Read an interesting article summarizing arguments that
“collaboration has gone too far.” It appears in the Economist
and reflects trends occurring with open office plans
and 24/7 electronic communication. It may spill over
to technical professionals and managers.
Several authors (Newport, Cross, Gray) suggest that
collaboration can be overdone, as it disrupts routines
and distracts from prioritized tasks and responsibilities.
What confused me was the common belief that working
in teams is critical for success in many areas– big
projects 2 , forecasting and problem solving in areas
facing first time problems. Isn’t there collaboration in
teamwork? Collaboration can bring people together
for some shared objectives, while each has some competing
objectives. Thus, the differences between teamwork
and collaboration appear in not having an arbitrator for
conflicts and many times do not have contractual arrangements.
Business Insider summary of HBR points out in an earlier
article the definition of terms. Move to a collaborative
relationship in cases when a company objective is important
enough to engage in collaboration, but does not require a
Success, the earlier article subscribes, involves:
commitment to work together, emotional engagement
recognition of competence, respect of knowledge and experience
cost/benefit decisions can be influenced and supported or
Yet collaboration is not a formal arrangement, not a team
with a leader or a contract-bound relationship. It requires
a shorter term outcome and a timeline.
Amazing new insights about working in the world of science and
technology poured out of a meeting last week while I was working
on other things.
They are so thoughtful and inspiring it is worth sharing them
and making the case that smaller (boutique) societies have
incredible value. What they aim to do is look for the unmet
needs of the larger, very topic oriented (silos of sub-disciplines).
They seek out the intersections of fields and the forefronts of
research often outside of the realm of the larger industrial
On reflection, three outstanding findings are shared in this
contribution about SlAS2016: insights into resistance to
drug therapies of diseases (cancers and ’superbugs’), crowdfunding
research, and tackling high risk, never performed team projects
with unknown outcomes.
Shana Kelley of UToronto reported chip based microfluidic
devices using electrochemical assays to identify the bacteria
to know the proper therapies to apply. Each year it is
estimated that 2 million US cases of antibiotic resistant
infections, which can be caused by over use of prescription
drugs or employing the wrong agent for the infection.
An assay of redox active molecules that measures the levels
of metabolically active bacteria it the telling step in the device.
Anecdotally, having a tool like this available 90 years ago might
have saved Calvin Coolidge’s younger son.
Michael Gottesmann of NCI spoke about drug resistance found
during cancer treatment that involve at least four different
mechanisms: target mutation, genetic mutation, cell type
changes and alterations of physiology (of blood or organs).
Cell models do not model in vivo gene expression. calls for
coordinated treatment regimens of multiple mechanisms.
K Tom Pickard presented the case for a different research
sponsorship model that uses — “be viable or vanish”. He cited
how this is becoming a viable approach to deal with shortfalls
in resources and seek out other sources that can have a
purposeful, entrepreneurial or doing the right thing motivation.
His primary focus is autism and he reported on use of
twitter, social media and kickstarter/ experiment.com .
Teamwork to achieve high risk goals
Adam Steitzner amazed the audience with the story of landing the
Mars Rover on the surface of Gale Crater to answer the question
of whether there was/is life on Mars… 100 million miles away.
- Separate people from ideas
- Lunch with Enrico
Get to know and like all the people you work with
- Plan to change plans
- Many times the answers we seek are in the questions
Challenge all assumptions
The snowstorm moved up the east coast of the US last week.
Travel was snarled on the ground and air and train traffic was
halted. Government offices were closed.
I had a planned trip on the west coast for a meeting first thing
Monday morning. So I arranged travel on Sunday in enough time.
All things needed to change.
ADVANTAGE TO FLY SOUTHWEST (SWA).
SWA does not charge a change fee if you have to make a change.
I rearranged to leave a day earlier on the same carrier SWA and
planned to fly through Chicago, rather than Baltimore which seemed
likely to close due to the storm. (It did.)
