Friday, December 8, 2023

Have a good weekend

This has been kind of a bonkers week, but that's all right. Almost all the way through it, and Friday looks to be (kind of) relaxing for me. I hope you had a good week, have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday. 

C&EN: "Nick Ishmael-Perkins will be the next editor in chief of C&EN"

From C&EN's Krystal Vasquez: 

Nick Ishmael-Perkins will be the next editor in chief of C&EN. Ishmael-Perkins is currently a senior consultant for the International Science Council and will move to the magazine in February 2024.

In his current position, Ishmael-Perkins focuses mostly on improving the public’s perception of science. For example, he helped produce an award-winning multimedia series that explores how to better communicate scientific discoveries. Earlier in his career, Ishmael-Perkins served as the director of SciDev.Net, an online news outlet that covers how science and technology can aid in global development. He has also worked as a journalist, media trainer, and project manager in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“We are proud to have a talented individual like Nick joining” the American Chemical Society, ACS CEO Albert G. Horvath says in a statement. “We’re excited about the vision, energy, leadership and expertise he brings to C&EN.” C&EN is published by ACS but is editorially independent.

I look forward to Ishmael-Perkins' leading of C&EN, and I hope that this is the beginning of a long and peaceful time for C&EN's staff, which has been through it for the past few years. 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Job posting: Biotech Intellectual Property Patent Agent/Technical Specialist (NY/CA)

Via C&EN Jobs: 
Duane Morris seeks a biotech patent prosecution, opinion and counseling patent agent/technical specialist (Ph.D.) with 0-5 years of experience, for its San Diego or New York office. The successful candidate will hold an advanced degree (i.e., Ph.D.), from an accredited institution, in biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology or microbiology, and have experience practicing before the USPTO that is commensurate with the candidate’s years in practice. Additional appreciation of organic chemistry, and bioinformatics is desired. Candidate must be admitted (or have the ability to become admitted) to practice before the USPTO as a registered U.S. Patent Agent.

The target annual pay range for this role in San Diego is $140,000-$160,000. Actual pay will vary depending upon various factors, including relevant experience, skill-set, current business needs and market factors. The compensation range listed is just one component of Duane Morris' total comp package for employees, which, depending on the position, may also include discretionary bonuses and incentive packages, and firm-sponsored benefit programs.

The target annual pay range for this role in New York is $150,000-$170,000. Actual pay will vary depending upon various factors, including relevant experience, skill-set, current business needs and market factors. The compensation range listed is just one component of Duane Morris' total comp package for employees, which, depending on the position, may also include discretionary bonuses and incentive packages, and firm-sponsored benefit programs.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Dan Baldassarre is lying about my friends

I’m never surprised to read complaints about the teaching and learning of organic chemistry on Twitter. It is an evergreen topic to the point that I used to be amused about the complaints, and then I was offended by them and now I am merely saddened. 

However, this post on (the former) Twitter by Dan Baldassarre was a new low, because Professor Baldassarre is a current professor, and not simply a random medical student or recently graduated physician. 

Continually flabbergasted by organic chemistry professors who don't interrogate their course design despite half the students failing. The callous, inflexible, sink-or-swim culture around this course is so gross. If half your students regularly fail, you're not doing your job.

He had the unfortunate circumstance of having his tweet become quite popular. He doubled down with this: 

O chem profs getting together to celebrate failing half their students and preserving the holy sanctity of med school 

The accompanying gif is that of some odd folks dancing wildly. On being asked about it by Debbie Gale Mitchell (a friend, and a teaching professor of chemistry), he had this reply: 

I’m not referring to any one person, merely to the preponderance of such professors across the field. As evidenced by the replies and quotes, they are quite common. I don’t doubt there are systemic issues at play as well though.

There are three factual claims here: 

  1. The failure rate for organic chemistry students is 50% 
  2. Professors have created a “callous, inflexible, sink-or-swim culture” and are celebrating the failure of their students, and are directly or indirectly attempting to preserve med student quality. 
  3. Organic chemistry professors who celebrate the failure of such students are a “preponderance”, that is, a majority of organic professors are happy to see their students fail. 

What I like about Baldassarre claim 1 is that it’s immediately falsifiable. What I learned is that there is not a lot of data out there. A brief informal survey indicates that current DFW rates among professors is well below 30%; a cursory look at the chemical education literature indicates that rates at 50% are indeed documented (as far back as 1999, and as recently as 2008.). I have a strong sense that the recent rates at Professor Baldassarre’s own institution are not nearly so high - I wonder if he has investigated? Nevertheless, the data is equivocal. 

What I am much more bothered by is Professor Baldassarre’s second claim - that organic professors are genuinely happy to fail students, and this position is held by most organic professors. I count A LOT of organic chemistry professors as my friends. Over the years, I’ve seen that they genuinely want their students to learn, and care about their students learning the material. I have heard none of the hundreds of organic professors I’ve talked to over the years celebrate the failure of their students; rather, I hear these professors doing their best (contra Baldassarre) to learn, to care, to listen and meet their students where they are. What is even more specious about his tweet is that chemistry professors care a whit about medical school admissions. Rather, I have found organic professors to view the MCAT as a burden to be shouldered, when they have talked about it at all. 

It’s true, I'm biased. I was, for something like 20 years, a professional organic chemist, and even now, I work in industrial organic chemistry. I genuinely love my field. It's the chemistry of life and I think organic chemistry is the perfect synthesis of science and craft and art. I know that professional organic chemistry educators try to communicate that same love to their students, even the pre-meds. Organic chemistry education could always be better - but that’s not Dan Baldassarre’s claim. Rather, his claim is that my organic professor friends are uncaring sadists. He’s wrong, and I wish that he would stop lying about my friends.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 472 research/teaching positions and 49 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 472 research/teaching positions and 49 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 December 6, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 530 research/teaching positions and 35 teaching-focused position.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the current, second, open thread. 

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

Job posting: NMR facility coordinator, Department of Chemistry, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

From the inbox: 

Under general supervision, employs a broad knowledge of principles, practices, and procedures in a particular field of specialization to plan, coordinate, and conduct research.

  • Coordinates all activities in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility, includes nitrogen and helium fills, billing, and maintenance of NMR instruments.
  • Lead, guide, and train staff/student employees, interns, and/or volunteers performing related work; may participate in the recruitment of volunteers, as appropriate to the area of operation of NMR instruments
  • Maintain and expand user list of NMR facility within and outside of UNM.
  • Plans, coordinates, and conducts scientific research requiring judgment in the independent evaluation, selection, and substantial adaptation and modification of standard scientific techniques related to NMR
  • Applies an analytical approach to the solution of a wide variety of problems or applies specialized techniques or ingenuity in selecting and evaluating approaches to unforeseen or novel problems related to NMR.
  • Demonstrates and applies thorough understanding of scientific methods, research protocols, assessment instruments, and data interpretation.
MS preferred. Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 123 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 123 positions. Find an error or have a question? Find an error? Contact @Heatherlec620 or @G_sribala. 

This is the link to the open thread. 

