Friday, July 21, 2017

UNH: "Experience must include 4 years of post-doctoral research experience in the field of Organic Chemistry"

When I am looking at faculty jobs postings, I am usually just entering the facts (department, geography, subfield.) It usually takes a lot to make me notice the fine details, especially when the boilerplate is mostly the same*. This ad from UNH-Durham was a little different:
Summary of Position
Within the Department of Chemistry in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of New Hampshire, the candidate will teach undergraduate courses in organic chemistry as well as graduate courses, including organic synthesis, and to develop new courses. The faculty member will be responsible for maintaining a productive program of research and scholarship in the field of organic chemistry, and organic synthesis and its applications to problems in chemical biology (e.g. biological catalysis, structural biology, biomaterials or other related areas). Will also advise and mentor undergraduate and graduate level students. 
Acceptable Minimum Qualifications
Candidates must possess a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry. Experience must include 4 years of post-doctoral research experience in the field of Organic Chemistry (emphasis CJ's) and at least one academic year of post-secondary teaching experience pre or post Ph.D. Demonstrated research experience with publications in peer-reviewed journals is required. 
Documents Needed to Apply 
Required Documents
4 years?!?! Chemists aren't biologists!

Twitter chatter has strongly speculated this is an internal candidate; Andre astutely notes the resume/vita requirement seems a bit thin.

Can I make a suggestion to the broader world, or at least the chemistry community? When you have an internal candidate and you're 98%+ sure that you're hiring that guy, but the HR department still makes you post the ad, I would really suggest that the hiring contact's name be Don T. Bother. That would save a lot of time for everyone involved.  

A hiring manager's lament

From the pages of the New York Times, the owner of a PR firm laments the online application system: 
It’s not that my postings on Indeed, LinkedIn and other career sites weren’t explicit in outlining desired qualifications. I added instructions urging candidates to contact us only if they had backgrounds in journalism, P.R. or law. There was nothing to suggest I was looking for a fiscal benefits analyst, emergency medical technician or brand ambassador, but they showed up anyway. 
...I’m all for people crossing the professional divide. America’s work force is going through tumult, as even the superskilled see their jobs eliminated or made obsolete by technology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a steady decline in the average tenure of wage and salaried workers — most recently at 4.2 years, down from 4.6 in 2014.... 
...Perhaps that’s why so many showcased accomplishments that sounded machine-made, as in “liaise with field managers to create metric reports in line with KPIs.” There were also digital marketers lauding their ability to “increase channel awareness and implement impactful distribution modes to engage target audiences.” I was more drawn to the waitress who described her duties with the clarity of E. B. White: “Explain dishes on menu to patrons and make recommendations; take orders and relay them to kitchen; calculate meal costs and add taxes to final bill.” She was elevated to the “maybe” pile.
Lowering the barrier to application has been an interesting side effect of the digital age - I wonder if wrong-headed applications happened during the typewriter-and-envelope days. 

(The writer makes a good point that if you're applying for a position with an unusual background, it is up to you to convince the reader that your differences will be helpful. That's a difficult thing sometimes, but I think that it can be doable...) 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 104 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 104 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 (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start yet: 18 positions for the search term "process chemist" at Indeed, including this night-shift (?) position at Alcami in Germantown, WI.

Family-run businesses

I was rather amused by this New York Times story about a Wild West theme park that a family is trying to sell without a lot of success: 
UNION, Ill. — It’s not easy selling a Wild West Town theme park located 60 miles northwest of Chicago, as Larry and Helene Donley have discovered. 
The octogenarian couple have run the place for 43 years and are finally ready to retire. But their sons, Randy and Mike, who are in their early 60s and have helped manage it, are keen for other challenges.... 
There is a hitch, however: The elder Donleys don’t want someone to change the property into, say, a concert space, as a potential buyer once suggested. Ideally, they want things to continue in their current Howdy Doody-esque form, right down to the gold-panning pavilion, the live action Wild West show, and kiddie rides on the 19th-century miniature locomotive. 
...The current asking price is $7 million, but Larry Donley has turned away people who didn’t seem willing or likely to preserve it as is.... 
...Such is the difficulty of selling a family heirloom business that no one else in the family really wants to run. 
Does this frustrate the younger generations? They say no, and insist they are committed to operating the park until they find that elusive buyer. “The park was never our dream,” Randy, the younger son, said of himself and his brother, who auction antique phonographs, jukeboxes and other 20th-century Americana as their principal occupation. As for their father, however, “He really believes that that person is out there.” 
As with many amusement parks, the bulk of the revenue — some of it from the $17-a-person admission — has to come in between May and the end of October. Mike Donley wouldn’t discuss financial details, but he said the park had earned the family enough to sustain three generations over the decades. Mike and Randy Donley both say it is profitable.
I left my other wallet in the other room, so I don't think I have the spare seven million dollars to buy the place, but it is interesting to me how difficult it is for families to pass a business from one generation to the next. It's also interesting how difficult it is, when children want to learn the family business, for them to actually do it in at the same level of success as their parents.)

