Friday, June 23, 2017

Metal solvent cans

A list of small, useful things (links): 
Again, 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 great weekend! 

Your best cold contact tips?

That's cold.
Credit: GE
I'll be honest, I dislike cold calling people and I hate receiving cold calls. I have a terrible habit of being very short with salespeople who call me (looking at you, Phenomenex) during my day.

That said, it can be an effective way of getting a request in front of a relevant person who can help me. I can't think of a cold call story that's job-related (because I can be timid like that), but I can think of a crazy cold call story that had a good ending:

A long time ago, I found myself in charge of a hazardous waste program that had found itself quite a ways out of compliance. Not knowing what to do, I ended up calling our hazardous waste company's legal department, and I ended up being transferred to the VP of Legal, who answered the phone because her secretary was out for the day. I explained our situation to her, and after a very, very long pause, she suggested a few things that she could do, including connecting us to a very helpful and reasonably-priced consultant. It all worked itself out.

By now (some 5-10 years later), I am bolder with cold e-mails by far - but I am still VERY careful with them, thinking long and hard about who I should contact and how I should present my requests.

Readers, I am sure that you have better cold calling stories - let's have them. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 112 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 112 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! (soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start: 26 positions on Indeed for "process chemist", including this cosmetics position in Grand Prairie, TX with "Fruit of the Earth." Also, a process position with Blueprint Medicines in Cambridge. 

A great source of transferable skills: esports

From my weekly dose of pain (a Google Alert for the term "transferable skills"), this gem from a local British newspaper:
Rachel Gowers, Associate Dean of Staffordshire University Business School, looks at the growing popularity of esports and explains why the university has decided to offer an esports degree... 
One thing all of these esports educators have in common is an agreement that esports provides a vast amount of transferrable skills to the participants. 
Top skills for esports include teamworking, resilience, stamina, problem-solving, communication, endurance, decision-making, leadership, critical thinking and analytical abilities.
Just like chemistry! I don't think there is a single major in the university (including the fabled underwater basketweaving) that doesn't teach teamwork and problem-solving.

Daily Pump Trap: 6/22/17 edition

A (very) few of this week's positions at C&EN Jobs:

"Palo Alto, CA or Wilmington, DE": DuPont is looking for an industry recovery engineer to look at bioprocessing.

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and USAjobs.gov show (respectively) "1000+", 342, 9,066 and 30 positions for the search term "chemist."

LinkedIn shows 3,070 positions for the search term "chemist" and 17,846 for the search term "chemistry." Job titles from LinkedIn - first with quotes, and the second without: Polymer Chemist: 11/607. Analytical chemist: 184/254. Research chemist: 39/50. Synthetic chemist: 12/583. Medicinal chemist: 16/45. Organic chemist: 30/70. Process chemist: 17/45. Process development chemist: 4/5. Formulation chemist: 44/53.

Reno, NV: So this one is interesting:
The Organic Chemist will be based in Reno, NV reporting to the Director of Research & Development. This position will be primarily responsible for the development of new products and processes for our new activated clay affiliate. 
Specific responsibilities of this position include but are not limited to:
  • Conduct research into optimization of current production processes for our clay products
Why do they need a Ph.D. organic chemist with 2-4 years of post-graduate work for that? 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Process Wednesday: couple of short items edition

Couple of things: 
Enjoy! 

Warning Letter of the Week: Sticky notes edition

A short epistle from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to Mr. Jun Wu, the Chairman of China Resources Zizhu Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.:
3.    Failure of your quality unit to exercise its responsibility to ensure the API manufactured at your facility are in compliance with CGMP, and meet established specifications for quality and purity.
Our investigators found batch production records that contained blank or partially completed manufacturing data and lacked dates and signatures for verification. For example, in your [redacted] plant, our investigators found a batch record for [redacted] starting material, batch [redacted], with sticky notes from the quality assurance department directing operators to enter manufacturing data, such as missing weight and volume entries. Also, your quality unit did not approve this batch record before the material was used in further manufacturing.

All data in CGMP records must be complete and reliable so it can be evaluated by the quality unit during its batch review, as well as maintained for additional CGMP purposes.

Other documents—including cleaning records and equipment use logs—were also found to be partially completed, without dates and signatures for verification, or with pages or spaces intentionally left blank for documentation at a later time.

Your quality unit was aware of these unacceptable production department practices but did not ensure they were corrected.
It's interesting to see what CDER is pointing out, i.e. that the quality unit wasn't stopping the production of the material; rather, it looks like the material was pushed forward, and the batch records were never filled out before the inspectors arrived. 

The checking of batch records by QA (and the properly-documented correction of such) is such a routine part of cGMP production, but it's easy to take it for granted. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 10 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by myself and Andrew Spaeth) has 10 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Try the open thread.

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

The median chemistry professor startup package may be less than 1 million dollars

Just as a vague statistical rejoinder to Professor Mathews' comments, a note that not everyone who responded to C&EN's survey of assistant professors of 2015 received $2M+ packages.

Methodology: "In March, C&EN surveyed chemists in their first or second year as an assistant professor. Of the 192 academics we reached out to, 111 responded; 85 identified themselves as working at a research-intensive school, whereas 26 are at primarily undergraduate institutions." 

