When do you start advising workers, employees, staff
and visitors about safety?
Are you looking out for your own safety and the safety
of others in your environment– present intentionally or
presents an important topic for discussion, as it
should, being a leader in the field. Safety takes on a larger
dimension when robotics and automation is involved.
Going one step further, safety when dealing with infectious
diseases and disease investigations…
Going even further, safety for military and police in challenging
zones of chemical or biological warfare.
Scientists need to be aware and take a leadership role in
personal protection of all kinds. See
Roles Responsibilities - [job opportunities, training]
- monitor trends in injuries associated with robotics technologies;
- evaluate robotics technologies as sources of, and interventions for, workplace injuries and illnesses;
- establish risk profiles of robotic workplaces;
- identify research needs and conduct studies to improve the safety, health, and well-being of humans working with robots and robotic technologies;
- support the development and adoption of consensus safety standards; and
- develop and communicate best practices, guidance and training for safe interactions between human workers and robots/robotics technology
Did you view the Netflix video on AlphaGo defeating
the top Go player in the world? I saw it this week. It
may be time for us to seriously consider using software
to design organic synthesis routes.
We live in a fast paced world with many unexpected
directions and influences. One item that can keep us
moving forward is optimism from leaders in our
organizations. We highlight a whole issue of a
COMPUTER ALGORITHMS FOR ORGANIC SYNTHESIS
software to optimize synthetic route in Aldrichimica
Acta in a recent issue. He highlighted Milipore
Sigma’s purchase of Grzybowski Scientific Inventions
organic software tool.
that it has become more figuring out what to synthesize
rather than how to synthesize particular molecules
based on a discussion of an Angewandte Chemie
OPTIMISM IN LEADERSHIP
Think about what helps us move forward…optimism
is a force multiplier, as military leaders say….
Fast company highlights over a hundred ways
cited leaders supply leadership. When I read
the methods most are what many of us would think
of ourselves. Read through it to see how you feel your
leaders are providing leadership….
- don’t overthink - attach meaning
- grow from setbacks - wow your customers
- listen - let your actions speak for you
- play nice - obey the golden rule
- focus - nix multitasking
- go the extra mile
Previous years’ lists
This year I will attempt to link readers to discussions of some of the
books that follow in this blog.
Maria Konnikova THE CONFIDENCE GAME: WHY WE ALL
FALL FOR IT. EVERY TIME, Penguin Random House NY 2016
Thomas L. Friedman THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE Farrar
Stevens and Giroux NY 2016
Yuval Noah Arari HOMO DEUS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF
Robert Cialdini INFLUENCE THE PSYCHOLOGY OF
PERSUASION Collins division of HarperCollins NY 1994
William Strauss, Neil Howe THE FOURTH TURNNG: AN
AMERICA PROPHECY Broadway Books, NY 1997
David Livermore, THE CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE DIFFERENCE:
Master the one skill you can’t do without in
today’s global economy,
American Management Association, NY, 2011
Adam Alter, IRRESISTIBLE: The Rise of Addictive Technology
and the Business of Keeping us Hooked,Penguin Press NY 2017
Rudolph W. Giuliani with Ken Kurson, Leadership, Miramax
Books Hyperion NY, 2002
Lisa Randall, KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR: HOW
PHYSICS AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING ILLUMINATE
THE UNIVERSE AND THE MODERN WORLD
Robert Colville, THE GREAT ACCELERATION: HOW THE
WORLD IS GETTING FASTER, FASTER Bloombury London NY 2016
Michael Breus THE POWER OF WHEN: DISCOVER YOUR
CHRONOTYPE AND THE BEST TIME TO
ASK FOR A RAISE, HAVE SEX, WRITE A NOVEL AND MORE,
Little Brown and
Company NY 2016
Alan Alda IF I UNDERSTOOD YOU WOULD I HAVE THIS
LOOK ON MY FACE RandomHouse 2017
Barbara Oakley, MINDSHIFT BREAK THROUGH OBSTACLES
TO LEARNING AND DISCOVER YOUR HIDDEN POTENTIAL
Tarcher Peregre Penguin Random House 2017
Barbara Oakley, part of the team delivering ‘highly attended’
MOOCs, authored a topical book “Mindshift: Breakthrough
Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential”
that can open up your thinking.
