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. 

C&EN: Continued grim news for the German chemical industry

In this week's C&EN, this update from Alex Scott: 

The European chemical industry’s economic outlook is worsening, according to analysts and industrial organizations, and German companies are especially affected.

The investment bank Berenberg says it expects the German firms BASF and Lanxess to issue profit warnings for the fourth quarter. In a note to investors, analysts at the bank cite weakening demand for industrial chemicals. BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller is set to hand the reins to a new leader in 2024 and, given the current economic climate, that could mean divestments for the big firm are on the horizon, Berenberg analysts state.

The value of BASF’s shares are down about 20% since the start of the year, while Lanxess’s share price has dropped by about half. BASF, Lanxess, and other European chemical firms will publish their third-quarter financial results in the next few weeks...

This has really been a brutal year for the German chemical industry, and it seems to me that it's really been an unexpected casualty of the Russian invasion of Ukraine... 

Friday, October 13, 2023

Have a good weekend

Well, this wasn't a bad week, all things considered. Here is hoping that you had a great week, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday. 

Always the local angle


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Job posting: Chief of the Radiation Physics Division, NIST Physical Measurement Laboratory, Gaithersburg, MD

Via C&EN Jobs: 

The Physical Measurement Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) anticipates the need for a Division Chief for its Radiation Physics Division (RPD) (https://www.nist.gov/pml/radiation-physics). The RPD has approximately 40 permanent scientific and engineering staff and over 20 students, postdoctoral candidates, and contractors. The permanent technical staff consist primarily of chemists and physicists with PhDs. The division has a primary responsibility to maintain and advance world-class physical measurement capabilities for realizing and disseminating standards for radiation dose (the gray) and radioactivity (the becquerel).  The division additionally undertakes measurement science research and standards development to support medical imaging, radiation therapies, and diagnostics; radiation protection and environmental radioactivity measurement; and chemical/biological/radiation/nuclear/explosives countermeasures in homeland security.  

The division also performs fundamental and applied neutron physics research including at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR).  The principal duties for the Division Chief are performed on the NIST Gaithersburg campus.

Interested candidates should have research and management experience and a degree in a physical science or engineering field in accordance with the OPM qualification standards (https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/general-schedule-qualification-standards/). Additionally, candidates must possess current knowledge of relevant Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations as they apply to the use and safety of radioactive materials and irradiators.  

Interested candidates must be a U.S. Citizen and should submit a Curriculum Vitae or Resume and a list of potential references by November 15, 2023 to Amy Grafmuller at 100 Bureau Drive MS 8400, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8420 or by email to amy.grafmuller@nist.gov.  If you have technical questions concerning this position please contact Gerald Fraser, Deputy Director of the Physical Measurement Laboratory (gerald.fraser@nist.gov). 

Full ad here. Salary listed at "Up to $183,500 per year + benefits." Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

There are mammals with fluorescent fur?

Credit: The Guardian/Western Australian Museum
Via The Guardian: 

Fluorescence in mammals is much more common than previously thought, new research suggests.

A luminous property, fluorescence has been described in recent years in Australian marsupials including platypuses, wombats, Tasmanian devils and echidnas.

But scientists now believe the quality is widespread across mammals after researchers studied 125 species and found all of them showed some form of fluorescence. The researchers found 107 of the 125 species (86%) had fur that glowed under UV light.

The 125 species represent all 27 living mammalian orders and about half of all living mammal families.

I wonder which peptides have this property? Now I have to go investigate this... 

Job posting: open-rank search, AI/ML methods in computational chemistry, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

From the inbox: 
The Department of Chemistry at Case Western Reserve University invites applications for an open-rank, tenure track or tenured faculty position in Chemistry. The successful candidate will establish research programs concentrating on applications or methods development in artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) in computationally guided chemistry as related to materials discovery, energy, or chemical biology.    The successful candidate will be expected to develop or have an internationally visible research program supported by extramural funding, teach undergraduate and graduate level courses, and be committed to diversity and inclusion. The normal teaching load for faculty with active research programs is one course per semester plus ancillary duties.

