Monday, January 16, 2017

Rest in peace, Sheri Sangji

Eight years ago today, Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji died of her injuries sustained while running a reaction with tert-butyl lithium in the laboratory of Professor Patrick Harran at UCLA. My thoughts and prayers are with her friends and her family.

Job opportunity: life sciences project manager, Toronto, ON, Canada

A reader wrote in about a senior project manager position available at their company in the Toronto area.  They are looking for someone with a chemistry or biology background, and extensive experience with project management in the life sciences industry.  

If interested, send me an email ( and I can put you in touch with them. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

View from the hood: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Credit: Valentin Manzanares
From reader Valentin Manzanares: "We’re in a small startup incubator in Valais (mountainous part of Switzerland), so the snow is a given. Sunny weather, now, will flood the lab with enough light that we have to close the blinds…"

(got a View from Your Hood submission? Send it in with a caption, and how you'd like to be credited at; will run every other Friday.)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 70 positions

Doing my best to track down all open research-track medicinal chemistry positions. At the moment, the list has 70 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.

Check out the other bottom tabs on the list for various notations and side experiments.

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 (will likely be included about a year from now?), industrial postdocs (maybe someday soon.)

Coming soon: a process chemistry version - I promise! 

Why's that glue factory truck here?

In the midst of a classic "skills gap" interview in The Buffalo News, an unintentionally funny comment from the executive director of the Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance:
Q: The Buffalo area has a strong industrial track record. Why is this such a problem? 
A: You also saw a major reduction in the manufacturing work force locally, so the industry may not have been seen as a sector people wanted to push their children toward. Manufacturing is essentially 50 percent of where it was 30 years ago. What’s happened is, we’ve ridden the horses that we had working and they’re ready to go to pasture. But we haven’t had any of those horses breeding and bringing in fresh, young talent.
Perhaps another metaphor would have been more appropriate?

(Also, it is fascinating to note that Mr. Coleman's analogy seemingly places the responsibility for workforce development on the employees, and not on the employer.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chemistry-themed Valentine's Day cards

Credit: Nick Uhlig
I still think these chemistry-themed Valentine's Day cards from Nick Uhlig are impossibly clever, with a fresh batch for 2017. 

Ask CJ: what are prospects for Ph.D. graduates of drug design/medicinal chemistry programs?

From the inbox, a good question: 
I'm a grad student [redacted] with projects and papers that have focused on drug design and medchem rather than the more "hardcore" total synthesis and methodology work.  Do you think I really have any chance of getting a pharma job in the current job market?
I've been asking various people in the industry and out and answers seem to vary wildly, some of the variability I'm sure is what year they are using as their reference in their mind.  Some say yes, though with much better odds at a smaller startup company.  Others say a flat out no, that you must have a postdoc, and the bigger the name brand lab you can get into the better (preferably in total synthesis or methodology). 
Great question. Since I'm not a medicinal chemist, I thought I would ask Derek Lowe. Here's our (very brief) conversation via Twitter.
Me: is the received wisdom still graduate students in medicinal chemistry programs are at relative disadvantage in hiring?  
DL: I think there's still some of that out there, but I think that it's gradually improved. Would be interested in more takes on it!
I suspect the number of data points is relatively small, so I can't imagine that there is definitive information out there. In lieu of that, I'd love to hear reader thoughts on this question, especially in reference to your company's recent entry-level Ph.D. hires. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 538 positions

The 2017 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated mostly by Andrew Spaeth, with minor help from me) has 538 positions.

Have you had a Skype/phone interview or an on-site with a position on the Faculty Jobs List? Please add the date of the interview to the open thread. The open thread is here.

Do you see anything that needs correcting? Please leave a comment in the open thread, or e-mail me at

As the 2017 Faculty Jobs Open Thread has gotten longer, the Blogger software that this blog is run on has added a new wrinkle: when you initially load the thread, it loads only the first ~220 comments and then has a "load more" button near the bottom of the page near the comment box. Only after pressing that button about 5 times does it load the latest comments. 

Finally, a web forum! Because the open thread has gotten more unwieldy, I have opened up this web forum ("Chemistry Faculty Jobs List"). Feel free to join/post!