It left me with at least seven take home messages shared below.
1. Learning via the Pomodoro Technique
turn off distracting devices and sources
focus on work for 25 minutes
take a few minute break to rest your mind; repeat…
2. Cultures cling to legacies; change is fought off. New ideas
form and flow with two classes: young, unexposed people
and people who change fields.
3. ”Second skilling” permits you to adapt to the changing career
environment. Two tactics: look to increasing and decreasing
hiring trends; overall picture of skill distribution and where
are budgets decreasing and lowering of skills
4. ”Chunk” your learning practicing more on the areas you find
5. Opportunity results from skill and luck. Luck surfaces from
a combination of (1) seeing problems as opportunities, (2)
constantly upgrade and learn new skills, (3) assertively
6. People have different learning styles. Learn yours. One is
focused, another is diffuse. You should use both, but
understand what works best for you.
7. Value of selective ignorance. You have only so much ‘cognitive
energy’. Be selective in what you choose.
This book is highly recommended for undecided people and
professionals in-transition. [The review cited above provides
a thoughtful assessment.]
Just finished a book by Brendon Burchard– High
Performance Habits: How extraordinary people become that way, Hay House, 2017
that addresses a consultant’s approach to look for
ways for mid-career and later professionals to increase
curiosity and genuine self confidence.
It differs from the more common “instruments” that reveal
to you something about yourself– strengths, MBTI
values, behaviors, etc. providing‘ideas about the correlation between motivation - high
performance and alignment with values, clear intentions
and higher purpose. It can help you figure out how to
redefine your goals to better align with your true
” [in a review…]
The short story that is valued to share what he writes on
developing influence and expressing courage.
Where early career professionals seek certainty,
others benefit from action steps they can adapt
to and separate emotions from feelings. It is a
self-help contribution that some may find to provide
We recently observed close friends living in CA who lost
their home and most of its contents to wildfires. Another
friend was overtaken by back pain making it difficult to
work. A third friend lost her husband suddenly.
This entry offers some ideas for actions you can do
at separate stages in your career.
- monitor daily your credit card and financial records,
noting unusual events. Have an action plan ready–
phones or cars
. Don’t wait for the unfortunate event to happen–
have paid up insurance, contact numbers organized,
detailed information to provide
- record retention file guidance retention
1 year: payroll stubs, bill statements
6 years: income tax records and related forms
7 years: critical slips, statements and cancelled checks
Permanent: investment records, pension papers, insurance
policies, contracts, personal- birth certificates, military,
marriage, divorce, adoption, naturalization and citizenship
- always enroll in substantial disability insurance
- continue all the early career record-keeping
- formulate a document location spreadsheet, what is in
your safety deposit box
- have a list of people and institutions with their contact
information for banks, brokerages, lawyers, physicians
- formulate a will, powers of attorney, and care for
children: instructions who would raise them in your
- organize important family photos, papers and records
CLOSE TO RETIREMENT
- visit trust attorneys and determine who you would like
to represent you
- interview and work with a financial adviser
- organize a checklist for what to do when a loved one
dies [see comment]
Did not know which title intro fits better: ‘Watch-Outs’ or
‘Technical Trends worth noting’ as I start this entry.
Last evening a local library sponsored a stimulating
discussion on weather changes influenced by arctic sea-ice
Her presentation offers a clear-minded assessment of
observations of Arctic sea-ice and land-ice losses. They
impact winds in at least three ways and ocean
levels in as many ways through combining impacts.
[you never know how these links display!]
where she is the third speaker.
She describes three effects of the loss of the Arctic sea-ice cap
- weaker steering winds
- wavier jet stream
- stagnant formations of wind flow (resulting from jet
On top of sea ice recession, land-ice loss due to thermal
effects due to less reflection of solar radiation (Less ice,
polar cap is darker and more absorbent) raises sea levels
and enhances storm water surges in coastal regions.
