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 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]
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, 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
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
One of critical pieces of data you must have ready in an interview
is a list of at least three references.
Along with this, please know it is critical to have asked those
individuals whether they are available to provide good references
for you. To help them do their job, it is so critical to provide
a current CV or resume and with whom you have or will be
Recommendation references can be requested via mail and email,
and also via email in a phone call where there is an actual
conversation between an interviewer and your reference.
I have known HC for nearly ten years where we have worked on
her career path search process. Her goal from the beginning has
been to work in a government research lab or federal department
as a scientist/ chemist. After her Ph.D. she gained a post doc position
in a field related to pharmaceutical sciences. A four year R&D role
and academic positions followed. In each, she has come up to speed
quickly and made creditable contribution.
Earlier this year, I strongly recommended her for the academic
role. To prepare me for this we had a telecon to help me develop
an understanding of her motivation and qualifications. The process
followed where I wrote a supporting letter to the search committee.
Since I have not been a supervisor or co-worker, I perform as
a professional personal reference and provide a brief summary
of my background as a manager and interviewer and teaching
professional skills as a consultant and adjunct for many.
Ideal references need to provide your assets and specific examples.
So, it is important that you know he or she will be able to do
this. Rank of the individual is less significant than their ability
and experience supporting your candidacy.
If your reference is asked to conduct a phone reference
conversation, it may be a sign that your quite highly considered
for the opening and the conversation will “close the deal”. So
it was for HC, there was a strong positive reaction to the interview
process. Yet one of the other three references failed to respond.
This could be a situation where you are asked to provide three
references and where you add a fourth, just in case.
References for professional positions, you should:
- Have a list of four four professionals–name, title, affiliation,
address, phone (confirm the right one for interviewers to use), email.
(Senior level positions could require 5 to 7.)
- Obtain permission and availability to provide a good reference
- Keep your references aware of your progress.
- Send current resume, CV, cover letter and related documents to
- Thank your references, letting them know you appreciate their efforts.
- When leaving a position, thank your supervisor in that role for their
role with respect to you.
- Consider greeting references with a holiday card in a personal, more
than casual way.
- Understand providing a reference requires thought, time and know-how.
Find ways of professionally recognizing them for doing more.
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
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
Profile: Technology Specialist, Science and Technology Patent LLC
Style and Responsibilities
Proficient in both experimental and computational exploration of
synthesis and evaluation. Developed technology assessment
experience through post-doc and internship.
Personable and highly organized with different cultures.
Position involves bringing technical skills to bear on business
strategy and best legal practices for technology concept protection
for biomaterials, formulations, optophotonic electronics, food
Challenges and Stresses
Time is currently a limited resource with long commute,
management of household with preschool children and
current housing arrangement. Am using mentors to figure
out longer term strategies and encouragement to ask questions
and seek help.
Landing Current position and openness to new opportunities
The search for my current position that I started a month ago
faced several hurdles. We became new parrents, had my
work papers approved and dealt with several months break in
appointments. Yet we were successful due to persistence,
preparation and practice.
Just as one might expect, as soon as I started a new position
other opportunities arise. While the benefits package is quite
satisfactory and meets our needs (eg. salary exceeds ACS
Salary Comparator benchmark), I will find a way to accept
interview invitations. I do not do them from my employer’s
locations nor on employer’s time. I keep all engagements
confidential and record notes.
Interestingly, since this is a legal position “billable hours”
is a new work constraint that I am learning to include in my
Opportunities for Growth
In addition to a highly skilled staff and generous benefits,
the firm offers continuous in-house training, support for
personal growth and patent agent certification and help
in pursuing a legal education.
Are you planning international travel in the future?
I know when I was in grad school, the situation came
up that had me travel to several European countries.
Emergencies happened and we had to cut it short.
An article, Think you only need a passport?
WSJ 3-27-2019 by Scott McCartney
should be read, as it includes great trips:
- make sure your passport is valid for at least another
6 months from the end of your travel
- carry extra passport photos with white background.
[remember AAA offers photos– free for some members]
- carry at least $50 cash for on-the-spot visa fees
- register with the state department’s Smart Traveler
Enrollment Program STEP for contact with updates
- carry a copy of passports, itinerary, birth certificates,
medical prescriptions, credit cards in case of loss.
- plan a contact near home who knows where you are
and can help in an emergency
Another area of interest to readers might be journal articles,
where to publish and availability of publications.
I searched the ACS evolving policy and viewed the page
This is an area we should all take note of in consideration
with what is occurring with the rest of the global scientific
community aiming for Open Access by 2020. See details
I was tuned into this by an editorial in Interface by Jannuzzi
who linked to Richard Kiley at University College London
who wrote about the aim of “Plan S” to ensure research that
is publicly funded to be openly available. As a species we
face climate change, epidemic preparedness, major disasters.
He wrote of the Liberian government not being aware of
research of the potential impact of an Ebola outbreak.
If research was openly available and acted upon, some of
the thousands of death could have delayed to their normal
There is a sizable cost for ACS members
to participate in
OA open access. We can influence this by voicing what is
being done in proactive societies giving its members a
OKR Systems described in outline and detail in Doerr’s
book Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono and the Gates
Foundation Rock the world with OKRs see also videos.
Goal setting is not bulletproof: When there are conflicting
priorities or unclear, meaningless or arbitrarily shifting goals,
people become frustrated, cynical and demotivated.
Goals may cause systematic problems in organizations due to
narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk taking,
decreased cooperation, and decreased motivation. Hard goals
drive real progress more than easy goals. If they are specific
results observed are on target more than vague ones.
For those making the transition from academic experiences
to commercial or mission oriented organizations, Doerr is
a powerful mentor.