This position is related to recent departmental and university strategic initiatives. The ideal candidate and affiliated research program will be enhanced by collaborations with major strategic research thrusts in the department: materials discovery, energy conversion and storage, and chemical biology. Prospective candidates should be prepared to work collaboratively with other AI/ML recruiting efforts at the university level in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Medicine, and the School of Engineering. Intellectual adjacencies across campus and at nearby Ohio research institutions will afford outstanding opportunities to build collaborative research programs.

Priority date is November 10. Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 361 research/teaching positions and 27 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 361 research/teaching positions and 24 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 11, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 410 research/teaching positions and 23 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 6: Phone and On-site Interviews

In the “Get a job, Ken!” series, I’ve so far retold my experience coming up with research ideas, writing the ideas down as formal research proposalsassembling the different pieces of the faculty job application, and submitting everything. In this post, I move beyond the waiting, waiting, and waiting that happens after submitting to the next step: interviews.

After the submission deadline, most interview offers are extended sometime between October and February. They begin with a phone call or email from a department or search committee chair and conclude with a scheduled phone interview or in-person interview. The waiting period—between the submission deadline and receiving an interview—can be daunting. Every single unknown number on my cell phone screen prompted sudden excitement and then, most of the time, disappointment.  I’ve never hated telemarketers more.

Eventually, I did receive my first call--a thrilling experience--and by the end of my job search I had one phone interview and several on-site interviews. Below I describe my experience and share my (and others) advice on the interview process.

Phone interviews

Not every University holds phone interviews, but those that do use it as a preliminary screening method. It’s a strategy for interviewing a greater number of candidates and testing "fit" before extending offers for an on-campus interview. Think of it as a asking someone out on a quick coffee date before committing to a full evening together. An on-campus interview is a lot of time/effort/money to commit to someone and it’s reasonable to take measures to test "fit" prior to jumping in. 

The good news for job candidates offered a phone interview is that, by reaching this stage, they can be assured that the search committee has looked through his or her application and feel confident about the viability of their research proposals. The interview stage—whether by phone or on-campus—is more about assessing a candidate’s speaking skills, ability to run a research program, and departmental “fit.” Between my experience with phone interviews and the anecdotes I’ve heard from others, here’s a short list of example phone interview questions:  

  • Who would be your primary funding sources?
  • What major pieces of equipment will you need and how much do they cost?
  • Do you have a project that you would bring with you from your time as a post doc?
  • Where do you see your research program in 5 years? 10 years?
  • Who from our department/university might you be interested in collaborating with? 
  • When would you be available to begin work?
  • Are there any factors that we have not spoken about that would be important in your decision to come to X if we were to make an offer? 
  • How do you feel about teaching general chemistry?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

The last question was especially important. Nothing says, “I’ve done my homework on your university/department” like asking one or two insightful questions. For example, I’d usually prepare a question about the department’s facilities, asking something like: "The department has a solar cell testing station. Would I be able to add electrochemical impedance capabilities to the system?" It helped show my seriousness about the job and genuine interest in the department while also suggesting something I could contribute. 

It’s a good idea to start thinking about possible answers for interview questions as well as questions to ask the committee early. While most phone interviews are scheduled ahead of time, I’ve heard stories of people surprised with an on-the-spot phone interview. 

On-site interviews

If the phone interview ends favorably then—congratulations—the next step is an on-site interview. On-site interviews are intensive. To help me organize the story of my on-site interview experiences, I’ll break the process down into five sections: a rough timeline, food, meetings with faculty, meetings with students, and post-interview follow-up.  

A Rough Timeline

Many people tried to prepare me for the on-campus interview, describing it as an incredibly exhausting experience, especially the first time. They were 100% right but simply saying this wasn’t nearly enough to prepare me for what it was really like. The faculty job interview is a constant—dare I say relentless?—two and a half day series of meetings, conversations, and presentations. In retrospect, the only thing that might have helped me prepare would have been traveling back to my undergraduate university and ask them to schedule a marathon, one-day visit starting at 8:00 am and concluding after dinner at 8:00pm. 