Then, I had to figure out where to stay for the one night early
arrival. I search for accommodations on several sites and found
they all were $170 and up, $250 in the convention vicinity. I have
a rewards program with one of the vendors, so I went to the site.
$169, with a match a lower price offer on the webpage. I searched
and found one at $129, PRINTED OUT THE PAGE and brought it
(You usually have to have proof of a lower price to get approval
and have to show it at check-in.)
The flight was on time. The hotel I chose was 1 mile from the airport
and had a free airport shuttle service. So, I could be picked up from
the airport even at 11pm. Service requests need to be made when
you book, so I booked via their 800 number asking for a shuttle
At check in, I negotiated a $50 lower stay and asked for shuttle
service to my pre-arranged hotel for the meetings.
Then, catastrophe struck. We had a death in the family requiring me
to leave the meeting early. In the rush and over-burden of the
moment I misplaced my parking ticket at the final destination
Again, I called SWA and asked for help to change flights asking
for an additional flight, a bereavement flight. They provided
a nice service at quite a reduced cost over the advertised price
due to the problem– again without a change fee.
Step by step we proceeded through the lengthened trip. Then,
I had to negotiate with the car parking garage. You can usually
deal with an experienced attendant as long as you have your
itinerary, license and auto registration with you.
When making travel plans, think about the possibility of
travel plan changes, book with an airlines, hotel and auto
rental firms that allow changes and provide the services you
Expect the unexpected and be prepared, having a copy of your
itinerary and registration with you (in the glove compartment).
Research leading to beneficial outcomes in chemically
related work is highlighted in this entry. Each of them
provide opportunities whose long term value for
investors, for society and for technical careers is
not clear. Nonetheless, it is a signature of this
blog to present such ideas.
EBOLA MEMBRANE PROTEINS BINDING
Ebola continues to strike humans as a resurfacing
public health risk in Africa. GENEngNews carries
an article by Gail Dutton that describes epitope
mapping work leading to antibodies for potential
vaccines and therapies.
QUATERNARY PROTEIN STRUCTURE
What I appreciated about GENEngNews article on
proteins was the practical outcomes that 92% of
known studied structures are described by a classification
scheme, 4% of which appear to be misclassified.
Having a model now allows the development of simple rules
of possible assembly types and the mechanisms, pathways
and self-assembly influences.
Implications for bioengineering and for exploring non-
systematic observations are mentioned. While much of
the above information is given in CEN of 12-18. It would
be nice to see authoritative commentary on the model. and
the PubMed (free) link. This is an example of interdisciplinary
work spurred by results of mass spectrometry studies.
THORIUM NUCLEAR POWER
There is a new series in Netflix that starts with global
warming leading to the EU to stop the flow of petroleum
and point out the development of Th nuclear energy.
The Economist talked about this recently. Most
critical discussion I have discovered was in the comments
to the Economist article that revealed the technological
roadblock, some attempts at remedies and suggesting
possible more successful nuclear energy fuel sources
might be developed.
For a decade, the biomedical field has been struggling with one
problem– oversupply of trained post-doctoral fellows with poor
outlook for full time career positions.
For at least the same amount of time graduate students in certain
fields reveal that their advisers keep them from graduating until
they are in their 30s (personal knowledge of Biological and Physics
related fields). Then, even after graduation, the PI keeps the
trained professional as a post doctoral fellow of convenience by limiting
meeting attendance and exposure and supplying references.
The Boston Globe and other media have reported on the problem
that post docs are “holding tank positions” with little hope of
landing a full time position. The biomedical field has an oversupply of
trained scientists and engineers that outstrip demand.
The blame is given to a surge of federal funding for research during
1980 - 2000 that beckoned for an increase in staffing at all levels.
Large universities got even larger, small universities moved into
graduate research and new federal bureaucracies sprung up.
No one foresaw what could happen and could imagine the
unintended consequences of various decisions all taken on
an individual basis without looking at the larger system.
-We invite many foreign students to attend all US universities.