Sandia National Laboratories internships/postdocs

From the (Twitter) inbox, a note that there are a number of postings at Sandia. Here's a electrochemistry/materials science postdoc. This explosives engineering internship is fun:
What Your Job Will Be Like
We are seeking a SIP R&D - Undergraduate Summer

On any given day, you may be called on to participate with staff in experiments that involve explosives engineering. Tasks may include the application of general engineering principles, helping with test setup and execution, and general site maintenance. Daily activities will be hands on and performed in the field. 
Qualifications We Require
The successful candidate must meet the following Sandia Student Intern Requirements: Official acceptance into an accredited university's undergraduate program, full-time enrollment during the spring term immediately preceding the internship (typically 12 credit hours), a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2/4.0, and the ability to work up to 40 hours per week during the summer. U.S. citizenship. 
Qualifications We Desire
  • Course work or experience in chemistry, physics, and/or mechanical, materials or explosive engineering or similar field
  • One semester experience, or equivalent, of work in a hands-on laboratory, facility or field test environment
  • Hands-on mechanical aptitude with simple hand tools
Gee, sounds pretty cool. Best wishes to those interested. 

NextProf Science: May 2-5, 2017, Ann Arbor, MI

From the inbox:
The University of Michigan will host NextProf Science, May 2-5, 2017, to encourage talented scientists and mathematicians with a demonstrated commitment to diversity to consider academia as a career. The workshop is aimed at helping participants develop strategies that will strengthen their ability to pursue academic careers.  
The workshops is targeted at scholars ready to make take the next step -- postdoctoral fellows and very advanced doctoral students. Underrepresented minorities and women are especially encouraged to apply. Travel, lodging, and meals will be provided for those selected to participate. Deadline for submission of all application materials is February 15, 2017. Learn more at:
Flyer here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

An excellent rant about scientific recruiters

From the inbox, a really great rant about scientific recruiters from someone we'll call FX:
As a [45+] year old [advanced degreed] chemist who is about to be laid off again, I have been searching for new employment and getting lots of contacts from recruiters. The vast majority of my interactions with them are very frustrating. I would think it is obvious that someone whose resume shows [10-20] years experience as an [instrumental] spectroscopist is not interested in a temp job running HPLC for $20/hour. How does the scientific recruiting industry stay afloat when all its members seem so incompetent? 
I keep updated resumes at sites such as Monster, Linkedin, Indeed and Glassdoor. I have noticed some things about recruiters that find me through Monster. For the resume I keep there I used a unique email address and a Google voice phone number so I know when someone who contacts me came from Monster. If I modify my resume there, I am guaranteed to get a number of calls/emails shortly thereafter offering contract positions and unrelated offers such as selling life insurance. 
I am assuming that there is some service that recruiters can pay for which sends a daily list of updated resumes to them? I also notice even though the same resume is at the other sites, > 90% of recruiters contacting me have come through Monster.
These are also all for temp or contractor positions, never permanent. 
Is that just a reflection of the sorry state of the chemistry job market in [one of the 4-7 pharma-related metro areas that are not SF or Cambridge] or is it because most companies trying to hire a contractor will put it out to a recruiter rather than just posting on their career site and get the applications through there? Why is there not a roughly equal amount of traffic through the other sites?
These are great questions and great observations.

First, it's dramatically clear to me that the median scientific recruiter I've met in my professional interactions is 1) has never worked as a scientist, 2) is quite young and 3) does not have a professional-level understanding of the field. It's very surprising to me, as FX notes, one hopes there is a hidden reserve of incredibly bright, talented and perceptive scientific recruiters out there. On more than one occasion, I've responded to recruiters with "this position is wildly unrelated to what I do - you should be looking for someone who works in [other industry.]"

(We should all take a moment to remember the odd days of 2011 or so, when it seemed like every medicinal chemist on LinkedIn was connected to the folks at Klein Hersh International.) 

Readers, any ideas as to why scientific recruiters tend not to have an intuition as to which chemists would respond best to their entreaties? Any thoughts as to if Monster is particularly bad? (My answer: yes, I think it is.) 