Monday, December 4, 2023

C&EN: Whither older NMRs

Great article by Celia Henry Arnaud in this week's C&EN about Varian NMRs, including this bit of speculation: 
While researchers deal with the practical ramifications of Agilent’s exit, WUSTL’s Hayes is considering the broader implications. “I think we might see changes, because what this has shown is that it’s like a single-point-of-failure model. We are now in a situation where hardware with very high capital equipment costs is purchased, only to learn that the company may choose not to be in this business within a year or two thereafter,” she says.

NMR instruments are unique in their longevity, Hayes notes. “In many cases we have been fortunate as a department to keep them for 20 or 30 years. So what do you do in terms of robust decision-making when the landscape for vendors of such equipment is so uncertain?”

Hayes predicts that in the next decade or two there could be a shift toward benchtop instruments for routine analysis in synthesis labs—both to avoid the large purchases and to circumvent difficulties with the helium market. But until then, she adds, “every research-oriented chemistry department needs an NMR—at least one, if not two.”

Is anyone actively moving towards benchtop NMRs in synthetic chemistry? I'd love to know if this is happening... 

C&EN: "Novo Nordisk to expand GLP-1 production in France"

In this week's C&EN, this news (article by Rick Mullin): 
Novo Nordisk will invest $2.3 billion to expand manufacturing at its plant in Chartres, France. The project includes finished-drug production for products based on a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist, semaglutide, the active ingredient in two of its blockbusters. Last month, the company announced a $6 billion expansion at its plant in Kalundborg, Denmark, which makes GLP-1 products. Novo Nordisk has been straining to keep up with demand for semaglutide. Its Weygovy, a weight loss drug, and Ozempic, for type 2 diabetes, booked sales of $4.5 billion in the third quarter, a 37% increase over the same period last year.

It will be fascinating to see the ripples of Wegovy/Ozempic through the industry... 

Friday, December 1, 2023

Have a great weekend

Well, this has been a bonkers week, but I'm almost through it. I hope that you had a calmer week than I did, and that you have a wonderful weekend. I am looking forward to spending it with my family. See you on Monday!

C&EN: ACC predicts a sluggish 2024

Via C&EN's Alex Tullo, this grim news:

The US chemical industry had a tough 2023, and next year it will have to weather a tougher economic climate, possibly even a downturn.

That was the message delivered by the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry trade group, in its industry forecast on Nov. 28. The ACC estimates that the industry’s output, excluding pharmaceuticals, will decline by 1.0% in 2023. It predicts a modest turnaround to 1.5% growth next year.

“We saw weakness really emerge last year in the third quarter, and it’s continued through much of this year,” ACC chief economist Martha Gilchrist Moore told reporters on a conference call.

...For example, Moore pointed out, student loan repayments are starting up again, credit card debt defaults are increasing, and consumers have worked through much of the savings they accumulated during the pandemic.

After posting 2.3% growth in gross domestic product in 2023, the US will experience economic growth of only 1.1% in 2024, the ACC expects.

There is this weird aspect of the economy these days, where there is a lot of negative data from standard economic indicators, and yet it does not yet seem to have shown up in the unemployment numbers (which, I imagine, are a lagging and not a leading indicator.) I do not wish it to be so (for many reasons) but I am concerned that 2024 will be a worse hiring year for industrially-oriented chemists than 2023, but I don't really have a great sense of this. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Job posting: process analytical chemist, Thermo Fisher, Franklin, MA

Via C&EN Jobs: 

As a Process Analytical Chemist at Thermo Fisher, you will join a team of dedicated Scientists, Engineers and Technicians working together to accelerate research, solve complex scientific challenges and drive technological innovation in the fields of process chemistry and gas analysis! The successful candidate will have a deep understanding of analytical chemistry and instrumentation and an appreciation of how new technologies can support our efforts to detect and measure trace contaminants in a process gas stream and/or process emissions. In addition to driving development of innovative technologies, the Scientist will work closely with Marketing experts to be sure that new products meet both regulatory requirements and customer expectations.

What will you do?

  • Lead R&D innovation efforts toward development of gas analyzers using diverse technologies such as tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS), cavity ringdown spectroscopy (CRDS), RAMAN spectroscopy, FTIR and others!
  • Plan and implement laboratory and field evaluations of sophisticated technologies acquired from outside parties, such as national laboratories and universities.
  • Collaborate with a multi-disciplinary R&D team, including mechanical, electronic and software engineers to help commercialize select technologies developed in our laboratories or acquired from other sources.
  • Provide technical input to the Product Management teams for better positioning of our technical solutions in the market.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

C&EN: Warren Wilson College discontinues its chemistry major

This latest sad news from Chemical and Engineering News (article by Krystal Vasquez): 

Warren Wilson College, a liberal arts college in North Carolina, will eliminate its chemistry major next academic year. In addition, the college will discontinue majors in math, philosophy, history and political science, and global studies.

The cuts are the result of a “strategic planning process” spearheaded by the college’s new president, Damián Fernández. After starting in June, Fernández tasked the college with streamlining its academic portfolio to “reduce expenses in areas where we felt like that was necessary,” says Jay Roberts, the college’s provost.

Starting in fall 2024, Warren Wilson will no longer admit incoming students into the five majors. Students who are currently pursuing the majors will be offered the courses they need to graduate, Roberts says.

Eventually, however, the college intends to cut some of the more advanced courses that are offered as a part of the discontinued majors. For example, Langdon Martin, chair of Warren Wilson’s chemistry department, suspects that the school’s quantum chemistry class will be on the chopping block “since it’s been a course that hasn’t had much enrollment beyond chemists.”

It seems to me that the shrinking of smaller colleges will inevitably impact smaller colleges and their ability to support tenure lines, including chemistry.  

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 461 research/teaching positions and 49 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 461 research/teaching positions and 49 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 November 29, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 530 research/teaching positions and 35 teaching-focused position.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the current, second, open thread. 

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

Job posting: assistant professor, Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto invites applications for up to two full-time tenure stream positions in Frontiers in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. The appointments will be at the rank of Assistant Professor, with an expected start date of July 1, 2024. 

 Applicants are expected to have a PhD degree in chemical engineering or a related area at the time of appointment or shortly thereafter, with a demonstrated record of excellence in research and teaching. We seek candidates whose research and teaching are at the frontiers of chemical, biochemical, environmental, or materials engineering or in applied chemistry/biochemistry, who complement and enhance our existing departmental strengths, and who impact foundational principles that integrate chemistry, biology and engineering to tackle the grand challenges facing our society in sustainability. 

The successful candidate will be expected to initiate and continuously lead an outstanding, independent, innovative, externally funded research program of international calibre, and teach in the chemical engineering curriculum at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. We will prioritize candidates who demonstrate the ability to sustain and lead innovative research that will advance the global frontiers of knowledge in the field of chemical engineering and applied chemistry (refer to the vision statement of the department at Collaborative and inter-disciplinary research and collegial interaction will be important elements in success. Eligibility to register as a Professional Engineer in Ontario is an asset.

Excellence in research is evidenced primarily by publications or forthcoming publications in leading, field-relevant journals or conferences, the submitted research statement, presentations at significant conferences, awards and accolades, and strong endorsements by referees of high standing.
Full ad is here. Best wishes to those interested. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 122 positions

 The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 122 positions. Find an error or have a question? Find an error? Contact @Heatherlec620 or @G_sribala. 

