September 30, 2014

12:33 PM | People hate me, I must be doing something right
Not sure if you’ve seen this recent New York Times article entitled Learning to Love Criticism, but go ahead and read it if you haven’t. The key figures: …76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was “abrasive,” “judgmental” or “strident.” Only […]
9:03 AM | The genetic basis of social mobility
In 2007’s A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Gregory Clark argued that the higher fertility of the rich in pre-industrial England sowed the seeds for the Industrial Revolution. As children resemble their parents, the increased number of prudent, productive people made possible the modern economic era. Part of the controversy […]

September 29, 2014

7:42 PM | CMOs and chemistry
Finally, from this week's C&EN, an interesting set of quotes from Rick Mullin's interviews with a number of CMO leaders. Here's the CEO of Hovione, a Portugal-based API manufacturer on what he thinks companies need: The contract manufacturing business is moving into a new phase, according to Villax, one that has little to do with the hardware. “Now, you simply can’t just buy the differentiator,” he says. “Success is the result of experience and accumulated […]
6:45 PM | Anyone want to explain the chemistry of diapers?
This week's C&EN also brings us a rebuttal to a recent Newscripts column on diapers:...Newscripts recently waxed enthusiastic about Charlie’s Soap, “a laundry detergent brand that is popular among folks concerned about laundry residues” (C&EN, July 7, page 40). Charlie’s Soap is good, we are told, because it contains fewer ingredients than other detergents. It seems to contain only soap and soda ash. Charlie’s Soap might actually work—if you […]
5:11 PM | This week's C&EN
Lots of interesting stories this week:Prof. Carolyn Bertozzi is the editor-in-chief of ACS' new open access journal. (by Linda Wang) It'll be fascinating to see where the journal goes and which papers end up there... Mitch Jacoby has an interesting article about chemical companies participating in science industrially-oriented master's programs. I think that the key will be: will the participating companies be willing to eat their own dog food? 20 chemists worth following on […]
1:03 PM | Chameleon models
Here’s an interesting paper I’m reading this morning (hat tip Suresh Naidu) entitled Chameleons: The Misuse of Theoretical Models in Finance and Economics written by Paul Pfleiderer. The paper introduces the useful concept of chameleon models, defined in the following diagram:   Pfleiderer provides some examples of chameleon models, and also takes on the Milton Friedman argument that […]

September 27, 2014

5:11 PM | Help CJ with his Act of Whimsy/Pain for #GeekGirlCon
For my Geek Girl Con Act of Whimsy, I need the number of inaccurate or misleading statements in the following Food Babe videos. If you can help, please listen to just 1 of the 5 following videos and count how many false or misleading things she says. Err on the generous side, if possible.The Subway videoThe Silly Putty videoThe one on celluloseAnother azodicarbonimide videoThe Mac and Cheese videoThanks! (And if you want to donate, click here!) 
3:12 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
Holy crap, peoples! Aunt Pythia just counted up her readers’ questions and found super high quality (yay!) combined with super small quantity (boo!), a non-ideal situation. Do you know that there are currently fewer than two weeks’ worth of questions in the bin?! That means that next week might be extra short if nobody comes […]
9:50 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Is your body mostly microbes? A nice take-down of  another trail of citations dead-ends. One thing I have learnt from my PhD research is that when it comes to citations, academics are lazy. A good piece on Peter Thiel. Curing death is on the agenda. Fixing gender bias in research subjects – because men and […]

September 26, 2014

1:51 PM | This Bloomberg article badly needs some context
Bloomberg Businessweek has an article on ZMapp where they're alleging that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency badly mismanaged the development of ZMapp. I suspect that few people havethe cultural expertise (i.e. knowledge of government/DoD operations) and pharma experience to know who was in the wrong or the right: Meade’s time as the business chief at DTRA also coincided with a culture clash within the agency, one confirmed by three other people familiar with the agency who […]
10:37 AM | Women not represented in clinical trials
This recent NYTimes article entitled Health Researchers Will Get $10.1 Million to Counter Gender Bias in Studies spelled out a huge problem that kind of blows me away as a statistician (and as a woman!). Namely, they have recently decided over at the NIH, which funds medical research in this country, that we should probably check to see […]