Please fill out the 2016-2017 Faculty Search Survey

In the interests of understanding the results of this year's academic recruiting, I have created an unscientific survey. I will be sharing results as they come in.

If you were a faculty candidate during the 2016-2017 academic year, please fill out this survey so we can get a better picture of the experience of faculty candidates this past year.

Please leave suggestions for improvements for the survey in the comments. 

Daily Pump Trap: 6/20/17 edition

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

Saint Louis, MO: American Radiolabeled Chemicals is looking for a radiochemist: "Applicant must have 5-10 years of handling large amounts of carbon-14 and tritium in multi-step organic radiosynthesis. Applicant must have vacuum line experience for handling carbon-14 and tritium labeled products. M.S. required, Ph.D. preferred."

Northboro, MA: St. Gobain is looking for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. experienced polymer scientist to be a group leader.

Abbott Park, IL: Abbott is looking for a polymer scientist/engineer; B.S. + experience desired. 

Postdoctoral position: synthetic organic chemistry, Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, UNC Chapel Hill

From the inbox:
We have an immediate opening for a synthetic organic chemistry postdoc in the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at UNC Chapel Hill. The project is focused on the development of synthetic electrochemistry methods and their application to construct bioactive molecules.  
We are seeking to fill a synthetic organic chemist position developing novel methods (e.g. electrochemical and reagent-mediated oxidations) to create natural product-inspired diversity sets for drug discovery. Research is conducted within the highly collaborative environment of the UNC Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery.
Full listing here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 6/20/17 edition

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

Austin, TX: The University of Texas - Austin is looking for two assistant professor positions. "Preference will be given to candidates who interest is primarily in chemical biology and synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry, physical aspects of materials and electrochemistry as applied to complex chemical systems, bioanalytical and materials chemistry, and in-situ analysis."

Richmond, VA: Virginia Commonwealth University is searching for two assistant professor positions in organic chemistry.

Education City, Doha, Qatar: Carnegie Mellon University - Qatar is looking for a teaching track position.

Utica, NY: Utica College is looking for a one-year visiting assistant professor position. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Not a good picture

I think it would have been better if this
picture were never taken?
Credit: Washington Post
Alarms were sounded more loudly after a nuclear technician positioned eight plutonium rods dangerously close together inside what is called a glovebox — a sealed container meant to contain the cancer-causing plutonium particles — on the afternoon of Aug. 11, 2011, to take a photograph for senior managers. Doing so posed the risk that neutrons emitted routinely by the metal in the rods would collide with the atoms of other particles, causing them to fission enough to provoke more collisions and begin an uncontrolled chain reaction of atom splitting. 
As luck had it, a supervisor returned from her lunch break and noticed the dangerous configuration. But she then ordered the technician to reach into the box and move the rods apart, and a more senior lab official ordered others present to keep working. Both decisions increased, rather than diminished, the likelihood of an accident, because bodies — and even hands — contain water that can reflect and slow the neutrons, increasing the likelihood of a criticality and its resulting radiation burst.
It sounds like there are all sorts of issues at LANL's production facilities, including a relative shortage of engineers trained in criticality calculations:
A February report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent safety advisory group chartered by Congress, detailed the magnitude of the gap. It said Los Alamos needs 27 fully qualified safety engineers specialized in keeping the plutonium from fissioning out of control. The lab has 10. 
Some of the reports obtained by the Center for Public Integrity described flimsy workplace safety policies that left workers ignorant of proper procedures as well as incidents where plutonium was packed hundreds of times into dangerously close quarters or without the shielding needed to block a serious accident. The safety risks at the Los Alamos plutonium facility, which is known as PF-4, were alarmingly highlighted in August 2011, when a “criticality accident,” as it’s known, was narrowly averted, one of several factors prompting many safety officials there to quit. 
Well, just as long as things are all right over there...  (that first story has echoes of Louis Slotin...)

UPDATE: Added some clarifying language. 

Good story about the old days

Also in this week's C&EN, a good story: 
I enjoyed your feature on the first-year experience for newly minted assistant professors. In this era of the $2 million start-up package, my own experience in 1963 with Yale University offers an interesting contrast. The matter of start-up assistance was never discussed. It was tacitly assumed that the needed funds would come from NIH or NSF, and indeed my NIH grant was activated on my first day of appointment. Yale did end up contributing; they had asked me to include $8,000 for lab renovations in my NIH proposal. By the time the grant was funded, the renovations had been completed at Yale’s expense. Alas, Yale learned too late that work completed before the grant had been approved could not be reimbursed. So the $8,000 became my start-up package. 
Christopher K. Mathews
Corvallis, Ore.
For those wondering, $8,000 in 1963 works out to $63,774.07 in 2017 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI calculator. 

This week's C&EN

A few articles from this week's issue of C&EN:

Friday, June 16, 2017

View From Your Hood: tree edition

credit: Fabrice and Jason
"We like the tree view from our fume hoods, always full of flowers and birds in the spring. Not as grandiose as the Swiss Alps, but quite poetic": Fabrice and Jason, San Diego

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

From the files of Fred Schmoley, Axis Gotham EH&S


With apologies to Tim Burton

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 108 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 108 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! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start: 24 positions on Indeed for "process chemist", including this synthetic chemistry position in San Diego and this position with Boulder Scientific in Mead, CO.

