Friday, July 1, 2016

Bottle openers

Small useful things (links) (for a long weekend):
Have a great weekend! 

Astronaut sounds like a fun bench chemistry job

I really enjoyed Sarah Everts' interview in this week's C&EN with Helen Sharman, the first British citizen in space: 
What kinds of experiments did you do on Mir? 
We did a lot of agricultural experiments. They were very interested in growing food in space. And in the way magnetic fields affect plant growth. So how potato roots can be pulled in a certain direction if you have a strong enough magnetic field around them. We also had a miniature lemon tree. We wanted to see if we could keep it alive by supplying all the right gases. It was at the space station for three years but died eventually. We were also growing crystals of the protein luciferase. 
The experiments were fairly foolproof—I’d call us space technicians not scientists. Astronauts don’t invent the experiments. We don’t analyze the data, and by and large, we don’t make conclusions. We send the data down to Earth. But at least when we were carrying out the experiments, my chemistry degree made it easy for me to understand what was going on inside the boxes and what to do if there were problems. 
Can you explain why protein crystals grow better in space? 
Imagine crystallizing something on Earth. As bits of the solute move from the solution into the crystal, that local bit of solution becomes less dense—only very marginally. But it’s enough to effect convection currents in the solution. For strongly ionic solutions, convection doesn’t matter: The ionic bonds are so strong that convection currents don’t get in the way of forming nice ionic crystals. But proteins are big, floppy molecules, often with very weak interactions between the molecules that make up the crystal. Even very small convection currents create dislocations within protein crystals. Bits that aren’t quite right. 
In an orbiting space station, warm air doesn’t rise—you don’t get convection in anything. So there are no convection currents in a solution as crystals are crystallizing. You can grow protein crystals of a much higher quality at an orbiting space station, and you can grow them much bigger.
I wonder if there's ever been any efforts to launch a robotic crystallization laboratory? 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Daily Pump Trap: 6/30/16

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

RTP, NC: AgBiome is looking for a M.S./Ph.D. formulation scientist. 

Non-profit process development?: About once or twice a year, there's a position like this one from the International Partnership for Microbicides; they're looking for an associate director of process chemistry to oversee CMO work on their commercial projects. Seems like that would be an interesting place for someone who had lots of pharma experience, and wanted to apply it to a different sector. 

Kennesaw, GA: Deerland Enzymes, Inc. is a leading specialty formulator and contract manufacturer of enzyme-based dietary supplements. They're looking for a M.S./Ph.D. research and development manager. 

(There are enzyme-based dietary supplements? How does that work?) 

New York City, NY: Not every day that you see two criminalist positions for the New York Medical Examiner's office. ($49k to $59k in New York City must not be easy; I wonder what that means, in terms of where you live and such.) 

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and USAjobs.gov show (respectively) "1000+", 415, 9004 and 25 positions for the search term "chemist." LinkedIn shows 2,174 positions for the job title "chemist", with 197 for "analytical chemist", 43 for "organic chemist", 31 for "research chemist", 33 for "medicinal chemist" and 7 for "synthetic chemist."

Beautiful Edmonton: Fair number of positions at Gilead in Edmonton in process development.

Pearl River, NY: I see Pfizer is hiring a Ph.D. analytical chemist to do nanoparticle/ADC research.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"Dow Announces Actions To Pee On Your Leg, Tell You It's Raining"

Dow Announces Actions to Drive Economic Growth in Great Lakes Bay Region 
MIDLAND, Mich. – June 28, 2016 – The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) announced today a series of actions it will take in collaboration with several state and local economic development and community organizations to spur local employment and bring additional economic development to the Great Lakes Bay Region (GLBR). These actions are intended to help offset the impacts from restructuring measures Dow will implement to enable faster and more efficient growth of Dow Corning’s Silicones business....
It's only down below that you get the gist of what they are saying (emphasis mine):
As a result of the Company’s global workforce reduction targets announced today, approximately 700 roles in the GLBR will be eliminated from the combined companies. These reductions will come from both Dow and Dow Corning, and are part of Dow’s overall cost reduction efforts related to the transaction. 
Notifications to affected employees in the Great Lakes Bay Region will start in the coming weeks, and will continue through the end of the third quarter of 2016. Roles will be eliminated on various timetables throughout the two-year integration period.
Here's press coverage from the Wall Street Journal and also C&EN's Alex Tullo. Here's a few other ways I could imagine rewording the headline for this press release:
  1. Dow Announces Actions For Employees To Spend More Time With Their Children
  2. Dow Announces Actions To Enrich Shareholders At All Costs
  3. Dow Announces Actions For Scientists To Consider Bold New Alternative Careers
  4. Dow Announces Actions To Help Employees Work For Themselves, Yay! 
  5. Dow Announces Actions To Create Hundreds More Independent Chemicals Consultants
  6. Dow Announces Actions To Reinvigorate Bored Michigan Area Unemployment Offices
Your turn! 

