Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The skills of chemists versus other fields

Credit: New York Times
You may have seen the minor kerfuffle about this rather silly New York Times metric that would allow you to choose the opposite of your job, skills-wise (scroll down). (Apparently, "physicist" was coming up the opposite of a lot of things.) I did think the accompanying chart, with its comparisons of various jobs on a Y-axis of "clerical/service work versus machine operating" and an X-axis of "communication and thought versus more physical work" was interesting to contemplate, especially since I tend to think of laboratory positions as ones that require physical work. I see that police officers do more operating of machines and processes than chemists, which I find to be an interesting judgment.

I also thought these two paragraphs were a nice summation of overall thoughts about job dislocation in Our Modern Times:
...Because people rarely spend their entire careers at one company anymore, employers have less incentive to invest in training workers in new skills, because they might quit and take those skills to a competitor, said David Deming, a professor of public policy, education and economics at Harvard. Workers also have little incentive to invest in training, because there’s no guarantee it will pay off with long-term employment. Others have trouble thinking of themselves as doing other kinds of jobs — which Lawrence Katz, a Harvard labor economist, says is an identity mismatch, not a skill mismatch. 
Even if workers want to learn new skills and find new occupations, there is no streamlined way to do so. People procrastinate, inaccurately assess their own abilities and are unaware of what other jobs entail, according to behavioral economists. The United States spends a fraction of what other developed countries do on labor market adjustment programs like job counseling and retraining. Assistance is piecemeal, and many people who qualify don’t use it. 
Meanwhile, employers hire based on credentials that job applicants can’t change — a college degree or previous job title — rather than assessing the skills an applicant has developed, said Mr. Auguste, who was an economic adviser in the Obama administration.  
It probably takes quite a bit of time and thought to assess skills, as opposed to looking at degrees or job titles. A shame. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 117 positions

The 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 117 positions.

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

Want to talk anonymously? Try the open thread.

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

What's the best way to write a statement of faith?

If you'd like to find out about writing a statement of faith if you're thinking about applying for a faculty position at a religiously-affiliated school, feel free to read more. In this case, it's a Christian institution. If you aren't interested, I understand.

UPDATE: Anon731A makes a very good point: "Please don't assume that if a college has a religious affiliation, that a statement of faith is required."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Interesting development on the law school front

Via the New York Times, a change in testing requirements: 
Law schools, which have been plagued by a shortfall of students in recent years, are changing their admissions requirements. 
Two top-ranked schools — Georgetown University Law Center and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law — this week joined Harvard Law’s recent move to make it simpler to apply. 
Applicants can submit the results of the more widely available Graduate Record Exam, the GRE, instead of those from the Law School Admissions Test, which long has been entrenched as the numeric gauge of law school success. 
Many law schools are casting wider nets to attract students who would not otherwise set their sights on a legal education. The schools hope that by making it easier for the engineers, scientists and mathematicians who typically take only the GRE, more of them will enroll....
Are there really that many STEM grads who are interested in law school?

(That's an interesting aspect of the post-Great Recession era - there was a lot of talk about a 'law school bubble', but it seems to me that there hasn't been the mass collapse of law schools that you would expect if the bubble had really collapsed. This 2017 report seems to suggest that enrollments are flat at best, which is not good news if you're a law school dean.) 

No C&EN this week

Double issue next week. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Don't fall for mean Facebook trolling

Considering the median industrial starting Ph.D. makes $100,000,
I guess 50% of Ph.D.s are doing it wrong.
There is a lot that could be said about the Che/e/ky Sc/ien/tist organization, but I think it's really a terrible thing to post something like this on Facebook that's basically designed to troll new graduates.

If you go and find this post, you'll find the proprietor of the organization pushing the fact that new STEM Ph.D.s do indeed have a median industrial salary of $100,000. (It's interesting to note that the median starting salary for industrial Ph.D. chemists is $88,000. I guess if you're the median starting Ph.D. chemist, you're doing it wrong. (eyeroll)) All of these numbers are courtesy of the 2015 Survey of Earned Doctorates, which is the latest data that we have. It's a very clever twisting of facts in order to provoke an emotional response.* 

The Ch/e/e/k/y S/c/ien/tist folks have never been subtle, but the language that the author uses has become increasingly purplish, what with titles like "The Conspiracy To Trap Postdocs In Academia." I guess when you're charging $300 to join your Facebook group, whatever drives traffic is what works. 

(Instead of posting poorly sourced screenshots, why don't they link to the actual data? That just drives me bonkers. Also, isn't it already clear that if earning a lot of money is what is really important to you, either you're going to have to seize one of these key industrial entry-level science positions (of which there really aren't very many), or that you're going to have to take on other, more business-oriented roles that pay more? I really don't understand the point of beating people over the head with Facebook posts, which seems to be what the CSA's public posts are all about.)