This is the link to the open thread. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

C&EN: OSHA proposed penalties for PCI/Seqens

This update on the PCI Synthesis case (article by Rick Mullin): 

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed nearly $300,000 in penalties for PolyCarbon Industries and its parent, the French firm Seqens, after an investigation indicated that an explosion at a PolyCarbon pharmaceutical chemical plant in Newburyport, Massachusetts, last May could have been prevented. The incident killed one worker, Jack O’Keefe, 62. OSHA cited 11 violations in its findings, including failure to determine the combustibility hazards of materials used in the process involved in the explosion. The incident was the third serious accident at the plant since 2020.

Here's some additional details from The Daily News of Newburyport: 

OSHA also found that Seqens/PCI Synthesis failed to: include safe upper and lower temperature limits to prevent the decomposition of Dekon 139; evaluate the consequences of deviation in the production process; establish written procedures to maintain the ongoing integrity of process equipment and provide clear instruction on consequences of deviation from steps in the operating procedures; update the process safety information to include steps to avoid consequences of deviation in temperature, properties and chemical hazards used in the process; update standard operating procedures for producing Dekon 139 and its safety data sheet; review a November 2022 compliance audit report with all affected personnel whose job tasks are relevant to the report findings; and track contract employees’ injuries and illnesses.

Hmmm, sounds like time to understand "Dekon 139" a little better for me...  

C&EN: "Tough times for Japan’s chemical makers"

Looks like the grim times aren't just in Germany, but are also in Japan (article by Katsumori Matsuoka): 

Japan’s three biggest chemical companies are seeing their earnings suffer from a slump in basic chemicals. All three experienced a sharp drop in profits in the first half of fiscal 2023, which ended Sept. 30, and one of them, Sumitomo Chemical, is forecasting a loss of $655 million for the full fiscal year.

For all three firms, petrochemical demand has declined due to the slow recovery of the Chinese economy and other factors. Sale prices have been slumping.

Sumitomo, the only Japanese chemical company with global petrochemical operations, posted a $306 million loss in its petrochemical division in the first half of the fiscal year due to poor performance at facilities in Japan, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, the company’s pharmaceutical segment had a $451 million loss due to patent expiration for the antipsychotic drug Latuda. Its overall loss for the period was $666 million.

My old model of the chemical industry was that "bad times for the chemical industry portends bad news for the economy in general" but I guess I'm not really sure that the model holds as of late? Or holds for the US economy, anyway? 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year, I am incredibly thankful for my family, my friends, my community (physical and online) and my job. This year, I'm thankful for my coworkers and I'm really looking forward to a fun and interesting next year. 

I am still incredibly thankful for you, my readers and commenters. Thank you for your reading, your advice, your e-mails and your brilliant, insightful comments. I am genuinely grateful and touched that you folks are still reading this tiny little corner of the internet, and I hope that I will continue to earn your readership. 

[An additional note: if you would ever like to meet for a cup of coffee or a beer, please reach out to my e-mail address. I hope to find myself in many different places in 2024, and I love to meet readers of the blog.] 

My family and I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and if you're not in the United States, a happy Thursday and Friday! 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Did you learn about the Bhopal disaster?

Poster of "The Railway Men" 
Credit: Wikipedia
I'm spending more time on BlueSky these days, and less time on Twitter. I was struck by this question by a reporter the other day (undoubtedly brought on by the Netflix series "The Railway Men"): 

"Do people in the US still learn about the Bhopal disaster (in a not specialized course) or has it been memory holed?"

First, I want to quibble with the premise. As someone who basically remembers quite a bit about middle school and high school, I genuinely don't understand the concept of 'the memory hole' - we don't live in a world where facts are destroyed, so what do you mean? Do people mean "people forget about stuff" or do people mean "this fact that I think is important isn't talked about enough, in my opinion" or do people mean "this bit of news has been deliberately suppressed"? 

The other question is "what do you mean, 'learn (in a not specialized course)'"? We don't really have a place for learning about industrial disasters, other than history courses, and we don't really tend to cover industrial disasters in regular history courses, which tend to be about the formation of nation-states and the history of their governments. Chernobyl, for example, is a pretty grim instance of a Soviet-era industrial disaster, and the only place I could imagine seeing it in a US history course is in the "late Cold War" section as a part of the demise of the Soviet Union. While I consumed article after article in National Geographic about Chernobyl, I imagine that the average high schooler these days gets about 10 minutes. 

Setting that aside, I noted that I felt like the Bhopal disaster gets talked about in organic chemistry. I feel like, but I don't exactly remember, that I learned about methyl isocyanate either in undergrad, but definitely in graduate school. I have become quite the enthusiast about the work product of the Chemical Safety Board, so I certainly remember watching the Bayer CropScience video, which also talked about Bhopal. I'm probably both the exact right person to make the query ('is our children learning about Bhopal?') and exactly the wrong person to answer the question. 

So, reader - some questions for you: 

  • How old are you? (You can be vague) 
  • Did you learn about the Bhopal incident? 
  • When did you learn about it? Random reading, or in a class? 
  • Did you learn about methyl isocyanate in organic chemistry? 
  • If you're a professor of chemistry, have you taught about Bhopal? If so, what do you say? 
Thanks for your help. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

C&EN: paper mill absconds with scholarly identities

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this fascinating story (article by Dalmeet Singh Chawla):

Earlier this year, Michael Fischer peer-reviewed a study for a journal, and the publication’s editor copied him on the decision letter and the reviewer reports. Then he came across something odd.

Fischer, a geoscientist at the University of Bremen, noticed that the referee report of another peer reviewer included a long list of suggested citations. Most of the recommended citations were for articles published by a single journal, Experimental and Theoretical Nanotechnology (ET Nano), whose website says it is published by the Arab Science and Technology Foundation.

Fischer had never heard of ET Nano and decided to check it out. “I was expecting it to basically be some kind of predatory journal” trying to unethically boost its reputation through unwarranted citations, he says.

But when Fischer began to look at ET Nano’s published papers, he was surprised to find that they were authored by prominent and well-known researchers from across the world. He found this strange, given the journal’s relative obscurity. In addition, some researchers weren’t at the universities the journal said they were....

...After seeing papers authored by some legitimate and some nonexistent researchers, Fischer decided to reach out to authors he knew to be real. Most of the academics who responded told him the papers listing them as authors were not theirs and that they had never heard of ET Nano. Many of the researchers were also listed as members of its editorial advisory board.

“The papers didn’t seem to match their research profile at all,” Fischer says. “Also, they were often not well written or contained really low-quality figures, which were of very poor resolution.”

I don't really understand what paper mills really do (other than shovel loads of low-quality papers onto the internet.) It seems to me these journals seem to exist solely to collect publication fees from scholars from developing countries whose insitutions really care about publication count? What a strange world we live in. 

Reuters: German medicines regulator considering export ban on Ozempic

Via Reuters: 

FRANKFURT, Nov 15 (Reuters) - German regulator BfArM is considering banning Ozempic exports as Europe's health systems grapple with shortage of the diabetes drug, which is in high demand for its weight-loss benefits.

