An email reached me about changing career paths
[from Zackary Crockett].
I will try to find a viable link
This can happen to many of us who are trained as
a scientist where technology takes a
hockey-stick-like shift in what methods and areas
of expertise are favored and successful.
Your mindset is your key to success, I can attest.
After grad school, I desired to apply myself to an
area where “the rubber meets the road”, practical
areas– To work in industry
After doing this for several decades, in electrochemistry,
applied solid state and polymer chemistry, photography,
statistics, I learned from a national lab researcher that
later in his career he sought areas where he noticed “gaps”
where he could bring knowledge and experience to bear.
It was a deciding moment. My targets changed.
One area that is not mentioned in the Crockett story is
changes in your health and outlook, as our careers
extend and our “perceived expertise” and creativity
might not fit our roles. Nonetheless, I recommend the
article for it may help you.
During a career discussion with a Ph.D. who is figuring out
what to do next and what it takes to succeed, we talked about
“wow” factors of candidates that separates outstanding candidates
from good, yet unprepared, candidates. [I use this term to be
kind to unsuccessful candidates.]
What is the “wow” factor and how can candidates achieve it?
described it in a Young Entrepreneurs Council discussion recently.
- go the extra distance and trying new avenues pursuing goals
- developing new interests by reading and with mentors
- adjusting to new realities while learning from the past
- while they may not grasp the culture of the interviewer, understanding
that culture fit will not be based on real skills on paper but attitude
- being a self starter and willingness to take direction while adding
Doing the right things when no one is looking
= getting things done in timely basis with a profit motive
- being humble yet having self knowledge about strengths and
Strengths and weaknesses, what are you doing about it
- be able to describe your accomplishments in perspective
Realize that each one of us needs a tailored elevator pitch tuned to
why you want the position and you are a good candidate. Also,
have personal reflections revealing wow factor elements that shows
who you are by your behaviors
Read a purposeful NYTimes articel by Charlette Cowles
that point out what professionals can and should do
in Linkedin to help you meet your goals.
In a typical fashion for community networks, she lists
this Microsoft acquisition urges members to remain
active, whatever their current and future situation.
She advises to include true representative entries
into sections– photo, skills, certifications, active
networking, practice interviews, …
Following is a summary of this year’s entries with links.
You can find 2019 Career management HERE
USA Jobs.gov Suggestion
It is not enough to do good research on topics of interest and
importance. You need to formulate a strategy to present your
work so that it is read by a wider audience and referenced
as a meaningful contribution.
- attractive title”\
- storytelling introduction providing implications
- broad access (I am a supporter of open-access. Also, provide
independent links in your online presence sites to google docs,
- outreach (this is not often promoted in science communities.)
The author wrote:
“…seek out readers. …Reach out to potential audiences…
It is important to take the time to help a general audience
understand the bigger picture of whatever you do …social media,
local media, professional media.”
Broad outreach can yield interviews and support future attempts
to scientific collaboration and application.
We are into the 6th month of the Pandemic that affects
all industries and the chemical enterprise, including
universities and funded research. While I could list several
things to do,
The ACS does a creditable job in the following link.
Please consider three related things regardless of what stage
your career is in?
1. Be prepared for a job loss or unexpected job change.
Regularly line up your public relations documents and digital
2. Continue to learn new skills and expand your abilities
new and emerging areas, in-demand strength areas and areas
where you know or have been advised you need improvement.
3. Extend a helping hand to others. Let them know you are
there for them. Work hard at it, as it is amazing how much this
will mean no matter where you are in your career growth path.
[mentor others, offer strong recommendations, promote people
for honors, awards and honorary designations, if you are authoring
a technical journal article consider mentioning recognition of
a teacher or mentor]
I get bombarded with you have been cited notices
in one of my email accounts. Then I received a half
off subscription email. This is so common these
days, so I checked into it and share…
Is Academia Edu legit?