Her talk last night ended with forecasts for future
scenarios that point to the need for important changes
in global behaviors, changing populations settling and
migration patterns and serious infrastructure redesigns.
[Several of these are pointed out in the Wilson Center
One of the crucial measures of developing research programs
is keeping in touch with new ideas and combinations with
new equipment and theories.
Several career paths place credibility of achievement on
publications [publications in peer reviewed publications].
How this is measured with Internet publications is not patently
obvious or at least consistent from one organization to another.
Nonetheless several sources of online publications are appearing.
provides global access and outlet to classified topic
ChemRxiv is a Figshare
product offers rapidly transmitted
of one-page preprints with a promise of tools to detect plagiarism.
[open API or via OAI-PMH].
to evolve from the commercial and professional society
journal paradigm. It will be important that strong professional
ethics are articulated in this evolving medium and there is
a viable enforcement mechanism for violations and dealing
with grey-area issues.
Just finished reading Rudy Guiliani’s book Leadership.
Reading the book was an opportunity to see things from a
different perspective– legal mind with historical interests
who faced and met challenges. It was a rewarding experience
in that it offered some remarkable take-aways about positive
behaviors of leaders and thinking processes in dealing with
- The importance of seeing things / situations with your own
eyes, as it allows all sorts of things that you can question and
- Practice simulations of actual events before they happen.
Have a reaction plan. Let it be modifiable.
- Have a command center
organize and formulate communications, coordination
prepare back up plan and unintended consequences
anticipate what might happen next
- Prepare relentlessly and eliminate making assumptions
All leaders are influenced by those who they admire. Reading
about them and studying what and how they learned will inspire
how you will grow critical traits. Much of the material will be the
raw material of your own life.
- insist on starting off with a morning meeting as your cornerstone
get control of the start of the day
set priorities; have all key contributors present
allow open discussion
outcomes: specific action plans and reporting
everyone is informed and accountable; carry the info forward
- sweat the details and small stuff, as they reveal underlying
- create arguments for different coalitions to influence decisions
- instill preparedness
- put your health as a first and main concern
- take as much time as available to make decisions, but the
process of making the decision should begin immediately.
- seek different perspectives and points of view, yet avoid
predetermination or favorites. [Sometimes it is beneficial to
leave the room when discussion is in process and receive a
- surround yourself with strong, independent people while
keeping battles internal. manage results and expectations
- underpromise and overdeliver- how
develop your personal beliefs
have a plan of action
word choice makes a difference
- stand up to bullies. Do it early.
- do not exceed the ‘pig factor’ [spending more than needed,
overstating on expenses, it is a form of bullying]
- read in depth about things you find come up; do not
just leave it to experts.
The book by Adam Alter is interesting reading from a |
number of perspectives. Irresistible– The Rise of Addictive
Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked
Alter asserts that addiction is not genetic in certain people
but every person is vulnerable to situations and attachments
to them. The Internet and various programmable devices
with continuous positive feedback,
- persistent “goals” culture,
- games and media that incur ‘down the line’ charges [get
you into it so you must and want to stay involved. But
to do that you have to pay.]
- escalation [where you get challenged and learn, yet the
computer enhanced tool increases or varies from its
otherwise predictable trend]
are examples Alter provides.
These addictive technologies develop habits where
you have little control. Nearly everyone of us has
our own and various situations make us instinctively
crave for that infernal habit.
Alter does readers favors by pointing them out,
showing what is going on and suggesting things we
can do to forestall, limit or move on to something else.
Worth reading for many of us.
‘Habits gone bananas!’
Over a 30 - 45 year career, most everyone gets relieved of their
position. Sometime it is sudden, other times there are indicators
that some positions will be severed and still other times we are
faced with a choice to stay or leave.
Let me pose that it should be part of our regular personal planning
process that we consider building resilience into our thinking. Create
your personal action plan, keep your options open and know what
your personal goals, musts and wants are.