Can we just say for a moment how offensive it is that the press release can't even say "we're laying off 700 employees" or "we're firing 700 people", but "700 roles"? Corporate America has refined the euphemism to a Michelangelo-like artform. 

Warning Letter of the Week: "not adding some starting material is a deviation" edition

You know, I was going to go with Chongqing Lummy Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.'s analysts and their propensity to turn the clock back, but instead, I thought this warning letter to Shanghai Desano Chemical Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. was pretty unique: 
...Our investigator randomly selected folder 01/2014 from your electronic log, compared it to your firm’s official deviation logbook for 2014, and found that the deviations in the “GMP Anomalies” folder were not investigated or reported in the official deviation logbook.

Production deviations included, but were not limited to:
  • out-of-limit temperature readings for critical process parameters
  • incomplete batch records
  • batch records pre-filled before manufacturing
  • failure to record temperature, humidity, and pressure
  • failure to add portions of raw materials during manufacturing 
In your response, you attribute the root cause of these failures to deficient procedures and operators’ errors. 
Pre-filled batch records! That's a new one.  

Job posting: chemistry team lead, Syngenta, Switzerland

From the inbox, a position at Syngenta: 
Accountabilities include: 
  • Design, prioritization, synthesis and route optimization of new target compounds
  • Conceive, plan, prioritize and execute efficiently synthesis programs
Essential Knowledge & Experience:
  • PhD in chemistry, with strong focus on organic synthesis
  • Post-doc is highly valued
  • 2-5 years of experience in the field of organic chemistry 
  • Experience in project/team management would be an asset
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

"A postdoc is highly valued." I find that so interesting. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ask CJ: what does "ABD" mean?

From the inbox, a good question:
Your latest Ivory Filter Flask post made me wonder: when "ABDs are encouraged to apply", does that imply that ABDs are in the process of finishing up...or, like in humanities, it's an alternate way out?  
I suspect that "ABDs are encouraged to apply" means "Just because you're still technically a graduate student and you haven't defended, you can still apply" and not "we don't mind if you don't finish your Ph.D. thesis and defend." 

That said, I've never sat on a small college faculty search committee, so I have no idea. Readers, what say you? 

Daily Pump Trap: 6/28/16

A few of the positions posted on C&EN Jobs recently:

Vancouver, BC: Xenon Pharmaceuticals is a startup looking for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. medicinal chemist.

Albany, NY: The New York state Department of Health is looking for a Ph.D. atmospheric/physical chemist for a postdoctoral position: to study optical and reactive properties of water vapor of relevance to atmospheric radiation and cloud physics & chemistry."

Urbana, IL: AOCS (mission: "to advance the science and technology of oils, fats, surfactants and related materials") is looking for a technical services specialist; looks to be an entry-level position?

(I presume the farmer's market at Lincoln Square is in full swing these days.)

Los Alamos, NM: Two theoretical/computational postdocs at LANL; "annual starting salaries typically range from ~$73,600 to ~$87,700." Nice! 

Ivory Filter Flask: 6/28/16 edition

A (very) few of the academic positions posted on C&EN Jobs: 

Irvine, CA: The Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine is looking for a mass spectrometry facility director.

Austin, TX: UT-Austin is looking for a Ph.D. analytical chemist to be their undergraduate analytical laboratory coordinator.

Tempe, Arizona: I don't think I'm going to do anything, other than quote directly from this ad:
"The Biodesign Center for Single Molecular Biophysics is seeking a Research Technician. The candidate must have extensive experience in organic synthesis and be proficient in running multi-step reactions, purifying the products with chromatograph, as well as characterizing organic compounds with NMR and Mass spectroscopy (HR, MALDI, ESI mass)." 
Desired Qualifications:
Evidence of a Bachelor degree in organic chemistry.
Evidence of a Master's degree in organic chemistry is preferred.
Experience in bioconjugation and HPLC is a plus. 
Salary Range: $12.69 - $18.00 per hour; DOE
Good God.

