Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a place
to look for areas where chemical
technology current status and near
term directions were pointed out?
That is one object of a series of blog
entries. This one highlights battery
research. J. Kho wrote a nice article
about several “hot” lithium battery couples.
SOME PROBLEMS OVERLOOKED. It
does not mention the significant
challenges in this field including
conductive organic electrolytes that
can withstand higher temperatures,
membranes and design / materials.
Another feature to bring up now is
the concept of “sustainability.” 1
Reuse, reclamation and ‘life cycle
analysis” should be considered in the
invention and design of advanced systems.
Certainly a place for chemists to have
BEWARE OF MARKET INFLUENCE.
Forty years ago, before lithium batteries
were in common use (only some military
applications), there was a significant
uptick in battery research. Those who
experienced that period will share that
only a select few technical elements
survive into production and profits.
“Hot”, yes, but beware of the market
Government changes provide benefits
Source: WSJ 6-20/1-09 p. R2
Reference to increase in C.O.L.A. in
SS for 2009, suspension of required
minimum distribution from tax deferred
investments for 2009 and a thoughtful
T. Rowe Price projection of the benefits
of Roth conversions.
Implications: may not have to sell
assets that have tumbled in the down
turn for IRA withdrawls. The COLA
in SS may help cover some expenses.
Competitive advantages can be through
innovations and thoughtful planning
and Preparation for sick days
Source: WSJ 6-22-09 p. R3 A. Mawani
Many examples of how one company or
other jumps ahead of the competition
by innovating. A. Mawani describes how
leading firms will prepare for flu pandemics
through critical staffing, planning and
preventive actions. This will not only
limit the effect but reveal strategic
advantages to investors, vendors and
What are you looking for in your employer?
What are you looking for in your investments?
… in the supplier of yours and your company’s
products? It used to be cost and quality, then
it included customer and community service.
Integrity, transparency and being leaders in
their field seem to make sense. So does the
concept of “sustainability.”
Environmental excellence is not at most people’s
foremost item on their list. Not yet. It could
become if trends speed up and segmentation
separates high-quality/low-impact companies
from low-cost/high-impact companies.
While there remains some controversy over
implementation and interpretation, the life
cycle assessment concept that Daniel Goleman
highlights is something to consider or ask about
when deciding firms to work for.
An interesting article about implementation of
sustainability in chemical business models gives
the leading firms involved in this cultural shift
calling upon the three ’swarm rules’
Know your impacts
Share what you learn
If ’sustainability’ is an important criterion for
your work, look at the job site 1
Recently, I came across an interview of a
researcher who was developing the next
generation of non-volatile memory devices.
As we know these are things in our ipods,
thumb drives, and MP3 players. It is simply
amazing to observe materials, technologies
and their applications grow and become
part of our daily lives.
The technology is Magnetoresistive Random
Access Memory MRAM and while starting
slowly it appears to be finding near term
uses in datalogging and information buffers
for critical data at higher densities.
The technology based on this is commonly
called spintronics and involves manipulating
electron spin and charge on an atomic level.
Smaller size, faster operations, and greater
efficiencies are projected as devices make
use of magnetic layers of nanomaterials.
One often does not know what you will be asked
to sign when you join a new organization. It is
something professionals and those of us in the
chemical profession need to give some thought to
and understand your rights and the possible
One of the first places I go is wikipedia to get
background. Mary Pratt authored an article
about an area that appears to be changing. At
- know the laws in the state in which you are
- have some ideas of the differences in documents
that you may be asked to sign
- know your rights
Starting a new position, you may be asked to sign
one or more documents or paragraphs representing
- non-disclosure (proprietary information)
- anti-raiding (hire former colleagues)
- non-solicitation (clients)
- software license use
Know what you are signing.
Pratt highlights several thoughtful features:
- what are the state laws in the state you are in
- what is your employer’s choice of venue (they
may choose another state with more restrictive
- some jurisdictions require signature before
starting or on the first day of work.