As much as possible plan so that it is not a total surprise.
contributed a piece offering things to do if you lose
your position. I cannot agree with her more on
1. don’t lose your “cool”, stay calm and manage your emotions
2. personally ask for recommendations from specific individuals
(If someone hesitates at all, or will not provide a good one, move
2a. these days more and more Linkedin recommendations can be
a useful starter in situations where policies limit employees from
3. You should be continually active in your professional network,
also ask references for their network contacts and ideas.
I found Umoh’s thoughts about cleaning up your facebook, online
profiles and photos and comments something that might be easily
Formulate a modifiable plan of action that includes push
, situations where you you meet people
in person and volunteer roles in professional organizations.
Taking shorter term, temporary roles may be a big plus, while
you enroll for unemployment benefits and update your master
resume, targeted resumes for each position and Linkedin
profiles using current keywords for your industry and field.
Consider asking for outplacement services as part of your
that you have signed.
Have you looked at the proposed FY2018 budget for science,
technology, health and engineering? Mostly flat or cutback.
except for defense related expenditures (and the “wall”– which
will be paid for by someone else..)
Have you looked at the proposals for taxes? Across the board
reductions in rates, which results in peanuts for the poor,
a cup of Starbucks for the middle class and a new yacht for
Have you noticed the major overhaul of the rules and enforcement
progressive taxation (richest contribute a fairer share) and
regulations and legislation are what has turned American
enterprise into an equitable thriving system in the 20th century.
We need to do something about the gutting of these.
Through the ACS
we are provided some tools to be proactive
individually. In a recent town hall we learned from our senator
that groups and organizations are much more effective in
influencing and sending cogent messages to senators and
Let’s all urge the EPA to meet its mandated assignment, if not,
let’s increase our efforts at the state level with the DEP.
Let’s ask our ACS President to address research funding
shortfalls that impacts our enterprise long term.
Let’s bring back regulations that reign in wild speculative behaviors
that benefit a clever few who have escape clauses to absolve
Your circumstances are different than most everyone else’s.
However, we can learn from other professionals’ approaches
if we have a mind to it– that is remain curious, or make up
our minds to be curious.
I can not tell you how beneficial it is to be generous and
thoughtful to people who serve you. They may work for you
individually or be part of an organization. Took time to drive
with our daughter to do some quick shopping where each of
us had our own shopping lists. I watched as she hustled to
put items in our basket, but could not find “just” what I wanted.
Thought to myself, we could find a premium item as a takeout
from a suitable restaurant. So we stopped and purchased the
delectable salad for 2. While waiting we got into a idle time
conversation with the server. We asked if we might get a “short”
cup of coffee while waiting and she cooperatively brought it out
as we continued our conversation. So, as we paid our bill we
asked if we could write a thank you note to management for her
kind and thoughtful service. She did not exactly know, as she
was a summer hire…. She brought out her manager who informed
us how to perform the act online with detailed instructions. Then,
went on to say by doing this in a specific order, she would be
rewarded, he would be rewarded and we would receive a modest
gift certificate online.
Back in our ride home, we chatted about learning from others’
behaviors is such an adult way of developing and improving skills…
especially in an entrepreneurial world.
We used three of Travis Bradberry’s
9 Skills that pay dividends:
asking for help, staying positive and taking initiative. Six other items
knowing yourself (personal self assessment),
know how to say “no”,
knowing to pause and remain quiet, and
determining priorities to do the most important things.
These apply critically to entrepreneurs who either have too much time
on their hands or too little time.
an episodic income stream need to be mindful of:
a. formulate an exit strategy that propels your next direction– musts
and wants for yourself and your current employer as a win-win outcome
b. accumulate reserves and strategize how you can live lean should
events require ‘belt tightening’
c. Set up long term retirement, big purchase, and emergency insurance
accounts and make the necessary contributions (insure matching
contributions can happen and are accessible)
d. Know the rules and double check on the amounts about estimated
taxes. Use an accountant if you are new. Perhaps fall back on
Turbotax, if you have some experience.
e. Read the fine print, consult legal input on the fine print of signed
agreements and understand their implications and recourses.
One of the subtopics we cover in our Professional
Development course is LCA or Life Cycle Assessment
in our class on ethics.