Comparisons between US and UK pay

An interesting observation from a longtime friend of the blog (and Chemistry World features editor) Neil Withers about this Tuesday's postings:
I note that a US postdoc earns upper end UK lecturer salary cc @Chemjobber
The direct comparison (at the time) was £37,276 for the postdoc and £33,943–38,183 for the lecturer.

Another editor on Twitter noted:
Healthcare needs to be considered when comparing US/UK salaries. Even with that factored in, military scientists are much better paid here 
...and another UKian chimed in:
the UK pension is a pretty good deal though - employer contributes 18 % of your salary... I don't know what US situation is. 
I've never quite looked at what median chemist salaries are like in the US versus the UK; I figure that comparisons (just like this conversation) get tangled into a snarl of confounding factors.

The median RSC member who responded to their 2015 biennial survey receives £48,800 in total income (£44,000 in salary, £4800 in bonus.) That works out to $62,205.36; by comparison, the median ACS member made $97,000 (2015 ChemCensus) I'm going to guess that we are comparing zucchinis and aubergines here (especially with likely demographic and survey instrument differences).

Readers, do I have this right? Do chemists in the UK make less money? What are the confounding factors we haven't considered here? 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

New wrinkle in helium supply: the Qatar blockade

Qatar, the world's second largest helium producer, has closed its two helium production plants because of the economic boycott imposed by other Arab states, industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday. 
The helium plants operated by RasGas, a subsidiary of state-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP), were shut after Saudi Arabia closed its border with Qatar, blocking overland exports of the gas, a QP official told Reuters. RasGas is 70 percent owned by QP and U.S. giant Exxon Mobil has 30 percent.... 
...The closure of the plants is a sign of how the rift between Qatar and Arab powers could affect commodities markets. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties last week, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge Doha denies.... 
The two plants shut by Qatar have a combined annual production capacity of approximately 2 billion standard cubic feet of liquid helium and can meet about 25 percent of total world demand for the gas, according to RasGas' website....
I presume (because of normalcy bias) that the Qatar boycott will end at some point, but it will be interesting to see how and where the ripples of this will go... 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 4 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated myself and Andrew Spaeth) has 4 positions.

Want to talk anonymously? This post will serve as the open thread. Otherwise, all discussions are on the Chemistry Faculty Jobs List webforum.

Please fill out the 2016-2017 Faculty Search Survey

In the interests of understanding the results of this year's academic recruiting, I have created an unscientific survey. I will be sharing results as they come in.

If you were a faculty candidate during the 2016-2017 academic year, please fill out this survey so we can get a better picture of the experience of faculty candidates this past year.

Please leave suggestions for improvements for the survey in the comments. 

Faculty posting: Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Computational Chemistry, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Computational ChemistryNorthumbria University - Health and Life Sciences 
The Faculty of Health and Life Sciences is passionate about the principles and applications of Science and Technology in all its forms and strives to be excellent in research, teaching and innovation. 
Working within the Department of Applied Sciences, in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, you will provide expertise in the area of computational chemistry, to further enhance research, teaching and entrepreneurial activities. This will include designing, developing and delivering high quality teaching provision, undertaking research to produce quality academic outputs and participating in external activity to generate income and promote the subject area. 
Computational chemistry is an established aspect of the Department’s research and teaching portfolio, with a dedicated high performance cluster for these activities. 
Computational chemistry is an essential part of our RSC accredited BSc and MChem programmes, with modules being taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
The Department has particular strengths in analytical and synthetic chemistry, as well as at the biology and chemistry interface. The chemistry academics were a significant part of the University’s success in the recent REF exercise, placing Northumbria in the top 50 Universities for research power.
From my correspondent: "we do recruit from phone interviews- one of our latest recruits came from a position at the University of Houston (b) it’s what I think you’d call a tenure track position"

Best wishes to those interested - full posting here.  

Postdoc: synthetic organometallic chemistry, Martin Lab, Baylor, Waco, TX

From the inbox:
A Post-Doctoral position in the Martin Lab at Baylor University is available in the area of synthetic organometallic chemistry. 
We are seeking a highly motivated Post-Doctoral researcher to join our research group. The research will be focused on exploring the chemistry of new boron complexes. The project is synthetically demanding and requires expertise in air/moisture sensitive manipulations in addition to the spectroscopic and analytical techniques associated with characterizing new inorganic compounds. A background in organometallic chemistry is preferred. The candidate will assist in the mentoring of students and composition of manuscripts. Please see http://sites.baylor.edu/caleb_d_martin for more information about the group. 
Interested applicants should contact Caleb Martin as soon as possible by e-mail (caleb_d_martin@baylor.edu). Please include a CV and contact information of at least two references. The appointment is for one year with the possibility of renewal. The start date is flexible, however, funds are available immediately. The review of applications will commence as they are received until the position is filled. Responses will be limited to successful applicants. Compensation will include a salary of $47,476 USD and benefits.
Posting here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

