From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

January 2014
« Dec   Feb »
Emerging trends in Lab of the future
Filed under: Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:15 am

Recently I attended a conference reporting some remarkable
trends with

A. miniaturized personal monitoring laboratory devices

B. formalized operating system for intuitive integration of

C. 3-d printing of devices

D.  Q-state of protein folding offering the quintile structure
of proteins for activity.
All of these showed creative solutions providing innovation
to solve problems.

A.  Vadik Marmeladov displayed personal environment

that connects to your phone to measure, collect and
the hidden qualities of your surroundings. 
Lapka devices and app compares readings to average guidelines
and can create profiles and a diary for personalized medicine.

B.  Greg Linshiz reported microfluidics platforms for
biotechnology and biorefinery platforms.

C.  Eric Jones of National Center for Advancing Translational
Sciences reported emerging 3d printed devices from various
allows adaptation to sample and conditions.

D.  William Balch from Scripps Institute reported a Quintile
form of structural complexity in protein folding that influences
protein function explored via isobaric mass spec.

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How to get your work published
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Legal matters, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:28 pm

There was a very interesting session with the editors of two
journals describing how to get your work published in a
journal that seeks to be read and archived by an exclusive
audience at the interface of biology, biostatistics, robotics,
engineering, bioanalytical chemistry and diagnostics,
emerging technology, microfluids and nanomedicine. 

The editors have the goal of not having a large readership impact
factor (the commercial journals) rather be the resource of an
exclusive field in complex intersection of a number of fields. 
In short, a specialty field.

1.  Describe the topic that you wish to write on to the editor in
chief.  Have the central message in 2-5 sentences providing the key
points.  The topic should be targeted to the interest of the journal
readership.  Negative results of an especially prevalent widely held
error is encouraged and can be published.  It needs to be artfully
done extending or improving the concept and logically and
persuasively providing an alternative.

2.  Send a cover letter and paper manuscript to the editor in chief
offering in the cover letter the gist of the article, possible reviewers
and people who for one reason or another should not be reviewers.
List who the corresponding author is.

3.  It is important to read the author guidelines for detailed and
specific instructions about each one of the sections included
and provided as addenda electronically.  There are generally word
count guidelines and sometimes that can be met by using archived
electronic data.

4.  Six sections of a journal article included in a published full
paper were carefully described.
Results material and Method
References or citations and acknowledgements

5.  Logical message sequences, like cause and effect, flow nicely
especially when composed by the authors and following the
order of the manuscript.  Avoid not writing, concluding or
referring to data not described in the paper.  Stay within
the page guidelines and only interpret conclusions guided
by the data presented.

6.  Citations are critical to a good scientific paper and something
that all reviewers are quite mindful of.

7.  Guidelines for reviewers.

8.  Figures tables and legends

In my experience, this was the second time I met and spoke
with an editor about journal article writing.  I did jointly
write and have published an article but. it is no longer
in print.

The editor did bring up the discussion of digital publication in
the vein of augmenting rather than replacing hard copy based
on publication counts.

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Women in STEM Special Interest Group. Something for everyone.
Filed under: Mentoring, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:56 am

Just could not pass up the opportunity to attend an early morning
session of a “special interest group” at a technical conference.
Group:  Women professionals in science and technology
Topic:  Big things happen in small groups

Discussions focused on three areas– leadership gap
(assertiveness commitment and ambition), career planning and
goal setting
(fears and barriers) and doing it all (work-life
balance and perfectionism).

Our group pursued the third topic and while we all know it is not
possible to do everything to perfection, our behaviors fall back on
our habits both at home and in our career environments.  Our
behaviors seem to have a divide where more serious thought is
given to our career environments
, where we plan to cross train
and make it so everyone can take a vacation and have a workflow
that is less than 100% utilization.  Home and personal life is not
managed in the same fashion– imperfection is allowed, couples
divide duties, some things just don’t get doneWork always enters
our home lives.

Some good thoughts came from Amy who identified with me, as
we were the two outliers in the group (single, unattached mid career
woman and lone wolf guy).  Amy pointed out we need to realize
forming and building trustworthy, sharing relationships was key.
She came to me afterwards and thanked me for making a difference
by not trying to attract the spotlight but by shining light on an
unassuming team member (listening and supporting her comments). 
Supporting the relationship building is the need to have an “off-button”
for distractors that can interrupt the important relationships in our
Some decisions like starting a family or leaving temporarily or
permanently can never seem to have a “right time”.  That is because
we believe it should be thought out logically, when, in fact, it
is an emotional sensation that we support using facts and data.
(and even, after the fact.)

An engineering faculty member at Berkeley and I had a
conversation that women professionals commonly get…
wow, you are an engineering professor at Berkeley you must be
incredibly smart.  How did you do it?  What was your secret? 
I could never do it?
How do you respond, she asked? 

We thought together for a while and concluded it was important to
perform an audience analysis to assess if an emotional response would
be effective or an information loaded response would be.
For someone who could not easily relate to the complexities,
telling a story about who was a model or mentor for you and
provided a boost of confidence that you could do it.  Then,
relate it to that person rewarding their curiosity in asking.