If you are asked to sign a non-compete agreement
while already working for a company, some
jurisdictions require signature be accompanied
by a bonus or promotion.
In these times, it may be difficult to bring
up negotiation. The least might be to understand
what are the critical items the company seeks
The “long tail” theory of information and searching has
been mentioned in light of one way having your blog
enhance your resume 1 or having a presence in
LinkedIn.com. In this way, you add a “pre-filter”
to the information that is “out there.”
[the long tail, coined by Chris Anderson in Wired
magazine 2004, describes a ‘niche strategy of
businesses’ that sell relatively small quantities of
The long tail, a term borrowed in business, finance
and marketing and popularized in the book by
Chris Anderson, applies for professionals seeking
jobs in a world increasingly influenced by the Internet.
I found Anderson’s book most helpful in providing
a big picture and framework around the “long tail”
concept and framing the critical questions. In the
last several chapters of the book, Anderson
points out three leading elements of the creation of
- adding population to the “tail”
- making all elements accessible
- being able to find and select what you want and need.
For job seekers one might learn about
- where to post their professional information and
- what are the best ways to find and select what
Both of these are serviced by “aggregators” who
make information and ideas available and easy to
access and understand.
While he did not recommend where to list our
professional information, he did emphasize
the power of collective intelligence in gathering
information to make choices and that “search
filters” drive the search to the more specific,
lowest common denominator terms that
allows selection and amplification. they are
Pre-filters: key words that predicts matches
Post-filters: insights that reduce the “noise”
of the search.
This coming together of science and business
speaks to how important it is to be open
to concepts and tools used in other fields.
One public relations document people
seeking an academic position need to
create is her or his teaching philosophy.
Please see an insightful article from
Science-Careers by Rachel Narehood Austin
describing many critical elements.
An unfortunate outcome resulted for a member who
had a successful phone screening interview. He then
was asked when he could come to town (1000 miles
away) to interview on-site.
His response was that he could come in 7 weeks.
(He had a graduation, a paper to finish and was
planning to attend a conference. Then, he could
go in conjunction with another conference trip.)
He recently learned that he should postpone the
trip as someone else has been offered the position.
If you delay an interview you are giving the signal that
they are not your first choice or their needs are not
high in your priority list.
It gives the organization the need to interview others
and offer the position to the closest qualified applicant.
In short it is a mistake not to ask how soon they wish
to have the position filled. Make plans to allow them
to meet their need.
There could be uncontrolled circumstances for a
longer than desired delays (although only illness
or child care needs come to mind), then consider
asking for a virtual video interview as an alternative.
They ask the questions and you respond on
This may not be exactly what they seek but it
displays your understanding their needs to go
to the next level within a time frame.
It is part of our professional responsibility to ourselves–
networking with those seeking a position. You never
know when you will be in that role. What does one
do when one gets the call or resume in the email?
Eileen Zimmerman authored a piece on this topic.
I specifically like her recommendation of developing
a list of general career advice, industry related
information and references to recent C&EN, WSJ
or lay-off/hiring trend articles. (Note C&EN does not
list negative news much any longer.)
There are three types one can receive:
direct connection, helpful for your work or who
has helped you,
indirect connection who was recommended from
someone to contact you
unknown connection who found your name or
was surfing LinkedIn and saw you worked in a
position or at a company.
The author does a nice job in pointing out how to
interact with the third case especially when your time
resources are limited.
When a person who is a direct or indirect connection
seeks you out, consider making it a personal policy
to do as much with the information and requests at
hand. In addition to items mentioned in the article,
consider offering LinkedIn.com connection and
reviewing what you know is helpful insights (company
styles, contact strategies, current needs and help
people put their “best foot forward.”)
Sometimes mentioning in a polite way something
people do not want to hear is most helpful.
Unless one is a career consultant with time, training
and resources available, consider not getting into the
resume and interview review activity. Recommend
people who have the time and background for this.
One could look for specific things one might write
or say, but a full review might be “biting off more
than you can chew.” Mentioning leading recruiters
is also helpful.
