No body knows what will happen in the future Yuval Harari
describes in his books and in podcasts
. [See “21 Lessons for
the 21st Century”]. The twin revolutions of information
technological disruptions and biotechnology could restructure
more than economies and societies, but also our own bodies
He finds jobs in the future will be robust if they retain a menial
and creative element. Yet, so much of professions can be data
managed, searched and automated.
We are seeing a real “AI arms race”, led by remotely controlled
autonomous weapons. It is rapidly leading to invading human
Technological disruption_engineers are taking over.
Ethicists and philosophers are being lost, but incredibly missed
and needed alongside technological development.
Technologies provide immense positive outcomes, but there
can be unintended consequences and bad actors are even more likely.
We must remain very skeptical, questioning ideas and choices.
and defend and uphold a legal system that protects people.
There is human suffering and we must know it happens.
Steven Brill outlines the changes that have occurred
triggering the financialization of the chemical enterprise
that we have highlighted through the work of Rana Faroohar
Brill points out that business today has taken on a new meritocracy
with a “get rich quick” philosophy that works through cut-throat
tactics and the flooding of political influence money that no
longer prioritizes the common good, but “win at any cost” for
the privileged few.
The resulting model finds successful businesses protected by
“moats” that shield off predators. Moats he describes as good
product lines, great reputations, predominant market share and
sterling management who hire the best of the best teams that
savvy investors will seek out.
More and more we see AI and robotics impinge on human
roles. So in addition to seeking cognifying roles
in our careers,
consider what John Meacham has urged
- do practical work in the political sphere employing your highest
- respect and insist on true facts and deploy reason (avoid
dictators who lie frequently assuming that repetition will lead to
- keep history in mind.
Just doing chemistry is not enough for professionals.
Interesting observations in several fields that touch
on scientific realm are offered in this post.
value. Tessa Pocock wrote about the photosynthetic
efficiency of different low intensity wavelengths
on plant growth, the McCree Curve. This is a
possible application for solid state lighting and
specific crop production.
CRISPR Patent Rulings. Two sources talking
about the continuing saga of patent protection
filings from UC Berkeley and Broad Institute
are teachable moments for technology development.
offers that the result could impact
The Courthouse and expedited application process
AI in Science. While the first of two articles
ramifications in all fields.
AI- diagnosis and disease probability
AI- personalized medicine (skin cancer, smoking
AI- drug discovery using unsupervised learning
algorithms of pattern recognition
AI- predictive analytics in clinical trials to reduce time
AI- interpretation of scans using smart algorithms to
AI- seamless communication of health records
more detail about “optical biopsies” in the near
future as part of AI in diagnosis.
You prefer to wake at a certain time. You do your best
thinking, analytical work at certain times during each
day. Physical work feels right, too, at definite times.
that offers a classifying tool with some quick observations
about each “type,” similar to MBTI personality and
Behavioral tools. I have not decided if chronotype is
definitely a feature that will help you understand yourself.
broadens the scope of time, timing and psychology
that you should pay attention to. Using physiological
observations he relates body temperature routines to human
concentration and deduction powers , test taking, daily
activity scheduling, taking breaks, naps, interviewing,
how to begin important tasks and endings.
INTERESTING POINTS (book or You-Tube)
LIWC - peak-trough-recovery pattern of mood
- earnings calls of CEOs; morning better
Breaks and naps; break out of “trough”
Brene Brown - mid-career slump relief
James Dean Effect - careers, life style assessment
Peak-end rule of Kahneman
Synching forms: codes, garb and tough times to
We all can relate to how our existences are consumed
by cell phones, computers, wifi and alexa. AI is not
far behind where we relate more and more with robots
and devices for many needs, wants and desires.
Nonetheless, the art and reality of being good at conversing
with others makes human relationships hum.
Sherry Turkle wrote of an interviewing technique in her
“Employers have come to appreciate the vulnerability of
the new generations. Some businesses explicitly screen
for an ability to converse.” A big pharma exec told of a
conversation with an applicant. Then, at the end ‘I tell the
potential recruit that their homework is to organize what we
have discussed and from that make an agenda of interesting
themes for our next conversation.’
This approach emphasizes the importance of listening skills,
getting a clear understanding of each person’s ideas and
purpose and being able to synthesize a cogent argument.
This is not to say that the advantages digital technologies
are not used and important. It emphasizes the “and” in
conversation and digital technologies, in addition to knowing
when and how and when not.
The author states some well demonstrated doctrines like
practice with conversation and digital technologies is key–
use it or lose it…
She adds in texting, punctuation is everything (it is easily
I liked where she relates the motivation for using digital
technologies (the Goldilocks effect) and what it does in
This easily readable book is a recommended read for
technical professionals who want to get ahead and seek
some good advice.