As mentioned in the last post, something that may be of interest
is for us chemists to learn about our heritage, our familial
My Academic Genealogy follows the academic paths of my
senior thesis adviser, Bob Alendoerfer, from SUNY Buffalo, and
Ernest Grunwald, doctoral thesis adviser from Brandeis University.
My career path information is provided in the Linkedin.com
Also, my career path found me involved in a number of
projects and departments for Esso Research/Exxon Research/
ExxonMobil and Polaroid Corporations, the University of
Connecticut Chemistry Department, and as a career
consultant/workshop presenter for American Chemical
-Advanced Battery Project Zinc Bromine Flow Batteries
co-workers: Bhaskara M. L. Rao, Paul Malachesky, Richard
Bellows, Tom Whitney, Augie Venero
Lithium Ion Batteries
co-workers: B. M. L. Rao, M. Stan Whittingham, Bob Hamlen,
Joe Shropshire, Bob Thomas, Al Groman
-Solar Photovoltaic Project: Polycrystalline Silicon - Solar
co-workers: Jim Amick, Paul Maruska, Tom Feng, Amal Ghosh
-Shear Thickening Fluid Technology for Oilfield Problems
co-workers: Don Siano, Evelyn Drake
Negative Manufacturing: Silver Halide Emulsion Production
co-workers: Ed Brandenburg, Bob Woeller, Mike Riebe,
co-workers: John Cabral, Jackie Pires, Jack Horrigan, Nimi
Natan, Sandy Levine, Don Preissler
Six Sigma Projects
co-workers: Chuck Page, , Brad Pires, Barry Mahoney,
Freeman Chen, Emil Cuiczak, Mike Young,
Bonnie Ferreira, Project Bridge Teachers
Health, Environmental And Safety
co-workers: Dick Chandler, Dave Morreale, Mike Walters,
Sean Riley, John LeFevbre, Tony Pisano, Dick
University of Connecticut
Department of Chemistry
Colleagues. collaborators: Amy Howell, Steve Suib, Patrick
Gordon, Doug Adamson, Marisha Godek,
Chris Eustace, Brenda Eustace, Lisa Balbes
Let me pose an idea for Chemists that builds on the naming of
the Periodic Table as the topic of the year a couple of years ago.
We all noticed that scientists volunteered a story about their
Throughout my career Bromine has been a common
denominator of research, manufacturing and enterprise. So I
have created a document telling its story that I have pulled
together from a number of fields with a 21st century perspective…
that entails knowing about toxicology, ozone depletion,
biochemistry, and even geology and historical uses and abuses.
I encourage others to create their own favorite element story and
I will gladly list their perspectives in this blog. [To my mind,
CEN tried to give one page, edited views that missed a valuable
opportunity to teach about advances and new notions.]
Another opportunity I wish to suggest people learning about is
their “Scientific Genealogy”. That could be not only the
university department from which each of us attended and
graduated from, but also teachers and their teachers, colleagues
and their contributions. Think about it and the value it would provide.
David Brooks, The Second Mountain: A Quest for a Moral Life,
RandomHouse, NY 2019
Rachel Maddow, Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State
Russia, and the Richest Destructive Industry on Earth, Crown, NY, 2019
David E. McCaw, Truth in our Times: INSIDE THE FIGHT FOR PRESS
FREEDOM IN THE AGE
OF ALTERNATIVE FACTS, All Points Books, NY
THE ROAD TO UNFREEDOM: RUSSIA, EUROPE
Tim Duggan Books, NY 2018
Preet Bharara, Doing Justice: A PROSECUTOR’S THOUGHTS ON CRIME
AND THE RULE OF LAW, Alfred Knopf NY 2019
Doris Kearns Goodwin, LEADERSHIP
IN TURBULENT TIMES, Simon &
Schuster, NY, 2018
Clint Watts, Messing with the Enemy: SURVIVING IN A SOCIAL MEDIA
HACKERS< TERRORISTS, RUSSIANS ANND FAKE NEWS,
HarperCollins, NY 2018
NYT takes up Google-Alphabet-Uber law suit against Anthony
Levandowski regarding trade secrets of files when he left in 2016.
