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 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: 

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; 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?