Many do not have an inkling of prospects upon graduation.
-Many mentors continue to amass larger research groups without
considering being able to mentor and facilitate each grad
students and post-docs career growth.
-Salaries are absurdly low. Training for future career positions is not targeted.
Very little practical outcome and collaboration with practical
needs organizations is managed well.
Chemistry and related fields are here already. Yet only a
few islands of practical reform are apparent. There is little
motivation for doing something that will help the field.
On a case by case basis we can help one individual figure out
the maze of satisfying employment searching. The situation
will grow worse with another economic slowdown.
A colleague recently contacted me about applying for a
research position in his field of interest of brain imaging.
It is a small company with a limited amount of
of public information. He asked about who to address
in the cover letter and details about virus-protection
software that blocks link-containing documents.
He also wanted to explore why it was critical to join
and become an active member of a professional society.
USING MENTORS AND THE LONG TAIL
My first thoughts directed me to explore the company
in LinkedIn after studying the company website. It is
important to go beyond the website in looking for details
about any position. So a google search looking at many
pages beyond the high frequency first page is important
to use. This is also known as the search distribution
long-tail coined by Chris Anderson.
In Linkedin, I found a second degree connection to the
CEO and founder which led me to an information loaded
profile which I then shared with him.
I learned the company was a start-up, had recent funding
and had advertised the position he had interest in. So,
I forwarded a suggestion to contact the CEO by Inmail
and ask to engage in a short conversation about the
position. Before doing this he should prepare thoroughly
by having stories to tell about how he uniquely qualifies
for the position, by using information at hand about
salary ranges for the position in that area of the country,
and by having critical questions outlined for him to ask.
This is a common information interview.
Listen carefully to keywords he uses that can be
incorporated into the cover letter and resume.
If salary comes up in the discussion, reveal what your
research has provided. Then ask, how much is budgeted
for the position, rather than saying how much you wish.
Defer that discussion until you have an offer, know
what the job entails and get a sense that you like the
culture and they like you.
So, contact a person in the company before uploading
documents. This way it is not a “cold contact” application
without assessing keywords to use and a person to
address and follow up with.
COVER LETTER AND DOCUMENTS
There are three clear objectives that a cover letter provides–
explains gaps, shows a clear match for you in the position
and provides your thinking about your career movement
into the position.
Documents we upload can be blocked if they have
links in the cloud by software. So, either delink the
documents, in Word, or use .txt format without links.
People in professional fields use societies to continue
to learn important elements in their field through meetings
and publications, to share what we learn with other
professionals and to be part of the professionals
advocating for the growth and importance of the field.
We all should be members of professional technical
Good luck! ended the reply, where
LUCK = preparation + attitude + opportunity
We should all be alert to what happens to employees at
DuPont and Dow as the two leading chemical corporations
as they process their merger and carve outs forming new
entities. We may not be directly involved but it adds to
what technical professionals will face more of in our future
Jacob Bunge wrote that 1700 job cuts will happen in
Delaware to DuPont (see also Morningstar source) which
will flood the market with outstanding talented scientists
and engineers. It can be traumatic for each person directly
or indirectly affected. It is a message that there is no “safe
harbor” and job security is the knowledge that you can obtain
another desirable position if your current one is in jeopardy.
It can also mean that you are given some time to evaluate your
options and pursue your personal and career goals.
SOURCE: A. Tergesen, WSJ1-2-16, “Target date
funds must rethink bonds“
There are a number of comments to this article that describes
how bond components of target date mutual funds might be
overweighted. This impacts retirees, the author emphasizes.
Target date mutual funds one commenter points out is a marketing
tool for those needing investment advice in making investment
choices mostly in tax advantaged funds.
Another pointed out the benefits of target date funds are
risk management and “diversification” with a projection
of lower price. Because all managers “race” for yields
risk has been sacrificed. Conditions have shifted so assumptions
about return projections and costs have changed. There is no
prescription for those who have invested in target date funds,
but it does indicate another risk factor, not in the prospectus that
nearly no one reads.