Use of Novo Nordisk's (NOVOb.CO) Ozempic for weight loss has caused shortages across Europe, where Britain and Belgium have temporarily banned its use for weight loss to secure availability for diabetics.

Novo's launch of anti-obesity drug Wegovy, a high dose version of Ozempic, in Britain, Germany, Norway and Denmark, has so far done little to temper the craze for Ozempic as volumes of Wegovy have been limited due to production bottlenecks... 

...BfArM's Broich said some Ozempic was being moved out of the country because it is cheaper there than elsewhere, and demand was driven by use for weight loss.

Broich cautioned that export restrictions can only be rarely used and legal hurdles were high because of the European Union's single market.

Nothing has stopped me from being convinced that Novo Nordisk badly underestimated demand for Ozempic and failed to ramp up manufacturing sufficiently to meet both current and future demand. It will be interesting to watch the race between Novo and Lilly to see who will ultimately capture the most market share for GLP-1 drugs.  

Chemicals plant in Louisiana to receive government funds to retool for battery chemical manufacture

Via the Louisiana Illuminator (a non-profit news website) this news:
ST. GABRIEL — A chemical plant in Louisiana that faced possible downsizing or even closure is now expanding to become America’s first domestic manufacturer of critical lithium battery materials thanks to new federal infrastructure investments.

Koura Global, which has a plant that makes fluorine refrigerants at its facility just south of Baton Rouge, will retrofit its facilities to manufacture lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6), a primary component in lithium-ion batteries. At full capacity, the plant will produce enough of the chemical to make more than a million electric vehicle (EV) batteries a year.  

U.S. Rep Troy Carter, D-Louisiana, who represents the 2nd Congressional District between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, told Koura’s employees Friday that their work will address a “critical gap in our domestic supply chain” for lithium-ion batteries.

The plant currently manufactures a fluorine refrigerant that is being replaced with a more environmentally friendly chemical. Koura will retrofit its current operations to produce the new refrigerant, but a $100 million U.S. Department of Energy grant will allow the company to construct new facilities at the plant to pivot into the battery industry, according to Koura executive Erick Comeaux.

The grant is one of thousands made available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that President Joe Biden ushered through Congress in 2021. Also known as the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA), the plan is the country’s largest federal infrastructure investment in decades. It includes money for investments in domestic manufacturing, transportation, energy, drinking water systems, environmental remediation and broadband internet expansion, among other things.

It sure feels like the number of active fluorochemical manufacturers isn't growing in the US, so this is a clever shift. Here's hoping it works out for them.  

Friday, November 17, 2023

Have a good weekend

Well, this was a pretty kooky week, but we're almost done with it. I hope that you had a less kooky week than mine, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday for a short week. 

NYT: Platinum from catalytic converter theft can end up in chemotherapy drugs

Via a commenter, this fascinating New York Times investigative piece on catalytic converter theft and how the metals can end up in the manufacturing supply chain. 

...The subject arose repeatedly at a recent conference of the International Precious Metals Institute in Orlando. Lee Hockey, a consultant formerly with Johnson Matthey, a specialty chemical company, addressed culpability head on.

“Most people in this room will see petty thefts and say, ‘Oh, we’re not involved in that,’” Mr. Hockey said. “But everybody is. If you’re a refiner, even if you are dealing with a smelter, you are getting the metal, so you are liable. If you are an insurance company and you are insuring people on the site, you are liable. If you are doing an analysis of the sample, you are liable.” He added, “You are along the supply chain, and you are involved.”

I'm not surprised that Johnson Matthey is involved, but I am very surprised that the Times seems to think the main involvement of catalytic converter theft is in actual APIs: 

Over the past decade, the Stillwater plant processed more PGMs from the used devices than from its Montana mines, Heather McDowell, a company official, said during a recent tour. To keep the pipeline of recycled devices flowing, she said, Stillwater relies on 28 suppliers.

All of the PGMs are sent for final refining to Johnson Matthey for use in, among other things, “the vital compounds — known as active pharmaceutical ingredients,” it said in its 2021 annual report.

Pfizer, for example, uses platinum for chemotherapy treatments. “Pfizer has a diverse supply chain network and has not relied on a sole supplier,” the company said in an email response to questions from The Times about Stillwater. The company declined to say whether Stillwater is one of those suppliers.

It seems to me that far more palladium ends up being used as catalysts (hydrogenations of various sorts) as opposed to platinum and the like that ends up in chemotherapy drugs, but what do I know. Nevertheless, a fascinating article - read the whole thing! 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Job posting: assistant professor, quantitative biosciences, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

From the inbox: 
The University of California Santa Barbara invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the Assistant Professor Level. The position is a part of a multi-year, multi-departmental initiative to establish an interdisciplinary research effort and graduate training program in the area of Quantitative Biosciences, emphasizing experimentation, computational and theoretical approaches to the study of living systems, on scales from molecules to entire organisms. Subjects of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • ·      biophysical mechanisms underlying emerging properties in living matter;
  • ·      chemical approaches (e.g., proteomic, spectroscopy) to elucidating biological phenomena;
  • ·      organizational principles of subcellular and subnuclear dynamics;
  • ·      quantitative studies of development and tissue mechanics;
  • ·      metabolism and energetics of biological processes;
  • ·      neural computation for sensation and behavioral control.
We are especially interested in experimental scientists who combine modern tools from multiple disciplines to understand biological organization and function on multiple scales. Candidates who focus on theoretical aspects may be considered, but a demonstrated record of effective interactions and collaborations with experimentalist is expected.

The successful candidate's faculty appointment will be split between the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomolecular Science and Engineering and the academic department(s) most closely corresponding to the candidate's research focus and teaching qualifications, including, but not limited to Chemistry & Biochemistry; Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology; Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and Physics. Preference will be given to candidates with broad scientific interests, a record of research excellence and creativity, and a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching. Interdisciplinary educational background combining biology with physical and mathematical sciences and/or a strong record of active interdisciplinary collaboration will also be valued. Applicants must have completed all requirements for a PhD (or equivalent) except the dissertation at the time of application, in the areas of physics, biology, chemistry, or related fields.  Appointment begins July 1, 2024.
Applicants should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, a statement of research and teaching interests and arrange for three letters of recommendation. Materials should be submitted electronically via The current base pay range is $90,000-$120,00. Other components of pay are offered when necessary to meet competitive conditions. Complete applications received on or before November 27, 2023 will be given full consideration.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Science: USC neuroscientist faces research integrity questions

Via Derek Lowe, this rather shocking story: 
In 2022, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) placed a large bet on an experimental drug developed to limit brain damage after strokes. The agency committed up to $30 million to administer a compound called 3K3A-APC in a study of 1400 people shortly after they experience an acute ischemic stroke, a perilous condition in which a clot blocks blood flow to part of the brain.

The gamble seemed warranted. Lab studies, most by a longtime grantee, prominent University of Southern California (USC) neuroscientist Berislav Zlokovic, had generated promising data. A small safety study of the drug, sponsored by a company Zlokovic co-founded called ZZ Biotech, was also encouraging. Analyses of data from the phase 2 trial hinted that the treatment reduced the number of tiny, asymptomatic brain hemorrhages after stroke patients received either surgery to remove the clot, the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), or both.