The article reports:
The statute defines the class of proprietary property “trade secret” as
“any form and type of financial, business, scientific, technical,
economic or engineering information, including patterns, plans,
compilations, programs or codes, whether tangible or intangible, and
whether or how stored, compiled or memorialized physically,
electronically, graphically, photographically or in writing….
But for information to qualify as such its owner must take
“reasonable measures to keep such information secret and derive
independent economic value from its not being generally known.
The prosecutor must also show that transfer was done by improper
means, meaning theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or
inducement of a breach of duty to maintain secrecy, or espionage
through electronic or other means. The statute does not define
reverse engineering or other lawful means as such.
Toxic chemical ingredient cannot
be a trade secret (Metzger
Withheld toxicological ingredient information
medical treatment pursuit for employee exposure cases (LSU
describes in more detail than NYT some steps that the
owning company must take to protect the trade secret. In rapidly
evolving industries not all the privacy steps are taken and documented.
Reader, whether on cell phone, laptop, tablet or
desk top, you may have a general preference, or not. Yet,
most will use your cell phones for many communication
and data managing. In fact you may even control
experiments via cell phones.
This post is not offering a recommendation for your choice.
It is aimed at alerting you to the real problem of losing
control of your identity by making public your cell phone
This is something you should carefully limit, like giving
out your id or password.
Online hackers are targeting cell phone numbers increasingly
as their use for many things increases. An article by M.
Stokes highlights a half dozen items that may signal your
cell phone number has been hacked– shorter battery life,
interrupted performance, increased data use, uninitiated
calls or texts from your phone, and mysterious pop-ups and
trapped into a cell phone hacking situation. It is worth
Do you reckon how many situations you “choose” to accept
a subscription? Your yearly membership in ACS– subscription
[how many years have you been a member?] , Marriott hotel
chain ‘elite’ member, Netflix subscription, Amazon ‘prime’,
New York Times online subscription, journal subscriptions
(both personal and institution). Business has adopted the
model that individuals do not ‘own’ things, memberships,
and even personal items. It is evolving to ‘things-as-a service.’
and others have indicated a change to the time
covered the subscription model in some detail showing
how they use AI and collect and parse your personal data for
increased sales without human interaction.
Marketing is different for ownership and subscription models.
Ownership is driven by getting you interested in one time
purchase. Whereas subscription marketing has
-streamlined purchasing, with the company knowing
everything about you
-advertised easier returns and breaking off subscription,
if satisfaction is not met
-with the aim to keep you as a subscriber, there a regular
upgrades and improvements, new content and features
-many subscription services allow you to pick specific
items for your needs and wants.
Know that the chemical enterprise is already deeply
involved in the subscription model. R&D is likely to
be headed there.
It is just as hard now, as it was in the past, to assess reports
of data. In the past, one would have to wait until there was
enough sample size using the specific question. So often
now we need to assess the bias inherent in the source.
[If data is published in peer reviewed journals by a variety
of established authors, it is likely worth using the results and
conclusions. What must be factored in is that publications support
awarding of grants and promotions. Publications represent
a time-honored path. Things can be proven wrong, but rarely
do these kinds of results find the light of day.]
Think about business news or about scientific data, hypotheses
and conclusions in “news.” So much is hampered by bias from
various sources. In science, we speak about the importance of
controls or control charts and sample size. The logic of
conclusions and validity of models also play essential roles.
There is an equivalence in the non-scientific world of looking
at ‘news cycles’ and marketing of ideas. In addition, we are
encouraged to realize the emotional content and repeat frequency
with catchy easy phrases that sway human thinking when there
is not an equally persuasive rebuttal.