SOURCE: A. Sklover, 1-6-16, “16 Questions for joining a
There are several things Al Sklover brings up in this
article about joining a start up company to aid in decisions
about joining and negotiating what things you and other
employees, founders, advisers and consultants should share.
The way it is done is classic-Sklover, tell a story and its
outcome and offer salient principles, actions and resources.
Scientists commonly do not applaud the embracing of emotion,
subjective judgments and intuition as they lack certainty,
measurement and facts, per se.
Brene Brown has convinced me to learn more about storytelling
and how it can be a useful device in coming to terms with our
emotions. I liked learning about confabulations as being an
interplay of emotion, behavior and thought…Then, exploring BIG-
boundaries, integrity and generosity.
She was compelling when she described people’s bad behaviors
often baaed on inner feelings of low self-worth or pressure
Brown talks of forgiveness as not forgetting or walking away from
accountability or condoning a hurtful act. It is the process of
taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live…It is often
not a quick and easy solution to a complex problem.
She clarifies the importance of expressing compassion and
empathy, but not sympathy.
A major take away is BRAVING as a tenant to increasing
Boundaries - clarify what is ok
Reliability- follow through on commitments
Accountability - own your mistakes
Vault - keep confidences and privacy
Integrity - courage over comfort, right over fun, fast, easy
Nonjudgment - open communication with feelings
Generosity - of intentions, works and actions
A good read: Rising Strong by Brene Brown.
Top Line Issues: Linkedin, Branding, Job search management
A. Linkedin: Kat Moon
-Summaries, Headline, and photo need to be strong and professional
graduate assistant is not good
goofy photo is a turn-off
past history bio will not convince recruiters to contact you
-Content that describes your skills needs to be relevant for new situations
course history is like a book you have read and half forgotten
proper use of verb tense, past and present for current experience, stands
out to recruiters
descriptive action verbs for accomplishments, relevant skill
endorsements need to be prioritized
B. What few words can you use to describe your most relevant skills,
applicable knowledge and abilities/contact network? Your Brand.
-Practice how you display and perform it.
-Be aware of unique features of your being- voice, smile, etc
-Show that you care and care about yourself and others.
Our mind travels in two directions when we read or view media.
We either reinforce our previously held beliefs or become
convinced of one side in a controversy. An article link
suggest that this should awaken us to become critical
consumers, always asking what is the supporting data and its
origins and can other, viable conclusions be drawn with the
personal self-assessments which draws the conclusion that
so many of these tools are out there and she bemoans any
of their benefits.
Are you amazed as I am looking around at all the solar
electric panel installations appearing on neighbors roofs and
in barren fields? An almost forgotten approach to energy
conservation remains viable for us– conversion of
incandescent to LED lighting.
Slowly but surely, step by inching step, we are observing
ACS adopt open access journal publications. Recently
ACS announced ACS Omega in addition to Central Science.
Cost and availability of publications are encouraging the
movement. It is hard to understand the reluctance other
than that is the way it has always been done, especially
since more journals than not are both in print and
WE BELIEVE WHAT WE READ; BE CRITICAL
SOURCES: S. Galea, Fortune 12-15-15, p. 75 “The Big
Think,” and V. Sole-Smith, RealSimple, “Getting to know
S. Galea informs readers that reading can be confusing
when critical conclusions by different authors are
diametrically opposed. It is the role of “leaders” he
opines to ask the hard questions, dig up the answers,
imperfect as they may be, and importantly distinguish
the motivations that may bias the conclusions.
[Strong article about CRITICAL THINKING.]
Sole-Smith presents her study in a popular magazine
of emotional assessment tools. It might be that her
conclusions do not ask the hard questions. Her
preferences might be not as clearly defined in the
output. These tools provide insight about a range of
other “types” and she may find she is a mixture.
This can offer unrealized value.