This is a broad impact area that leading organizations have
adopted for processes, final products, side reactions and
Recently, a committed network
colleague, John Warner,
shared a pertinent article in Chemistry World
“better design of pharmaceuticals” that do no harm to the
environment when disposed. The article cites:
- birth control and antidepressant drugs persisting in our clean
water supply impact dependent animal life
- certain drugs remain present and active in vegetable irrigation
supplies and are found in consumable purchases (wash all food
As a result, certain first world countries have implemented extra
cleaning steps to scrub water before it enters water supplies.
The article, however addresses an alternate approach I know
John has been pursuing for over 30 years and is gaining more
supporters… designing active molecules to decompose when
Jennings Taylor and Maria Inman apply a ‘technologist
lens’ to patent law that is useful for learning about
Two articles offer
1- What intellectual property entails and the concepts
involved in patent examination
They frame what intellectual property is by a clearly
logical figure comparing physical property ownership
Owner <—————-> Inventor/Assignee
Sell/Purchase <——–> Sell/Acquire
Charge/Rent<———-> Charge License Fee
Pay Taxes <————> Pay Maintenance Fees
Repossessed <——–> Abandoned
Trespass <————-> Infringe
Mortgage <————> Loan/ Financing
Deed <——-> Claims descriptions and specifications
Survey/ title search <-> Examination/ prior art search
The article describes a patent application examination that
involves a prior art search of knowledge and expertise in
the public domain and compares the claims of the
application to determine if there is overlap.
offers the right of a patent (and property owner) and
motivation of the patenting process, which is to promote
progress. [p. 45-46 in hard copy journal]
The third article coming out in the fall addresses how to
overcome legal aspects of rejection. [A comment will
be inserted when it comes out in press.]
These article will be included in future course sections
on Patents and should be included in ACS Pflags
How are you doing? I would like to ask if you have any
experience using electronic labbooks in an R&D lab?
and if there is any in particular you could recommend.
Thank you for any advice you can provide.
When I regularly attended several large conferences I tried
to look into this emerging field by speaking with vendors about
their market penetration and features for different user
Interestingly my deepest learning at this time involved
ensuring legal advice was following in purchasing, training,
and compliance. Maintenance and regular updates for eLN were
essential as this is a emerging and evolving field. Years have
past and eLN are essential tools.
- at least 16 countries are represented as vendor developers
- open source vendors are included in the list
: Different fields and operations will have different requirements
It is nice to have a big picture for what customers, users, legal and
regulatory applications are provided.
- basic functionality
- quality, security and compliance
- data management
eLN decision makin
- The system needs to organize and be able to tag, filter and search entries.
- all entries, imported data, and links can be exported to a generic format
(pdf, zip, xlm, etc.) for backup and reporting as well as allowing a bailout
in case the maker of the software stops development, or your funds to pay
for licence fees run dry.
- support of your IT department at an early stage (selection of particular eLN).
- hidden costs (hardware like server, backup; on-site support and user training, )
What are your customers using? How frequent are updates?
What are the computer requirements and robustness of the system?
These days, eLN are essential to compete
A recent seminar on Overcoming Fears Uncertainty and
Doubts pointed out things you should learn to do while
in graduate school. Two leading ones the group pointed
knowing how to speak with your boss
knowing how to have difficult conversations with people.
These are no doubt situational things and depend on several
factors. That is part of the learning that we need to do. It is
important to develop this understanding while in graduate school.
our conversation about how to speak to a boss
- for a raise and at review time
- after making a mistake
- challenges at home
- have a major health issue
Flipboard shared a creditable piece about having hard conversations
- begin with a perspective of respect and curiosity
- avoiding conversations does not make problems go away
- listen intently, respond with the other’s ideas first, and avoid
partial listening while planning to say what is on our mind
- recognize cultural differences and determine how to be
direct (clear statements, not circular logic).
What do we do when we face a major risk or possible
catastrophe? It is not something that normally comes up
in any but exceptional situations and is the “elephant in the
room.” That is, is not spoken about.