...But a 113-page dossier obtained by Science from a small group of whistleblowers paints a less encouraging picture. The dossier, which they submitted to NIH, highlights evidence from the phase 2 trial that the experimental remedy might have actually increased deaths in the first week after treatment: Six of the 66 stroke patients who received 3K3A-APC died within this period, compared with one among 44 in the placebo group, although the death rate evened out after a month. Patients who received the drug also trended toward greater disability and dependency at the end of the trial, 90 days after treatment....

...But speaking to Science anonymously, four former members of Zlokovic’s lab say the anomalies the whistleblowers found are no accident. They describe a culture of intimidation, in which he regularly pushed them and others in the lab to adjust data. Two of them said he sometimes had people change lab notebooks after experiments were completed to ensure they only contained the desired results. “There were clear examples of him instructing people to manipulate data to fit the hypothesis,” one of the lab members says.

Seems real bad! 

Monday, November 13, 2023

C&EN: "Chemical industry profits evaporate in Europe"

In this week's C&EN, the continued grim news (article by Alex Scott): 
Many of Europe’s biggest chemical producers—including the German firms BASF, Covestro, Evonik Industries, and Lanxess—have reported declining sales and net losses for the third quarter. Europe’s chemical sector is now firmly in cost-cutting mode, and some companies are closing manufacturing plants because of ongoing soft demand for their products.

BASF, still the world’s largest chemical company, recorded a loss of $264 million for the third quarter, compared with earnings of $962 million in the year-earlier period, and sales of $16.2 billion, down 28%. The German major cites considerably lower prices for products sold by its materials, chemicals, and surface technologies businesses and lower sales volumes across the board.

BASF announced measures to cut costs by about $215 million annually, adding to plans to cut costs by more than $750 million per year by 2027. The firm plans to reduce its capital investments over the next 5 years by about $4.3 billion, to $26.5 billion. “We have more projects than money,” CEO Martin Brudermüller said in a press briefing.

Lanxess also lost money in the third quarter. “We see no signs of recovery for the rest of the year,” CEO Matthias Zachert says in a press release. The firm plans a one-time savings of $107 million in 2023 and annual savings of $160 million starting in 2025. The cuts will eliminate 870 jobs, including 460 in Germany. The company says it has initiated the sale of its urethane chemical division and will use the cash to help pay down debt.
Full article here. It doesn't seem like there's any end in sight, which might be a sign of the bottom *(one hopes?) Here's hoping things turn around. 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Have a good weekend

What a nutty week for me, but it's not a bad one. Let's hope that you had a great week, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday. 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Job posting: formulation associate scientist, Rockville, MD

Via C&EN Jobs: 

Formulation Associate Scientist, Guidehouse Digital LLC, Rockville, MD. Collaborate with various teams to coordinate formulation and stability studies. Conduct tests and evaluations stable formulations for the vaccine candidates. Generate samples for analysis using standard laboratory techniques buffer prep, dialysis, dilution. Analyze samples using spectroscopic, calorimetric, and other instrumentation. Collect and analyze data. Develop assays for biological product characterization, formulation development and stability testing of recombinant protein-based vaccines, proteinaceous nanoparticles, and virus-like particles. Write and review technical reports and protocols documenting formulation, stability, and method development studies.

40 hrs/week, Mon-Fri, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. 


Master’s degree or foreign equivalent degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, or a related field, and two (2) years of related work experience.

Must have one (1) year of experience with/in:

  • Analyzing protein spectroscopic analysis using: UV-Vis, Fluorescence, or Circular Dichroism spectroscopy;
  • Industry, government, or equivalent in protein formulation
  • Biophysical and bioanalytical properties of proteins and biologics;
  • Classic protein biochemistry sample handling and analysis using UF/DF, SDS-PAGE, or Western Blot; and
  • Utilizing Excel, Prism, and SigmaPlot data software.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Ars Technica: "“Extremely high” lead levels sicken 7 in 5 states"

By amazing health reporter Beth Mole, this news: 

At least seven children across five states have suffered acute lead poisoning linked to at least three brands of apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches marketed to children and sold nationwide, the Food and Drug Administration announced in an updated safety alert Friday.

The brands include WanaBana apple cinnamon fruit puree pouches, Schnucks brand cinnamon-flavored applesauce pouches, and Weis brand cinnamon applesauce pouches. All three have been recalled. Consumers should not buy, sell, serve, or eat any of these products. Any pouches that have already been purchased should be thrown away. Parents or guardians of any children who may have eaten the purees should talk with health care providers about blood lead tests....

...The FDA said it is working to identify additional cases and other products that may also be contaminated, and to understand the source of the lead. In its recall notice, Schnucks reported its supplier, Purcell International, notified it of "elevated levels of lead found in the cinnamon raw material used by Austrofood SAS, the manufacturer of the applesauce cinnamon pouches."

I am a bit of a lead level fanatic, so I am really appalled at this. I would be pretty enthusiastic about making an example of these suppliers, and perhaps setting up some kind of system to actively screen food and food products for lead. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 424 research/teaching positions and 40 teaching positions

 The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 424 research/teaching positions and 40 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 November 8, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 497 research/teaching positions and 31 teaching-focused position.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. This post will serve as the second open thread. 

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

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 108 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 108 positions. Find an error or have a question? Find an error? Contact @Heatherlec620 or @G_sribala. 

This is the link to the open thread. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

EPA to consider banning tire chemical

Via the Associated Press: 
U.S. regulators say they will review the use of a chemical found in almost every tire after a petition from West Coast Native American tribes that want it banned because it kills salmon as they return from the ocean to their natal streams to spawn.

The Yurok tribe in California and the Port Gamble S’Klallam and Puyallup tribes in Washington asked the Environmental Protection Agency to prohibit the rubber preservative 6PPD earlier this year, saying it kills fish — especially coho salmon — when rains wash it from roadways into rivers. Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut also wrote the EPA, citing the chemical’s “unreasonable threat” to their waters and fisheries.

The agency’s decision to grant the petition last week is the start of a long regulatory process that could see the chemical banned. Tire manufacturers are already looking for an alternative that still meets federal safety requirements.

“We could not sit idle while 6PPD kills the fish that sustain us,” Joseph L. James, chair of the Yurok Tribe, told The Associated Press. “This lethal toxin has no business in any salmon-bearing watershed.”

6PPD has been used as a rubber preservative in tires for 60 years. It is also found in footwear, synthetic turf and playground equipment.

As tires wear, tiny particles of rubber are left behind on roads and parking lots. The chemical breaks down into a byproduct, 6PPD-quinone, that is deadly to salmon, steelhead trout and other aquatic wildlife. Coho appear to be especially sensitive; it can kill them within hours, the tribes argued.

The structure of the molecule is so simple - it's pretty interesting to understand that the oxidation product is deadly to salmon. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Have a good weekend

This has been a nutty week, but not a bad one. Here's hoping you've had a calmer week than I, and that you have a great weekend. Getting to see old friends this weekend, so that's worth it. See you on Monday. 