One thing that did help was that, about a week before I left for the interview, I received a schedule of events. Here’s an outline of the four-day schedule from start to finish:

Day 1: My flight arrived by mid-to-late afternoon. Sometimes a faculty member was there to pick me up at the airport. Other times I arranged my own taxi. Either way, I’d reach my hotel with an hour or so to check in and prepare for dinner with 2-3 faculty. 

Day 2: The day began with breakfast or coffee with another faculty member who then brought me to campus. Most of the day (9:00-5:00) included non-stop, 30-minute meetings with faculty. There was a lunch “break” with 2-3 faculty or a group of students. Day 2 was also when the research talk was scheduled, during which I presented on the research I conducted as a graduate student and/or post-doc. That evening I had dinner with 2-3 faculty as well.

Day 3: The third day was similar. The 30-minute meetings with faculty continued and I had lunch with a new group of students or faculty. The most faculty meetings I had in one day was 11 (between 8:30 and 5:30). Also, the third day usually included a tour of the facilities (NMR, mass-spec, spectroscopy, etc.), my proposal presentation (i.e. chalk talk), and concluded with a meeting with the department chair (around 4:00 or 5:00) followed by dinner with 2-3 faculty.

Day 4: I woke up in time to take a cab to the airport, flew home, recovered, and waited.

During the entire trip I always kept reminding myself that it was a non-stop interview. From the moment I was picked up at the airport to the end of the dinner on the third night, regardless of where I was, who I was talking to, or what I was eating, I was being observed and evaluated. The entire process is designed for the department members to assess who a candidate is as a person, researcher, teacher, mentor, coworker, friend, and collaborator (and vice versa). 

Quick tip 1: I always kept a water bottle in my bag throughout the entire trip. It was easy to take a few sips while walking between meetings. The last thing I wanted was to deal with dehydration in addition to everything else.

Quick tip 2: Sometimes, if I hadn’t yet received the schedule 3-4 days before the interview, I sent a friendly email to my host asking about it.


Since I was the focus of attention, even during lunch, I often ended up speaking during a large portion of the meal. I made sure to avoid ording finger food because I sometimes talk with my hands and didn’t want surprise projectiles. I also tried to order something light so I didn’t feel weighed down and sleepy afterwards.

Meetings with Faculty

I have no general formula to share for the 30-minute faculty meetings. Sometimes it was just me talking about my current or proposed research. Other times it was the professor explaining his or her research to me. The best meetings I had (on my end) were more of a casual conversation about life and research. 

Sometimes faculty would give me a quick tour of their lab space and equipment during these one-on-one meetings. These tours were a fun opportunity for them show me pieces of equipment they would allow me access to if hired.

The interaction dynamic during the 30-minute meetings was very unique and not something I had experienced before. The uniqueness of it comes from the short amount of time, the balance between you selling yourself, the faculty selling the department/university/town, and the constant tension of probing each other with questions to learn what each other is really like. 

The only thing that was consistent in every 30-minute meeting (as well as lunch) was the question, “Do you have any questions for me/us?” I was asked this at least 20 times. I tried to have a few standard questions I asked to everyone in an effort to gather multiple perspectives. If following this strategy, be sure to keep track of who you’ve already asked so they don’t receive a double dose of the same question. As the end of the third day neared I would sometimes politely explain that many of my questions had already been answered before redirecting the conversation to avoid any uncomfortable moments of silence.

My personal favorite variation on “do you have any questions?” was “What would your significant other want you to ask?” It was a really fun question because it really got me thinking. Not only about what my wife would want to know about the city but also about other things from my potential job that will directly affect her life. It’s unfortunate that that question was asked during my last interview. After sharing the question with my wife she quickly came up with additional questions I could have posed.