That's one weird battery

Via the New York Times, a variety of different energy storage devices, most of which I had heard of, and then one that I had not (article by Diane Cardwell and Andrew Roberts):
Back in the 1970s, a German utility wanted to build a flexible storage plant that could respond to sudden peaks in electricity demand, since its conventional plants — mainly coal — weren’t designed to dial up or down quickly. 
It didn’t have the hilly terrain needed for a hydroelectric plant, which can start operating much more quickly when demand surges. But here’s what it did have: ancient, underground salt deposits. 
Borrowing a technique commonly used to store natural gas and oil deep underground, it piped water into the salt beds to dissolve the salt and create two caverns roughly a half-mile below the grassy fields in Huntorf. The plant, which opened in 1978, uses electricity from the grid, when it’s cheap because demand is low, to compress and store air in the salt caves. 
Then, when electricity demand surges, a motor pushes the air to the surface and into a combustion system, where it burns natural gas that spins a turbine to produce electricity. Compressing the air allows it to deliver more oxygen to the turbines, making them more efficient. 
A similar plant opened in 1991 in McIntosh, Ala. Several energy companies, mainly in the United States and Europe, are exploring mining their salt deposits for storage as well.
The article has a bunch of different examples, including the classic "fill a reservoir with water, let 'er rip when you need it" one. (I really like the flywheel one - that's pretty cool.)

I don't think anyone thinks these could be practical solutions across the board, but they are pretty fun. 

Metallic hydrogen?

Also in this week's C&EN, an interesting article by Mitch Jacoby looking into that metallic hydrogen kerfuffle: 
...As Silvera and Dias ramped up the pressure on the hydrogen in their DAC, they monitored the sample’s appearance as it changed from transparent to opaque to highly reflective. Then, by analyzing their data with a mathematical model of reflectivity, they concluded that the shiny appearance of the sample observed at 495 GPa corresponded to hydrogen becoming metallic. 
Some researchers voiced objections to the claims, noting, for example, that the team’s method for measuring pressure may have been inaccurate. Rather than using a laser-based Raman spectroscopy technique to monitor pressure throughout the experiment, as is commonly done, the Harvard group used that method only at the highest pressure. 
Silvera and Dias determined the pressure in the earlier part of the experiment from the number of turns of the “screws” that control the position of the diamonds. Silvera counters that he did so to minimize using powerful lasers that can easily damage the diamonds. And he contends that the mechanical method was properly calibrated. 
Other scientists suggested that there is insufficient evidence to attribute the reflections recorded by Silvera and Dias to metallic hydrogen. Perhaps they came instead from the metal gasket or from AlH3, a material that some researchers say may form by reaction of the alumina coating with high-pressure hydrogen. Again, Silvera defends his science, arguing that the reflectivity data point to metallic hydrogen, not the other materials. 
Whether the Harvard researchers actually achieved their goal remains an open question. “If they really made metallic hydrogen, that would be wonderful,” says Reinhard Boehler, a physicist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. “These experiments are very hard to reproduce,” he adds, but they must be reproduced to address the doubts...
Sounds like no one will know whether or not they made metallic hydrogen until the experiment is reproduced? 

This week's C&EN

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Uni-ball Signo pens

A list of small, useful things (links):
Again, 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.

Oh, and have a great weekend! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 105 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 105 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! (soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Don't call it a start: 23 positions on Indeed for "process chemist", including this tire chemistry position in Arkansas and this position with Eastman in Kingsport, TN. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tough to find chemists in the Sacramento area?

In this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, an article about the demand for bench-level analytical chemists by Rick Mullin and an interesting comment about Ampac Fine Chemicals and their needs for analytical chemists: 
...Ampac Fine Chemicals recently quadrupled its analytical chemistry capacity, adding 1,200 m2 of laboratory space at a facility near El Dorado Hills, Calif. The contract manufacturer also brought in new technology, including X-ray powder diffraction, particle-size distribution, and dissolution testing capabilities, along with 10 liquid chromatography units. 
The firm has added 20 analytical chemists with the expansion, according to Chief Executive Officer Aslam Malik, and will likely hire as many more over the next 18 months. 
The hiring stems from an increased need to analyze the complex chemistry of new drugs, Malik says, plus a general concern among customers about data integrity. “We are looking more closely at the genotoxic impurities and doing heavy-metal analyses,” he says. Meanwhile, measurement instrumentation has advanced from “prehistoric” methods to cutting-edge technology, raising the skill level required of chemists and the stakes for Ampac in staffing. 
“It’s always tough to find good chemists, but more so on the analytical side,” Malik says. “The market is tight.” 
One advantage for Ampac, Malik says, is that the company is a primary employer of pharmaceutical analytical chemists in the Sacramento area. “When people get done in school here, they want to hang around. So we have been lucky. Still, finding very technically qualified people is tough.”...
The whole article is worth a read, if only to hear how industrial folks think about this problem and how academic folks think about it as well.

That last statement seems to be "we do not have a competitor in town to poach chemists from", which I can't get very worked up about. It seems to me that between UC-Davis and CSU-Sacramento, they could get all the fresh new college grads that they could want. Maybe I'm wrong, but it would seem that they could poach plenty of folks from the Bay Area in terms of getting folks with more experience? I dunno.

More later... 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Anyone know anything about Intrexon?

From the inbox, a question about Intrexon, which is a biotech company in South San Francisco and Maryland. The Glassdoor reviews are definitely a mixed bag:
Pros
Great vision for the company. Intrexon''s work across the biotech space is interesting and compelling, but lacks focus/direction. 
Cons
Culture is non-existent (if you don't include consistent layoffs, lack of direction from upper-management, and no mobility). The only thing declining more quickly than Intrexon's stock price is it's prospects. 
Advice to ManagementValue your employees, invest in HR and workplace benefits. Provide training and benefits that match industry standards. Stop treating employees as disposable.
Any comments or e-mails (to chemjobber@gmail.com) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! 