I don't think there are a lot of family-owned chemical businesses out there that are salable at the moment, but if I had seven million dollars....

Daily Pump Trap: 7/20/17 edition

A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs:

Rocket Center, WV: Orbital ATK is hiring:
Orbital ATK’s Missile Products Division has exciting opportunity for a Scientist located at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory near Cumberland, MD.  This position will support the development and manufacture of propellant, explosive and adhesive formulations for rocket motor and warhead programs.
B.S. with 0-10 years experience energetics, adhesives or other chemistry field desired; M.S./Ph.D. preferred.

Madison, WI: Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals is looking for a director of analytical development. M.S./Ph.D. desired, 8-15 years experience.

Kenilworth, NJ: Interesting position with the Merck Sterile Formulation Sciences unit, working on "biophysical and biochemical characterization of biotherapeutics, such as complex proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and derived modalities." M.S./Ph.D. desired, 4-8 years experience desired.

Also at Kenilworth, Merck is looking for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. chromatographer to work on formulation development.

Kalamazoo, MI: Man, I feel like Kalsec has been looking for an "executive director of manufacturing" for a very long time. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 7/20/17 edition

A few of the academic positions posted at C&EN Jobs:

Philadelphia, PA: The School of Medicine is searching for an assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics ("including but not limited to cryo-EM, advanced imaging and spectroscopic methods, proteomics/ metabolomics, chemical biology, and other biophysical or computational approaches as applied to biomedical research.")

Davis, CA: University of California - Davis is looking for an assistant or associate professor of NMR spectroscopy.

Bellingham, WA: Western Washington University is hiring an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard's Origins of Life Initiative is looking for postdocs.

Medford, MA: Tufts is looking for two synthetic postdocs.

Last minute professor: Touro College (New York, NY) is looking for an assistant/associate professor of organic chemistry for fall 2017. Chop-chop! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"I'm a chemist"

I had a very lovely experience recently talking to some new neighbors. After introducing myself and talking about our children, that moment that you all have been a part of arrived:
Neighbor: What do you do?
CJ: I am a chemist.
Neighbor: [acting impressed] oh!
CJ: [looks a little sheepish] so what brings you to Forest City? 
It's not like it was a showstopper - just a funny moment in the conversation where I wish that I had something to draw people in and get them to talk about chemistry.

I try not to make it a very big deal; I am very happy to talk chemistry and Why I Love It. But I wish I knew a way to say "I am a chemist" without it being intimidating? off-putting? Maybe I should say it different? "I work in chemistry"? "I help make the drugs that save your life" (I HATE that tack) "I am a scientist"? 

Readers, what do you do in this situation? 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 34 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 34 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Try the open thread.

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

Could the faculty of yesteryear compete today?

Via Twitter, an interesting comment from a graduate student: 
"A successful, well-known chemist admitted that they probably wouldn't have been hired tenure-track today."
That's not the first time I've heard senior professors express such a comment, so I threw it out there on Twitter:
To senior professors among chemTweeps:  
Did you hear your elders say "I wouldn't have been qualified today" back when you were younger?
I thought the most thoughtful answer came from friend-of-the-blog Chris Cramer:
you know, it's more subtle than it sounds. when a senior faculty member says that, it's not really a "gosh, kids are smarter nowadays"  
it's more recognition that the "frontiers" of the field have moved (as they must) so that OUR proposals from xx years ago would now be / routine and uncompetitive. In addition, the graphical and word processing tools have advanced enormously, so the quality of proposals /and presentations is dramatically changed relative to, say, 20 yrs ago.  
I have no doubt that there has been a general climb in the qualifications needed to become an assistant professor over the years. However, it's not clear to me that anyone has any statistical data (yet!) on this issue. Readers, what do you think? Are we experiencing qualification creep? Have you seen it? When will it end?  

Friday, July 14, 2017

View from Your Hood: Beebe Lake, Ithaca, NY edition

From Anonymous: "Not exactly the view from the window but very close."