Rainbow fire teacher in Virginia back at work

From a Google News alert, this follow-up from last year's incident that hurt a student: 

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. — A Dinwiddie High School Chemistry teacher is back at work one year after an explosion in their classroom during a science experiment, according to a spokeswoman for Dinwiddie County Public Schools. The explosion, on October 12, 2022, happened during an experiment using methanol.

Four students and a teacher were treated for injuries. One student was so badly injured, they were hospitalized in the intensive care unit.

CBS 6 learned the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office and the Dinwiddie County Division of Fire and EMS presented the findings of their investigation into the incident to the former Commonwealth’s Attorney for Dinwiddie County, Ann Cabell Baskerville.

Both said it was up to her whether she wanted to press charges against the teacher.

She opted not to press charges.

We reached out to Baskerville to learn more about why, and we are waiting to hear back.

Since then, Dinwiddie County Public Schools told CBS 6 the teacher is back to work at the school.

It seems to me that if we continue to have a lack of consequences for running this demonstration poorly, we will continue to have hurt kids. 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Job posting: research analytical chemist, Milliken, Gainesville, FL

Via Twitter, this position: 

POSITION TITLE: Research Analytical Chemist, Fine Chemicals Business


This position is responsible for supporting R&D projects by executing and coordinating qualitative and quantitative testing, developing, and validating methods.  The individual will be located at the R&D facility in Gainesville, FL and report to the R&D Manager.  Occasional visits to external customer facilities, the company headquarters in Spartanburg, SC, and other production sites within the USA is possible.


  • Perform ICP-MS analyses and interpretation of data for research and development and production samples, and maintenance of related equipment.
  • Participate on process development project teams and support teams in the following ways:
    • develop and validate analytical methods that support products in various industries, including semi-conductors
    • lead the correlation of analytical methods with customers as necessary
    • lead implementation of analytical methods in internal production Quality Control labs.
    • perform method analysis studies such as MDL determinations, and Gage R&R for analytical methods.
    • lead the startup of online analytical methods for new process startups
  • Provide analytical problem solving and support for Milliken manufacturing sites, sales, and marketing functions as well as external customers.
  • Develop collaborative relationships to successfully work in multi-disciplinary teams of chemists, engineers, and associates in the areas of environmental/regulatory, purchasing, and business.


  • PhD in Chemistry.
  • 1+ years of industry experience.
  • Experience in analytical method development.
  • Experience in use and maintenance of an ICP-MS.
  • Experience with GC and GC-MS maintenance and method development.
  • Strong creative and analytical problem-solving skills.


  • PhD in Analytical Chemistry.
  • 3+ years of industry semiconductor analytical experience.
  • Experience with method development for LC, FTIR, IC, UV-Vis, GPC, and titrations.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Dorothy Phillips has been elected ACS president-elect

Via Chemical and Engineering News (article by Sara Cottle): 
Dorothy J. Phillips, retired from the role of director of strategic marketing at Waters, has been elected the American Chemical Society 2024 president-elect by members of ACS. Phillips will serve as society president in 2025 and immediate past president in 2026. The appointment also includes serving on the board of directors from 2024 through 2026.

A total of 11,428 votes were cast for president-elect. Voter participation was 12% of all eligible voters.

With 6,653 votes, Phillips won the president-elect race against Florian J. Schattenmann, chief technology officer and vice president of research and development and innovation at Cargill, who received 4,775 votes. ACS, which publishes C&EN, also elected four other people into ACS positions and voted on a petition that was up for approval in the fall 2023 election cycle.

Full article here.  

Ohio man explodes blender while experimenting with fireworks ingredients at home

Via a Toledo based TV station: 

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - A loud explosion in the city of Bowling Green Friday night prompted police to investigate, eventually calling the Toledo Bomb Squad to assist.

“A very loud like pop, clap, bang, and it startled me,” Shana Bentley, who lives just a few houses from the explosion said...

...Police interviewed a resident in the 200 block of Reed Street, where they believed the explosion came from.

“He has an infinite and interest in mixing different chemicals and powders and stuff like that to make homemade explosives, slash, fireworks,” Skaff said. He also told police he just passed an online class for a pyrotechnics license and has been using a detached garage to mix powder chemicals together to form an explosive compound in a blender.

Lt. Skaff said the man was using a blender to mix components to build fireworks. He told police he was mixing the powder chemicals together to make the explosive compound in his blender as he always does. He also told police that he ran out of standard aluminum powder, so he decided to use Magnalium instead, a mixture of aluminum and magnesium. He went on to tell police that when plugged in the blender, it immediately exploded.

“Thankfully for him and the citizens, there was no one in the area, he was a decent distance away when the blender exploded,” Skaff said.

I'm glad the home experimenter is all right, but I guess that he learned the classic lesson of needing to start small regarding new reagents and new techniques... 

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 415 research/teaching positions and 38 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 415 research/teaching positions and 38 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 November 1, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 476 research/teaching positions and 28 teaching-focused position.

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

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

Job posting: tenure tracking teaching faculty, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara invites applications for a Tenure Track Teaching Faculty position in General Chemistry with an emphasis on General Chemistry Laboratories.

Responsibilities of the position include managing undergraduate labs, upgrading materials used in the laboratory courses, training and managing the teaching assistants that instruct the general chemistry courses, assisting in student safety training, instructing other courses associated with general chemistry lab and lecture series, and participating in university service and professional activities that improve the educational system. For example, including but not limited to textbook authorship, outreach programs, and education-based research.

Applicants will be considered by an interdisciplinary group of faculty and all applicants must have a demonstrated record of excellence in, or show exceptional promise for, high-quality teaching, and professional activities.

Applicants with a demonstrated record of interest in, and commitment to, the mentorship of students from underrepresented and underserved populations, will be given particular attention especially if the proposed professional activities focus on these communities. We seek educators leading cutting-edge areas to help the University prepare our students and position the University for the future. Our goal is to identify, recruit, and support a scholar emerging as one of the next generation of leaders and educators. The University is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through research, teaching and service as appropriate to the position.

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.  

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 102 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 102 positions. Find an error or have a question? Find an error? Contact @Heatherlec620 or @G_sribala. 

This is the link to the open thread. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

C&EN: "Why hasn’t Kristie Koski made tenure?"

Also in this week's C&EN, an amazing story from Sam Lemonick: 

Kristie Koski is waiting to make tenure. Like many academic chemists, she submitted her tenure package in her sixth year as a professor. That’s when professors “are expected to be ready for promotion,” according to the personnel manual at the University of California, Davis, where Koski is a physical chemist. The traditional expectation in academia is that a professor makes—or is denied—tenure in their seventh year.

Koski submitted in 2019. It wasn’t COVID-19 that disrupted her progression, as it has for others. The university denied Koski tenure for alleged violations of the faculty code of conduct related to two of her trainees. Koski denies she did anything wrong. A faculty senate committee and a California state court both found that the university had not proved some of its charges. But UC Davis didn’t restart her tenure process until this past summer.