Three things have come to my attention. One was a recent
graduate’s interest in a consulting firm position. So we
have been in discussion about how she might prepare for
developing her cover letter, resume and other documents.
A second item relates to an important technical area that
Bill Gates has indicated demands more attention– preparing
Finally, an interesting letter to the editor in CEN by
Professor Adam Heller talks about mitigation work
needed to deal with the growing global warming threat
we all face. I note this because Adam has always been
at the forefront of where technology needs are…lithium
batteries, lasers, biomedical devices and more.
The initial volley involved getting information on the company,
seeing the job description and related information from
insiders and Glassdoor.com. As is found from many of
- desire blending information technology and management
- recently graduated from top institution with credentials
- skilled and experience with using software and developing
learning tools in C++, Java, C# and other platforms
- demonstrates outstanding communication skills in all phases
So this provides some hints about important things to include
in application documents. But we do need to go further. Using
Linkedin, and the firm’s website we can learn more about
the kinds of project areas and notable citations. One citation
came up about a highly touted recent book on consulting that
the CEO wrote. Probably would be good to pick up.
Then, consider making use of your network to glean other
useful information and tactics to allow you to stand out, like.
the name of the recruiter to send things to.
PREPARE FOR NEXT PANDEMIC
In a recent ScienceAlert post Bill Gates talked about an
area of high need. Gates told of a simulated disease
spread model of a flu borne pathogen. It would create
devastating consequences that we are not prepared for.
Strategies and organizations need to be formed to
identify the mode and source and rapidly develop
mobile operations to isolate, treat and inoculate larger
populations. This is long range thinking well beyond
the fiscal and election cycles that should be of interest
to technical professionals interested in being part of
something larger than themselves and making a difference.
In a Letter to the Editor of C&EN on April 30,
A. Heller wrote of the high need to report in their
pages the critical need for scientific research to
develop and test strategies to global warming
catastrophes the earth faces.
Where C&EN fills its pages with alternate energy
and conservation, these are “tip of the iceberg”
solutions. Trends point to global wealth and the resulting
use of resources without sustainable management as
the dominating input for continued earth warming
in addition to a series of unintended consequences of
loss of ice caps, changing climate patterns and severe
natural events in tropical areas.
Work on Geochemical approaches is needed and
has to be reported in C&EN and to the wider
Rarely, if ever, do Chemistry graduates ever receive formal
or informal introductions in chemical enterprise business models.
We think it is of critical importance as it shows is how individuals
and corporations learn and how its core values.(business purpose,
core culture, operational processes and policies) are demonstrated.
So many of the BS, MS and PhD / post-grads do not find a
match to what they believe are their skills and interests. They
might initially desire to emulate their advisers, but opportunities
are often limited. So, they look for start-ups and entrepreneurial
business models. Heintz et al
show how business models can be
different in different cultures. This is an important consideration
for it affects decision making from many angles.
has predicted that chemical enterprises will benefit from
digitalization but as a whole are slow to incorporate them. This
is an area to embrace or at least consider when assessing the job
pictures families of business models.
- flow from raw materials to finished products with customer
service to offer value to customers
- exchange driven platform where groups of consumers and
producers aim to maximize value
So two examples to make things concrete for readers. Think
about the way we consume news. Newspapers in the 20th
century were from larger news organizations, printed at
central locations, hand delivered and read cover to cover.
Mass distribution of video and radio complemented printed
media. Now, we consume news mostly online via internet
and cable 24-7 and there is so much that news is continually
updated and corrected. Because of this nature and the various
media formats and sources how businesses make a profit has
moved from coupons and ads to clicks and eye balls.
Photography is a second model that reveals the revolutions
from print format to virtual world which can be re-constituted.
Then there are many other factors like portable power,
miniaturization and software versions and security.
After collaborating on a workshop I suggested to my
colleague that both of us contact the sponsor of
ours who recommended both of us for the role.
Within a day of the workshop I thanked AH for
suggesting me for a very positive experience in
the program. Included in the letter were brief positive
details and a sense that I look forward to working
together in the future.
Two things of significance, one reinforces the importance
and the other the timing of writing the thank you letter
at this time.
IMPORTANCE OF IN PERSON COMMUNICATION
In our present time, digital technology, through FB,
Tinder, MOOCs, texting, email tyranny and shallow
online activisim is argued to lose certain human strengths
Turkle says we have adopted new technologies to gain
control, only to feel controlled by them.