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

The costs of academic science workers

This is a very enjoyable summary of a recent speech by minor-deity-of-the-blog Paula Stephan, written by Ken Chiacchia. It's a continuation of the themes she has written about in her book "How Economics Shapes Science." I think the comparison of the cost of graduate students, postdocs and staff scientists is interesting: 
The issue is stark in the decision of whether to employ graduate students, postdoctoral fellows or staff scientists to conduct lab research. Nationally, graduate students average a stipend of about $26,000 annually; in addition, they represent approximately an additional $16,000 or more for tuition and other student costs. Their hourly “pay rate,” then, can be between $19.50 and $27.50. 
Postdoctoral fellows are paid more. But they also have no tuition costs and at most universities have few additional benefits. Assuming a university follows the NIH benchmark of $43,692 for a first-year postdoc, their hourly rate comes to around $17 to $18, depending on the field. 
Staff scientists start at about $60,000 to $75,000, coming out to an hourly rate of about $30.00. But that doesn’t reflect their full cost, which includes much more extensive benefits than students or postdocs. 
Given this incentive structure, Stephan explained, it isn’t hard to understand the relative scarcity of staff scientists. Her own study found that at least 72 percent of academic research papers had postdocs or grad students as their first author. In the NSF’s annual survey, life science PhD graduates with definite job commitments have fallen from a peak of 70% in 1994 to 58% in 2014—and most of those are going to postdoc positions, not permanent jobs.
Stephan really believes in the ameliorative power of staff scientists, but that's because she believes that the best way to deal with the problem of "too many Ph.D.s" is to raise their price. She's an economist, so that's the tool for creating scarcity. (Makes sense, I gotta say.)

I am very curious, though, what the differences in output are between institutions that are student/postdoc heavy and those that are staffed by staff scientists. In addition, I am curious as to if the nature of the output changes, i.e. if the science gets more or less interesting, or more or less innovative. I have no idea what the outcome might be - readers?  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 92 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 92 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 (this will likely change), computational positions (this will likely change as well), process positions (coming soon....), academic positions (likely never.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start yet: 17 positions for the search term "process chemist" at Indeed, including this Gelest process position in Morrisville, PA (needs: "Able to operate or learn to operate a forklift"), and this polymer? position in Berkeley with a small startup. 

The wrong way to make a little cash

Via Twitter, an unfortunate story of insider trading from an unusual sector of society: 
BOSTON (Reuters) - A research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was arrested on Wednesday on charges that he engaged in insider trading based on information he obtained from his wife, a corporate lawyer working on a deal involving a mining company. 
Fei Yan, 31, was arrested in Massachusetts after federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused him of trading last year on inside information about South Africa's Sibanye Gold Ltd planned $2.2 billion acquisition of Stillwater Mining. 
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a related lawsuit accused Yan of netting $120,000 by placing trades ahead of the Stillwater deal and another merger based on information he obtained from his wife, an associate at a corporate law firm.... 
...Yan, a citizen of China, had been employed as a post-doctoral associate in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics, according to Kimberly Allen, a spokeswoman for MIT. She referred further comments to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan. 
He was charged in a criminal complaint with securities fraud and wire fraud. Following a hearing in federal court in Boston, Yan was released on a $500,000 unsecured bond....
You know, I knew a couple of folks who traded equities in graduate school, but, for the most part, no one in graduate school has any information that is really worth trading on. It's not like your latest NMR result is going to affect the value of any corporation by any significant amount (in school, anyway.)

(A small side debate: on Twitter, a respected follower (and longtime reader of the blog) and I were pondering whether or not it was more likely that wealthy people or non-wealthy people were most likely to be caught, prosecuted or convicted by federal authorities for insider trading. I feel like it's more likely that the small fry are the ones who are caught, but my interlocutor felt that it was the wealthy folks who attracted more prosecutorial attention. Readers, what say you? Are there any relevant studies on this issue?) 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Better start getting ready for Professor Jones' seminar

Re: Professor Jones

Dear Seminar Chair:

Below is a rider containing provisions to assure you of a smooth and professional seminar presentation by Professor F.M. Jones. All provisions are spelled out in great detail in order to prevent any misunderstandings and to present to your students and faculty the finest in contemporary chemistry seminars.

Any immediate questions can be answered by calling Jones Group Productions at (302) 313-6257.

All provisions must be adhered to strictly. Please feel free to contact us at any time should there be any questions.

Looking forward to a successful visit.


Sharon Schaps, Group Secretary

With apologies to Edward Lodewijk Van Halen

Manufacturing firms employ over 60% of R&D scientists and engineers in industry.

Also in this week's C&EN, an interesting short summary by Michael McCoy of a recent NBER paper:
Companies need scientists for R&D, of course, but a new study finds that U.S. manufacturing companies seeking high productivity and earnings should consider hiring scientists for jobs other than R&D as well.
The paper (by Barth et al.) included this fascinating set of statistics about industrial employment of scientists:
We focus on manufacturing for three reasons. First, manufacturing is a lead sector in productivity growth. Between 1990 and 2016 the average annual rate of labor productivity increased at 3.5% per year in manufacturing compared to 2.0% in the entire economy. Second, industrial R&D and employment of scientists and engineers is disproportionately concentrated in manufacturing. While manufacturing establishments employ 10% of the work force in industry, they employ 20% of scientists and engineers in industry, and manufacturing firms employ over 60% of R&D scientists and engineers in industry.
Curious to know the trend in employment over the last 26 years, and if the R&D intensity of those manufacturing firms has gone up or down.