group differences and we encourage inquiries from applicants who will contribute to our cultural and ethnic diversity. Application materials should include a cover letter in which the candidate addresses how their teaching will contribute to an inclusive classroom, curriculum vitae (including e-mail address), statement of teaching philosophy, statement of research interests, and evidence of teaching effectiveness (if available). In support of inclusive hiring practices, for all SMCM faculty searches initiated after February 15, 2023, the College will request three professional references (rather than letters of recommendation) at the time of application. Of these three references, at least one should speak to the candidate's disciplinary expertise and at least one should have seen the candidate deliver or design classroom instruction. References will be contacted only for candidates who advance to finalist interviews. Applications are being accepted online at:  Questions may be directed to Dr. Kelly Y. Neiles, Department Chair.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. St. Mary's College of Maryland is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.

Employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a criminal background check and proof of COVID-19 vaccination, medical and religious exemptions will be considered.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Job posting: Lecturer in Chemistry and Biochemistry, UC Santa Barbara

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara, invites applications for a pool of qualified lecturers to teach biochemistry laboratory courses in the 2023-2024 academic year with potential to include summer 2023. Screening of applicants is ongoing and will continue as needed. The availability of positions varies from quarter to quarter, depending on the needs of the department. Percent appointments my vary, up to 100%.

...The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Monday, April 3, 2023

El Pais: Prolific Spanish chemist suspended for double-dipping

Via El Pais: 
One of the most cited scientists in the world, the Spanish chemist Rafael Luque, has been suspended without pay for the next 13 years, according to Luque himself and the institution where he worked until recently, the University of Córdoba, in Spain. The university has sanctioned Luque for signing his studies as a researcher at other centers, such as King Saud University in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in Moscow, despite having a full-time civil servant contract with the Spanish institution.

Luque, born in Córdoba 44 years ago, is one of the most prolific scientists in Spain. He has published some 700 studies, mainly in the field of so-called green chemistry, which tries to synthesize products, such as drugs and fuels, while generating less waste. So far this year, Luque has already published 58 studies, one every 37 hours. The chemist has been on the list of the world’s most cited researchers for five years, compiled by the specialized company Clarivate. Institutions all over the world fight to hire scientists like Luque, since one of them alone can move a center up hundreds of positions in international academic rankings, such as the influential Shanghai ranking, attracting more students and more tuition money. “Without me the University of Córdoba is going to drop 300 spots. They have shot themselves in the foot,” said Luque, who attributed the sanction to “pure envy.”

I've not really heard of Prof. Luque, but this is a pretty interesting story. How do you write papers at another institution without your home institution not finding out about it? I feel like there are layers of context I don't quite understand...