Interviewers cannot legally ask questions about a candidates’ personal life like “are you married?” or “do you have children?” but they will still try to probe your personal life (hobbies, what do you do for fun, etc.). This line of questioning didn’t seem like a malicious act. It was just another way to get to know the candidate and identify key features or selling points about the university and local town. I don’t know if it was a good or a bad thing, but I decided to be very open about the fact I’m married, my wife’s occupation, and our lack of children. For me it was easier to be up-front rather than spending effort avoiding topics. Perhaps others can share insight in the comments section about how to gracefully re-direct conversations when topics considered private come up during interviews.

Lunch with Students

I was told by a few younger faculty that student lunches “were more brutal because the students were much less inhibited in their questions than professors.” Despite this ominous warning, the  students I had lunch with were great and asked interesting questions about my approach to research, teaching, and mentoring. The student lunch was, of course, still a part of the interview. The student’s advisors, formally or informally, asked them about their opinions on the candidates afterwards. For one interview I was told up front that students had formal input on hiring decisions. The ~15 students that I had lunch with were asked to fill out a questionnaire with questions like:

  • Could you see yourself working for this person?
  • Were they clear in expressing themselves?
  • How do you think they would be as a teacher?
  • Any other comments on the candidate?

Post Interview Follow-Up

Finally, as with any job interview, I made sure to send a follow-up email to my host, the chair of the search committee, and/or the chair of the chemistry department. The message to both my host and chair were pretty straightforward: "Thank you for the invitation…I enjoyed the visit…I look forward to hearing the department’s decision.”

The email I sent to the chair of the hiring committee was slightly different. After all the interviews are over, the committee and/or department members get together and compare the candidates. In an effort to clearly define myself, I sent the chair a follow-up email reiterating my defining features as a candidate. Here is an example:

Dear _____,

I really enjoyed meeting you, the other faculty and the students in the U of Y chemistry department this week. I also appreciated the opportunity to interview for the chemistry faculty position. [My host] was helpful throughout the entire process, especially with…

In case it's helpful, I wanted to recap two of the points we briefly discussed during our meetings and my proposal talk:

Having spoken with many members of the chemistry department, I am especially excited by the possibility of contributing my proposed solar cell research and photophysical measurements to the U of Y's research agenda.

If given the chance to serve as a professor in your department, I would be particularly interested in teaching inorganic chemistry (200, 201, 202). I would also be comfortable teaching General Chemistry (100, 101). Long-term, I would like to introduce a photophysics/photochemistry class.

Please let me know if there is any additional information you'd like me to share. I look forward to hearing the department’s decision.

Thanks again,


And so concludes my post about the interview process. In my next blog I will delve into preparing and presenting the research and proposal talks, as well as the very last meeting with the chemistry department chair.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 74 positions

 The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 74 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 9, 2023

The Real Water Case: Is it possible to make hydrazine from molecular nitrogen and electricity?

Some of you may remember the "Real Water" case from 2021, where 6 people were sickened by drinking water: 

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Federal and local health officials are warning people not to drink a Las Vegas-based bottled water brand, Real Water, after linking it to liver illness in five hospitalized children.

Company President Brent Jones on Wednesday called for stores to stop selling the product “throughout the United States until the issue is resolved.” “Our goal is to diligently work with the FDA to achieve a swift resolution,” a statement from Jones said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers, restaurants and retailers not to drink, cook with, sell or serve the product, the Southern Nevada Health District said in a statement posted Tuesday.

...The health district, based in Las Vegas, said it began investigating five cases of acute non-viral hepatitis in November 2020 and notified the FDA. It said it also investigated the illness of six other people — three children and three adults — who reported less severe symptoms including vomiting, nausea, appetite loss and fatigue.

Five children required hospitalization but recovered, the health district said. The patients lived in four different households.

Well, it looks like a jury has ruled against Real Water (article by Beth Mole): 

A jury this week awarded $228.5 million to seven plaintiffs in their case against Nevada-based water company Real Water, which sold alkaline water tainted with hydrazine, a highly toxic chemical found in fuel for rockets and spacecraft.

