From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

March 2015
« Feb    
Weakness: ‘Not doing well enough’ feeling
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 10:57 am

In an exercise, half of a group were asked to present their
strengths and give an example.  While the other half
presented personal weaknesses and what they are doing
about it.

Fear of Public Speaking, Being over-busy, rushed for time,
and less organized, and Shy and challenged to make
decisions were offered as weaknesses.  We have noticed
these and they are each real. 
An interesting one was offered– feeling that whatever
this person does, it is insufficient.  Being vulnerable.
The fear that when we become vulnerable we may be
considered less worthy.

Patrick Wanis and others talk about the broader cases
of this ‘vulnerable perception.’  This was a heartfelt expression
he explains as lacking a strong sense of loving and belonging.

They need to develop courage to be imperfect, accepting
themselves as they are, and be willing to make connections
with people.

The  Brene Brown TED talk elaborates well what can help
in dealing with this vulnerability issue.
What do the “wholehearted do” she asks
   - ask for help
   - take rejection in stride and learn in a organized, forgiving
   - be willing to risk failure, loss because of the opportunities
that may result
Know that the emotions connected to these behaviors can
not be “numbed out.” 
Certainty in religion and politics are expressions of this
weakness she adds.

comments (0)
Watch-Outs. 80. Careful Interview preparation, Peter Kissinger Points of Information and Hiring Practices to be Alert to
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 1:28 pm

A while back this blog listed nearly forty reasons that
may tip you off to not select an offer based on
supervisor, assignments, cultural fit, and terms of the
offer.  While they stand the test of time, a link offers
hiring practices that should turn job seekers off, as

Under the radar but high impact things that can
arrest your chances to have a successful interview
and receive an offer don’t get mentioned often.
A CareerHub blog comes clean with a couple of

Peter Kissenger talks about laboratory protocol
and about misuse of statistics in a way few people
can.  A couple of his letters are linked and will mean
a lot to most of us.

SOURCE: L. Ryan, Linkedin Pulse, “…Hiring practices
that drive good candidates away”
* black-hole or “we will contact you” auto-response.
This automated system for matching musts and wants with
keyword ATS searches assumes people reduce to keywords.

* just wait until ‘we get around to it.’
If you submit your proper documents and do not receive
a reply in two weeks it seems too long.  If you call and
do not receive satisfaction, it is time to move on.

* Salary and Benefit Information “one way street’
They can ask for your salary history and expectations but
do not tell you what their expected title and salary range
is.  This is strictly an exclusionary process that is not
looking for long term employees.

* You got an offer, what more do you want?
While most people are not strong experienced
negotiators, it is important to realize the best employers
want to meet with you face to face and satisfy your needs
when you start.  Bring up all the critical factors for your
family before you formally sign on with a title and
starting date.  They should respect what you bring to their

SOURCE:  Billie Sucher CareerHub Blog, Brands,
Bling and Interview Things

You can blow an interviewer away with too much
jewelry, a flashy wardrobe, diamond studs or cufflinks,
and driving a new silver Mercedes to an interview.
Ask yourself: am I weakening my candidacy by anything
I do, wear or present?  How will I be remembered?

SOURCE Peter Kissinger, C&EN 2-16-15, p. 5
Verify your Research
Tyranny of Averages
He remarks that statistics are too often misused and
given biased interpretations.  His annual physical is
of measurements compared to averages and ranges
at one point in time.
Multiple problems result from disciplines of siloed
expertise and unaligned goals and incentives.
Publications are sought to present innovation that
leads to funding and more publications, without
Too many assumptions are untested, systems are too
complicated and verify first, then trust.

comments (0)
Performance Feedback.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 9:05 am

When you enter the workforce, you may not be ready for
performance reviews and feedback.  Certainly not negative

In the world of “normal distributions”, 50% are better than
average and 50% are less than average.  Despite best efforts,
situations, conditions, accidents, external input, inopportune
occurrences, even heckler’s veto can put you in the less than
average group.
You may be the top performer for many years at many venues
just before you receive the invitation to sit down to talk about
your performance.  It does not matter.

A large number of people are faced with negative reviews.
One such kind is called a performance improvement plan,
which can be a HR trick to call an end to your position at
the organization.  It really provides the organization with a
formal means to document how to get rid of people rather
than improving them.

These plans can be triggered for a myriad of often unrelated
situations as the Weekly Wrap link provides.  It calls into
question what direction is in your best interests.

You will generally be presented with few, often only 2, options
when one more in your favor is often not included.
2-Complete PIP which is next to a foregone termination anyway.
The third involves politely “submitting a respectful rebuttal”
as Al Sklover points out.

If on the other hand, you are not compensated well, and were
thinking of moving on, you can use this situation by performing
totally professionally to move on. [1.a on the list]
Do it as a plan of attack where you are exercising your options
to achieve your goals.  You know the outcome they seek anyway.
Solidify your next plans moving forward before you move on.

Remember HR in most cases is prohibited from from saying
negative things, for fear of law suits. 

1 comment
Habits and Habit Stacks. Breaking Bad Habits
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Mentoring, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 9:35 am

Habits, as many know, reduce “brain [or thinking] overload.”
We just do things the way they have always been done and
move on to the next thing in time.