Four years on, Koski is in a kind of limbo. Her career advancement at UC Davis is stalled. The absence on her résumé of promotion to tenured professor is more prominent with each passing year. It would presumably complicate any attempt to find a new job. Some of Koski’s colleagues say that, regardless of the eventual outcome, she has already paid dearly, both emotionally and in her professional reputation.

A full explanation of why this happened to Koski remains out of reach. She and several other UC Davis employees declined C&EN’s requests for interviews, through a lawyer and a university spokesperson, respectively. Citing confidentiality rules, the university also refused to release records relating to Koski’s tenure application and its investigations of her alleged wrongdoing.

Through interviews and public documents, C&EN has pieced together a partial picture of what happened, although many details cannot be verified independently. What does seem clear is that Koski got stuck in a web of bureaucracy, power dynamics, and personal relationships. It’s a tangle that seems easy to avoid for some but impossible to escape for others.

I don't think I can summarize the story well enough. Read the whole thing. 

(only in academia)

C&EN: "Dow earnings drop on economic woes"

Via Alex Tullo in this week's C&EN, this tough news: 

Slow economic activity around the world stymied third quarter performance at Dow, the largest US chemical maker and the first major firm to report results.

Dow’s sales were down 24% in the third quarter versus the same period a year ago, while net income declined 57%.

Selling volumes declined by 6%, but a bigger factor in the results were prices for Dow products, which declined 18% from a year ago, the result, primarily, of lower energy costs.

The company’s largest business segment, Packaging and Specialty Plastics, saw a 26% drop in sales. Demand for the segment’s key product, polyethylene, was strong, but volumes for merchant sales of chemicals were weak. Moreover the segment saw a 20% decline in prices.

The main factors behind the sluggish economic performance continues to be Europe, which is seeing tepid growth, and China which is experiencing a slow recovery from its lockdowns.

It will be interesting to see if this affects entry-level hiring this next year...

Saturday, October 28, 2023

(Continue to) Have a great weekend

International travel always does a number on me, and between work and (attempting to) keep up the Faculty List, it's been a week. I hope your Saturday is going well, and I hope you have a great Sunday too. See you on Monday. 

Thursday, October 26, 2023


Sorry, folks, I hadn't expected this, but it looks like I've been having a tough time posting this week as I've been traveling. More to come in the next twelve hours... 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Have a good weekend

This was a relatively quiet week, the calm before a week of quite a bit of work. I hope you had a good week, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday. 

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Job posting: analytical chemist, Henkel, Madison Heights, MI

Via ScienceCareers: 

  • The Analytical Chemist is an entry/early career level, lab-based position that will perform analysis of Henkel's surface treatment, adhesives, sealants and related products.
  • The role focus entails expertise with microscopy, spectroscopy, chromatography, and x-ray related techniques as applied to analytical chemistry evaluation.
  • The chemistry evaluation includes but is not limited to qualitative identification of materials, quantitative measure of chemical composition and general problem-solving skills.
  • Position will have a Jan. 2024 start date.


  • Bachelor's degree in chemistry is required.
  • Prior laboratory experience in industry or internship is required.
  • Previous experience in an Analytical laboratory with wet chemistry skills (titration, filtration, dilution, extraction, gravimetric determinations) is desired.
  • Knowledge and experience with GC-FID, ICP, IC, SEM/EDS and FTIR is desirable.
  • Prior use of pH and specific ion electrode meters desired.

The salary for this role is $57,000.00 - $65,000.00. This is the range that we in good faith anticipate relying on when setting wages for this position. We may ultimately pay more or less than the posted range and this range. This salary range may also be modified in the future.

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Science: "Co-developer of Cassava’s potential Alzheimer’s drug cited for ‘egregious misconduct’"

I haven't been following the Cassava Biosciences story, but this Science news report (by Charles Piller) seems pretty damning: 

...AFTER ORI REACHED OUT TO CUNY, the school’s investigators examined Wang-authored papers published from 2003 through 2021, a conference poster, and a grant proposal to NIH. Many of the 31 allegations the panel reviewed involved apparently improper alterations of Western blots, a technique to distinguish distinct proteins within a tissue sample. Such manipulation can significantly alter the interpretation and validity of experimental findings. The committee said it “found evidence highly suggestive of deliberate scientific misconduct by Dr. Wang for 14 of the 31 allegations.”

To check for doctoring of those data, Shafer and his colleagues sought raw-data images to compare against published versions. Wang provided none of those, the report said, adding: “It appears likely that no primary data and no research notebooks pertaining to the 31 allegations exist.” The panel also found that Wang “starkly siloed” Western blot preparation in his lab, apparently preparing nearly all such images himself—a highly unusual practice for a lab’s principal investigator.

Among his defenses, Wang told the investigators that “at least one hard drive” containing key data was destroyed by CCNY officials when they sequestered his materials for review. Wang also accused the committee of bias against him, “failing to follow the CUNY guidelines for this investigation, and of lacking a basic understanding of Western blot analysis.” The committee noted in its report, however, that three of its members “routinely conduct experiments involving protein biochemistry and two out of four routinely conduct and publish western blot experiments.”

It seems surprising when a PI solely prepares Western blot data - that genuinely seems pretty alarming. 

(After working for 10+ years in chemical manufacturing, that there isn't a basic quality assurance function in academic science is kind of amazing. If I were a PI, I could easily imagine double-signoffs required for providing key spectra and supplemental information...)

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 384 research/teaching positions and 34 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 384 research/teaching positions and 34 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 October 17, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 435 research/teaching positions and 24 teaching-focused position.

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

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

“Get a job, Ken!” Part 7: Research/Proposal Talks and Meeting with the Chair

The research talk and proposal talk are arguably the most important parts of the on-site interview. This post, part seven in the “Get a job, Ken! series” delves into both, as well as the final meeting with the department chair.

My first piece of advice for those preparing for an on-site interview is to purchase and practice with a slide-advancing remote (a.k.a. a laser pointer or ‘clicker’). I find it tragic when a great scientist appears incompetent because they don't know how to use a borrowed clicker. It’s worthwhile owning a clicker that you know like the back of your hand. In fact, for young graduate students, I recommend investing in a clicker and practicing with it as soon as possible. I am partial to the R800 Logitech Wireless Presenter (The author declares no competing financial interests).

The Research Talk

Standard seminar talks have one primary goal, to share science. Research talks during an interview have two additional goals. The first is to briefly introduce your area of research and lay a foundation for the concepts and techniques relevant to your proposal talk. This groundwork will allow for extra time during the proposal talk (vida infra) to discuss your ideas. Of course, it's important to seek a balance since not everyone who attends your proposal talk will be at the research talk, and vice versa.

The second goal of the research talk is to demonstrate your teaching skills. The presentation will be open to all faculty and students—basically any involved in the hiring decision—and they’ll be asking themselves: How engaging and eloquent is this applicant? How well does he or she explain new concepts? What kind of teaching methods do they use (analogies, examples, images, etc.)? How good is she or he at answering questions? 

I have seen way too many talks that care more about demonstrating “I’m smart!” than actually communicating ideas. In these "I am so smart" presentations only two or three audience members have the expertise necessary to follow along past the first few slides. Please be assured that the audience already knows you’re smart, competent, and can publish complex ideas in top-tier, peer reviewed journals. They want to know if you’re also able to share your ideas with non-experts (i.e. students). 