The plaintiffs included a 7-month-old boy who was hospitalized with severe liver failure and nearly needed a liver transplant. Another was a 69-year-old woman who was hospitalized for liver failure after drinking the water for years. She died in the hospital on November 11, 2020.

What is strange is what chemical they suggested was to blame: 

As federal regulators began investigating the company's water, they found a troubling water treatment process.

According to the DOJ's 2021 complaint and testimony in the trial over the last few weeks, Real Water processed municipal tap water "by carbon filtration, reverse osmosis filtration, ultraviolet light filtration, and ozone filtration." Then potassium chloride is added and the water goes through a proprietary "ionizer" apparatus to apply an electrical current to the water. This allegedly created positively charged and negatively charged solutions. Real Water employees would discard the positively charged solution and keep the negatively charged solution.

That initial batch of negatively charged solution would then go though the "ionizer" apparatus and be separated again. The resulting negatively charged solution would then be treated with potassium hydroxide (a form of lye), potassium bicarbonate (sometimes used in baking powders), and magnesium chloride (a salt used in nutritional supplements and for de-icing roads); this formed an "E2 concentrate" product, which, when diluted, formed their alkaline water product.

The FDA identified hydrazine in product samples it tested. In the trial, Issam Najm, an environmental engineer who specializes in water chemistry and testing, testified that the hydrazine likely formed in the "ionizer," which was just titanium tubes electrified with what looked like jumper cables used to charge a car battery. Najm testified that, in the charged water, nitrogen gas naturally found in air could have reacted with water to form hydrazine (N2H4), or, during the electrolysis, ammonia (NH3) was formed first, before reacting with hydroxide to form hydrazine.

Reader, does this make sense to you? First (unfortunately), we do not have a link for how the FDA determined that hydrazine was present. But I am really under the impression that it is not easy to make hydrazine or ammonia (to make hydrazine), especially from molecular nitrogen. Don't you have to have some kind of reductant? (Where is the hydrogen ion coming from?) Does anyone have a viable mechanism? I am genuinely skeptical, but gee, I dunno. Anyone else? 

Friday, October 6, 2023

Have a good weekend

It's been a decent week, and I'm off already, so things went great this weekend. Hope that you had a good week, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Monday! 


Thursday, October 5, 2023

Job posting: Senior Crystallization Scientist, CONTINUUS Pharmaceuticals, Woburn, MA

From the inbox, this position: 
CONTINUUS Pharmaceuticals has an opportunity for a Senior Crystallization Scientist to join our team.  This highly qualified chemical engineer or chemist will be responsible for developing crystallizations for small molecule drug candidates manufactured via continuous processing. The Scientist will provide process analytical technology (PAT) and continuous manufacturing expertise, devising crystallization processes and developing new technologies to enable continuous processing. This Scientist is an expert in solid-state-chemistry of chemical materials/ Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs)....

...The ideal candidate will have a PhD in Organic Chemistry or Chemical Engineering plus three years of relevant experience, or a Master’s and 7+ years of relevant experience. Expertise in small molecule analysis and chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques, with an emphasis on PAT for process understanding and process control.
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. . 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

To the immigrant misfits of science

Dr. Katalin Karikó
credit: Hannah Yoon, NYT
By the time you read this, there will be a chemistry Nobelist announced, and I will undoubtedly have something to say about them. 

Until then, I would like to really lift up Monday's Medicine co-Nobelist, Dr. Katalin Karikó. There is a bit of a cliche where Nobelists seem to be charmed people whose colleagues and friends have always known them to be stars. That's obviously not entirely true, but it feels that way, especially since they are often awarded the Nobel towards the end of their career as a bit of a capstone. 

