musings on music and life

June 20, 2015

Job listings, 6/20/2015

Filed under: Chemistry Jobs — sankirnam @ 7:17 am

More postings from the past week that have caught my attention:

1. Roche has an opening for a Principal Scientist in Florence, SC; looks like a process development position. I had previously unsuccessfully applied for this job, and the listing is still up. This is a demonstration of how the chemistry job market has become an “employers’ market” today.

2. If more evidence for the previous assertion were needed: Ariad Pharmaceuticals (Boston) is looking for a BS/MS chemist with 2-5 years experience for a Research Scientist I position. The last statement in the listing is especially telling: “Applicants with a Ph.D. will not be considered for this role”. This means the company has had PhD’s applying to its bachelor’s level positions in desperation! If any evidence for the saturation of the chemistry job market is desired, look no further.

3. This is interesting: Semprus Biosciences (Cambridge, MA) has an opening for high school graduates/Associates Degree holders. Realistically speaking, there is still a lot of grunt work in companies like these that needs to be done, and you can have high school graduates doing it; requiring a bachelor’s degree for this kind of work is overkill. Plus, on-the-job training and experience is oftentimes much more valuable than the abstract knowledge you would otherwise obtain through university coursework.

4. Eli Lilly (Indianapolis) has an opening for a Research Scientist in Formulations. Phd required.

5. Position for a synthetic organic/medicinal chemist in Milford, MA (I don’t know why this is listed as “Immunologist”… must have been written by an HR person who doesn’t know the difference).

6. Lilly has 2 Associate’s level positions open for BS/MS chemists with 0-5 years experience!

7. FONA International (Geneva, IL) has 2 openings for BS flavor chemists; 7-15 years experience required. Most of the positions I see in flavor or fragrance chemistry require prior experience; I would like to apply but there are a distinct lack of entry level positions advertised.

Now, I just want to clarify a couple more things. The term “entry level”, as far as I know, refers to any position requiring 0 years of experience, whether that is at the PhD or BS/MS level. A “Senior Scientist” position can therefore be considered entry level if it accepts fresh PhD graduates. That being said, I’ve had people (misguided people, mind you) tell me that “Oh, PhD-level positions are high-level positions; therefore, recruiting will occur only through internal recommendations…they will not look at applications submitted online”. There may be a 0.5-1% chance that that may be true. BUT, this goes against my experience talking to recruiting managers or individuals responsible for talent acquisition at companies; oftentimes, their first response is “look at our website, go through the positions, and apply to the ones that are a best fit”. I would prefer to think that they would not be lying to my face, telling me to put time and effort into applying when the applications may go directly to the shredder. Now, I don’t have any experience yet doing any work related to hiring, so I cannot resolve this myself.


June 13, 2015

Random observation

Filed under: Colognes — Tags: — sankirnam @ 11:37 am

I just noticed that the fragrances used in the following 2 products are the same:

Hugo_Boss_Hugo_Man Old Spice Pure Sport

This is a testament to the absolute insipidity and lack of creativity of the folks at P&G fragrances as well as the genius of the marketing people; for those who don’t know, the Old Spice brand is owned by P&G, and the Hugo Boss perfumes are also made by them. It seems that the Hugo Boss Man cologne has (fortunately) been discontinued, since I had trouble finding it on Amazon. On the other hand, being able to reuse such a bland-smelling formula in an Old Spice body wash is no mean feat, especially since Old Spice is now undergoing renewed popularity thanks to some new marketing campaigns.

June 11, 2015

Job listings, 6/11/2015

Filed under: Chemistry Jobs — Tags: — sankirnam @ 12:08 pm

I’m in San Francisco for the week, and have still been perusing the online job boards and applying to relevant positions. On Monday and Tuesday I attended the National Biotechnology Conference. While I did manage to score plenty of free swag at the expo, my experience talking to the presenters was pretty dismal. Most companies are not hiring medicinal/organic chemists for synthetic positions, instead preferring to farm that work out to CRO’s. There were plenty of CRO’s there, but even they were not hiring, since the organic chemistry positions are full and most were not looking to expand that area. Most of the interest in pharmaceutical development seems to be in biologics and proteomics, as opposed to small-molecule medicines. Thus, there is a huge demand right now for biologists (especially immunologists), and a rapidly decreasing demand for organic chemists.
*Based on this information I would not recommend that anyone decide to dedicate the next 4-10 years of study to biology/immunology. The market fluctuates too rapidly and what is today’s hot field may be the fancy degrees held by the homeless in the near future.

That being said:

1. Dupont has a position available for a Crop Protection Process Development Manager. A PhD in organic chemistry is required, but they don’t mention anything about industrial experience, apart from “Non-academic laboratory experience with track record of accomplishment”. Hmm.