GLOBAL ENERGY– CONSERVE USING EFFICIENT
SOURCE: A. Staller, ECS Blog, “Low Hanging Fruits of
While replacing fossil fuel power generation with solar
energy conversion seems attractive, it is costlier and has
unanticipated side costs that are not advertised to
consumers. Staller points to a simpler and adaptable
approach that is proven and useful on a large scale.
Worth the quick read and implementation.
See also #1 way to fight climate change
OPEN ACCESS THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE FOR
SOURCE: A. Yarnell, CEN 12-14-15, ACS publishing
Beginning to be “published” in Spring, 2016, also allowing
authors the flexibility to transfer manuscript submissions
from one ACS journal to another.
It is a step in the right direction.
A balanced discussion occurs in wiki.
This year’s list includes:
James Pennebaker, The Secret life of Pronouns: What our
words say about us, Bloomsbury Press, NY, 2011
Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen, Great by Choice: Uncertainty,
Chaos and Luck—Why some thrive despite them all, Harper
Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, Bold: How to go big, Achieve
Success and Impact the World, Simon and Schuster NY, 2015
George J Mitchell, The Negotiator: Reflections on an American
Life, Simon and Schuster NY 2015
John Kounios, Mark Beaman, The Eurika Factor: Aha moments,
Creative Insights and the Brain, Random House, NY, 2015
Leonard Mlodinow, The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey
from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos, Pantheon Books
S. J. Scott and Rebecca Livermore, Confident You: Introvert’s Guide
to Success in Life and Business, www.habitbooks.com, Kindle, 2015
Peter C Whybrow, The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the
Life Well Lived, Norton and Co., NY, 2015
Neil Psotman, The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School,
Vintage Books, Div. of RandomHouse, NY, 1995
Frank Barners, Body Language Box Set: Crucial Body Language
Guide with Tips to Learn and Read and Talk, Kindle, 2015
Michael Nir, Body Language: Silent Influencing, Kindle, 2015
Peter Bregman, 18 Minutes Find your Focus, Master Distractions
and Get the right things done, Business Plus, NY, 2011
David Brooks, The Road to Character, Random House 2015
John C. Maxwell, 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, Center Street
PhillipTetlock, Dan Gardner, Superforecasting, Kindle books,
Penguin, RandomHouse, 2015
The option, honestly, the requirement, of submitting “diversity
statements’ was recently brought to my attention in an
application under consideration.
The option appears in application documents submitted for
areas like: teaching positions, graduate schools in liberal
arts and sciences, and in law schools. 2 International
organizations recognized cultural diversity as part of the
globalization trend more than a decade ago.
A number of global businesses have incorporated diversity
into their mission statement, as can be found in annual
reports and webpages. In these, it is often you can observe
“a business case” supporting diversity.
Much of the advice offered for ideas to include seem to
shine more light on Pier Forni’s work on civility.
It should be recognized that the concept is morphing and
the examples and values expressed in statements should
be consistent with the organization for which the one-page
diversity statement is formulated. [see also. ]
Some ideas might include:
active open-mindedness with a shared purpose
outcomes in our lives change positively resulting from experiences
broadness and depth of input and perspective can often be more
significant than ability, as it can be tuned to specific instances
While this blog has spoken about a valuable role
“reverse mentoring” is for many, it is a fuzzy term.
The reason for pointing this out is observed by
perusing Leslie Kwoh’s article on the topic
highlighting a concept favored by former GE CEO
The communication paradigm has shifted about
knowledge and wisdom transfer. With faster
adoption and change, expertise has a shorter lifetime
and needs more frequent upgrading and refreshing.
Some commenters suggest that reverse mentoring
can be observed in situations focusing on coaching
skills in exchange for reciprocal behaviors of like
Thus, it might be better to define Committed
Mentoring which borrows a number of valuable
concepts from superforecasting teams including:
1. AOM active openmindedness - trust in allowing
all members to ask questions
2. Perform Premortem thinking - assume a course of
action failed and think about why this happened
3. Define a shared purpose
4. Opens the reciprocal sharing to other outside input
which brings in diversity.