But it is her struggle to get her science noticed that really endears her to me, especially the fact that she seems to have suffered a series of indignities during her career (via the New York Times): 

Dr. Karikó, the 13th woman to win the prize, languished for many long years without funding or a permanent academic position, keeping her research afloat only by latching on to more senior scientists at the University of Pennsylvania who let her work with them. Unable to get a grant, she said she was told she was “not faculty quality” and was forced to retire from the university a decade ago. She remains only an adjunct professor there while she pursues plans to start a company with her daughter, Susan Francia, who has an M.B.A. and was a two-time Olympic gold medalist in rowing.

The mRNA work was especially frustrating, she said, because it was met with indifference and a lack of funds. She said she was motivated by more than not being called a quitter; as the work progressed, she saw small signs that her project could lead to better vaccines. “You don’t persevere and repeat and repeat just to say, ‘I am not giving up,’” she said.

...At first, other scientists were largely uninterested in taking up that new approach to vaccination. Their paper, published in 2005, was rejected by the journals Nature and Science, Dr. Weissman said. 

Via this post on Twitter (I refuse to call it by its new name), this story from Gregory Zuckerman's "A Shot to Save the World": 

Karikó found a position working in the laboratory of Robert Suhadolnik, a professor in the biochemistry department at Temple University School of Medicine working on AIDS treatments. Money was tighter than she had expected. Karikó made seventeen thousand dollars a year, while Francia, who was unable to find an engineering position, made about the same as a facilities manager for a local apartment complex, where he fixed heating and water systems. Their own apartment didn't have a washing machine, so every few days Karikó lugged the family's laundry to the basement of a nearby building.

Karikó didn't mind the challenges, though, because she was expanding her mRNA expertise. With Suhadolnik as her guide, she was perfecting ways to modify mRNA molecules. By altering the building blocks of RNA, which are called nucleosides, new versions of the molecule can be created to produce proteins in the lab. Laboring day and night, she and Suhadolnik published papers in respected scientific journals. Karikó's career appeared not only to be back on track but on a fast track.

That's when she made her first mistake as an academic. Karikó accepted a better-paid position at Johns Hopkins University but didn't think to give Suhadolnik prior warning that she was seeking a new job. When he heard about the offer, he became furious, vowing to do whatever he could to stop his protégée from leaving. In a difficult meeting with Karikó, he made it clear she had two career choices.

"You can work in my lab or go home," he told her.

Suhadolnik followed through on his threat, telling a local immigration office that she was living in the country illegally and should be deported. Karikó and her husband had to hire an expensive lawyer to fight the extradition order. By then, Johns Hopkins had withdrawn its offer, wary of hiring a suspected fugitive. Suhadolnik continued bad-mouthing Karikó, making it impossible for her to get a new position. She tried not to become discouraged, reminding herself of Selye's lessons. Eventually, she met a scientist at a Bethesda Naval Hospital who had his own difficult history with Suhadolnik and was willing to hire her despite her scuffed reputation. 

This post is already too long, but struggles of immigrant scientists like Karikó's are nothing new to this blog's readership. So many people come to America to do science and struggle here. She had the brilliance, persistence and yes, the luck to be working on something so impactful so many years before it was needed. 

There are many more posts to be written about the things that are wrong about American scientific academia and the way that it evaluates both scientists and science. Nevertheless, I'm so glad we have a chance to celebrate her work. Congratulations to Drs. Weissman and Katalin Karikó. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 329 research/teaching positions and 24 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 329 research/teaching positions and 24 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 4, 2022, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 370 research/teaching positions and 21 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 5: Submitting and Waiting

In this blog post—the fifth in my eight-part “Get a job, Ken!” series—I share my experience submitting job application materials. This includes the research proposal (Part 3) and other materials like a cover letter, CV, and letters of recommendation (Part 4).

Job opening notifications for chemistry faculty positions began appearing in July and August. C&E News, indeed.com (search ‘chemistry professor’), Science magazine, and Inside Higher Education were my favorite places to watch for advertisements. I also regularly checked the chemistry department websites of the universities I was especially interested in. Many chemistry departments will advertise openings directly on their home page.