Letter writing is a lost art and there are commercial
interests advocating the positive aspects of making
an effort to relate personally to another individual.
This is just the opposite of getting fired by text
message and everyone at a dinner table texting
Interestingly, two people attending the workshop
contacted me afterwards and thanked me for helping
them find a position starting on their career path.
Those notes made all the difference!
While Pier Forni leads the way, I believe, in helping us
see civil behavior in organizations and different
situations, the updated Emily Post book adds some
useful suggestions for what your digital profile includes
and pointing out problem areas.
Post indicates what each professional should consider
as components of their digital profile. Update each
regularly and keep them consistent..
* complete and update Linkedin profile, with
* have a well maintained blog and website
* have links to published content in your name
* list membership on boards, charitable/ educational
groups and organizations
* include awards and achievements
* cite positive press
Just having a solid digital profile is not enough. Be
aware of potential trouble areas, like:
* privacy protections on Facebook
* uncensored, overly personal
or controversial history
* less than flattering photos tagged to your name
* old media that does not reflect who you are now
* unflattering press
Search your name and some name alternatives
Social Networking Tips
1. Online privacy is an illusion. Just about everything has
a digital fingerprint.
2. Think twice about offering negative criticism online.
Can be easily misinterpreted, especially in the absence
of facial expression, tone of voice
or nonverbal cues…
3. Opinions will be formed on everything you post and
much can be taken out of context.
4. You bear responsibility for online image
A respected colleague of mine, Christine Kelly
points out that much thought should be devoted
before you send your application for a position
There are several aspects to knowing yourself and
how you can present yourself to prospective employers.
they might fit into each organization’s culture.
MUSTS AND WANTS
The job description can be a help in describing what
successful candidates will bring to the organization.
I like her dividing job descriptions into short and long.
In the long ones observe the location and number of
mentions of key skills (note the keywords used and
employ them in your documents). In short ones, examine
Linkedin for people who have similar titles to see what
skills they list and what accomplishments they summarize.
Study the website for detail.
Above all, research via your network, including
Every interaction with every representative is part
of their interview of you. Christine points out in the
screening interview or information interviews
act and present yourself professionally.
In all interactions, virtual, visual, oral and in writing,
your future employer is interested in what you have
to offer. In discussions, listen carefully to the questions
of what people are seeking to learn and respond to
their queries. However, remain positive and phrase
negatives in ways that show your creativity and ability
to progress and learn from failure.
Do practice interviews. Anticipate and write out
answers you can use. Ask for feedback from
Industrial positions are often the description I hear
from PhDs and post-doctoral fellow. Honestly,
these professionals seek a position as a scientist or
engineer in business. That means ironically that
they need to project a profit motive or problem
solving motivation in their background and interests.
As you probably know recruiters are bombarded
with a large number of public relations packages.
So they use many times either a screening routine
or software ATS for uploaded documents that screen
the packages for keywords and words in context.
The recent issue of Money magazine has an article
Kristin Bahler. I agree with many of the concepts
yet the interpretation is significantly different for
professionals with several years of experience.
Bahler presents things that business might be
expecting for recent BS candidates. It is altogether
different for Post-doctoral fellows in terms of content.
For them, there is a need to convert an uninterested
reader to an interested professional reader. Thus,
critical information about what professionals are
expected to do need to be incorporated, like
- ability and experience in a fast paced environment
- experience winning grants writing proposals for
- managing budgets and negotiating experiences
How do you represent this if you are a post doc with
more than a couple of years experience?
Consider creating a new addendum for your resume
package called a “List of Projects” where you list
project work, areas of leadership responsibility
(often outside the technical realm) and interesting
projects that required you to do the extraordinary.
Some mention of List of Projects might be presented
in your Linkedin profile (which must be up to date)
and your web-page (which leading post docs will
have for an internet presence.).
Another conversation might address internationals
seeking employment in US. So often, Visa issues
cloud their futures. One of the questions they might
pose during their post doc is to ascertain if the
sponsoring organization will sponsor their visa
application. The range of potential employers is
limited if their Visa situation is problematic. Can
they seek employment in a start up for which they
are well qualified? Since start ups can fail and make
them need to fall back on a back up job search,
sponsorship can be lost.
It seems imperative to seek employment in large
organizations or government institutions where
the visa can be obtained with commonly more
What might a post-doctoral application contain:
-resume (with reference to Linkedin profile)
-list of references (not part of resume)
-list of publications, patents and presentations
-list of projects
easy to read, error-free, neat looking,
One of the skills not often addressed in our formal education
is audience analysis. It is one of the wise skills that we need
to develop in our career.