September 25, 2014

3:41 PM | South Korea needs chemists?
Via Linda Wang on Twitter, I see that the South Korean government measures its job opening demand; they're low on finance jobs and high on chemistry ones: Employment Information Service (KEIS) announced the results of analyzing the number of jobs per job seeker – the index to gauge the supply and demand of manpower – by calculating it with statistics, as of July of 2014, about finding jobs and people from WORKNET, a state-run Internet site for job hunting. If the number is […]
3:26 PM | Job posting: assistant professors, University of Denver, Denver, CO
From the inbox: The Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Denver is expanding our Molecular Life Sciences Initiative through cluster hires.  The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry invites applications for two tenure-track faculty positions at the Assistant Professor level to begin September 1, 2015.  We seek candidates with research interests in biophysical chemistry/biochemistry that include, but are not limited to the study of protein structure […]
2:53 PM | Two very #chemjobs-oriented personal statements in the DOC election ballot
Members of the Division of Organic Chemistry get to vote on two industrial folks for Chair-Elect, both of whom seem to be oriented towards issues of chemistry employment and unemployment*: Paul L. Feldman joined Glaxo Pharmaceuticals, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina in 1987 following receiving his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley....Personal Statement: The Division of Organic Chemistry (DOC) of the American Chemical Society has a rich, venerable tradition in serving […]
11:49 AM | The business of public education
I’ve been writing my book, and I’m on chapter 4 right now, which is tentatively entitled Feedback Loops In Education. I’m studying the enormous changes in primary and secondary education that have occurred since the “data-driven” educational reform movement started with No Child Left Behind in 2001. Here’s the issue I’m having writing this chapter. […]

September 24, 2014

6:38 PM | Warning Letter of the Week: essential oils don't cure Ebola
It's nice to see the FDA doing what it can to address quackery where it sees it: Dear Mr. Young:...Based on our review, FDA has determined that many of your Young Living Essential Oil products, such as, but not limited to, “Thieves,” “Cinnamon Bark,” “Oregano,” “ImmuPower,” “Rosemary,” “Myrtle,” “Sandalwood,” “Eucalyptus Blue,” “Peppermint,” “Ylang Ylang,” […]
6:15 PM | Nope
Imagine my dismay to open up the front page of the ACS to see that headline. An example of Betteridge's law in action, for sure. 
11:22 AM | Kahneman’s optimistic view of the mind
In the Gerd Gigerenzer versus Daniel Kahneman wars, most of the projectiles seem to fly one way. Gigerenzer attacks directly, Kahneman expends little effort in defence. As one test of whether my impression was correct, I searched Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow for how many times Kahneman directly mentions Gigerenzer. The answer is six, once […]

September 23, 2014

2:07 PM | EdX class in medicinal chemistry
Just like last February, Professor Erland Stevens of Davidson College is teaching a class on medicinal chemistry on EdX. Here's a brief syllabus:The edX course (Medicinal Chemistry) starts October 13th and runs eight weeks. Cost: free with both free and for-pay certification optionsPrerequisites: general chemistry (binding energies, intermolecular forces), some organic chemistry (line-angle structures and functional groups), knowledge of cell parts and functions, comfort with […]
11:30 AM | When your genetic information is held against you
My friend Jan Zilinsky recently sent me this blogpost from the NeuroCritic which investigates the repercussions of having biomarkers held against individuals. In this case, the biomarker was in the brain and indicated a propensity for taking financial risks. Or maybe it didn’t really – the case wasn’t closed – but that was the idea, […]

September 22, 2014

3:42 PM | Interesting letter on EMF and cell phones
Also from this week's issue, a chemist writes in about a Rudy Baum editorial: Rudy Baum hit a sore spot with his editorial “Menacing Cell Phone Towers” on whether cell phone towers and the microwaves they emit are hazardous (C&EN, July 14, page 3). He presents his opinion as editor-in-chief, but the editorial then has an ACS disclaimer. That’s been one of my disappointments with ACS over 60 years: It’s gutless. If ACS isn’t an “authority” on […]
3:15 PM | This week's C&EN
A variety of interesting tidbits:C&EN's Andrea Widener covers the NSF physical scientist unemployment numbers, which show that doctoral physical scientist have a 2.1% unemployment rate in 2013; perhaps we should not be comparing a group of 100% Ph.D.s to a labor force that has some members without bachelors or even high school degrees? I see ACS CEO Madeleine Jacobs will have a new position as head of the society of scientific societies. (article by Susan Ainsworth)This potential […]

September 21, 2014

3:00 PM | Taking a short break--No post this week or next
I'm taking a short break this week and next and expect to post again on Sunday, October 5.
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