Most, if not all, job opening advertisements say something like:

“The Department of Chemistry at X University invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position in Y Chemistry. Candidates must have a Ph.D. in one of the chemical sciences and a demonstrated ability or potential for a recognized program of excellence in both teaching and research in Y chemistry.”

The ‘Y’ (inorganic, organic, physical, etc.) in the advertisement usually indicates the hole a department is looking to fill in their teaching schedule or research agenda. Other Universities post open calls for all chemistry disciplines because they’re looking to hire the best of the best and don’t necessarily have to hire someone based on need.

One very important thing I was told was not to pigeonhole myself into one flavor of chemistry. So I looked for and applied to any position that used key words relevant to my area of research (like inorganic, energy, and materials). Some job posts, like energy-related organic or bioinorganic chemistry, were slightly outside of my domain of expertise but I applied anyway. I decided to let the search committees decide if I fit into their department’s needs. I rationalized that spending 20 minutes on a personalized teaching statement and cover letter for each almost-but-not-quite-aligned job opening was worth the time considering the potential return on investment.

The Aspiring Professors Support Group was also really helpful in the search for job openings. We created a shared Google Document Spreadsheet and when someone found a new advertisement he or she added it to the growing list. In addition to the university’s name, we noted its U.S. News rank, discipline of interest, requirements, deadline, and a link to the job description. Sometimes members of the group also added inside information, such as the flavor of research a department’s open call might actually be searching for or if a senior hire has already been identified for the position. Here is an excerpt from our spreadsheet:


The actual submission process was surprisingly painful because it varied from one institution to the next. Ultimately, the submission methods fell within four varieties:

  • Email
  • Department-based websites
  • University-standard employment websites
  • Third party websites

Email submissions were relatively convenient and less time consuming than the others. Email submission guidelines were typically noted in the job post and included a list of requested materials and the email address to send them to. Some asked that the materials be sent as individual attachments or compiled in one master pdf (with a specific order). Reference letters were also sent to the same email address but directly from the recommender (upon the request from the applicant). 

Submissions through departmental and university websites were similar. Both required me to first type in personal information (name, address, undergrad/grad institutions, names of references, etc.) before uploading my application materials. These submission systems usually sent an email to my references with instructions for submitting their letters. 

Six or seven of the positions I applied to employed a third party website, like academicjobsonline.org, to manage their submission process. These websites were convenient because I could upload my CV and proposal as well as individualized documents (cover letters, teaching statements, etc.) for each opening. I could also simply list my references’ contact information (name, email, university, etc.) and the service would send out an automated email to request letters. My references could then upload a generic letter for all openings or a tailored letter for each university.

Regardless of the submission format, I was sure to always follow two rules. First, before submitting, I created a folder for each university to hold a stand-alone copy of each application component that is requested. I then checked and rechecked the contents to make sure they were correct. Some of the submission sites wouldn’t let me return and view the documents after uploading, so I was sure to add a lot of structure and rechecks into the material management process. 

Second, I submitted as early as possible. This allowed: 1) extra time for committee members to look at my application (chances are they spend more time on early applications then those submitted en-masse at the deadline), 2) extra time for references to submit recommendation letters, and 3) extra time for me to double-check with each department to make sure they received all materials before the deadline. Most applications are considered incomplete until everything is submitted—recommendation letters included—and “will not receive full consideration until they are complete.”

Letters of Recommendation

I sent my references an excel spreadsheet (shown below) listing the universities I applied to, application deadlines, reference letter submission method (email vs. website), and whether or not their letter had been received and confirmed. Showing a reference where he or she was falling behind in comparison to others seemed to help prod them into action. 


After everything is submitted, the waiting starts. This is simultaneously a thrilling and difficult thing to do. On the best days I was overwhelmingly optimistic and my imagination ran wild creating long lists of all the universities that would offer me interviews. The worst days were depressing for me and my significant other as we struggled with the uncertainty about our future. Without knowing anything about where I might receive an interview (or even if I would receive any interviews at all) we were in holding-pattern purgatory where we couldn’t really plan for our future and just had to hope for the best. 