This brings in some of the content from Tetlock’s
“Superforecasters” teams that produce the best results of
predicting future outcomes.
Been reading Phillip Tetlock’s book “Superforecasters” since predicting
what will happen is something we often like to do in science. As Charles
Kettering once said about his interest in the future ‘because the rest of
his life’ will be spent there.
Forecasting is hard work and can be learned. People who do it well,
Tetlock opines, have a strong interest in information, a willingness to
adjust to new data, an ability to synthesize a view from various
perspectives, like a ‘dragonfly’s eye.’ They also pay attention to their
prediction compared to the actual result to learn from.
A rough process outline includes
1.’unpacking’ the question into components
2.distinguish between the known and unknown, while not leaving
3.assess the question from an objective ‘outside viewpoint’
4.put the problem into a comparative perspective, which downplays its
uniqueness and treats it as a special case
5.explore others’ predictions for similarities and differences
6.pay attention to broader predictions from wider sources [wisdom
7.synthesize the information and compare to actual, learning what
can be done to improve
The singularity where technological intelligence overtakes human abilities
is predicted to be in 2030 [Vinge ] and 2045 [Kurzweil ].
Interesting competitions in forecasting provide events for evolving
When you are in the presence of a forward-seeking,
thoughtful person, it grabs your attention. The first
link for your consideration is an ECS lecture from
October, 2015. If you want to see where STEM education
can make a difference, this is a must view link.
We are barraged with half truths about where we
should place our hard-earned savings, our tax deferred
investments and rainy day securities. While I am an
amateur, I am struck by some things that more than
not consistently work and that fail miserably. Two links
point these out on municipal bonds and MLP master
The third entry was debated between embroiled free
speech controversies, skeptical views of online
credentials and an amazing saga of a runaway best
selling book. I chose the last. It might be that the
naming of the saga can give similar information for
all three, by just changing a few words.
PRIORITY: SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION FOR THE PUBLIC
SOURCE: A. Heller, Electrochemical Society Lecture, 10-15,
“Wealth, Global Warming and Geoengineering“
S. Arrhenius recognized that sunlight was reflected by clouds.
How much the world will warm depends on managing the
global climate. This ends a sterling lecture that informs and
projects what we can prioritize to make a difference for
INVESTMENTS: AVOID MLP AND CONSIDER MUNICIPAL
BONDS (TAXABLE ACCOUNTS)
SOURCES: L. Saunders, WSJ 11-14-15, p. B7
“A shock $24000 Tax Bill“
A. Kuriloff, WSJ 11-5-15, p. C1
“Surprise 2015 Victor: Munis“
Laura Saunders hit the nail right on the head about unexpected
tax bills resulting from owning partnerships in their IRAs.
The article addresses UBITs, unrelated business income, in
the tax code. All the comments support this report.
Where do we invest in? The world is uncertain, the market is
in frenzy mode, will the Fed increase rates…
Kuriloff gives readers a current comparison and then in
an insert offers what to look for when investing in
municipals and what to watch out for.
HEADLINE LABELING CAN BE THE LEADING INFLUENCE
SOURCE: D. Benoit, WSJ 11-17-15, p.1
“Some Train readers on wrong track“
This is a case of mistaken identity in the modern era. Search a
book by title and come up with a book with a very similar title
and get increased sales in the book.
Modern era– depend so much on search routines that can lead
to different, unexpected results. The tie-in to free speech on
campus and online certification is that there can be a loss of
“critical thinking” in the current day. We must guard against
this loss and help bring that back to public discourse proactively
There are so many media entries in video, e-books and
podcasts these days that provide “secrets” to land
a job you might desire. Mostly the contents are
recycled material that helps you become “qualified.”
Competition has increased. Advice might offer getting
“ahead of the curve,” but how long in advance can you
have the newest item?
There are some honest fundamentals relating to the
human condition and psychological behavior that
can be lasting skills that are useful in many areas.