Dealing with problem solvers: Black hat thinking
Here are the major problems, brainstorm possible causes and
Eliminate weak points; develop back up plans.
Dealing with data analyzers who seek trends: White hat thinking
This is what we know [charts and statistics], all the hard
numbers and outcomes. What can we learn from them?
What is missing or how can we fill in detail?
What are situational or critical trends?
Dealing with people integraters who seek collective good
feelings. Red hat thinking
Appeal to shared goal and appeal to team spirit and coordinating
efforts. Each one is important. Give everyone attention and
Dealing with innovators and new approach, different angle
people Green hat thinking
This is an opportunity to be open minded and go outside
routine or casual solutions to problem or possibilities. Pursue
creative ideas with little or no criticism/ rejection.
Dealing with optimists Yellow hat thinking
This is a group to whom you present benefits and future
positive outcomes and implications. Don’t give up now,
hard work and persistence will pay off. Realize and
restate your strengths and the pay-offs will soon be realized.
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
Two interesting email requests arrived in my inbox, recently.
One was asking for participation in a job search workshop
by a professional society local section.
The second was a request from a graduate student seeking
help with his resume.
INTERESTING WORKSHOP DILEMMA
We were away on a vacation that delayed our responses.
However, I sent a follow up note to a colleague who was
a recipient of the job search workshop note asking to speak
before talking with the assistant professor who was coordinating
TH and I spoke on a telecon to address our concerns and
requirements before “meeting” with the prof and TH volunteered
to set up a Webex.
From this arrangement, several things emerged…
1. email is not a useful vehicle to coordinating a program between
different participants. It is so easy to misinterpret what is going
on. It is much better to do it in person, if possible, by Skype
or as a last result, telecon, if the participants know and trust
2. the resulting meeting request was misinterpreted. In addition,
a follow-up first discussion was delayed.
TH asked for a webex time slot. It was then felt that not everyone
responded to the professor…
The professor had urgent reasons for not being able to talk for an
3. The prof indicated his desired date is two months in the future
on a Saturday, but provided a date for Friday. This kind of
mishap can happen to any of us. But it suggests some problems.
On top of that there is a conflict with the Saturday date that
prevents everyone from participating.
BOTTOM LINE. These kind of workshops need to be planned
4-7 months in advance with back ups for most critical items.
It is useful to have a team of organizers.
PROVIDING HELP FOR INTERNATIONAL JOB SEARCHER
This personal consultation can be related to the workshop.
In a way, this is one of the key goals of what a workshop might
The initial email request asked for help writing a resume for
a job. Well as we know it is critical to be both more specific
and have a strategy in mind for narrowing down options.
The first draft of the resume was sent as an attachment. It
revealed that the grad student was at “square one” of his
search. He inserted some relevant data into an online
resume platform without understanding the hard preparation
that needs to go into it.
A response email was sent with several attachments.
The email pointed out that
- multi-colored, underlined, fancy documents are not
well received for technical professional resumes
- the application should involve a well written cover
letter and other documents that would positively
separate your application from the other applicants.
- have a specific position in mind that provides the
keywords critical for inclusion in your documents
BOTTOM LINE: The process, timeline and goals are
not defined. So, as with the workshop planning,
creating a workable structure and organization will
be as important as developing viable content.
Academic world revolves around an academic calendar;
the rest of the world employs different time charts.
Job searching is often a full time effort usually out of
sync with the environment you are in.
It is an ever present challenge about finding another position,
either from job loss, limited growth possibilities, or loss
of excitement for the employment situation we find ourselves
We question our choices up till that point. But alas we have
learned that more often the choices we made were valid but
for changes in funding or preferences or timelines.
Mid-career offers different challenges than early career. You
have an established work history, salary history and contributions
to your department involving trusting connections, lucid
communications and committed networks.
Not every personality faces this kind of job search comfortably.
It is certainly important to have established mentors to bounce
ideas off of. They can be a sanity check…
You can always get better… if there is something lacking or needing
It is not too late to learn new things… Especially if you know what
your career gap is. It might be harder if you do not know the gap.
That is when you fall back on your strengths and building out from
You should not hold back from going in another direction,
especially if it is an area of high interest.
Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Pay forward, pass on valuable information. You never know what
could make a difference for others.
Know your risk tolerance level, and those in your family that depend
If you need help, ask for help; join a professional organization; use
your experience to volunteer to help others.
Recently perused another insightful book by Barbara Oakley,
called “A MIND FOR NUMBERS: HOW TO EXCEL AT MATH AND
SCIENCE”, Tarcher Penguin, NY 2014.