This entry was all set to go then a terrific article on
travel came across my screen. Let me start there …
broadcasted a comprehensive article containing
travel tips that many would be advised to take heed of.
1. Plan for the unexpected. Medical emergencies,
Cutting short your travel. Natural phenomena.
2. Know what to do in an emergency. Contact list.
Have it available wherever you are.
3. Get your home, auto, finances in order and secured.
Now to the entry. WSJ editorial page had a
. It is an eye-opener
and worth reading, especially if the reader is early in
There are “tells” [poker analogy):
-Pres. Clinton telling people he liked their tie.
-Person takes a call in the middle of a meeting.
-Person asks to have the material sent to office and follow
up. No follow-up occurs.
-Person takes your business card and picks his teeth with it.
detected by a series of astronomical devices
confirming a source as a “blazar” the first known source of
extraterrestrial gamma rays. this is the beginning of high
energy neutrino astronomy. This nerdy finding is like
gravitational particles and other recent discoveries that
may introduce new concepts in science and applications.
(think: x-rays, isotopes, DNA)
Using Electrochemistry to perform organic synthesis.
A half dozen authors reviewed advances in organic synthesis
that is energy and environmentally efficient in
. They provide experimental essentials and dozens
of documented examples. This could be a resource for
your research notebook.
.One of the areas that you should keep updated on iswhat is happening in cyber-security when we get spam.
Another is cyber attacks especially if you are in a governmental
lab or project or other technically sophisticated project.
Industrial spies are not commonly mentioned, but are
sharing some of his insights. There is an arms race in the
cyber world and it uses special techniques like turbosquatters
More and more, IT departments need to take a defensive
strategy against these kinds of pernicious attacks.
Historically, photographing or copying pages of reports
and data was the mode of spying. With systems going
digital and so much being Internet enabled, it is something
you need to understand how to protect.
Harold Pollack shared a meaningful list that fits on an
Index Card of hints to deal with transitions. Nine items
- Live within your means, restraining impulses that
can get the best of you where your belongings can
- Within one year, spend no more than 14% of
- Set up accounts to deal with requests and bequests
where you limit budget items.
- Control debt lines of credit where you avoid
high interest financial burdens. Determine strategies
to eliminate existing ones. Help others achieve the
- Stick to your core expertise. Consult with a
professional about personal investments. Beware
of IT recommendations without the full picture.
- Manage investment choices using low fee vehicles,
shield investments from taxes and other obligations.
- Interview and choose committed financial adviser,
attorney and insurance provider, so you are proactive,
thoughtful and within the law.
- Bring in experts to financial decisions.
- Give generously to reputable causes that meet your
purposes, knowing that you are responsible to
Many of these suggestions seem fit for approaching
retirement. Yet, it is not too early to have these in
mind much earlier in your career and have them
carry over as good habits.
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
From–CJ’s mailbag from 5-21-18 CEN, p. 27
Question/Answer: Is it better to jump from one company to
another or stick with a company long term?
While the question is an appropriate one, his short
answer was not satisfying. (It was: no one knows!)
Where I come out on this question: There are five features
that will help you answer the question for yourself.
1.CULTURE AND GOALS.
.CJ offers the big company, small organization
argument saying larger firms desire loyalty.
My view suggests that you might assess whether you are
comfortable in the company culture of how things work and
what your title, responsibility and security-opportunity-
influence triad balance is.
2.YOUR BOSS AND MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE AND POLICIES
. Do you like and communicate well with your boss and
your support staff? Is there trust and honesty. Are the policies
flexibly meeting your needs for the present and the future? Look
out for more than the present. Can you ask hard questions and
get honest answers?
3.YOUR FAMILY SITUATION AND NEAR TERM GOALS
We work to satisfy our particular families’ needs, first.
Are hours of work, travel, stress level such that it allows your
personal needs and wants to be met? outside of work life.
4.YOUR LONG TERM HORIZON
We all must stop being an employee
at some point. Do
you want it to be your choice or business conditions or an
arbitrary “committee beauty contest” selection? When you
leave will it be fair and open, on good terms? Can you
have the benefits your family needs and are they protected?
5.YOUR CURRENT POSITION AND ASSIGNMENT AND
WHERE IT LEADS YOU AND ALLOWS YOU TO LEARN
Are you challenged and learning important things every day?
Do you feel positive about what your goals are and look forward
to each day’s challenges?
Telling the truth, for myself, and for those for whom I
have mentored, have a mentor team that will help you
pose questions and look at the big picture for you.
I could not have gotten to where I am now without the
outstanding help of mentors. Two qualities that I felt
they provided were persistence and outside of the box
You should always have radar ‘on,’ to learn about your
field. You should always have an early warning system
telling you the good and bad (remember: management usually
holds back on delivering bad news and too often uses
rose colored glasses and a ‘bow on top.’)
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.
As we use artificial intelligence more and more and depend
on machines for decision making, critical thinking becomes
more important. In particular topics like false positive results
and limits of detection. This was brought up earlier in a
misused when we apply statistics to test results. It indicates
that a given condition exists when in reality it does not.
This conclusion can many times result in unnecessary
testing and costs (both to clinical patients (anguish) and
The previous entry pointed out limits of detection series
by Deming. Two other notable contributions– one on being able
to compare quantities resulting from different methods (
My experience is where a physician recommends a
prescription for a chronic condition based on analyte
readings. The algorithm is designed to predict a per cent
likelihood of an outcome. However, the clinical testing
is much more complicated with false positives entering
the picture. Not all of the people have have a minimmum
value will reach that specific outcome. This is not
revealed in the analyte results.
This leads to needing to ask more questions of the
results and their “true meaning.” Often the physician
will not assess these critical elements leading to over-testing
and over prescribing.
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!