The article does offer job seeker information that
reminds people of good practices.
Presently I am working on an online review
of chemical literature searches that one
might use for research, applied research,
development, market research or patents.
Similar expansion and problems are
observed in literature search as with using
the Internet for searching for jobs.
More and more, sites can be found for
posting resumes, looking at job descriptions
and buying services. Which ones should you
use? How do you find out about them? What
should we look out for?
One should not limit either kinds of searches
to exclusively narrow search engines or
methods. Use many, learn from them all,
determine the value of each and share what
your learning from each engine and method.
Many sites (or search engines) are going to
pick up limited subsets of either literature
or job openings and information about the
One of today’s requirements is sharing
information about yourself. Consider your
privacy rights and what is available about you
online. Similarly, search information can
be slanted for or against firms.
One needs to get to the truth.
One person has shared that she recently learned
that someone she knows was recently laid off
from a company she is pursuing for openings
on their web-page.
It is important to fully understand what is
going on, who is responsible and the motivations
to determine if she should continue seeking
In fact this raises the importance of truth and
protecting your personal privacy– it represents
Mitchell wrote a Computerworld article suggesting:
- google: Search privacy tips and google privacy
tips for helpful YouTube videos.
- control who you share items with
choose selective boxes for photos on Picassa
and other photo tools;
google chat- check “off the record”
- Google Chrome: turn off suggestion feature
- Google account: turn off web history
- opt out of interest-based ads
- add SSL to Gmail account.
I solicit other ideas people wish to share.
I can’t say enough good things about Mindy
Levine’s’ article in the Nucleus, “My journey
from graduate student to post-doc.” 1
She offers her personal experiences and
- she seriously started her in depth search
14 months before completion of her Ph.D.
- she talks about the field she chose and
tactics for interacting with people she
considered working with
- she explored obtaining her own grants and
external funding, realizing that the better
she does this the greater the chance of
winning her choice,…
and the full time position that follows.
Good detail is listed in the article for those
seeking postdoctoral. (pages 3 and 12).
More and more chemists at universities
are filing inventions and working with
their university technology transfer offices.
A thoughtful article by B. Halford
(C&EN 5-25-09, p. 39) addresses
both the benefits (financial) and
responsibilities (awareness, recording
in notebooks and inventorship details)
of graduates and post-doctorals, in
addition to professors, in becoming
knowledgeable about patenting,
the patenting process and its significance
in the commercial world in light of the
1980 Bayh-Dole Act.
The article wisely points out that this
could be well worth the effort.
(in addition to listing patents on your List
of Publications, Patents and Presentations.)
Seizure of SS assets (in loan debates),
company bankruptcy protection, and
’surviving spouse’ SS benefits are three
topics we talk about when it is too late
(SS = social security).
It is valuable to bring these topics
up. Although they seem narrowly
focused, discussion brings up some
good practices. Namely,
- strategize your family’s social security
withdrawal plan, developing at least
- consider the use of income management
accounts at firms separate from
credit holders (cards and loans), and
- keep good records of your
employment, pension and social
security accounts, including dates,
pay-outs and earning histories.
SS Benefits protection
Source: WSJ 6-1-09 by E. E. Schultz
Four strong practices highlight this
strong article on protecting one’s
SS and disability benefits from creditors.
a) deposit one’s SS and pension in
different institution from credit card
or loan. Speaks to use of Income
Management Accounts to deposit and
obtain solid interest rates from.
b) separate SS deposits from tax
c) if sued for debt owed, ask for
specific proof of debt
d) if an account is frozen, file a
claim within ten days.
Pension benefits from Bankrupt
Source: WSJ 5-31-09 Ask Encore
Kelly Greene offers a number of
actions and resources to consider
when one decides it is time to
collect pension benefits from a
bankrupt firm or one that has merged
or been acquired.
Collecting spouse’s social security
Source: WSJ 5-16-09
Kelly Greene poses several alternative
scenarios and cites resources for
collecting spouse’s social security.
There are excellent considerations