There was a time when audiences believed that there was an
editor and fact checker for what is reported in media. It seems
like this is no longer the case as the money driven enterprises
seek ready-viewers and ready-readers. So common now summaries
of habits miss that dimension.
Nonetheless, polls depend on the question raised, options of
answers, the sample size and variety, timing and context.
They are of a different “reality.”
to report, consume and believe the news we pay attention to.
It is of high value to highlight journalism best practices
using the scientific method.
Debilitating illness related to stress may not happen to you
for a long time. It happened to me, a Ph.D. after 3 1/2 years
of grad school with 3 hot offers a month after my defense and
a meaningful 44 year career in three major fields and an
unbelievable post career retirement.
Working out at a gym on an elliptical machine, I fainted (medical
term syncope) because blood did not get to my brain due to
blocked arteries. Ends up a cardiac cathetarization found
blockage in my main artery in the heart leading to open heart
triple bypass surgery. That was a year ago and resulted in a
major life change. Back to near normal again, thankfully.
What did I learn?
Take care of yourself. Manage your diet, weight, physical exercise,
annual physical. Even that is not enough, for I did that. There are
genetic contributions but it is occurring more and more frequently
as we live longer.
Family and friendships
make all the difference. I believe it is part of taking care of yourself
by looking after others in your
close circle. The stresses I see grad students point out
are real. It
is important to factor that element into your career path choice.
for recognizing this.]
Time management and organization. To me it seems to start with
goal setting and prioritization. Whether it is in grad school, post-
doc, or ina part time or full time career path position, figure out what
it is you wish to attain or grow or benefit from your effort.
Recognize any significant goal requires effort. The higher the goal,
can say something to others about you.
Work hard to develop strong personal relations with your adviser,
supervisor and mentors. Your success is part of what they wish for
as well. Share your goals with them and ask for advice. You will
be surprised by how you can be helped. Then when it is your turn,
pay it forward to others.
Stress is a root cause of diseases. WebMD points our eight stress
inducing medical issues:
- Heart disease. …
- Asthma. …
- Diabetes. …
- Headaches. …
- Depression and anxiety. …
- Gastrointestinal problems. …
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Other conditions related to stress include:
- The common cold. …
- Weight gain. …
- Slower healing. …
- Sleep dysfunction. …
- Depression. …
- Ulcers and other stomach problems. …
- Back, neck and shoulder pain.
Don’t take things for granted.! Recognize subtle things
happen when you are stressed and it may not happen
In the days in mid-20th century, women were a smaller
fraction of class members in math, geology, chemistry,
and physics classes in many departments. This population
dynamic resulted in fewer women in scientific leadership
Implementation of programs to reach more representative
fraction of balance in leadership can benefit from thoughtful
attention, like Melinda Gates book
She argues that there are unseen benefits by broadening
the equality balance. While many organizations feel it is
nice to do but do not sense the “pipeline” permits more of
the perceived minority. In fact it is quite analogous to people
of non-Americans natives in emerging industries– their
different approaches and perspectives offers great benefits.
It often starts with men and men in families.
Ms. Gates writes about how Bill Gates driving his children
to school a couple of days a week moved other families
to share the transportation task in their families as well.
One issue of C&EN contained several noteworthy items.
The first of three was appropriately tri-hydrogen ion reported
The story about the incidental discovery of the spectral
profile led to identification of this ion’s significance in
interstellar chemistry. (p. 18 of issue)
in properties of elements at higher pressures. It changed
an undergraduate. You mean elements have different
reactivities at higher pressures! Wow. (p. 11 of issue)
The article on retractions caught my attention (p. 16)
since that is related to a significant topic in my
Professionalism course. We had exercises, both intentional
and unintentional, on ethics, behaviors and what to do
if you observe something. Plagiarism heads the list of
root causes of retractions and one item that the article
missed that is quite important is that there are truth telling
a cost that everyone who writes for an audience should
be aware of. Several instances I have remarked on
assignments that the work looks like a copy from
another author, would you like to put things in your own
Say, you have strong technical writing skills in English.