Rochester, NY: Rochester Institute of Technology is looking for an assistant professor of chemical engineering. "Priority will be given to candidates with post-doctoral experience."

Thuwal, Saudi Arabia: KAUST is looking for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. QA/QC chemist to work in their new environmental analytical chemistry laboratory? "We are seeking a highly motivated individual for our new high-throughput analytical facility who specializes in the quality assurance/quality control of analytical data according to internationally accepted standards. He/she will preferably also engage in the analysis of trace organic contaminants (Example, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Pesticides, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB), Dioxins) in environmental samples using chromatographic and mass spectroscopic techniques."

Little Lost Lamb: NYU Abu Dhabi is looking for a postdoc in "Traffic Flow Theory, Division of Engineering."

Monday, June 27, 2016

This week's C&EN

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

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Weekend mediumreads: Caltech's glassblower is retiring

Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times
Interesting article in the Los Angeles Times (by Rosanna Xia) about Rick Gerhart, who is retiring at 71 after years of working as Caltech's chemistry department glassblower.

(There's a lot of shortage talk in the article, re: scientific glassblowers. In this sense, I am skeptical that there is strong demand for departmental glassblowers.) 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Topic of the day: Brexit

I don't think I have anything intelligent to add to the discussion, not being a subject of the UK, nor a citizen of the EU. Thanks to C&EN's Alex Scott and his article on potential Brexit impacts (written before the referendum), I learned that the European Medicines Agency is in London 
For the U.K. pharmaceutical industry, a Brexit risks causing uncertainty and creating barriers to investment. “It’s vital the U.K. remains engaged in the EU to influence legislative and regulatory policy developments affecting the life sciences ecosystem,” says the BioIndustry Association, a U.K. industry organization. Ninety life sciences firms have stated publicly that the U.K. should stay in the EU. 
Additionally, if the U.K. votes to Brexit, two European pharmaceutical institutions currently based in London—the European Medicines Agency and a part of the EU’s planned unitary patent system—would have to relocate to an EU country.
I believe the EMA is basically the EU's version of the FDA. The German pharma sector calling for them to leave (and relocate to Berlin?) already.

I was also surprised to learn that good ol' Paul Hodges (Captain of the DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM team) was actually voting Remain. Huh.

I presume there are a raft of people who have Marie Curie Fellowships and the like, who may face some trouble? Readers, your thoughts? 

Charest v. Harvard settled

From the inbox, a press release from Dr. Mark Charest, a former graduate student with Professor Andy Myers at Harvard:
"Harvard University and I have settled our ongoing litigation regarding the allocation of royalties related to the license with Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals on mutually agreeable terms.  In light of my claims and goals in bringing this litigation, I am very pleased to accept terms I view as equitable.”
Full link to press release here and here. Background to the story here and here. 

Job posting: C4 Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA

Scientists/Senior Scientists:  Medicinal Chemistry 
C4 Therapeutics is seeking highly motivated and innovative medicinal chemists to contribute to the development of small molecule targeted therapeutics.  Ideal candidates will have in depth knowledge of chemical synthesis and a proven track record of advancing small molecules across stage gates from Hit ID through clinical candidate selection. 
Computational Chemists  
C4 Therapeutics is seeking highly motivated and innovative computational chemists to contribute to the conception and execution of innovative research projects that leverage chemistry, biology, structural biology, and computational science. 
Best wishes to those interested.  

Daily Pump Trap: 6/24/16 edition

A few of the positions posted on C&EN Jobs in the past week:

Devens, MA: Johnson Matthey Fine Chemicals is looking for a manager for continuous processing; interesting (and heartening) that they're willing to look at all educational levels (even as I presume this is really about experience with the relevant technology.)

West Point, PA: Merck, looking for an experienced Ph.D. analytical chemist for a principal scientist to do small molecule formulation development.

Attleboro, MA: Sensata Technologies is looking for an experienced Ph.D. chemist to run their chemistry laboratory.

Charleston, TN: Wacker is looking for a senior quality manager for its polysilicon plant; seems important.

"Washington, D.C. or Chicago, IL": The American Institutes for Research are looking for scientists to write test questions, it appears.

Huh: This program officer position at the National Academies seems really interesting; I could imagine doing some good here.

Rolla, MO: Good ol' Brewer Science (are there any readers who have actually taken a position there?); looking for M.S./Ph.D. polymer chemists, it appears.

Another old friend: Clorox, doing its annual hiring push for research chemists. Pleasanton seems like a nice place.