This week we started building a process for “committed
“   2  by sharing some ‘networking tips.’  During
the class and after people both displayed and asked for
help to break bad habits.  As we have mentioned in
earlier entries, habit stacks are the basis for soft

This entry lists some tips and tricks for networking
using mini-habits that can be aligned into stacks–
 - meet, greet speakers    - offer to help speaker
 - don’t go in “cold”          - warm your voice up
 - travel light                     - if arriving late, take a moment
                                            to look good and have a plan
 - google the speaker        - “sticky eyes
 - visit and meet VIPS       - “wet glass syndrome
 - Amy Cuddy pose

A couple of individuals discussed frustration over
personal behaviors that they found hard to break and
asked for assistance.  Sharma’s blog entry was instructive
in that he isolates nervous habits from dependencies or
addictions and breaks the bad nervous habits into actions
to reduce internal tension and motor/ verbal tics.

Sharma offers that these bad habits can be dealt with
by recognition, meaningful and purposeful alternative
and positive reinforcement.

1 comment
Confidential information. Proprietary information in Companies and Identity Theft scams with Turbotax
Filed under: Recent Posts, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:45 pm

Have you been using TurboTax like I have?  I have benefited
from using it for more than 15 years.  Then this year I noticed
that facilities for reporting investment income were not
in the “Deluxe” version.  In order to do that I would have to
upgrade to Premier for $30 in addition to a second state tax

There was quite a bit of customer upheaval and I learned
I could, for this year only, get the upgrade at no cost by
direct intervention and request.  Mike Hogan writes up the
details in his Electronic Investor Column.

That is not the end of the Turbotax user saga.  Laura Saunders
and Liz Moyer
wrote about a state tax fraud alert for turbotax
users happening Feb. 5-6 in 19 states.  The tax fraud is not
a breach of Turbotax but other security data breaches where
social security information is illegally stolen.

Turbotax will help ameliorate the problem with resources.
they suggest doing a check on turbotax to see if your direct
deposit account information has been changed.

 -Use downloaded software rather than online preparation
 -change passwords using stronger passwords
 -avoid unsecured WiFi access
 -update your operating system software,
 -update your homesystem  and antivirus software
 -look out for phishing scam emails
 -do not respond to “Your Federal return has been rejected” emails

Confidential information is one of the subjects Al Sklover
has covered recently in his Employment law blog.  He points
out the repercussions for being reprimanded or fired violating
for breach of confidentiality can be detrimental and long
lasting. Be cautious and know the rules, regulations and

Sklover offers meaningful guidelines for what is not
confidential information at work.  Some salient items
out of ten he identifies are:
 - dates, titles, and responsibilities including professional
association affiliation, including employer rep
 - workplace projects, if completed and publicly known,
 - ideas that you developed outside of the company (,which
should be documented separately– send an email to yourself)
 - public domain, general field knowledge.

A colleague recently came to me with a problem about preparing
and getting approval for material at an outside presentation.
She indicated it takes so much time that is a rare commodity.
My response to her was get approval on more relevant material
than you need so that you can respond to questions with information.
Ask for more and only edit it shortly before the presentation.
The request then helps you not to be so picky.  You know the
saying it takes longer to prepare to give a 5 minute technical
presentation than an hour presentation because of the need to
precisely word things and limit the data that supports the conclusions.

comments (0)
Culture of organizations
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 1:46 pm

One of the main pieces of advice job seekers receive and
read is to explore the culture of organizations before
accepting an offer.  What is culture

The most comprehensive descriptions are in the wiki
definition of organizational culture.

Burghall, Grant and Morgan define it nicely in “Lean
Six Sigma” as the way people normally do things in an
organization and when no one is around to tell them
what to do.
It develops over time resulting from past events, the
present climate, the organizational structure (solid
and dotted line relationships), organizational aims and
kinds of people.

It is influenced by its norms and values as seen in the
written mission, values, organizational chart, website
and charts.

The culture is influenced by unwritten assumptions and
what people pay attention to  and value

Artifacts , symbols, power structure, routines, rituals
stories, systems and myths
also reflect the organizational

It is said you should relate well to the culture when you
accept a position.  This entry aims to provide what you
pay attention to during your assessment.

1 comment
New Learnings by attending a meeting outside your fields of expertise
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 4:37 pm

This past week I had the marvelous experience to explore,
absorb and experience new technology at an Exhibition
and Technical conference.  Let me share three findings.

A keen observer of human and natural phenomena, Franklin
is attributed with an effective form of flattery that creates
win-win outcomes.

The effect was learned at the first workshop began at 7am
and where few were in attendance.
I arrived early, greeted the speaker and offered to help in
any way she felt was valuable. 

Afterward, she said you need not attend this session and I
appreciate it.  Would you be willing to come and do a
presentation to my group?

Later in the morning I attended a presentation on getting your
work published in society journals.  The organizer responded,
you do not need to attend this session; as you were here last
In this session, I learned a lot about how media is changing
technical publication in journals. 