Indeed, these skills give you an advantage over “qualified”
candidates who have the required “soft” skills and necessary
“hard Skills.” To differentiate them we call them “wise
Midcareer people also develop capacities to discipline
their attention and perceive trends with intuition.
Three skills appearing on the horizon of skills that might
differentiate you from other qualified candidates are:
having a personal “growth” agenda,
inserting pauses into your NOW habit.
Taken from John Maxwell’s work seeking growth allows
you to see yourself and add value to you and your actions.
In his 15 Laws of Growth book, Maxwell lays out a
reasoning and a method to counter human frailties
in order to balance your life and improve relationships
and careers..the growth paradigm
sees the big picture, prioritizes
measures your improvements and applies
Amanda Ripley wrote about Rick Riscorla who may have been
the wisest hire Morgan Stanley ever made. He was responsible
for emergency evacuation of employees in the twin towers
attack. Ripley breaks down the psychological impact of
people facing disasters and pieces together what helps people
develop a “survival arc.”
Constantly measuring and improving training in ways of
simulating likely scenarios, like evacuations
Develop and use “breathing exercises” in the face of startle
Know that there is a way out, positive attitude is a force
multiplier and we can learn from positive and negative events.
INSERTING PAUSES TO REFLECT
Many can identify one of their weaknesses as procrastination
in the face of fears, uncertainties and doubts. There is a
common understanding that our brains work in several modes
and that the thinking mode is slower reacting. So when
we are in the middle of an action or reluctant to take action,
you can gain much by pausing to reflect on the experience
to learn from it. Maxwell offers four I’s to spell out your
Investigate - reflect and gain insight
Incubate - ask questions, ask for help, help others
Illuminate - allow yourself to internally brainstorm
Illustrate - look for analogies and metaphors, as stories
More than thirty Chemistry field majors attended a workshop
Effective job Searching last Saturday. The topics included:
Matching your skills and interests to the job market, Job
search strategies, Resumes and cover letters, Giving presentations,
Interviewing in larger organizations, Mock interviewing and
1. More organizations are using recruiting firms to perform
screening resumes, screening interviews, and reference
checking. They are adept at the process and are generally
not responsible for the final decision. It is not ununsual for
the position to be temporary, but there are legal limits on the
length of temporary employment.
2. ITAR review to enter certain industrial sites. Organizations
who design, manufacture and work with a number of government
agencies are required to comply with International Traffic in
Arms Regulations ITAR. Thus, if you are invited on site for
interviews you will need to bring along a birth certificate,
form of ID with your photo and may be expected to leave
your cell phone at the door (no photos)..
3. Problem solving interview questions are popular again.
These may require out of the box thinking. They may require
how you might work with other applicants to solve a problem.
They may be time limited, may have no set answer and may
just demonstrate how you deal with unexpected situations.
We observed a mock interview asking: how would you design
an emergency evacuation system for this building.
4. It is hard to justify the one-page page length rule
of thumb for resumes for all kinds of positions and applicants.
Each resume, however, does need to be targeted for each
situation using keywords. It is an advertizing document for
you with a readable form and both computer and person
designed content. It needs to be brief, concise and specific
with no errors.
5. MBTI assessments were brought up several times as
helpful for preparation for your job search, for informal
meal interviews and for audience analysis for presentations.
Received a query about scientific literature and our professional
responsibility. In our peer review scheme, it is unfortunate
when it happens but errors in presentation and accepted
interpretations can enter. They occur and when they do
what is your responsibility.
“I have come across a paper published in a reputable journal,
[left out], in my research field….I noticed poor quality of the
paper, including lack of understanding of the literature, as well
as obvious, wrong conclusions which contradict the author’s
own figures…I think the peer review of this paper was not
“Should I write to the journal editor…Do I have a responsibility
as a scientist.?”