Is there a correlation between the number of applications to faculty positions and phone interviews?

If there is one, it's not a big one. 

Please fill out the 2016-2017 Faculty Search Survey

In the interests of understanding the results of this year's academic recruiting, I have created an unscientific survey. I will be sharing results as they come in.

If you were a faculty candidate during the 2016-2017 academic year, please fill out this survey so we can get a better picture of the experience of faculty candidates this past year.

Please leave suggestions for improvements for the survey in the comments. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

On the air: Saturday, June 3, noon Eastern with Carmen Drahl

I'm looking forward to being on the air again tomorrow at noon Eastern with guest Carmen Drahl, friend of the blog and chemistry writer for Forbes.

We'll be talking chemistry in West Virginia, communicating chemistry to the public, chemophobia and taking your calls.

Got a topic you'd like me to cover? Leave a comment, call the voicemail line at (302) 313-6257 or send me an e-mail: chemjobber@gmail.com 



UPDATE: Links from the show (thanks, Carmen!):

View From Your Hood: Glovebox edition

Credit: @simplechem
Via Twitter, "How about a view from the glovebox?" of Valais, Switzerland from @simplechem

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

Job posting: senior process chemist, Cranbury, NJ

From the inbox: 
Exemplify Biopharma is currently seeking a Senior Research Chemist to join our Process Chemistry Group located in Cranbury, New Jersey.  
The ideal candidate will have 0-3 years’ experience and a proven record of sustained laboratory achievement and innovation.  He/She will be responsible for developing and optimizing scalable processes on new target molecules and will support Exemplify development teams, working collaboratively with analytical chemists, formulation scientists, CRO/CMO’s, project managers and regulatory specialists to achieve the successful delivery of programs.  He/She should have an aptitude for laboratory bench scale experimentation and chemistry development suitable for kilo lab, pilot plant or manufacturing scale-up.   
This is an exceptional opportunity for motivated candidates who wish to be exposed to all aspects of CMC drug development in a fast moving, collaborative and learning environment. A Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry with 0-3 years of process development experience is preferred. If you are interested in applying for this exciting opportunity at Exemplify BioPharma please e-mail a cover letter and resume to careers@exemplifybiopharma.com
Full listing here. Best wishes to those interested.  

Well, that's not a typical path

Via Haaretz's Dov Alfon, a French media interview with a Syrian chemist who was working on making nerve agents:
One of the people Mediapart interviewed served as the director of Department 3000’s research section until the civil war began. He was recruited out of high school due to his high marks in science in general and chemistry in particular. He was then sent to college and graduate school, first in Syria and then in the West, while also attending army courses meant to increase his motivation to produce large quantities of chemical weapons. 
So far as I understand, scientists that work in the United States defense industries are not usually pre-selected from high school, although I am sure there are various defense-oriented internships that are used as long-term recruiting tools. It'd be interesting to know what other countries do for scientists in similar positions; something tells me that they don't start in high school.

(Also, I wonder when this fellow came to the West and what he told his grad school colleagues what his long-term job would be?) 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 100 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 100 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! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Last day for early NOS2017 registration!

Last day for early registration for the 2017 National Organic Symposium in Davis, CA. 

Daily Pump Trap: 6/1/17 edition

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

Philadelphia, PA: SGS Life Science Services is looking for a M.S./Ph.D. analytical chemist; LCMS/GCMS experience desired.

Seattle, WA: The Infectious Disease Research Institute is looking for a "Senior Scientist/Principal Investigator"; looks to be a position for an experienced Ph.D. medicinal chemist.

3M: They're looking for senior pharmaceutical applications engineers; looks to be a position for a Ph.D. chemical engineer. One position looks to be East Coast, and one for Minneapolis.

Basel, Switzerland: Interesting postdoctoral program at Roche:
We are seeking a motivated and expert scientist for researching novel approaches to achieve targeted delivery of oligonucleotides and peptides. In this role you will bring depth of formulation expertise to research targeted delivery of oligonucleotides, peptides and related conjugated molecules to lung, colon and brain. The novel molecules could include small molecules and antibodies conjugated to oligonucleotides and peptides.
I wonder what the contract/term of this position looks like...

Ivory Filter Flask: 6/1/17 edition

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

Orlando, FL: Well, this is a new one, with a late May release of an August 2018 ad. The University of Central Florida is looking for 3 assistant professor positions: 
The Chemistry Department at the University of Central Florida (UCF) invites applications for three 9-month, tenure-track positions at the assistant professor level beginning August 2018, or earlier if feasible. The department seeks outstanding candidates with research focus in organic synthesis and polymer chemistry, biochemistry, and geo-environmental chemistry. Exceptional candidates with multidisciplinary interests across other areas of chemistry are also encouraged to apply...
Best wishes to those interested.

Hong Kong, China: Looks like the City University of Hong Kong is looking for someone right now? "A PhD and an extensive academic record in Chemistry (analytical, biomedical, catalysis, computational, inorganic, organic, physical materials).  Preference will be given to candidates with postdoctoral and solid research experience."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ask CJ: opportunities for an experienced M.S.-level chemist?