Doing favors for others is a form of flattery and a way
of furthering both yours and their goals.
Source and origin is nicely described


Editors of JBS and JALA (Biomolecular Screening and
Laboratory Automation) talked about constructing papers
that journals will accept and what authors can do after
Before submission
1.  know the audience of the journal
2.  create good titles for your article
3.  while the scientific method is undergoing added modifications
it is good in all cases to describe the question you are trying to
answer for the general audience before you are finished with
Authorship consideration
1.  person who did the work first
2.  no more than 2 co-firsts
3.  P.I. last
4.  corresponding authors, typically PI, but no more than 2
5.  Avoid gamesmanship [like listing famous author in paper to
get it published]
After publication
1.  in the multi-media, open access age, find ways to promote
ethically and legally
2.  use social media to share and show discussion and implications
3.  institution press releases.

What in tarnation is that?  It is the reverse of Moore’s Law about the
increasing trend in the speed and virtual memory of computational
devices.  Francis Collins eloquently brought this in to his keynote
when describing NIH and Pharma’s dilemma of finding therapies
for human diseases.
The number of new drugs approved every 9 years has halved since

comments (0)
Hiring Trends. Perspectives from the Hiring Side
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 11:17 am

This entry was going to be about a recent collection of
tips and shortcuts for digital technologies in “Pogues
“  by David Pogue which is helpful for many who
need to use technologies and struggle to keep up.

In the process of thinking about it, Pharmalogics Recruiting
was “re-discovered.”  It is a remarkable resource for
pharma and biotech industries.  It’s blog website serves
more than just the segment it serves.

Just like the considerations offered in the “interviewing
” that an interview begins much earlier in the
process and includes preparation and soft skills to explore
and narrow down prospects, the company’s interview team
needs to be “on the same page” for requirements and
responsibilities and expectations.

A positive interview experience is where the candidate feels
wanted and the process is deliberate and communicated.

It is interesting to note the other little things that can be
done to make the process a successful negotiation, as
the article portrays for the best companies.  This is
telling reading for those in the job market.


Recall that the zeroth step in a job search is understanding
who you are and your primal behaviors.  This article
seconds this notion and builds on it with what they
call is a person’s “coachability.”

The article describes it as the capacity to listen carefully,
absorb and adapt in a positive way to change and
constructive feedback.


One of the critical points in preparation is to understand
the mission and goals of the organization you are interviewing
for.  It is a must at the offer stage since your satisfaction
in accepting and working there will reflect a good match between
your personal needs and values and the company’s.

Explore with some detail what is important and what is
valued at the company before the interview.

comments (0)
Mentoring Discussions. Different Perspectives, Helpful ideas
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 3:06 pm

A colleague/collaborator and I were conversing about
mentoring and mentoring programs.  She was telling me
about the struggles when discussing what is important,
who should be targeted and what would a successful program
look like.

She brought up the finding that different parts of an organization,
like marketing, finance, medical affairs (medical device mfg),
and R&D views mentoring differently.

Some parts think of the role as helping new members come up
to speed with the culture because turn over is high.  Another
part of the company has very low turnover, flat organizational
structure and intense detailed work.  (You almost have to have
a retirement party to induce a change.)

Thus, mentoring in specific companies can assume a company
cultural bias to meet the needs at a particular point in time or
departments that it serves.

So the roles of teacher, coach, mentor and sponsor can be
adjusted.  Mentoring graduate students in technical fields
needs to adjust to each field in the same view.  The skill sets
can be used to meet different goals since in each field of
research, development, marketing, management, product
development and manufacturing uses the technical elements
with different goals.  The emphasis is morphed to meet the needs.

She also share an interesting link to the different roles.

This brought to mind a recent book by John Lanchester
who spoke about how Kahneman influenced the interview
process in selecting military candidates (without going into
formal details.). 

He did experiments on selection processes where
critical skills and abilities were defined, questions were
prepared by knowledgeable stakeholders for a pool of
qualified candidates.

[JOHN LANCHESTER How to speak money:  What the
money people say—and what it really
means, Norton & Company,
New York 2014]

He then had a random portion of the group take objective
measure tests before interviewing. 

Better selections were made when the intuition of
interviewers were supplemented by independent testing

So, in various places this additional testing is being done.

Lanchester also presented remarkable meanings of
business terms which technical people might find useful.
failing upwards:  someone who screws up and is promoted
to a bigger job just as the first result collapses

fiscal and monetary:  fiscal means dealing with taxes and
spending, controlled by government;  monetary means
dealing with interest rates, controlled by the central bank.

“a haircut:“  in investment bonds, people who have lent money
are not going to get all of their money back.

hollowing out:”  process by which jobs disappear from the
economy while appearances remain the same.
At its peak, Kodak employed 140,000 and valued at $28B.
Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1B in 2012 and employed
13 people.

hype cycle:”  process involving new inventions, technology
or product design arrives with much fanfare and is found not
to live up to its claims.

McJobs:  low status, low-pay, low-security, low-prospect
jobs like at a franchise as McDonalds.