If it was an audience who could relate to the complexity, we
can be more factual and list that if it were highly structured
situation knowing the rules and being efficient in following
them made a difference
.  If the situation was complex, we
realize that luck is totally unpredictable and that persistence
and trying many alternatives and learning from failure
us to where we are and we probably could have not predicted

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Local Section Meeting. Listening, Asking “good questions”, Committed Networking
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 2:06 pm

The turn out last Thursday at the Local Section meeting
was quite good as Katherine Lee moderated a ‘right on
target’ panel discussion entitled “Alternate Careers for
Chemists, or what I want to be when I grow up”.

It featured three chemistry trained people who have
transitioned into impactful careers:
Accounting:  Chris Montean, Ernst & Young

Venture Capital: Eddine Saiah, Atlas Venture

Intellectual Property Attorney: Heidi Erlacher, Mintz, Levin,

Each one was progressing well in their careers and found
(1)they were “stuck in a rut” with limited futures or
(2)found their current roles doing more “paper pushing and
‘administrivia” and less science. learning and exploration or
(3)be limited to working at the bench where her legal intuition
and technical strengths could be leveraged for much more.

They all demonstrated curiosity and related stories of how
they found a path with an open mind, adapting (learning through
difficulties), and broadening their perspectives of what they were
good at and found they received satisfaction from.

Throughout the panel discussion, one or two questions that
clearly resonated with the audience

People noticed not only the responses but also who the
questioner was and how they articulated their query.  It is
situations like this that professionals notice who asks the
“aha” question making the session real value.  The timing,
the tenor and the tone
make a difference in a good question.

I remarked to several people that I was interested in a couple
of companies that a colleague had interviewed for.  One
person, Maya, asked about this approach of me pursuing things
on another’s behalf.  This is one of the things good networks do. 
Committed networks are allies for you and do some of the
due diligence that you would want to do

While meeting a number of people I encountered colleagues
who I had not seen in some time and caught up with what they
were doing.  Several new people approached me and are now
part of my Linkedin Connections.  Several asked for advice
and ideas. 

One questioner asked other areas where our technical skills
as scientists would be strengths.  So we met afterwards and
I shared some items that have been shared in the blog, including
  intersection of fields
  defense related devices for security
  laboratory automation
  material science and engineering
  therapies for bugs that are pan resistant
  computational chemistry, property and toxicology predictions

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Thinking behind Willpower
Filed under: Mentoring, Leadership
Posted by: site admin @ 2:44 pm

Interested in a good discussion on improving your “willpower
to get more enjoyment out of what we do and  to do more personally
meaningful things?  A KQED podcast of Forum on “the Science
of Willpower
” was clearly enlightening.  It included three authors
that have been highlighted in this blog:  Roy Baumeister, Charles
Duhigg and Kelly McGonigal.  The notes alone in the web page
offer value.  If you want to catch the flow of the discussion on
what willpower is, how you can strengthen your willpower,
understand the role of habits and connect to the notion of personal
self-control. listen to the podcast, as well.

I liked more than a dozen parts of the discussion.  Let me highlight
four for you.
1.  K. McGonigal talked about willpower being an instinct
comprising three elements– “willpower“, what you want to do
daily, “won’t-power,” not doing the things you wish to avoid and, most
importantly, “want-power,” your personal vision that drives your
purpose.   The latter form the rewards that will drive your behaviors.

2.  A part of will power is “self-control” which interestingly is
a habit of doing things that propel us to our goals.  It is a limited
mental resource that can be depleted
from overuse, can be restored
by meditation, involvement in a like-minded community, and
influenced by mentors.

3.  Goals are a meta-concept of a pattern of thinking that can be
reached by establishing “keystone” habits.  C. Duhigg cited the
work of Wendy Wood who established 40-45% of what we do
is habits and if we prioritized and focused our cues and patterns
of behavior we would feel rewarded, especially if we were willing
to delay gratification.

4.  Selective actions help us to have the will power to complete
complicated tasks.  Challenges can be overcome by
breaking complexity down into manageable chunks,
bundling them with priorities, reward the accomplishment
of even small steps and “powering” through to even a
draft end point.

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Watch-outs. 51. ‘Bar-raisers,’ Luck vs. Skill, Why drugs are expensive, Google translate
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:43 pm

If it weren’t for prescription medical coverage who could
afford prescribed medications?  Have you rationalized, too,
whether it is better to be skilled or to be lucky?  Some
seem to have all the luck.  What is their unique skill so
that they can be lucky?

Some of the “name” firms are using a special breed of
interviewer called “bar raisers”.  It might be nice to know
about them if you are job seeking.  Have you recently found
a journal article in a language you do not know?  Ever use
google translate?  Pretty nifty.

SOURCE:  G. Bensinger, WSJ 1-8-14, P. B1, Amazon
recruits face bar raisers
.”  Bar raisers are skilled
personnel evaluators who evaluate talented candidates
especially for cultural mismatches and growth dynamics
in many areas.  While it has been called different terms
over the years, it provides a challenge to our preparation
and performance during job interviews.