2. Gilead has a Process Development position open. PhD with 12+ years experience desired. I just hope the salary offered is commensurate with the experience…

3. Theravance Biopharma (South San Francisco) is also looking for a process chemist. Ph.D/MS in organic chemistry with 5+ years pharmaceutical industry experience desired.

4. Genentech is seeking an analytical chemist to join its structural characterization group. Seems to be mostly NMR work (extensive 1-D, 2-D and even heteronuclear NMR). PhD with 12+ years industry experience desired.

5. BASF has a “Staff Chemist” position open in Iselin, New Jersey.2015-05-01 12.19.51

think this is the place? It’s opposite the Metropark station.

6. Synageva Biopharma is looking for a Research Scientist in Protein Engineering. PhD with 2+ years work experience in biotech required.

7. Proctor & Gamble (Cincinnati) has a position for a PhD Analytical Surface Scientist.

A few parting words before I leave. Lately, I’ve been getting career advice from a lot of people, some of whom I know very well. Separating the signal from the noise in this case is not difficult, apart from the emotional investment (i.e. realizing that someone has wasted your time yet again). This post on Reddit last night really resonated with me, however, and I realized that the biggest loudmouths in this regard are often those who had it easiest in their careers. The people who tell me to “suck it up and keep e-mailing people over and over regardless of whether they think you are an annoying tool” are often those who never went through that themselves, having been directly headhunted or recruited from school. The people who are usually most condescending when giving career advice are those who are out of touch with reality.
**Note: I am extremely grateful to my parents and to other benefactors that I now have 2 degrees and no student debt. But, as I have come to realize, the degrees that are worth getting are worth going into debt for. PhD’s in science (especially chemistry) are being given out for free, and so naturally they are worthless. 

June 3, 2015


Filed under: Chemistry — Tags: — sankirnam @ 6:54 pm

Derek Lowe has an interesting post today on In The Pipeline about common and not-so-common organic solvents. Solvation is still one of the least-understood and yet most important concepts in chemistry, as almost all synthetically useful reactions take place in solution. The dielectric constant is one way of organizing solvents based on a single property (polarity), but another possibility is to use polarizibility.

The other thing to keep in mind is that common solvents need not necessarily be reaction solvents, although that is what first comes to mind. Acetone is used by the gallon in labs all over the world for cleaning glassware, and ethyl acetate (along with hexane) is one of the most popular solvents for chromatographic separation of relatively nonpolar organics. Acetone and ethyl acetate are too reactive to be used as reaction solvents; whenever I have used them in preparative chemistry, I always used them as reagents. In my experience with synthetic chemistry, I haven’t used too many unusual solvents so far. I have used trifluoroethanol  and TFA as solvents, in a very low-yielding reaction for the preparation of triphenyloxonium ions. I used a lot of trifluoromethanesulfonic acid in my research as a solvent for superelectrophilic Friedel-Crafts reactions, although this is not really practical and is mainly of academic interest, due to the high cost of triflic acid. It can be recovered after a reaction workup, but it is very laborious.

I think that this prep from Organic Syntheses for hexaphenylbenzene takes the cake for weird solvents, however. hexaphenylbenzene

The solvent is….refluxing benzophenone. Most compounds would decompose at such high temperatures, but if you need to really kick a recalcitrant Diels-Alder, Cope, or Claisen reaction along, then sure, break out the diphenyl ether or benzophenone!

June 2, 2015

Job Listings, June 2 2015

Filed under: Chemistry Jobs — sankirnam @ 2:16 pm

Time to kick off a new month with some of the job listings that have caught my attention:

1. DuPont has three positions in its OLED division – these all look very interesting. 1 BS/MS and 2 PhD positions are available – best of luck to all applying.
It sucks that these all require experience; I know several fresh PhD candidates who would otherwise be an excellent match for these positions.

2. DuPont has two other positions that look intriguing – a PhD level analytical chemist and a principal investigator in adhesives chemistry.

3. Vanda Pharmaceuticals (Washington, D. C.) is looking for a senior chemist; PhD with 2+ years postdoc experience or M.S. with 5+ years experience desired.

4. Moderna Therapeutics (Cambridge, MA) has an opening for a synthetic organic chemist; PhD with 3-5 years experience. Looks to be a medchem position.

5. Estée Lauder has a position for BA/BS chemists; looks like entry-level analytical chemistry.

6. Merck KGgA (not to be confused with the American big pharma company of the same name) has an available Research Associate I – Medicinal Chemistry position available. BS Chemists with 0-2 years experience desired!

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