Types of unemployment:  frictional, structural and cyclical
frictional:  people move, voluntarily choose to change
structural: loss of jobs due to technological change or
obsolescence (chemical photography)
cyclical:  loss of jobs due to boom and bust cycles of
the economical system

1 comment
Watch-Outs. 79. Taking “aim” at networking, Marketing in the 21st century business world
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Leadership, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:17 pm

When we compose a cover letter or an introductory letter
to people in technical fields it is common to say that
in the first paragraph the reader needs to be “hooked”
and then “reeled in” to use the fishing analogy.

Both the analogy and terminology is common in
the marketing world.  We are more and more aware of
the marketing gambit with all the technology we all
use.  The first link provides an inside look into the
way marketers look at the “hook” from the perspective
of taking advantage of our habits

There is a lot to learn from critical terms as they are
used in other career fields, like medical fields or business
fields.  We don’t always get exposed to or attend sessions
with those groups of people.  The second link points to
networking.  Here, however, it is the comments to the
linked article that provide benefit in revealing that effective
networking is not just schmoozing or shameless pursuit
of the powerful or soon to be powerful
, it needs to
be committed to helping.

SOURCE:  T. Greenwald, Wired 23.01, Under the Influence
This piece adds a block to Charles Duhigg’s Habit flow
  It is the “investment” block where he states this
provides an element of a person’s choosing that results
in the next trigger .

The Wired article’s author provides 21st century
examples for behaviors marketers seek to induce
in us. 

The comments to the article are sometimes biting, just
revealing that some feel there is more to it than what
Greenwald intends.

Nonetheless, this article points out the use of a
psychological concept in a different field.


SOURCE:  Schumpeter, Economist 1-17-15, p. 66
The networking effect” see the comments as well.

The article gives the effect of a similar behavior of
trying to obtain, invite or get to accept as many
Linkedin members to be part of your network.  It
is not going to be effective to just add “names” who
you have not made a connection as a number of the
comments to the Schumpeter article indicate.  There
has to be “something substantial” to one’s approach.

We suggest that it be “committed networking” where
you honestly seek out things for the benefit of others
and make a commitment.  Your network members do
the same for you, especially when you need or ask
for the assistance.

SOURCE:  Economist, 1-17-15, p. 59
Blood in the Water
This could be a lesson on the importance of legal
entanglements and clash of corporate cultures
in the merger of two large firms. 

The premise is that the dropping oil price may
bring about the demise of BP as an independent
firm.  Several suitors are mentioned, but each
possible large company presents major changes
in management and organizational behaviors.

This is a lesson for all professionals to observe
how cultural and legal issues can influence
business decisions.

comments (0)
Watch-Outs. 78. Retention bonuses, Financial numbers and Google biomedical devices
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:08 pm

Several years ago, my boss shared with me that new owners
would agree to a purchase, if he and I were to remain with
the company.  It had to do with understanding significantly
valuable to a new owner and what they planned to do.  This
kind of arrangement is not uncommon in technology companies
that may be involved in merger and acquisition activity.
(Note all the activity in Pharma.)  Al Sklover’s recent
excellent guidance on what to look for and what to seek
is heady information in the first item.

We did not receive nor ask for a retention bonus.

A second article gave insight on the financial side of
our careers relating to some financial indices that
signal good habits.  There is some debate about adding
different ones than the 15 given in the linked article.
Nonetheless a couple were quite meaningful for me.

Google is diving into the biomedical device arena
starting with contact lenses by partnering with Novartis
(-Alcon) and other technologies to solve the world’s
problems.  Andrew Conrad spoke about this on
and is highlighted in various business magazines.

SOURCE:  A. Sklover, Sklover’s working wisdom, 1-6-15
Responding to a Retention Bonus Offer
The retention bonus is a good faith business agreement, thus
will be offered with a formally drawn contract that is legally
binding when finalized.  Al points out the usual meanings, traps
and details that can be considered for negotiation.

There are certain terms to look out for and exclude, actively
employed and sole discretion, and better phrases that
represent your position better.  There is also an opportunity
to negotiate, he points out, but beware with a legal counsel
on your side.

This is another excellent, point-by-point discussion on legal
matters in lucid language.

SOURCE:  A. Prior, WSJ 1-3-15, p, B1
The numbers you need to know.”
We are in the process of considering downsizing and wonder
where to move and do we rent or buy.  This article listed the
price to rent ratio.  In a high, scarce rent area, it is better to
buy and in a cheap and plentiful rent area, it is better to rent.
Market assessment by other words, I suppose.

It also offered a strategy for required minimum distributions
RMD [for when we reach 70 1/2] when little else exists.
If you have enough income without RMD, then ask your
sponsor to hold off payment until the 4th quarter and
request enough to cover both state and federal taxes
as well as quarterly estimated taxes.  This allows you to keep
the money in the tax shelter for most of the year.
Should have thought of that!

How much is your estate tax exemption (differs in each state),
mutual fund expenses (keep <1.0%), home insurance coverage
(replacement cost), debt service and rate, AGI levels, fixed,
recurring and discretionary expenses?  Seems like a good
checklist, even if only a couple apply to you now. 