From the inbox, a good question (lightly redacted for privacy) from someone we'll call LS: 
I have a [master's] in organic chemistry, and I am currently employed as a R&D chemist doing organic synthesis, and I like what I do.  However, [redacted] lead me to believe that it is time to look for something new.  Considering how much time and effort it took to find this job, I was wondering if anyone else has experience with job searches and employment with a [master's] degree. 
Specifically, how do you deal with the fact that you are a “failed PhD” on a resume and during interviews?  What kinds of companies (size, industry, location) will and will not hire you?  What career options are open to someone with a [master's] degree?  Are there any roadblocks that you hit during your career, and how do you overcome them?  Is it feasible to remain a synthetic chemist throughout your career?  
I don't really have a huge amount of experience with this question, other than a couple of thoughts. First, I don't think that anyone really cares whether or not you're a "failed Ph.D." (which is a premise that I fundamentally reject) after a couple of years in industry. Once you have a year or two of the fabled "industrial experience", I think employers are much more interested in what you have done in industry (and what you could do) rather than the details of how you left school.

I suspect the biggest roadblocks for M.S. chemists are for management on the research side. It is there that you will have the stiffest competition from Ph.D.s.

Readers, there's a lot more questions from LS - any ideas? 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Maybe we can stop doing demonstrations with methanol and fire soon?

Looks like Perth Amboy High School in New Jersey is the latest to fall victim to an accident during an alcohol fire experiment (via WABC): 
A high school student was rushed to the hospital after he was injured in an explosion during a chemistry experiment in New Jersey Wednesday. 
The incident happened during an outdoor lab session at Perth Amboy High School during an eighth period chemistry class. 
Students told Eyewitness News that experiment involved some type of alcohol. They said the teacher tried to light a match under a gallon-size container, but it didn't work because of the wind. One of the students - the one who was hurt -- then took the matches, tried to light the bottom and the experiment exploded, burning the student. 
Several students were nearby when the blast happened, and they said they barely escaped the flame. 
"He lit it, and when he lit it he was crouched down," a student said. "So his face was like right there. As soon as he lit it exploded up. It exploded right in his face." The student who was burned ran from the scene to the nurse's office, and then was flown to the hospital for treatment.
Here's the question I have: what's the educational point of whoosh bottles? Is it just "fire is cool"? (I admit, it's pretty darn cool). 

Please fill out the 2016-2017 Faculty Search Survey

In the interests of understanding the results of this year's academic recruiting, I have created an unscientific survey. I will be sharing results as they come in.

If you were a faculty candidate during the 2016-2017 academic year, please fill out this survey so we can get a better picture of the experience of faculty candidates this past year.

Please leave suggestions for improvements for the survey in the comments. 

This week's C&EN

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day; back tomorrow

Keokuk National Cemetery

Credit: devildogangel
Today is Memorial Day in the United States; it's a national holiday.

Back tomorrow.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Radio show: Saturday, June 3, noon Eastern with Carmen Drahl

Looking forward to talking with Dr. Carmen Drahl (formerly of C&EN, and a current science blogger for Forbes) on Saturday, June 3. We'll be talking about West Virginia and its chemistry industry among other things - looking forward to it! 

5/16" flat wrenches

A list of small, useful things (links):
Have a good long weekend. See you on Tuesday morning. 

What communities are you a part of?

From a pretty interesting profile of Secretary of Defense James Mattis in The New Yorker by Dexter Filkins, a passage that might be worth considering: 
When I asked what worried him most in his new position, I expected him to say ISIS or Russia or the defense budget. Instead, he said, “The lack of political unity in America. The lack of a fundamental friendliness. It seems like an awful lot of people in America and around the world feel spiritually and personally alienated, whether it be from organized religion or from local community school districts or from their governments. 
“I come out of the tight-knit Marine Corps, but I’ve lived on college campuses for three and a half years,” he went on. “Go back to Ben Franklin—his descriptions about how the Iroquois Nations lived and worked together. Compare that to America today. I think that, when you look at veterans coming out of the wars, they’re more and more just slapped in the face by that isolation, and they’re used to something better. They think it’s P.T.S.D.—which it can be—but it’s really about alienation. If you lose any sense of being part of something bigger, then why should you care about your fellow-man?”
I don't know about spiritual alienation, but I think unemployment leads to personal alienation, especially if one is cut off from their professional community. I don't often talk about this stuff, but I wonder if society is more atomized, and people are less likely to be a part of communities outside of their families and their work. If that's the case and work is taken away from folks, it's not surprising that people feel alienated. (I wonder if that's what happens to people who leave graduate school?)

So over this long weekend, I guess I have a question for everyone: what real life communities are you a part of? I'll go first: my family, my extended family, my kids' school, our church, my professional community and other friends as well. You? 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 96 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 96 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! (soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

"In 150 characters or fewer, tell us what makes you unique."

Seen in this Achaogen ad for a postdoctoral position, this delightful requirement: 
In 150 characters or fewer, tell us what makes you unique. Try to be creative and say something that will catch our eye!
Amusingly, "screw you" is just 9 characters.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The oddest short film about chromatography you will see today



Via Twitter and C&EN editor Craig Bettenhausen, a film about chromatography I had never seen. I won't say that it's laugh-out-loud funny, but it has its moments. 