A very interesting statement from immediate past ACS President Donna Nelson

Also in this week's C&EN, immediate past ACS President Donna Nelson has an editorial up about how best to work with the incoming Trump Administration. I thought this section was a very interesting comment: 
Considering recent cabinet appointments 
Some information about President-elect Trump’s future science policy can be gleaned from his cabinet picks. His appointment of successful businesspeople to some cabinet positions brings hope for policies that will stimulate the economy, stimulate industrial growth, and increase the need for employees. His cabinet appointments suggest a favorable posture for all energy sources, especially oil and gas, which would benefit downstream products and chemicals, increasing employment in the chemical sector. 
Our recent President’s Task Force on Employment in the Chemical Sciences (2015–17) compared the number of chemists seeking jobs with the disproportionately smaller number of jobs available. Members of the task force discussed ways to strike a balance, such as reducing the number of chemists by either dissuading students from seeking degrees in chemistry or reducing the number of foreign scientists coming to the U.S. to obtain degrees or pursue jobs in chemistry. Both of these solutions are problematic. 
Chemists have long assumed that growing the chemical sciences industries enough to significantly increase the number of available jobs is unattainable. We have not considered this a viable solution because, for many years, we viewed the jobs situation through a stagnant economy. But if the economy is stimulated, perhaps there will be sufficient growth in the chemical industry economy to enable this more desirable solution.
I think the words "if" and "perhaps" are doing a lot of work in that last sentence.

(It seems to me that "dissuading students from seeking degrees in chemistry" is one extreme of a broad spectrum of potentially useful actions. For example, I have consistently advocated for better, faster information. Better understanding and dissemination of data about the salary/unemployment levels and career paths of age cohorts and subfields would be sufficiently informative about the state of the market to allow students to make appropriate judgments.)

UPDATE: Clarified language in last paragraph. 

This week's C&EN

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

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 70 positions

The experiment is four weeks old! Doing my best to track down all open research-track medicinal chemistry positions. At the moment, the list has 70 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.

Check out the other bottom tabs on the list for various notations and side experiments.

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 (will likely be included about a year from now?), industrial postdocs (maybe someday soon.) 

Great line from this week's Career Ladder

Also in this week's C&EN, a very funny comment from Dr. Michael Okoroafor (article by Alexandra A. Taylor): 
1988: Starting out in industry 
After completing his doctorate, Okoroafor was hired by the UDM Polymer Institute as an assistant professor. At a conference, Bausch & Lomb spotted him and invited him to conduct polymer research for their eyewear group. “They basically doubled my salary. It was a no-brainer.”  
Okoroafor later moved to PPG Industries to work on Trivex Transitions lenses and attended Kellogg Business School’s executive development program at Northwestern University. Since then, he has moved into food and beverage packaging and has worked on numerous projects for companies such as Coca-Cola, Heinz, and McCormick. One of his favorites was the Coca-Cola Freestyle soda fountain that allows users to blend custom drinks. “The packaging was so onerous, so challenging, that I am really proud we were able to pull that one off.”
There should be a "make me move" option for LinkedIn. 2X my salary would definitely get the ol' gears turning.

Daily Pump Trap: 1/5/16 edition

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

Still pretty quiet: Just two positions, this Genentech process chemistry (Ph.D., 0-3 years experience) position (thumbs up!) and this Indian (?) position ("research assistant executive" - a confusing title, for sure.)

Huh: Has anyone ever seen an explicit "reverse engineering" position in chemistry before?:
This Senior Research Scientist is a subject matter expert in polymer chemistry and reverse material engineering with a strong background in conducting sample analysis through various analytical techniques. 
A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and show (respectively) "1000+", 378, 8,413, and 14 positions for the search term "chemist."

LinkedIn shows 1,997 positions for the search term "chemist" (no quotes) and 13,340  for the search term "chemistry" (no quotes). Job titles from LinkedIn - first with quotes, and the second without: Analytical chemist: 172/225 . Research chemist: 29/37. Synthetic chemist: 9/375. Medicinal chemist: 14/39. Organic chemist: 23/43. Process chemist: 9/33. Process development chemist: 3/7. Formulation chemist: 41/44.