SOURCE: L. Friedman, Business Insider 11-3-14
Here’s what experts really think about Google’s plan to
find cancer sooner

I viewed an interview on WSJ Live and dug a little into
creating devices with nanoparticles made from iron oxide
to monitor what is happening in our bodies to get both
early detection and continuous monitoring of proteins,
enzymes and biologically relevant signal molecules.

Here is a scientist speaking to business people and
marketers who understands the different modes of
thinking.  For marketers good outcomes in
experiments point to successes;  for scientists,
experiments disprove hypotheses.  He also “paints
a memorable word picture” in a story about what
motivates the work and Google.

The topic is unusual, the speaker fluent and this
reveals a new technological direction for the future.

1 comment
Resumes in 2015. Resume file, Linkedin Profile, Integrity, Different Content for Different Roles
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:16 pm

In today’s competitive and uncertain, virtual and interactive,
career and job-assignment marketplace, technical resumes
are only one part of your public relations portfolio.

Any consultant or reviewer who examines and critiques
only one document is shortsighted and not necessarily
offering you up-to-date advice.  Why?  We are approaching,
if we have not already reached, a ‘virtual presence’ world. 
Your presence (or absence from) in the Internet is larger
and may be more critical for you achieving your goal of
interacting with company representatives.  You have to
pay strong attention to addressing this market place. 
The profile can be targeted differently than your specific
resume file that you send to each individual company.

Lindsey Pollack
and Arnie Fertig highlight many
features of resumes vs. profiles and Linkedin’s mission.
In addition, it can be valuable to have a master resume
that you maintain throughout your career.  It  contains
all your personal information from which you
choose items to include in targeted resumes and

Organization, ease of reading, use of significant-in-
your-field keywords and ethical behaviors are important.
(Resumes also:  brevity, specificity and clarity)

I respect Tom Kellum who reported that resumes
“rule people out.’  In the business side of the enterprise.
the hiring authority seeks a person who can help her
reach her goals faster.  The resume, he points out, reveals
the past and not the “intangible futures.”  On the technical
side of the enterprise
, describing our accomplishments
reveals our Key Skills and Abilities KSA which can be
applied to solve problems and innovate.
So, not only are there differences in hard copy and
virtual documents, each of which is searchable, but
also different roles will represent us with different
styles of content.

Due to this, there are sometimes grey areas” in the
ways things are described
.  In addition, some people
might misrepresent titles, dates, areas of responsibility,
accomplishments and other details to make
themselves appear more attractive.  Comments in
various places point out there is little or no checking,
in the virtual world.  [This is a potential downside.
Rest assured, however, most significant, untrue content is
eventually discovered and there are serious con-

The grey areas extend to the ATS Applicant tracking system
software tools that review and find our profile or resume.
ATS output from our resumes can be erroneous as well.
It is a computer output without human intervention.

Public relations documents are an inexact science that
we have to work through to manage our careers.
 - master resume should be comprehensive and correct
 - Linkedin profile should be complete and regularly
updated [if project based or entrepreneurial, consider
a web-page as well]
 - targeted resumes, technical or business focused
 - each item should be keyword rich
 - follow ACS integrity guidelines.

Reminder:  Don Straits indicates the resume file contains
cover letter, resume, list of publications, patents and
presentations, specialized addenda (like research
summary, industry summary, patent review, management
philosophy, etc.) and list of references.

comments (0)
Trends in Technical Careers. +9 Oxidation State, Proposal Peer Review Process, Li ion coordination in solution
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Job Offer (Situations), Post-docs, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:55 am

An amazing discovery of the creation of an element with oxidation
state +9 was reported in October.  Iridium +9 was characterized with
photodissociation spectroscopy.  There are many possible implications
for this first +9 oxidation state element, which seems rarer than a
new element in the periodic table.

Ever-tightening budgets, combined with increasing costs, longer
tenures of graduate and post-graduate studies and a trend of
1,000 to 2,000 per year increase grant proposals (NSF) is creating
a challenge for proposers, reviewers and grant administrators.
The process of proposal reviews which all constituencies should be
well informed is undergoing both stresses and new evaluation.

 While lithium batteries and lithium ion electrochemical systems
are common in many devices, avenues of research into
their components has focused on anodes, cathodes and
side reactions.  New work was recently reported on the solvation
structure of liquid electrolytes.

SOURCE:   Nature 2014
An international team from Germany, China and Canada has
produced evidence of IrO4 (+1).  This is clearly unique as
displayed in Wikipedia.

There is quite some speculation of what this might lead to
in catalysis, structure, composition and dynamics.

SOURCES:  A. Widener, C&EN 11-24-14, p. 21,
 ACS Peer Review Statement
The author describes the details of the grant proposal selection
process and infers that it is more “administratively” managed. 
Pilot tests of virtual, applicant review, scaled back proposals,
and wording bias elimination schemes are brought out.

There are biases and preferences in all decision-making
processes.  Challenges to pure technical review by fiduciary
and financial impacts makes every stakeholder drawn to the

Every review process is very hard and demanding and
when faced with a broader spectrum of factors, most
people are not always well equipped to providing input. 

