Friday, February 16, 2018

View From Your Hood: French snows edition

Credit: Augustin Peneau
From reader Augustin Peneau: "White all over the trees and roofs, a peaceful morning at Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles (ICSN) in Gif-sur-Yvette (France)"

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in (with a caption and preference for name/anonymity, please) at; will run every other Friday.) 

Radio show: Melissa Vaught (aka biochembelle), Saturday, February 17, 11 PM Eastern

Looking forward to talking with Dr. Melissa Vaught (a.k.a. biochembelle, author of the longtime blog "Ever on & on") on Saturday, February 17, at 11 PM Eastern.

What would you like us to cover? Some topics will be pre-chosen (lots of talk about the life sciences and postdoctoral fellows), some are up to you.

Leave suggestions in the comments, or e-mail me:

That's some high-grade horse pucky

From my weekly dose of pain known as a Google Alert for this term "skills gap", this gem in an article titled "US economy faces impending skills gap"
...Pfizer, the pharmaceutical manufacturer, highlights both the demands of the new economy and the shortfalls from the labor force. 
At Pfizer’s 17 manufacturing sites across the country, a low-level technician once followed a set of scripted steps to mix individual batches of medicine. Those batches would be tested in a lab to ensure each dose would meet the company’s standards. 
Today, a technician operates computers that mix and analyze new batches of medicine instantly. The technician who once just needed to follow a recipe now needs to know a little bit about chemistry, biology, data analysis and lab work. 
“The technician role has become much more high tech, in that the operators are monitoring the online data and they are manipulating the control systems and making online decisions based on real-time data,” said Kevin Nepveux, Pfizer’s vice president of global manufacturing services. “That requires a different skill set for the operators.”
Call me a perennial skeptic, but this sounds like baloney.  

Got a career dilemma?

We are hoping to start a "CJ's mailbag" for my column at Chemical and Engineering News. Please feel free to write me ( if you have a career-oriented dilemma that you'd like me to write about in the magazine. Also, you can submit your questions with this handy web form. Thanks!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 109 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 109 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

11 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there's 11 new positions posted for February 12.

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 100 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 100 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Talking with biochembelle (a.k.a. Melissa Vaught)

Looking forward to talking with Melissa Vaught (also known as biochembelle), on Saturday, February 17 at 11 PM Eastern about the life sciences, non-bench careers and postdoctoral issues.

What would you like us to cover? Some topics will be pre-chosen, some are up to you. 

Postdoctoral position: organic photovoltaics, Southampton, Hampshire, UK

From the inbox:
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is currently seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic post-doctoral researcher with an extensive hands-on experience in multistep organic synthesis to join their Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) Chemistry Team in Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom. 
Location: Merck Chemicals Ltd., Chilworth, Southampton, UK 
Your primary role will be to carry out the design, synthesis, purification and analysis of new materials for commercial OPV applications. You will use your ability, experience and knowledge to develop novel materials and an in-depth understanding of the parameters controlling their performance and quality. You will work with a talented multi-disciplinary team of people, contribute to the generation of intellectual property and support product scale-up and introduction to customers.
Job Requisites:
  • Degree in chemistry in the field of organic synthesis plus applicable experience, PhD degree preferred
  • Hands-on experience in synthesis and purification of aromatic compounds as well as conjugated polymers
  • Experience in the field of organic electronics would be an advantage
  • Excellent command of common analytical tools, such as NMR, HPLC, GCMS and GPC.
Best wishes to those interested. If you are interested, please contact Dr Agnieszka Pron (

Job posting: Regulatory Affairs Specialist 1, American Sugar Refining, Inc., Boca Raton, FL

From the inbox:
The Regulatory Affairs Specialist I reports directly to the Manager of Global Regulatory Affairs. This position is responsible for assisting with the overall management of matters involving the company’s regulatory initiatives and regulatory compliance, specifically relating to new product development and existing products. Under the direction of the Manager, Global Regulatory Affairs, the Regulatory Affairs Specialist I will work with multiple relevant stakeholders such as the Legal Team, Quality Assurance, Marketing, Sales, and Research & Development to ensure product compliance.  
The Regulatory Affairs Specialist I researches and provides updates on existing and future key legislation that could affect new and existing product line development to his/her manager for review. Additionally, this individual will be heavily involved in making a positive contribution to implementing key legislative changes including FSMA and SFCA (U.S. and Canadian Regulation Updates). Additionally, this role will be responsible for providing excellent customer service and maintaining positive business relationships with both internal and external customers and/or vendors. 
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Regulatory Affairs, Nutrition or Food Science, Chemistry or related field is required plus at least 1-2 years of applicable regulatory work experience
  • Knowledge of the Food & Beverage or Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry is strongly preferred
Best wishes to those interested. Full link here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 511 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 511 positions.

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

On February 12, 2017, the 2017 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 560 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Try the open thread.

Want to talk about starting your new group? That open discussion is here.

Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

2016 Survey of Earned Doctorates: 11 universities graduated 20% of the Ph.D. chemists

Via the 2016 Survey of Earned Doctorates, a compilation of all the Ph.D. granting schools in chemistry in 2017. Of these, 11 schools generated 19.4% of the 2,704 Ph.D. graduates: 
U. Michigan, Ann Arbor: 59
U. California, Berkeley: 56
Purdue U., West Lafayette: 51
U. Wisconsin-Madison: 51
U. Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: 50
U. Florida: 49
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 47
Northwestern U.: 41
U. Minnesota, Twin Cities: 41
Princeton U.: 41
U. California, Irvine: 39
Of these, the top 5 schools (by volume) make 9.9% of the graduates. 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 22 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 22 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fewer F31 grants for chemistry graduate students

Also from this week's C&EN, an article by Andrea Widener: 
The U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) announced last month that it will no longer fund a predoctoral fellowship program that supported select chemistry students. NIGMS decided instead to put all of its predoctoral funding toward training grants, which support departments to provide funding and mentorship to large groups of students. The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship, or F31, was one of few grants that chemistry students could apply for once they had already started their graduate research. 
Most other grants, including NSF predoctoral fellowships, go to students before they enter graduate school. Marilyn Mackiewicz, now a research assistant professor at Portland State University, says she hadn’t known about the NSF fellowships when she applied to graduate school at Texas A&M University. “It’s kind of sad they are deciding to stop funding the grant,” she says. NIGMS started supporting F31 fellowships in 2015. It awarded around 85 fellowships each year; less than 20% went to chemists.
Actually not that consequential to the total number of Ph.D. chemists (~2600 a year.) Still... 

Wanted: fluorochemical standards

In this week's C&EN's cover by Cheryl Hogue, an interesting request for synthetic standards: 
Wanted: Fluorochemical reference standards 
When researchers discover a new chemical in the environment, they need a reference sample of known purity to do further research on the substance. Such reference standards are necessary to calculate concentrations of chemicals in environmental samples, conduct toxicology studies, or carry out environmental fate and transport testing. 
But suppliers of chemical standards sometimes don’t have novel industrial chemicals, in particular those that are unintentional by-products of manufacturing processes. Researchers can measure the concentration of only some of the fluorochemicals in the Cape Fear River because they don’t have standards for comparison, says EPA scientist Mark Strynar. 
Chemours supplied standards for the two Nafion by-products found in the Cape Fear River to Strynar in November. Strynar is seeking standards for perfluoro-3,5,7-trioxaoctanoic acid (PFO3OA), perfluoro-3,5-dioxahexanoic acid (PFO2HxA), and perfluoro-2-methoxyacetic acid (PFMOAA). “Those compounds need to be synthesized,” Strynar says. “Without that, our work is sort of at a standstill.” 
“There’re people out there that can do that synthesis and they can make these available as chemicals for us to purchase,” Strynar says in a pitch to the chemistry community. “It doesn’t have to be 99.9% pure,” he says. 
Strynar can be contacted at
Gonna guess that Dr. Strynar could engage Apollo or Synquest for $20,000 or so, but what do I know?  

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Friday, February 9, 2018

Scintillation vials

A list of small, useful things (links):
An open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring you millions thousands hundreds tens of dollars joy and happiness. Send me a link to your post, and I'd be happy to put it up.

Have a good weekend!

Chemistry professors and their postdoctoral institutions

Credit: Dan Singleton
Via Twitter, Professor Dan Singleton of Texas A&M does a little sleuthing using the Directory of Graduate Research (tweets 1, 2 and 3): 
1. The top schools do impressively but they are not the only path to get a faculty job. Over half come from places outside of the top 10.
2. The correlation with school reputation is loose.
3. There is an inverse correlation with football quality. 
I expect that if we looked at graduate school institution, the distribution would be / less top heavy by a good margin.  That is, a medium graduate school followed by a good postdoc is a perfectly fine path to a faculty position. This has been studied in the economics literature. It is better to be the best person at a lesser school than third best at Harvard.
This is pretty unsurprising (especially the Pareto distribution of postdoctoral institutions.)

I am very curious to know what this would look like by decade cohorts. I presume that, for our modern times (2008-2018), the gatekeeper institutions have gotten stronger, not weaker. (i.e. the institutions may be different, but the top 5 will have more than those for the top 5 for previous decades.) Readers, what say you? 

The power of Congress

Via Twitter, this news from Nature about NSF and its policy on PI sexual harassment (article written by Alexandra Witze): 
Any institution receiving grant monies from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) must now inform the agency if it finds that anyone funded by the grant proposal has committed sexual harassment. The policy will take effect after a 60-day public-comment period ends. 
Until now, “we haven’t had a requirement on universities to report a [harassment] finding or when they’ve put someone on administrative leave” during a harassment investigation, says France Córdova, the NSF director. “We didn’t have the channel to find out what’s at the end of an investigation.” 
The reporting requirement comes in the wake of numerous sexual-harassment scandals in the sciences. It is a rare move among US federal research agencies, which generally do not require grant recipients or their employers to disclose sexual-harassment allegations or findings.
Why did this happen? Well, surely the current cultural moment has something to do with it. There's also this:
Like other federal agencies, the NSF is under pressure from the US Congress to strengthen its response to sexual harassment. In January, the House of Representatives’ science committee asked the Government Accountability Office to look into sexual harassment involving federally funded researchers at agencies including the NSF, NASA, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. 
I think this is instructive to those who are interested in getting funding agencies to pursue academic lab safety as a priority. While professional societies and universities have their place in suggesting voluntary guidelines for safety practices, there's nothing quite like Congressional pressure to move items from policy proposal to policy. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 101 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 101 positions.

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions, but if you want to do the traditional "leave a link in the comments", that works, too.

Want to chat about medchem positions? Try the open thread.

Positions I'm not including: positions outside the United States, computational positions (this will likely change), academic positions (likely never.)

20 new positions at Organic Chemistry Jobs

Over at Common Organic Chemistry, there's 7 new positions posted for February 4 and 13 new positions posted for February 7.

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 98 positions

The Process Chemistry Jobs List has 98 positions.

Want to help? Here's a form to fill out.

Want to chat process jobs? Try the open thread.