Here are some thoughts to ponder. A following comment
lists some situations and Casandras from Clarke and Eddy’s
book that is good reading, especially if you are interested in
cyber-security, global warming, CRISPR technology and
nuclear weapons and disarmament.
: Sentinel intelligence experts
who sense something
catastrophic before anyone else does, before disaster happens
Whistleblower: popularized by Ralph Nader for informing about
illegal or unethical actions picking up on a much earlier term used to
alert the public about a commission of a crime or a breaking of rules.
Whistleblowers are motivated to do their reporting or announcing by
wanting to do the right thing, or to make right a decision that went
Large federal agencies record whistleblower complaints and are
able to substantiate only a small fraction. Because of the limited
confirmation rate and going against the culture or leadership or actions
of an organization, whistleblowers have a generally poor reputation.
So despite positive ethical motivations we may have going into a
situation, it does not always work out for the best.
concept of warning where an individual strongly feels certain
decisions should be made or certain situations should be avoided.
In Warnings: Finding Cassandras to stop catastrophes they assert
the Greek concept of Cassandra. Cassandra was graced by the
gods to be able to predict the future however cursed with the
response that no one believed or listened to her predictions.
A dozen past and current case studies were discussed in some detail
in a format that provided a view of classifying four features of each
case. They were: (1)nature of the threat or risk,
(2)is the person who needs to act known, knowledgeable, able to sort out
conflicting data and biases,
(3)is the predictor, or Cassandra, well-trained, highly creditable, respected
and confident in their findings and conclusions,
(4)what do the critics rely on and assert about the threat’s imminence.
While preparing for a seminar on Overcoming Challenges and
Adversity, several items are worth highlighting for our blog.
book by the same authors, 2012]
The original idea [for this seminar topic] resulted from
this year’s class suggestion and a seminar by
Think about it. 100 years ago people lived, on average, to
48 years, whereas now it is beyond 78. The length and nature
of careers has and continues to change this life span and equally
important our values and goals.
People seek much more control over their career paths, seek
personal satisfaction [over organizational], pursue advancement
[over organizational commitment] and realize multiple careers.
The seminar will discuss how we need to encourage
- adapting to adversity
and challenges by seeing them as
opportunities to learn useful skills
- developing critical habits, including listening
effectively managing technological tools.
Publication is a critical focus in the scientific world. Societies
have publication wings. There is a large commercial publication
business that earns nearly $20Bn/year with a third being
profits. The Guardian published a revealing article about the
publication world which this blog has offered comments.
and critical thinking when reading
This blog is on record for supporting the idea of “open access”
and questioning the viability of “rating” journals based on
citations in the internet age [it is like mindless “likes” in
Been following of Deming’s articles on Applied Statistics
for decades. He is in the middle of an important series on
limits of detection. I just received a water analysis report
and have received blood and urine medical reports that refer
to one or another of these. These articles are important and
significant for all of us. We should know and use these terms
One of the types of questions I ask in some interviews
concerns gas cylinder set-up and use. Articles in LC/GC
often reveal solid scientific thinking to answer questions
in this area.
ROBERT MAXWELL AND PROFITING ON SCIENCE
Although the ACS continues its efforts to
profit center, most of the members do not realize what
is going on in the publication business. This Guardian
article goes into details what the ACS publications
division might be emulating.
Should we not ask questions to make more science, often
paid for via taxes, available free online?
SCIENCE AND THE LIMITS OF DETECTION
SOURCE: S. N. Deming, Amer. Laboratory June/July 2017
Deming teaches in this article L(D) the limit of detection, which
he points out is different than the smallest amount of
analyte that can be detected or the limit of quantitation (appearing
in future articles.).
He points out:
- false positive risk needs to be appropriate for the application.
[drug testing example]
- in a plot of a calibration curve with a non-zero intercept, L(D)
the limit of detection is the amount of analyte that yields a
signal outside the error of the false negative.
These comments are often not brought out in many classes.
SOURCE: J. V. Hinshaw, LC/GC North America 11-2016, P. 41
What I like about Hinshaw is that he does a fishbone diagram
to assess a wide variety is issues that could come up in
working with a common analytical tool.