Warning Letter of the Week: "in their heads" edition

Via an irritated note from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to the general manager of Changzhou Jintan Qianyao Pharmaceutical Raw Material Factory, Mr. Zheng Goubin, this terribly amusing comment:
2.    Failure to have adequate written procedures for the receipt, identification, quarantine, storage, sampling, testing, handling, and approval or rejection of raw materials.
For example, when our investigator asked for a list of your critical raw materials and your sampling requirements, you told our investigator that you had no written procedures for testing and sampling incoming materials. Instead, you explained, your warehouse employees accounted for incoming raw material handling, sampling, and testing “in their heads.”

4.    Failure to prepare adequate batch production records and record the activities at the time they are performed.
For example, our investigator found that your operator used process parameter values from previous batches of [redacted] to complete new batch records when she was too tired to immediately record the data and had forgotten the values.    
I keep a lot of stuff in my head, but I try to write it down as soon as I can. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Are you a very recent assistant professor?

Via the inbox from the good folks at Chemical and Engineering News:
We are launching a companion Facebook group for newly-hired and early career chemistry professors. To be eligible for the group, chemistry professors must have had a start date in 2015, 2016, or 2017.
Best wishes to those eligible.  

How many times have you applied for a faculty position before this year?


Please fill out the 2016-2017 Faculty Search Survey

In the interests of understanding the results of this year's academic recruiting, I have created an unscientific survey. I will be sharing results as they come in.

If you were a faculty candidate during the 2016-2017 academic year, please fill out this survey so we can get a better picture of the experience of faculty candidates this past year.

Please leave suggestions for improvements for the survey in the comments. 

Daily Pump Trap: 5/23/17 edition

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

Akron, OH: NETZSCH Instruments is searching for a regional sales manager; looks to be an Ohio resident-preferred position. B.S. desired.

Guilford, CT: 4Catalyzer is hiring a Ph.D. surface chemist and a Ph.D. organic chemist.

Ames, IA: The Ames Laboratory is looking for a postdoc; "Experience in one or more of the following areas: novel synthesis techniques for crystalline matter, quantum materials, and catalysts." I imagine it pays reasonably.

Washington, D.C.: C&EN is hiring a multimedia science reporter.

Ivory Filter Flask: 5/23/17 edition

A few of the academically-related articles posted at C&EN Jobs:

Cincinnati, OH: The University of Cincinnati is looking for "several Visiting Assistant Professors / Teaching Postdoctoral Fellows." This is an interesting claim: 
These positions are well-suited for scientists who wish to prepare for a career of teaching at a primarily undergraduate institution that emphasizes excellence in both teaching and research.
I wonder what the track record of program participants is?

Oswego, NY: SUNY Oswego, looking for a visiting assistant professor.

Newark, DE: The University of Delaware, searching for a laboratory coordinator.

Hazleton, PA: Penn State Hazleton is hiring a M.S./Ph.D. chemist to be an instructor of chemistry.

Bristol, United Kingdom: Computational postdoc being offered at the University of Bristol. Offered £32,004 - £36,001 per annum (41k-46.7k)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Self-confidence

At the risk of repeating myself, I commend to you Lisa Jarvis' excellent long feature article in Chemical and Engineering News on the 1st year of assistant professors Julia Kalow, Valerie Schmidt and Song Lin. I especially enjoyed this little section from Sunday's installment: 
Another roadblock for new researchers is self-confidence. The interview process, when you’re asked to stand in front of leaders in your field and give a talk outlining the projects you’d like to tackle in your lab, can leave some feeling a bit bruised. You might have gotten a job, but for some, those biting comments remain in their ear, feeding doubts about the merits of their proposals. 
UCLA’s Nelson felt like he was adrift scientifically during his first year. Still stung by criticism that some of his ideas elicited on the job-talk circuit, Nelson lost some trust in his own instincts in the lab. The feedback even made him abandon one particular project altogether. “Scientist Hosea would have just done what I love. But in the context of this job, your mind runs wild and you start doing other stuff,” he says. 
After not feeling happy about how research went his first year, he decided to go back to that project. Six months in, it was working splendidly. So much so that in March it yielded his group’s first publication—in Science. 
Schmidt also felt a bit battered after the job-search process. “It was tough to have people talk about your science and say, ‘Oh, that’s not going to work,’ ” she says. Her strategy has been to work extra hard to get to the paper that shows the harshest critics that she was right after all.
I gotta say, it's very hard for me not to take criticism personally, even as (over the years), I've developed the ability to have a thick skin, or at least a short-ish memory. I imagine that ability to not have one's self-confidence completely broken (while drawing lessons from criticism) is something that distinguishes the very successful from the less-so.  

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles from the latest issue of Chemical and Engineering News:

Friday, May 19, 2017

View From Your Office: New York edition

Credit: @onesleepynerd
From chemTwitter denizen @onesleepynerd, a pretty decent view!

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



Picking up the phone, adviser-style

I would like to commend to you Lisa Jarvis' story that C&EN is running this week about the life of a new assistant professor at a research university. It focuses on Julia Kalow (Northwestern), Song Lin (Cornell) and Valerie Schmidt (UCSD.) I found this little tidbit rather wonderful from a #chemjobs perspective: 
And a new deadline loomed large. UCSD’s master’s students are generally focused on getting a job in industry, a career aspiration that Schmidt needed to help them achieve sooner rather than later. 
“Usually with a Ph.D. student, you have four or five years to worry about those things—to initiate the type of outreach to get folks employed,” Schmidt says. Now, just a few months into the job, she was already making calls and probing contacts from grad school for leads.
Nice to see Professor Schmidt picking up the phone. I wonder how it went for her students?