The ACS has a policy statement about peer review to keep it
technical -merit-based.  This area needs every person in the
scientific community to weigh seriously.

SOURCE: L. Yaris, …Better electrolyte for lithium batteries
Lithium BF4 was studied in the Berkeley light source and
Li + found to exist in solution with a higher, fractional coordination
number than previously believed.

This may lead to studies and discoveries for commercial

discovery team was led by Sebastian Riedel of Albert Ludwigs
University, in Freiburg, Germany; Mingfei Zhou of Fudan University, in
Shanghai; Jun Li of Tsinghua University, in Beijing; and Gary J.
Schrobilgen of McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario. - See more

Nature 2014, DOI: 10.1038/nature13795
Nature 2014, DOI: 10.1038/nature13795

comments (0)
Watch-Outs. 77. Critical thinking Employment, Trends in other fields, More on Open Access
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, First Year on Job, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:50 pm

Did you observe the oxymoron headline on scientist employment
in C&EN 12-22-14, p.11 Temporary Turmoil?  It got me to
looking deeper to find out more– differences between fields,
differences between locations, where is the data and what does
it really mean…See Critical thinking questions we should
apply when reading reports.

Are you currently in a position and wonder how to move
to another position?  An interesting link is shared giving
the trend in “prized ponies,” in job market terminology,
those who are passive candidates, already working but
“shackled” into their current position.

Many scientific and engineering societies are finding
that subscription-based publication of findings and applications
are not meeting their core mission.  Open access has the
potential of distributing more evenly (without bias) and widely
advances that are the output of scientific and engineering
One of the leading objections in the publication world
dominated by large societies and publishing houses is the
curious use of  “impact factor” for whole journals for
career advancement purposes.

SOURCES  J. Wright, Forbes 5-28-2013
Influence of international graduates on STEM worker
shortage”  ,
and following articles
J. Weismann, Slate 7-10-14 “The stagnating job market for
young scientists“;  Simply hired trends
 Since the graphic made little sense in the above mentioned
magazine, it seemed like a good starting point to ask some
questions.  Wright indicates 40% of 25,000 PhDs are
granted to international graduates.  30% obtain positions
in the US on temporary work visas.

Some areas and fields have gained openings, Wright cites.

Weismann examines trends in separate STEM fields in
a helpful manner.  His conclusions, stated by quoting
other writers, may be debated.

SOURCE:  Rachel Silverman, WSJ 1-2-15, p. B1
New Year, New Job?  Read this first
The Economist, 1-3-15 p. 17
There’s an App for that
Silverman’s article hints at how companies are competing
for talented professionals.  Cost-cutting seems to be
edging out retention and engagement and, rather than
giving pay increases, bonuses are offered.  She puts forward
findings that new online services like online dating models
now exist– Poacht, Switch, Poachable are seen for
hard to fill and engineering positions.

A related piece by Lindsey Gellman “Show me your
Stuff” reveals that corporations are hiring using simulations
and assessment tools to reveal decision making ability and

The final lines in the piece: leave three positives
with the hiring entity.

Finally striking a similar cord to what has been brought
to your attention is the breaking up of tasks into different
skill level parts and having temporary staff handle less
impactful portions and outsourcing.  The Economist
article highlights this that seems to be a continuation
of PfizerWorks.

SOURCE ECS Interface Winter 2014. p. 31
Trends:  erosion of subscription revenue and subscribers
competition from commercial publishers that game
the impact factor system and impose deals to library
collections, reduced library budgets, consolidation
in the publishing industry, and increasing number of

The article hits a number of important long term
issues that our society could do better opening a

comments (0)
Communication Skills. Goulston’s “Just Listen” book
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Leadership, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 8:14 am

Another book I wished I had read when it was published is
Mark Goulston, “Just Listen.2 

While the above review covers some excellent topics, seven
take-aways for me about communication were:

Amygdala Hijack
:  the way our brains shut off the “delay and
think mode” and goes right into “react mode.” when we sense
a threat.  Your ability to reason drops, working memory
falters and stress hormones flush your system, preventing
rational, logical thinking.

Many of the approaches to deal with angry, fearful or resistant
people aim to prevent amygdala hijack.  Great story about
Tiger Woods and Earl Woods explains this.

Mirror neurons 2  : Humans have brain neurons which senses
mirror like behaviors and poses.  It may suggest how we
reveal we care about others or they care about us in
situations where we
  tear up when someone is kind
  express warm feeling when someone understands us
  are moved when someone asks ‘are you ok”

His suggestions are:
  State something that shows agreement and understanding
 of another person. 
   Say something indicating, I believe in you.

Empathy jolt:  Generating a change in brain operations
by taking a person out of an “anger mode” and shifting to
“empathetic behavior,” in other words from “me-centered”
to “other-centered”.

Empathetic feeling is a sensory experience in the nervous
system.  Anger is a motor reaction to some perceived hurt
or injury.  By taking an angry person to empathetic behavior
they shift from the motor brain to the sensory brain.