One piece of advice I received was to not wait passively. I started to prepare my presentations and budget proposals right after submission. If I received a phone call offering an interview I’d only have a few weeks to prepare. I wanted to have my presentations done so that I could spend those few weeks researching the university and department.

Unfortunately, there are only two formal methods for learning whether or not I was in the running for a job interview. I would receive a call offering an interview or a rejection letter. Thankfully, there is an alternative method: I watched seminar schedules on departmental websites. Sometimes chemistry departments openly list seminar speakers as “faculty candidates.” Others will name speakers as Dr. instead of Prof. and a quick google search will reveal if the speaker is a post doc in someone else’s research group. One shortcoming to this method is that many chemistry seminar calendars either are not kept up-to-date or don’t include speaker’s names. In these instances I was left relying on formal announcements or snippets of information from people I knew.

Monitoring seminar schedules also showed me who I was competing with, both for interviews and in the job search in general. It is common for the same group of 4 or 5 individuals to interview at a dozen or so top tier schools (I was not one of these people). 

In the next post I’ll describe my own interview experiences. 

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 70 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 70 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 2, 2023

What's in an asteroid?

Via Ars Technica, this fun news: 
When the spacecraft departed the roughly 1,600-foot-wide (500-meter) asteroid Bennu in 2020, engineers estimated the probe had gathered around 250 grams, or 8.8 ounces, of specimens from Bennu's porous surface. The spacecraft sampled the asteroid by extending a robotic arm out in front of it, then essentially pogoing off the surface, only contacting Bennu for a few seconds. When it touched the asteroid, the spacecraft released a burst of gas to funnel loose rocks into a collection chamber shaped like an air filter on the end of the robot arm. This device is called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, or TAGSAM.

Scientists discovered the collection chamber's door was wedged open with larger rocky material, with some fragments of rock leaking out into space, so they decided to quickly stow the sampling device inside the return capsule to avoid losing more material. That led some scientists on the OSIRIS-REx team to wonder whether the spacecraft might come back to Earth with even more than the 250-gram estimate, which was four times the minimum requirement for mission success.

Researchers likely won't know for sure how much material OSIRIS-REx brought home until next month. That will require the lab team in Houston to remove the TAGSAM sampling mechanism from its restraint inside the canister, which protected it for the journey back to Earth like a nested doll. Then they will open up the device and hopefully find larger chunks of rock. All of this should happen in the next couple of weeks.

There is always that moment when you're taking the flask off the rotovap, or you're taking the lid off the plant sample, and you get this news: 

“We opened up the canister today, and we did see that there is some black dust-like material that's visible," Lauretta said Tuesday. "We're hoping that's from Bennu. We expect that we'll be collecting a portion of that tomorrow morning, and that'll go right into laboratories."

"This is our first glimpse of what we might have," said Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx mission's principal investigator. "There's good indication that we might have sample." 

Best wishes to the OSIRIS team, and it will be really cool to see what chemicals are a part of asteroids. 

C&EN: California legislature passes bill to ban food chemicals

In this week's C&EN, this news (article by Britt Erickson): 

California is poised to become the first state in the US to ban four chemicals added to processed food. The state legislature passed a bill (AB 418) Sept. 12 that prohibits brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and Red No. 3 dye in food products sold in California, effective Jan. 1, 2027. The legislation now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom, who can sign the bill into law or veto it.

The four ingredients are banned in the European Union and many countries because of concerns about their impact on human health, including cancer, reproductive issues, and behavioral and developmental effects in children.

“This bill will not ban any foods or products—it simply will require food companies to make minor modifications to their recipes and switch to the safer alternative ingredients that they already use in Europe and so many other places around the globe,” the author of the bill, Assembly member Jesse Gabriel, says in a statement.

I can't get very excited about this, but it will be really interesting to see where Red Dye Number 3 is still used. Something tells me that it's not particularly common, but maybe I'm wrong