Probably one of those questions that new/prospective graduate students should be asking professors of all ranks is not only "where do your graduates go?" but also "how involved are you in the process of aiding me in getting where I want to go next?" 

Do these San Diego biotech average salaries look a little high to you?

From a San Diego Union-Tribune article, a link to a Biocom (the biotech trade association) report and a listing of average salaries in various sectors of San Diego County biotech. (PDF)

Do these numbers look a little high for an average salary within the sector? Am I missing something? Also, why are the comparable numbers so low for the Los Angeles area? (PDF)

Trade association numbers - always suspect. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 94 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 94 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! (sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon)

Job posting: product development chemist, Living Proof, Cambridge, MA

From the inbox, a position with Living Proof:
This Product Development Chemist is an on-site position at our Cambridge, MA office.
Responsibilities
  • Formulate hair care products and conduct appropriate product performance and stability experiments to meet objectives outlined in project profiles.
  • Ensure product physical stability, efficacy, consumer appeal, processing capabilities, package compatibility, and cost effectiveness.
  • Lead tech transfer of new products to manufacturing for scale-up and production start-up, including identifying and generating appropriate processes and product/process specifications....
Education/Experience
  • BS in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Pharmacy or related science.
  • Minimum of 3 years of relevant industry experience or equivalent preferred.
Best wishes to those interested. 

Daily Pump Trap: 5/18/17 edition

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

Clark, NJ: L'Oreal coming in strong with 4 positions. (Anyone know anyone who works at L'Oreal? What's it like there?)

Watsonville, CA: An interesting position from Driscoll's:
The Research Associate (RA) will facilitate analytical chemistry work within Driscoll's Consumer Lab to address fruit quality attributes for plant breeding, molecular genetics, sensory, and postharvest groups. This role will work with a small creative team to develop and perform metabolite phenotyping experiments for all Driscoll's berry crops. The RA will be responsible for an analytical chemistry platform used to profile fruit metabolites associated with quality and flavor. 
M.S. in analytical chemistry and 2 years experience desired.

Berkeley, CA: "Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry Division has an opening for an Organic and Macromolecular Synthesis Facility Staff Scientist."

Alexandria, VA: This is an unusual title for an intellectual property position, I feel: "Chemical Patent Searcher." Advanced degree, 6 years experience required.

Chicago, IL: Sounds like an interesting postdoc for someone at Abbvie...

Raleigh, NC: I can't quite tell what this Bayer CropScience position is, but I think it's an analytical position?

Albuquerque, NM: Well, this sounds fascinating:
The Materials, Devices, and Energy Technologies Department has an immediate postdoctoral research opening primarily in the area of Synthetic Organic Chemistry/Polymer Chemistry at our Albuquerque, New Mexico facility. The postdoc’s primary responsibilities will be in the development and synthesis of new ion and/or electronic conducting oligomers and polymers for applications in electrical energy storage, catalysis and separations.
"Ability to obtain and maintain a U.S. DOE security clearance" needed.

Ivory Filter Flask: 5/18/17 edition

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

Pittsburgh, PA: The University of Pittsburgh Department of Radiology is searching for a radiochemist. (This position is labeled assistant professor, but it's non-tenure track.)

Springfield, OH: Wittenberg University is searching for a visiting assistant professor; classes include "organic chemistry, general chemistry, and a one-semester introductory chemistry course for nursing students."

Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University is looking for a lecturer for general and physical chemistry. Offered salary: $50-55k.

Buffalo, NY: SUNY-Buffalo is looking for a general and organic chemistry lecturer.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Methanol flame incident injures 12 preschool children in Houston

Via Twitter and elsewhere, this bad news, covered by KTRK's Miya Shay and Tom Abrahams:
Several children were injured at a school on the west side after a science experiment gone wrong. 
The accident happened at Yellow School - Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church just after noon. 
According to the Memorial City Fire Department, preschool students at the 240 block of Blalock Road were conducting some type of science experiment outside when a flash blast occurred. 
Of the 12 students who were injured, 11 of them suffered burns, one student was trampled and six of them were taken to the hospital. All of the students are 3 years old, a fire official said.
This quote is basically diagnostic of methanol-related flame incidents in schools:
As parents and grandparents picked up children who were not injured, some of the kids told Eyewitness News that they were involved in some type of color-changing fire experiment. 
"Fire was changing colors and the last one wasn't working, so we put it a little bit more, and then it exploded," said Kate Earnest, a 5-year-old who was part of the group that participated in the experiment. "That's how the other kids got burned, and they were crying."
It's the classic formula for a methanol-flame incident around children, with the combination of:
  • fire
  • methanol being added to the (usually dying/invisible) flames
  • from a bulk methanol container with
  • students being too close 
that has caused injuries and teachers getting fired and lawsuits being filed and settlements being paid in this country time and time again. 

Another reminder that the American Chemical Society's Committee on Chemical Safety specifically asks teachers to "Stop Using the Rainbow Demonstration."