VCP Process:  networking process identified by Ivan
Misner of BNI to be more effective at making connections.
Stands for:
V:  express more than who you are and what you want.
Instead tell why they will like you.  Be ‘interested’ rather
than ‘interesting.’  Talk about other people’s businesses more
than yours.  Ask questions and avoid cutting their answers

C:  1)Confirm rather than assume what the person wants,
expects or needs.  2)Meet promises made.  3)Focus on
what is in it for the other person, not for you. 4) Go to
extra lengths to satisfy the client.

P:  Focus on making the new connection interesting,
valuable and understood.  The new connection will be either
giver, taker or reciprocator.  Learn who is a “giver” and
“reciprocator.”  Know that Good connections take time. 
Relinquish connection with “taker.”

Goal Setting:  Set specific targets and write out a
step-by-step plan.  Plan to follow it with certain
check points.  Write out your goal and plan.

Share your plan and steps with others.  Have regular
check-ins with a  respected person.  Thank the person.

Keep toxic people from derailing your plan.

Awareness Checklist:
 Physical:  define cues and timing
 Emotional:  define specific descriptive words- anger,
frustration, challenge
 Impulse:  learn feelings that lead to impulses
 Consequence:  If I follow through, what will happen?
 Solution:  A better thing to do would be to….
 Benefit:  If I do that better thing, the benefit will be…

Meeting top people:  Some possible situations to consider–
seminars and panel discussions— ask good questions that
make them look good (mirror neuron empathy),
charity events book signings— ask what did you learn about
success from your dad or mother?

Working with Gatekeepers:   People who protect the
attention of top people.  They are often overworked and
under appreciated.  Make them feel felt and significant.

comments (0)
Thinking. Stress, disaster, fear and how to learn resilience and adapt
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 3:32 pm

There is something very applicable from a recent
book, Amanda Ripley’s “The Unthinkable Who survives
when disaster strikes

She helps us understand when we face a disaster what
phases our mind goes through–
   the survival arc
denial/ delay/  deliberation/ decisive moment
Survival mode gets triggered.  The brain works differently
under stress.  Panic is rare.  Negative panic, or shutdown,
occurs more frequently.  Some, however, do what is
practical to survive and know what actions to take.
Studying what we should do when a highly improbable
high consequence event occurs and practicing preparation
steps lead to resilience.

Performing appropriate practice, or walk-throughs,
the amydala of our brains gets wired to do what we should do.
This training is what we should all be thinking about
for all situations which can be stressful
.  Breathing
and level of preparation stands out.  Military training,
where we learn that formal simulation of how we
should behave in situations, teaches veterans that
it is a worthwhile exercise to practice for readiness.

This a poignant reminder that
  mock interviews of all types of interview structures
will hardwire desired actions, behaviors, thought
processes and words.
   simulating introductions and handshakes with important
people at meetings to present yourself well
   practicing both being interviewed and interviewing will
prepare you to be effective in both roles and thus in
your career.
   practicing your presentation and what you would do
if something fails
informs your brain some escape
routes when the unexpected occurs.

comments (0)
Watch-Outs. 76. Email concerns, Plagiarism in Science, Roth IRAs
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:40 am

An article grabbed my attention, from the online OA publications
of another society.  It indicates how relatively infrequent
plagiarism is now in scientific literature and some causes
and preventions editors use.

My boss used to use his email as a storage cabinet.  The Sony
hacking incident is calling this practice into question
Maybe you should too, if this is your habit.

We do not know how much longer Roth IRAs will last as a
preferred savings medium.  The number of Roth conversions
continues to increase and more companies offer Roth 401Ks.
An article reviews features and trade-offs you might consider
for your longer term investments.

SOURCE:  Don Clark, Ovide and Dwoskin, WSJ 12-20-2014, p. B1
Are you sure you want to use Email
Many firms have email deletion programs for various reasons.
The Sony hack as the authors state opens up retrievable stored
data and conversations to people with no good end in mind.

Since it may require a deeper “culture change” in many places
there is resistance to shorter term required email deletions.
Alternate data storage approaches are indicated in the article.

Our email server limits our data cache.  While I delete most
messages when no longer critical, this note opened the question
again for digital storage strategies.

SOURCE:  A. Staller, ECS OA, December, 2014
“Analysis of Plagiarism in Scientific Papers”
ArXiv founder, P. Ginsparg, reported software maps and compares
text using a massive public database with an algorithm and finds a
small per cent of duplicate text. (order of 3%)

Many new articles are reviewed daily as they are issued. 

Interesting conclusions on sources and causes of copying are

SOURCE:  L. Saunders, WSJ 12-20-2014, p. B7
Is a Roth right for you

Roth:  if your tax rate is higher on withdrawls than current
            tax free withdrawls after 59, taxes paid on contributions

Uses:   emergency fund

Conversions:  between 65-70 when people are at lower tax
rate can be advantage
               are reversible and available after age 70

1 comment
Confidence and Habit Stacks. Dealing with Rude behavior
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 11:26 am

We added one item of several to a detailed list of examples
of rude behavior
we may face.  This was a (1)hand-out in a
recent seminar that gave examples, (2)elicited how people
commonly respond, then reviewed habit stacks that might
help deal appropriately with situations.

The one added item is cell phone misuse in public spaces
and driving.