Say, you have time (more than 4 hours a day) and credentials
that clearly show proven skills in improving technical
Well, there is a need, that some societies promote, is available
It is an interesting avocation for some, but I am not advocating
it. As I contacted an excellent technical writer to seek her
“take” on this proposal. As an article by Joanne Chen
while many people look at on-site reviews for determining
a purchase decision, objective assessment from a trusted
colleague will do better for you.
of her noteworthy comments. The remuneration is sub-standard,
sometimes it is not equitable and not timely, the feedback on
performance can seem arbitrary, without recourse.. Other,
She wisely points out that payment in advance and individual
contracts with stated expectations can avoid many troubles.
Now looking in the rear view mirror on this, it is possible
to offer a perspective.
One of the key things is to join and participate in professional
societies. This was a strong recommendation of a former
boss at Exxon Research, Jim Amick
. Our conversations led me
to pursue roles that might provide experience in leadership and
networking. It was not broadly spoken about at my first two
positions and it was not easy to get approval to attend meetings.
Yet when my turn for facing the music of job loss came,
it was my good fortune that managers encouraged me to
attend a national ACS meeting to participate in the job clearinghouse.
That led to several interviews and offers.
Weathering the storms of corporate life is mostly being in the
right place at the right time, by good relationship and
skill building. Accepting roles that are not part of my formal
background did stretch employment longevity. But looking for
volunteer opportunities for the common good– chairing meeting
sessions, reviewing articles, volunteering as local section member
at national meetings and then learning from successes of others.
Then, help others pursue their career aspirations.
As I saw happen to even the most talented colleagues, cut backs occur.
Through no fault of their own I saw many people get “sacked” and
pick themselves up and resume their career somewhere else. My
content here is to bring up end of career observations, as are described
in Mark Miller’s article
. [LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!]
- Center for Retirement Research (BC) found 37% retire earlier
(55% fail to reach age 66 target)
- one quarter of loss of jobs due to health (UMichigan,
- Workers 55 and older: unemployment rate 2.6%, but long term
unemployment of >27 weeks, is 26.6%, [that is, if you get laid off,
recovering is less likely]
- Sporadic income is hard to manage, but expecting to reach your
retirement goals set early in life, is getting harder and harder.
Pointers from Mark Miller
1. Assess your health and employment statistics in viable fields, as
time goes on.
2. Create interim plans including health care insurance and alternate
income streams that match outflows.
3. Fees and costs of retirement accounts. Look for financial advisers
who pursue your goals [interview several and don’t just depend on
Many times authors write about and speak about habits that
will help you be successful. As we come to appreciate,
winning and “success” are fleeting until the next event in a
I enjoy much of what David Brooks
writes in his NYT
editorials. One of the latest is about 2 mountains we face
in our lives–
“If the first mountain is about building up the ego and
defining the self, the second is about shedding the ego and
dissolving the self. If the first mountain is about acquisition,
the second mountain is about contribution.
On the first mountain, personal freedom is celebrated
keeping your options open, absence of restraint. But the
perfectly free life is the unattached and unremembered life.
Freedom is not an ocean you want to swim in; it it a river
you want to cross so that you can
plant yourself on the other
So the person on the second mountain is making
commitments. People who have made a commitment to a
town, a person, an institution or a cause have cast their lot
and burned the bridges behind them. They have made a
promise without expecting
a return. They are all in.
I can now usually recognize first and second mountain people.
The former have an
ultimate allegiance to self; the latter have
an ultimate allegiance to some
Supporting this are habits that build self-confidence and
lead to commitment. [taken from ]
1. delay celebration and develop a ‘reserve capacity’ to persist
2. make choices and have the mental agility to have a back-up
if first choice does not work
3. organize details, set priorities and understand root causes
4. be kind even in the face of rudeness, bitterness and