March 10, 2015

2:09 PM | Ivory Filter Flask: 3/10/15 edition
A few of the academic positions posted on the C&EN Jobs website recently:Siloam Springs, AR: John Brown University is searching for an assistant professor in chemistry, more towards the general/inorganic/analytical side.Fresno, CA: The State Center Community College District is searching for a B.S./M.S./Ph.D. chemist to be a chemistry instructor at Reedley College; $53,483 – $80,521 offered.St. Paul, MN: Bethel University is looking for an assistant professor of […]
12:07 PM | Illegitimate international debt
How do you declare international debt illegitimate? When is debt so odious that the taxpayers of a government have no obligation to pay it back? This is a huge, important question. It’s a question currently plaguing Argentina and Greece, for example. Individuals in both countries have explained to me that the debt was taken on […]
8:00 AM | The other gender gap
The Economist discusses a new OECD report on a growing gender gap in schools: It is a problem that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. Until the 1960s boys spent longer and went further in school than girls, and were more likely to graduate from university. Now, across the rich world and in a growing […]

March 09, 2015

10:20 PM | The blog has a voicemail/SMS number now
I know that we all hate voicemail (and I do too), but I couldn't resist taking the opportunity to give the blog a voicemail number. So here it is:(302) 313-6257 Have fun, I think. We'll see what happens here.(And yes, there is the possibility of audio from phone call ending up on the blog, so be aware.)UPDATE: Holy crap you can text. 
3:40 PM | David Shaywitz: R&D jobs will become less stable - tant pis!
From a respected reader, this bundle of joy written by Forbes' David Shaywitz, a Bay Area biotech entrepreneur: ...Historically, transitioning from a large company to a startup might have been much more challenging for biotech R&D talent than for tech talent, given the geographical separation between pharma R&D (Pennsylvania/New Jersey) and startup/small company life science R&D (Cambridge or San Francisco). But with the increasing co-localization of large pharma R&D and […]
3:10 PM | Your initial candidates for the president of the ACS
Also from Susan Ainsworth's article:The Committee on Nominations & Elections (N&E) laid the groundwork for the council last fall when it prepared a slate of nominees for the office of ACS president-elect for 2016. The four nominees are:  G. Bryan Balazs, an associate program leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.; Allison A. Campbell, associate laboratory director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Environmental Molecular Sciences […]
3:06 PM | This week's C&EN
Lots of neat tidbits in this week's C&EN:Fascinating story (to me, anyway) about the partnership between large and small pharma firms and CMOs. (article by Ann M. Thayer, Jean-François Tremblay, Michael McCoy)Lisa Jarvis covers AstraZeneca spinning off its antibiotics unit. Two stories on the CSB; an interview with outgoing chair Rafael Moure-Eraso by Jeff Johnson and a short profile of the incoming chair, by Glenn Hess Linda Wang writes that ACS will be […]
6:30 AM | Identifying the effect of expenditure on health outcomes: another small comment on Claxton et al
In a previous post I asked whether the study by Claxton et al can or should inform the cost-effectiveness threshold used by NICE. The authors argued that, “it is the expected health effects … of the average displacement within the current NHS … that is relevant to the estimate of the threshold.” Accepting this premise, […]

March 07, 2015

1:45 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
Readers! Lots of love to spread today, and I’ve got a love shovel. So be prepared to get covered from head to toe in love. And no, it’s nothing like snow, so don’t worry about wearing boots or anything. In fact it’s best experienced naked, as most good things are. Think of it as powerful […]

March 06, 2015

5:38 PM | The best answer to the Fermi question about QC chemists in the US
Anon4:21pm, you had the best answer! I would like to send you a T-shirt.Please e-mail me at - thanks!
5:33 PM | Kudos to the Texas A&M petroleum engineering department once again
A while back, you may remember this letter to freshmen from the Texas A&M petroleum engineering department: Dear Admitted Aggie PETE Applicant,  The Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University, is pleased that you applied and were admitted to our top ranked petroleum engineering program. If you pursue a degree in petroleum engineering, our program is committed to providing the highest quality education available.  Recent data suggests that some […]
12:14 PM | Patent trolls
This morning I’m preparing for my weekly Slate Money podcast by trying to learn all about patents and patent trolls. To tell you the truth, so far I don’t know why patent trolls are all that bad, besides the fact that they obviously have a terrible sounding name. It seems like the patent system works […]
8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: I have an article at ABC’s The Drum on the Australian Government’s Intergenerational Report – “It’s time to end the demographic pessimism“. “The myriad processes that bring in food, convert it to metabolic fuel, and burn this fuel in our cells act in concert to keep our energy budget – the daily […]