The research talk will generally be scheduled for one hour, which will include a short introduction and a ten minute question and answer session at the end. I made sure to avoid 1) going over the allotted time because it can imply time management issues or 2) finishing the presentation in under 30 minutes, which might  suggest a lack of content/results. I did my best to aim for a 40-50 minute presentation. Most audience members will not mind if they get to leave a little early. 

Also, presenters usually have about 15 minutes to prepare before the talk. But be forewarned that when earlier meetings run long, you’ll have to jump into the presentation without any prep time.

Proposal Talk

The job interview proposal talk is a lot like a graduate student proposal talk (also sometimes known as a qualifying exam) but with a slightly different focus. The primary focus of a qualifying exam is to defend your ideas.  In addition to defending your ideas during the job proposal talk, you’re expected to provide tangible ways of pursuing the ideas and mentoring young researchers along the way. Similar to the written proposal, the general outline for most proposal talks is 1) introduce a problem that needs to be solved, 2) mention how others are trying to solve it, 3) introduce how you are trying to solve it, and 4) discuss why your method is better and 5) mention the possible implications of your work. 

I started my proposal talk with an outline slide. While everyone was getting situated they were able to view the slide and familiarize themselves with my flavor of research. Below is an outline slide example:


Not all audience members will have read your proposals or attended the previous research talk, so you’ll also want to briefly introduce a few important concepts while explaining your research plans. In all likelihood, you’ll be the foremost expert on your proposed research area since they wouldn’t have brought you in for an interview if they had someone already in that niche. You’ll also be asked a number of questions. In addition to the questions from the phone interview (previous post), here are several questions that colleagues and I were asked during the proposal talk:

  • What type of group structure do you envision for your research program? 
  • In terms of personnel, what would your lab look like?  How many graduate students/post-docs/undergrads in 5 years? In the long-term? 
  • How do you plan to integrate students into your research projects?   
  • What will be your approach to mentoring and supervising student progress?
  • Which proposal do you like most? 
  • Which proposal is likely to give results the fastest (I.e. which is safe and which is high-risk/high reward)?
  • Which proposals/projects could new students work on right away?
  • Let’s say that next summer you’ll have 2 graduate students and 1 post-doc, what projects would you start them on?
  • What do your proposals have in common? Or what is your proposals central overriding theme (synthesis, electrochemistry, mechanism, etc.)? How do you define yourself as a chemist? 
  • Does your proposed research projects depart from your mentors' work and if so, how?
  • Are you aware of any competitors in the areas of your proposed research? How do you feel about competing with them?
  • Given the courses that are in the U of X handbook, which courses would you prefer to teach?
  • What preliminary results do you need to get in order to go after major grants or a career award?
  • What happens if a fundamental aspect of your proposals fails? Could you still salvage a paper and what would the community learn from that “failure”?

All of my proposal talks were either during or immediately following lunch on the third day. The length of the talk varied between 60-90 minutes, but the number of slides I actually made it through varied depending on the number of questions posed by the audience. In one of my interviews the audience only asked scientific questions so I got through everything in under an hour. In another interview the audience asked at least 30 minutes worth of logistical questions about teaching classes and running a research group so I didn’t finish the presentation in the allotted 90 minutes. Since the presentation portion is so unpredictable the best you can do is put together a presentation where you hope for the best, but are prepared for the worst.

Final tip: Be genuinely enthusiastic about your proposals. If you are not excited then it will be difficult for your audience to be excited too.

Meeting with the Chair

The last formal meeting of the interview will most likely be with the chair of the chemistry department. While sometimes casual, the 30-60 minute meeting was much more business-focused (i.e. startup funds and lab space). This meeting might have been my favorite part of the interview because it included a tour of my potential lab and office space. The tour was my  first real glimpse into what it might be like to run a lab in that particular department. I would walk through the rooms envisioning students working on my research and thinking about where I would put the UV-Vis, potentiostat, fluorometer, etc. 

This meeting isn’t time to negotiate space, but going into the meeting it’s helpful to have an idea of what kind of space you’ll need during the first 5 years. Ask yourself: Is your research going to be focused on synthesis or characterization? If so, how many fume hoods? How much bench space? Do you need room for laser tables? Do you need/want proximity to departmental equipment or researchers doing related work? Most of the chairs I met with already had a rough idea of what space I would need based on my background and proposal, but they still ask for my rough estimate. I recommend touring your current advisors space and taking an inventory of how many hoods and square footage they have per person as a starting point.

You’ll also likely be asked—either in this meeting or even before arriving—for a rough budget estimate. For the most part, this budget will include the major pieces of equipment needed to conduct your research and their estimated cost. Although unusual, I sent my budget proposal to the department chair a week before I arrived on campus for the interview. I wanted to show I was serious, had done my homework, and that I was prepared to run a research group. My biggest concern was that the budget I proposed was off the wall, but I followed the suggestion of others. A reasonable budget proposal will depend on your flavor of research (spectroscopists are more expensive than synthetic chemists are more expensive than theoreticians). Also, top 50 schools budget proposals (including personnel) are usually somewhere between $500,000 and $1,000,000 while top 50-100 research institutions are usually somewhere between $300,000 and $750,000.

During this final meeting I also was given an update on the faculty-hiring timeline. I’d find out when the last candidate would be interviewed, when the committee planned to meet for a decision, and when I’d likely hear the department’s decision. In practice, the actual timeline more often than not ended up being about 2-4 weeks longer than the estimate. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 85 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 85 positions. Find an error or have a question? Find an error? Contact @Heatherlec620 or @G_sribala. 

This is the link to the open thread. 

Monday, October 16, 2023

NYT: "How a Fertilizer Shortage Is Spreading Desperate Hunger"

Via the New York Times, an absolutely fascinating, yet devastating, look how the supply chains of fertilizers is hammering farmers in Africa: 

...Inorganic fertilizer is a global enterprise, one dominated by producers in the United States, China, India, Russia, Canada and Morocco. Nigeria has several fertilizer factories that produce varieties of nitrogen fertilizer, but they export nearly everything to South America. As a result, the country is vulnerable to any break in the global supply chain.

The pandemic delivered a colossal blow.

When making and blending fertilizer, Nigeria imports phosphates mined in Morocco, shipping them to the port of Lagos. Over the first two months of the pandemic, as commercial activity froze, shipping companies reduced their ports of call in sub-Saharan Africa by roughly one-fifth, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Then, as regular shipping schedules resumed, Lagos was overwhelmed by a cargo backlog. Seeking easier passage, fertilizer manufacturers diverted shipments to Port Harcourt, about 370 miles down the coast. But rampant piracy in the area entailed higher costs for insurance and freight.

In March 2021, a massive container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, closing that artery of trade and sending global shipping prices skyward. The cost of phosphates from Morocco delivered to Nigeria grew to more than $1,000 per ton, from $300 to $400.

“You had all those problems compounding supply,” said Gideon Negedu, executive secretary of the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria.

Then, just as supply was recovering, Russia invaded Ukraine.

It's quite a long article, but still worth the read.