(A previous post about this organization is here. It's a free country, but if I had $300, I wouldn't spend it on a Facebook group, I'd try to buy thirty industry folks ten bucks worth of coffee and see what advice they had to offer me, and whether or not they liked their jobs.) 

*Does anyone have a guess as to what the other ends of this histogram looks like? If that's the 50th percentile, what's the 90th, I wonder? What's the 10th? (wait, I can guess.)

Job posting: senior business development manager, Materia, Pasadena, CA

From Twitter:
The Senior Business Development Manager position within the Business Development team at Materia will own and drive revenue growth for Materia's Proxima thermoset resin products and technology in new markets.
Full posting here. 7 years experience in business development, B.S. required, M.S. w/MBA desired. All Materia jobs here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Postdoctoral position: Scintillating Organic Molecules Postdoctoral Appointee, Livermore, CA

From the inbox, a postdoc with Sandia National Laboratories:
We are seeking a postdoc chemist to join our efforts developing new organic molecule based radiation detection materials. The successful post-doctoral candidate is expected to have knowledge and experience related to the design, synthesis, and characterization of small organic molecules. The candidate must possess an enthusiasm for fundamental research as well as applied science, show aptitude with verbal and written communication and have a publication record commensurate with the above activities.
  • PhD in Organic Chemistry, with synthesis experience
  • Willingness to work with sealed radioactive sources (training will be provided).
Please include research summary with CV
Full posting here. (Job ID 658356). Best wishes to those interested.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs List: 126 positions

The Medicinal Chemist Jobs list has 126 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.)

The Process Chemistry Jobs List: 4 positions

Just to prove to myself that it can be done...

Here we are with 4 positions. It will grow. 

Daily Pump Trap: 8/10/17 edition

A (very) few positions posted at C&EN Jobs:

Seattle, WA: Immune Design is searching for a director of analytical development.

Malvern, PA: Progenra is looking for medicinal chemists, defined broadly: "BS/ MS/ Ph.D in organic/synthetic chemistry with 1-15 years’ experience working in a medicinal chemistry laboratory setting with expertise in lead optimization and SAR evolution."

Shanghai, China: Hutchison MediPharma Limited is hiring a director of pre-formulation development; Ph.D., 8 years of experience desired. 

Ivory Filter Flask: 8/10/17 edition

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

Hayward, CA: California State University, East Bay is looking for an assistant professor of inorganic/physical chemistry.

South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College is searching for an assistant professor of analytical chemistry.

San Francisco, CA: The University of San Francisco is hiring an assistant professor of inorganic chemistry.

Greenville, SC: Furman University is searching for two assistant professorships: a biochemistry position and an open position. 

Newark, DE: The University of Delaware is looking for a laboratory coordinator for its teaching laboratories. 

West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University is searching for an atmospheric chemistry postdoc. ($50,000 offered.) 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Moscow mules and copper toxicity

Via the Washington Post, this interesting health advisory from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division:
Iowa, as well as many other states, has adopted the federal Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code, which prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0.Examples of foods with a pH below 6.0 include vinegar, fruit juice, or wine. 
The pH of a traditional Moscow Mule is well below 6.0. This means that copper mugs that have a copper interior may not be used with this beverage. However, copper mugs lined on the interior with another metal, such as nickel or stainless steel, are allowed to be used and are widely available.
So it seems to me that the acidity of a Moscow Mule comes from the carbonation of the ginger beer and the lime. It's reasonable to me that it's below 6 (and somewhere in the pH 3-4) range. But the question that I have is what is the threshold for copper toxicity? Thanks to a report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, we have a sense:
Slightly higher thresholds for gastrointestinal symptoms were observed in two acute-duration repeated exposure studies in which subjects used a copper-containing water as their primary source of drinking water for 1 or 2 weeks (Pizarro et al. 1999, 2001). In the 2-week study, 60 women were given copper sulfate containing water to be used for drinking and cooking purposes. No significant alterations in serum biomarkers of liver damage (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, ╬│-glutamyl transferase) were observed in the subjects at the end of the study. An increased occurrence of nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain was observed when the women were exposed to 3 ppm copper as copper sulfate (0.0731 mg Cu/kg/day) (Pizarro et al. 1999); no significant increases in the incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms were noted at 1 ppm (0.0272 mg Cu/kg/day). Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain were also reported by women ingesting water containing 5 ppm (0.096 mg Cu/kg/day) as copper sulfate or copper oxide for 1 week (Pizarro et al. 2001). 
Would I be willing to bet there was less than 3 ppm copper in a Moscow Mule that had been sitting in an all-copper mug on the counter for more than an hour? Probably not.

(Aren't we done with the Moscow Mule trend? I feel like it peaked two years ago? I dunno, I'm a beer guy myself.) 

This week's C&EN

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017