Most of the time people indicated their reactions would depend
on the situation.  Most would consider rude behaviors they
face as minor and not worth commenting or considering.  These
behaviors do make a difference.  It is estimated to cost $36B in
workplace situations and $160B in driving situations!

What triggers rude behavior?  It is a form of incivility which
has been a subject here citing the work of P. Forni.  Our
seminar covered (3) causes of rude behavior (4) the spectrum
of incivility, (5) suggestion for what to do, a habit stack.

There has been quite a bit of interest in following discussions.
-  MUD CARDS, see the Habit stack at the end for dealing with
rude behavior situation
-  Cite a book by Mark Goulston “Just Listening”  and add
his insights on particular Rude behavior “actors”
-  restate three Forni video vingnettes

This seminar was therapeutic for many, they indicated.  In addition
practicing the habit stack builds resilient confidence and might
be useful in constructing responses to interview questions
which ask for stories in how you deal with situations

Watch-Outs. 75. Passwords, Investments at year end, Microbiomics
Filed under: Recent Posts, Networking, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 6:40 pm

What strategy do you use to store, manage and keep your
passwords secure?  It is a common problem that companies
are developing strategies to devise and make profits.  Topic
one offers comments on software for managing secure

When we travel now we realize baggage fees
could amount to a quarter of the airline cost.
It is one logical reason to fly the no-bag-
fees airlines or acquire a credit card that has
bags fly free.  Other strategies to keep costs
down are cited.

We all like it when our investments increase.  Sometimes
they don’t.  Even still we know that we can sell at a loss
and reduce the loss impact via a taking a loss.  Despite
not wanting to take a loss, sometimes it is a solid

Microbiome updates.  I think these two are worth
looking at.

SOURCE:  WSJ 12-10-14, p. D1  Personal Technology,
“New Way to Secure Passwords all at once?

The article promotes Dashlane to do something we
all face– manage our site passwords for computers,
cellphones, and tablets.  The comments to this article
offer both problems with Dashlane and alternatives

An oldschool approach is to write them down on a
notebook in your desk that you constantly update.
This gets to be 5-6 pages long.

Double entry security and some personal biometric
approach offers other possible secure sign-ins.

SOURCE:  C. Hill, Marketwatch,
9 secrets for outsmarting airline baggage fees
What is nice about this article is that it is current
and offers the latest policy changes.

Worth looking at if you are traveling soon,
have a baggage problem and it is “on your dime.”

SOURCE:  J. Burton, WSJ 12-8-14. p. R4
How to be smart about your losses
Article talks a little about the psychological
challenge of taking a loss.  In offsetting capital
gains, it can be worthwhile. 

The article points out where you might have
losses.  Then it addresses your investment
style after the run-up in stocks this year.

The author rationally notes evaluating management
changes, performance departures, and shifts in
process thinking in the investment.

SOURCES:  R. L. Stevenson, American Laboratory
Dec. 2014, p. 6, “Our life and death relationship with
American Laboratory Dec. 2014, p. 6
WSJ, 11-18-14, p. D4, “In the gut, the mix of
bacteria can affect your weight
Suggestions are that more than a dozen ailments
and diseases are influenced by the bacteria and
that antibiotics influence system wide changes
in ways we might not anticipate.  The WSJ looks
at it pretty objectively, not for making immediate

Echoing a similar theme is Bob Stevenson’s
editorial that speaks to the lifelong effects of
antibiotics and a helpful precaution on personal
safety– wearing gloves, use of hand sanitizers,
and hand washing. 
Good conscientious reading!

comments (0)
Job Offer. Clawbacks, title, househunting trip and citizenship
Filed under: Recent Posts, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 10:35 am

The PhD graduate had worked hard.  We had spoken several times
over the last 6 months about documents, interview questions and
follow-up activities.  Now the time had come.  He received a generous
offer from a high tech firm through networking with a previous
member of his research group.

The networking connection, he mentioned, did not land the job
offer for him.  It allowed him to be selected to be interviewed.  He
had to do the rest.  In fact, during group interview sessions, the
person he had an affiliation with was pretty much a silent partner.

Salary, benefits, starting date, position title, bonus plan involvement,
relocation provision of $4K (with a repayment plan if the new
employee left earlier than 2 years;  this is a “clawback” condition)
were nicely covered in the offer letter. 

There are many uncertainties at this point.   So we spoke about
  obtaining clarity on his starting title of “senior phosphor engineer”,
  obtaining an offer to cover expenses of a househunting trip,
  asking for assistance in registering for permanent residence (lottery,
fees, legal) and
  suggestions for what to do with 401K, healthcare spending account,
insurances and vendors, and medical needs.

 It was interesting to note that the offer letter indicated he was “at
will” and gave him just 4 days to respond to accept the offer.  On
the company webpage, the position was listed as temporary.  
Al Sklover’s page is a valuable resource to mention at this point.
He reviews terminology and how to word questions so that they
come across professionally.

We did not go into salary comparisons, however the ACS salary
listed his offer at the 80 percentile using 2013 data.
[Interesting to note listed ~$10K higher salaries
in comparison.]

comments (0)