SOURCE  Cal Newport, BLOG 1-2-13, LUCK VS. SKILL
So many in business claim when things don’t work– great
idea, just at the wrong time.  Maybe that is true!  According
to Cal Newport and many of the commentators they agree
that it is good to be lucky, but you have to “do the reps”
referring to body building and a connection to Arnold
Schwarzenegger and his career.  For activities with clear,
fixed rules, skill and practice surely makes a difference.
For activities with evolving rules, success happens when
the rules or situations change that were not anticipated.
It is as if luck is significant.

success = potential * serendipity

The more rare and valuable your skills, the more potential
you have.  It is within your control.
You cannot predict or control serendipitous factors, thus
luck plays a role.

SOURCE  A. Jogalekar, Scientific American Curious
Wavefunction BLOG 1-6-14, “Why drugs are expensive
Authoritative description of drug discovery.  Since drugs
work by modulating the function of proteins.  It is hard
to sort out which proteins and which small molecules
can affect their activity in complicated cellular systems.

I recently wanted to translate a job description which
appeared in German.  My German is “rusty,” so I went
to Google translate and got a terrific on the spot sense
of what the musts and wants were for the position.

Is it in your arsenal of tools?

Top 10 “Overused” Profile buzzwords– Linkedin
responsible, strategic, effective, creative, effective,
motivated, multinational, experimental, specialized.
Do you have these in your linkedin profile?

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Tips for improving your Elevator Speech.
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Networking, Mentoring, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 12:35 pm

Thank you Dr. Patrick Gordon for sharing a helpful
marketing document describing crafting effective
“elevator speeches.”
  Elevator speeches (or pitches) are
useful tools in the job market as well as in the business
world involved with products and services
, where it is
integrated into a strategy.

There were six startling take-aways that helped me
revise my marketing tool, specifically:
1. Target your audience’s needs and reveal the value you
provide.  Practice and perfect the wording and timing of
nonverbal cues.
2.  Give a couple of specifics of the people  you serve or
industries that can benefit.
3.  Describe a problem and solution or share a benefit
you provide.
4.  Make it illustrative rather then encyclopedic,
conversational rather than jargon-loaded and memorable
rather than lumped with broad career fields, like organic
chemistry or medicinal chemistry.
5.  Perhaps describe your customer’s feelings before
working with you or your product.
6.  Perception is everything.  I could picture the four
approaches commonly used and clearly see the strengths
of one of them “the attractor.”  Less effective are: 
  “minimizer (I am an analytical chemist.)”,
  “rambler (I am an analytical chemist with background in
  “impress-er” (’name-dropper’)

Don’t overlook the nonverbal communications you use
when delivering your elevator speech.  It can make all
the difference.

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Recruiters. Agents for Staffing and a whole lot more
Filed under: Interviewing, Job Offer (Situations), Recruiters, Mature professionals, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 12:26 pm

Job analysis, on-boarding, strategic hiring and down-sizing,
psychometric testing, outplacement….These and many other
terms are roles of recruiters. 

Recruiters and their general function, recruitment, are part
of the process of
1  deciding what skills and experience are needed to complete
and deliver a function for an organization [job analysis],
2  defining for, advertising to and attracting qualified applicants
3  screening qualified candidates and narrowing the applicant pool
4  participating in a joint selection decision including establishing
compensation elements
5  on-boarding the new hire into the organization bringing them
quickly up to speed

The role and responsibility can also involve (6) hiring strategies,
(7) networks [that is how I got started into Linkedin, for example],
 (8) screening tools, (9) hiring plans and timelines, and even
(10) downsizing and (11) outplacement [I worked with DBM
in an early in my career transition].

Recruiters are part of practically all organizations– academic,
government, industrial, entrepreneurial,… you name it. 

Some are permanent hires of a larger organization, with other
responsibilities.  Some recruiters are contracted.  Of the contracted
group, one can find
- niche specialties (Chemistry, engineering, pharma, nanomaterials,
instrumentation, batteries, electrochemistry, fuel cells, process
industries and many more),
- narrow geographic areas (Bay Area, San Diego, St. Louis, Boston,
Phila., New York, Texas, etc.) and
- more general sourcing agencies

Joseph Jolson presents, for example, how one can find career
opportunities for chemical enterprises in the Pittsburgh job market
each year.  Recruiters commonly represent their organization at job

I followed a few other blog entries and the NESACS website
unsuccessfully for niche contract recruiters for either the NE region,
like Joe does for Pittsburgh, and for industry specific retained
search firms.

The general internet databases and Linkedin Premium service are
another route you can follow. 

Contract recruiters are professionals who earn their keep and
integrity by providing a service that needs to be paid for, either by the
hiring organization or the client.  The best often work well with other
professionals based on valued relationships that lasts, not for just one
job cycle, but for years.  So, in my career, I maintained a relationship
with a fuel cell and lithium battery recruiter for over 20 years.  I was
able to help some of my colleagues find their next position by
referral a few times.  Currently, I maintain professional contact with
a few recruiters even though I am not actively in the job market myself.

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