I enjoyed reading new ways to learn things, especially related to
our fields of math and science. I like to compare other people’s
thought processes. Barbara Oakley has given much thought
to this process :
- Take pauses and breaks in my learning [so my brain makes
- There is a concentrated and a diffuse mode [nice! I can relate
to that. Especially the thinking process while running or
driving to a place where I have been before…]
- my working memory is now shorter, it seems. It is about
4 items. But what I can do is repeat the focused learning steps
and each time the process seems to be easier.
- Chunking: a key learning tool–. Get to the key things you
want to learn and “chunk it” using the focused, concentrated
mode of thinking. Chunks are built on focused attention,
understanding the basic ideas, and gaining the big picture.
- Habits are based on 4 steps, adding one to Duhigg’s model:
Cue – routine — reward — the Belief
- Memory tricks include: combining things in different ways;
use metaphors of natural, common, and usual things;
repeat what you wish to recall;
use stories and little memory sayings and songs.
writing things down and say things out loud.
- it is more important how you think, than what you know.
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.]
Innovations in the way we present ourselves, our
research and technical work should impact how we
format and what we include in our CVs for academic
General guidelines for having
- the document be in screen-readable sized font,
- your name on each printed page with a page number,
- keywords that reveal that you understand that you
meet requirements (musts/wants) of the position being
- your experience section state accomplishments led
by action verbs
- sufficient information to evaluate your academic
credentials and accomplishments (your thesis and adviser,
titles of presentations, patents and articles)
are certain. Just as the essential need of a signed cover
letter that cites all the documents in your package.
Reviewing so many documents usually means that
they are in electronic form and items should be digitally
While several references suggest Purdue’s Online
Writing Lab and registration in ORCID
provides items to consider including as topics.
In addition to those, it is now important to include
web-pages, blogs, open access articles on both technical
and topical interest, Internet commentaries, and
appropriate communication contact points (texting,
More and more academic position applications will ask
for teaching philosophy, diversity statement, research
proposals, list of publications, patents, and presentations
and list of references. All of the information should be
appropriately integrated to support each other.
Of interest to many academic positions is seeing your
contribution and participation in “service” to department,
university and field of endeavor and presentations to
organizations and audiences outside of your main field.
Special mention should be made about CVs for outside
the US. If you are seeking positions in Europe, you should
One of the leading skills that we take away from our
experience, education and learning from others is
“articulating thoughts” in letters. Notice the specificity
at the end of the sentence. [Many sources point out
that articulating relates to speech, lucid is more to
tuned to writing.]
Articulating thoughts in writing means that there is a
specific goal for your letter, whether
you wish to submit to a journal editor
, or filing an interest or complaint with an authority
encapsulates barriers to lucid
writing identifying four hurdles:
- cultural differences
: while it is easier to describe
international professionals working in American
enterprises, I have found manufacturing organizations
have “time critical” focus that is not present in R&D,
Observe and pay attention to words used and timeliness,
intent and action.
- verbs, active/passive voice and word order:
interpretations and meaning can vary from person to
- finding the right term: so often loss of specificity
can lead to undesired outcomes
- anxiety can lead to including unrelated information
due to uncertainty. Joining organizations like
Toastmaster International may prove to be a growing
In most cases good letter writing open doors to many
opportunities as well as the goal for your writing.
Keywords, knowing how letters are received and
recorded (sometimes documents are screened by
software before humans scan them), and who and
how letters are addressed (formal is more often
appropriate) are take-aways for good letter writing.
You learn and train in a wide range of technical skills,
develop writing ability creating public relations documents,
perfect public speaking and presentations in universities.
Do you get an introduction into solid financial practices
and decisions when you start your career? From a number
of recent interactions I sense most don’t have those
conversations or know people they can feel comfortable
Some situations, for example:
- start at a position and get reduced in staff in less than
- decisions at sign-up starting a position at the new
to mind. The last hits home — money is not an end in
itself, it is a means to create personal satisfaction and
value. Leading among the ten items are:
1. figure out your required and optional expenses
2. include creating an emergency fund, insuring yourself
and life essential properties
3. manage your loans, payments, and credit record.
The time value of money can be estimated by the
The financial world is changing constantly. The recommendations
and rules of the past in general may not be applicable.
Think 401Ks, IRAs, pension plans, how you use tax returns
and estimated tax payments.
Create a “financial notebook” for yourself as a continuing learning
tool. Learn from your mistakes.
Seek financial counselors or mentors you can go to.
If you work for the federal government, student loans can be
Beware of becoming overly dependent on algorithms for
offered seven helpful tips useful at all ages.