March 05, 2015

5:37 PM | Stories wanted: "My big break"
I'm a frequent listener to NPR's Saturday evening "All Things Considered". I was a pretty big Guy Raz fan (very fond of his conversations with Jim Fallows, among other things), but Arun Rath is growing on me. Anyway, one of the neat/hokey things they're doing is interviewing various celebrities about their big break, i.e. something lucky/coincidental that helped them get where they are today. Here's Leland Martin, NASA astronaut (and chemistry degree holder) talking about a training […]
4:23 PM | What's better, a M.S. or a Ph.D.?
It's been a number of years since we've had this debate, so let's do the time warp again. From the inbox (just last week), an e-mail from an undergraduate: Something that many of the stories have mentioned is how they're happier to have gotten an M.S. job instead of a Ph.D. job (e.g. in KT's story, he mentions the geographical flexibility of having an M.S. job versus his colleagues with Ph.D.s). But I've also seen your posts on the ACS salary figures, which show that Ph.D. jobs generally […]
4:23 PM | Job posting: Product Manager, Homogeneous Catalysts, Johnson Matthey, West Deptford, NJ
From the inbox, a position at Johnson Matthey:  SUMMARY OF POSITION The Product Manager for Homogeneous Catalysis is responsible for leading the Homogeneous Catalyst business, by developing and implementing a global product based strategy, to enable the growth of the CCT business. In this role the product manager will work independently, and with sales managers to introduce new products to the market, identify new products and markets and coordinate scale up projects in line with key […]
3:06 PM | A comparison of AiCHE and ACS membership dues
No real comment, just an interesting comparison. I think the graded dues would be something I'd like to see for ACS. Also, getting undergrads in for free seems like a good idea for chemical engineers (a lot fewer of those than for chemists, I'll bet.) 
3:03 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 3/5/15 edition
A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs this past week:Camden, SC: Yet another Invista position, this time for a Ph.D. research scientist.Foster City, CA: A small bolus of Gilead positions, including a B.S./M.S. med chem position. Carlstadt, NJ: This B.S./M.S./Ph.D. chemist position working on security inks is really interesting. Industrial experience needed.Lafayette, IN: Evonik has posted a R&D project manager position that requires a B.S. and 2 years of experience. I find […]
10:00 AM | Do we really need to change the cost-effectiveness threshold?
The cost-effectiveness threshold utilised by health technology assessment agencies, such as NICE in the United Kingdom, below which new medical technologies and interventions are considered cost-effective, is frequently discussed. NICE currently use a threshold of £20,000 to £30,000 per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained. However, this threshold was arrived at in somewhat of an ad […]

March 04, 2015

8:27 PM | Is it possible to contact Jesus James Angleton via seance?
From a 1944 OSS/CIA sabotage manual, ways that you can disrupt an organization: Managers and Supervisors: To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work. Employees: Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big […]
8:23 PM | "It's not a biotech bubble, it's...."
Fun story from FiercePharmaMarketing on a Cubist "Cards Against Biotechnology" expansion pack.(For those not in the know, "Cards Against Humanity" is a popular card game amongst the youths, of which I am not one.) 
11:26 AM | Affordable Housing Needs a Reset #OWS
I’m super proud of the latest Huffington Post piece that Alt Banking put out entitled Affordable Housing Needs a Reset. Here’s an excerpt: We’ve been hearing a lot lately from New York Mayor de Blasio on his affordable housing plan. He says he will “build or preserve” 200,000 housing units, but the plan would only build […]
8:00 AM | Overcoming implicit bias
I have been working through The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy, edited by Eldar Shafir, and have mixed views so far. As I go through, I will note some interesting points. The opening substantive chapter by Curtis Hardin and Mahzarin Banaji is on bias – and particularly implicit bias. Implicit biases are unconscious negative (or positive) […]
6:01 AM | "P: "I am now happier"
This story about leaving graduate school is from "P"; it has been lightly edited for formatting. I quit graduate school (not chemistry but a closely related field) after 3 years, around the time I was starting to write up my thesis.Why did you leave?A combination of reasons:I wasn’t enjoying my project. This had been getting slowly worse over time and I was at a stage where it just didn’t interest me at all.I was already pretty sure that I wasn’t going to stay in academia […]

March 03, 2015

4:42 PM | "LB": "Some nights I think about how different my life might have been"
Today's story about leaving graduate school is from "LB"; it has been redacted for privacy and edited for clarity. Why did you leave? Your thought process in leaving? A number of reasons come to mind in retrospect.  First, there would be reasons what I now classify under environmental factors. I belonged to a small town in the midwest and moved to [California] for my PhD. [Big West Coast City] itself was hard to deal with---too many people with too much attitude, and I hardly had […]

March 02, 2015

4:21 PM | Why place matters
From an anonymous reader, a Boston-area Amgen recruiting billboard. I have seen this for coders, but never for "biotech professionals."(Of course, I've only lived in one of BioSpace's "hotbeds.")(12 "hotbeds"?!?!? You gotta be kidding me.) 
4:13 PM | Nice to see
This past August, I took a day to visit national ACS meeting in San Francisco; I was badged as press, even! I sat in on a portion of the Sunday meeting of the Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs. I thought it was interesting to watch the committee members discuss and debate the ACS policy statement on retirement security. Here's a portion of the final statement: ...A concern is that small companies and businesses, such as chemical or high-tech start-ups, can be […]
3:58 PM | Oh, that's all
From the letters to the editor in this week's C&EN:I don’t know why there was such a flurry of indignant letters about the review of the book “The Birth of the Pill” (C&EN, Sept. 22, 2014, page 32). This is a book for a popular audience by an author whose claims to fame are books about baseball and Al Capone. It might better have been titled “Politics, Religion, and the Pill,” but it certainly was not designed to explore the intricacies of organic […]
3:53 PM | This week's C&EN
Plenty of interesting tidbits in this week's C&EN:Long feature today about persistent organic pollutants by Stephen Ritter; I had never heard of the Kepone story. Yikes. I see NIH is wanting more peer reviewers for grants. (by Andrea Widener)Stu Borman covers the discovery of the protein targets of englerin A - I confess I had not heard of this natural product. Marc Reisch looks at a carbon nanotube startup called Molecular Rebar Design. (I did not know that global demand for […]
12:17 PM | Two articles on understanding statistical error
Today I want to share two articles today which call on the public to try to understand scientific error at a deeper level than we do now. First, an academic journal called Basic and Applied Social Psychology (BASP) has decided to ban articles using p-values. This was written up in Nature news (hat tip Nikki Leger) […]
92 Results