The general rule of thumb for publications which you disagree
with like you apparently have is “Praise in public; criticize in
private.” If this is done then the group who is responsible for
the inaccuracies or misjudgments can publish a retraction.
In science we find disagreements based on our understanding many
times. Science is supposed to be self-correcting in that correct
literature is cited many more times than incorrect literature.
Thus, often citated work is the bases for common understanding and
leads to acceptance.
Then your responsibility is to NOT CITE the work in question.
Since the financial items out number the psychological
ones, we will start out with them.
Have you been paying attention to the budget agreement
Congress has passed on to President Obama? It takes
away a Social Security provision that allowed retirees
certain benefits and could impact those nearing retirement.
A second financial item relates to a mislabeling of
of municipal bond yields. Evidently bonds are offered
issued at a premium over par. They are often called
before maturity. Meaning– lower yields than labelled.
A third financial item relates to benefits to ACS
member who are unemployed.
The non-financial item is about a book describing
“productive habits” we all might benefit from.
NEW SOCIAL SECURITY RULES
SOURCE: A. Tergesen, WSJ 10-31-15, “New
social security rules to end key filing strategies“
I sent my brother who recently turned 66 this article
that spells out the end of social security spousal
benefit upgrade for some retirees. There is a
six month period before the regulations go into
effect. This could be several thousand dollars a
year difference for those who are affected.
MUNICIPAL BOND MISLABELING
SOURCE: J. Zweig, WSJ 10-31-15, ” How
Muni Bonds Yield 4% in a 2% World”
Those investing in low risk, no tax municipal
bonds might be in for a shock to find the real
return is nearly half of what is advertized. Zweig
suggests asking your broker or adviser to
reveal the “yield to worst’ on your municipal
bonds, adjusted for return of principal.
ACS MEMBER BENEFIT
SOURCE: T. Connelly, letter for the executive
director to members, 10-1-15
In this letter seeking our membership renewal,
each one of us 158,000 (~5000 less that last
number in memory), might benefit from the
“members-only benefit” of up to 3 years free
membership (not sure if it is sequential or
additive) if you are unemployed. There are also
some benefits that you should ask for if you are
faced with such a personal challenge. In our
new world of temporary or episodic employment
this might be meaningful.
SOURCE: Peter Bregman, “Four Seconds“,
Harper One, 2015
Bregman goes into how we instinctively form
habits to live through our daily lives. He breaks
them down into mental, relationship, work,
self-defeating, and what I call productive habits.
He spends effort on boredom, how we become
our worst critic of ourselves, perfection and
What I liked were his descriptions of “productive”
habits– taking a “4 second pause” to develop options
when you face a problem, a 4-second pause when
attacked to ask questions [reducing tension in a
situation], a 4-second pause to establish focus each day,
to follow through and to prepare each day what are
short term and longer term priorities.
Two dozen grad students attended a class on learning about their
emotional make-up. They had been given assignments to complete
their MBTI profile and also asked to assess their values 2 3 and
behavior tendencies 2 3 .
Each one of these grad students is very smart and are
put into situations where they might wish to look smart
[leading a problem solving class, tutoring, giving seminars,
It reminded me of an article by Sue Shellenbarger of WSJ who
conveyed “the appearance of intelligence is [done] largely
with nonverbal cues… People get high marks when they talk in
simple, straightforward language with a lot of energy and
engagement. Make eye contact. Speak in a pleasant voice.
Articulate words clearly, pause between sentences. Listen
closely to others and be transparent about what you do and
do not know.”
Attempts to talk over people’s heads by using jargon, big words,
or complicated sentences will be quickly seen as a pose.
Observing how the class was widely divided in terms of
MBTI preferences [10 of 16 MBTI subcategories were
revealed and confirmed by descriptions found in two books*].
Their different preferences view the world and decisions they
made with different lenses and criteria. It was revealing and
several remarked that this puts a whole new view on working
* S. J. Scott and Rebecca Livermore, Confident you…2015
Isabel Briggs Myers, Introduction to Type, 6th edition, CPP