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

June 2017
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Watch-Outs. 103. Scientific Publishing, Limits of Analysis, Gas Cylinders
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:36 am

Publication is a critical focus in the scientific world.  Societies
have publication wings.  There is a large commercial publication
business that earns nearly $20Bn/year with a third being
profits.  The Guardian published a revealing article about the
publication world which this blog has offered comments.

Previous comments have been offered on peer review,
and critical thinking when reading.  
This blog is on record for supporting the idea of “open access”
and questioning the viability of “rating” journals based on
citations in the internet age [it is like mindless “likes” in
social media.].
Been following of Deming’s articles on Applied Statistics
for decades.  He is in the middle of an important series on 
limits of detection.  I just received a water analysis report
and have received blood and urine medical reports that refer
to one or another of these.  These articles are important and
significant for all of us.  We should know and use these terms
One of the types of questions I ask in some interviews 
concerns gas cylinder set-up and use.  Articles in LC/GC 
often reveal solid scientific thinking to answer questions
in this area.
SOURCE:  S. Baranyi, The Guardian June 27, 2017 
“Is the Staggeringly profitable publishing business bad for
Although the ACS continues its efforts to 
expand its
profit center, most of the members do not realize what
is going on in the publication business.  This Guardian
article goes into details what the ACS publications 
division might be emulating.  
Should we not ask questions to make more science, often
paid for via taxes, available free online?
SOURCE:  S. N. Deming, Amer. Laboratory June/July 2017
P. 41.  ”Statistics in the Laboratory:  The Limit of Detection
Deming teaches in this article L(D) the limit of detection, which
he points out is different than the smallest amount of 
analyte that can be detected or the limit of quantitation (appearing
in future articles.).
He points out:
- false positive risk needs to be appropriate for the application.
[drug testing example]
- in a plot of a calibration curve with a non-zero intercept, L(D)
the limit of detection is the amount of analyte that yields a
signal outside the error of the false negative.
These comments are often not brought out in many classes.
SOURCE:  J. V. Hinshaw, LC/GC North America 11-2016, P. 41
Gas Cylinder Safety, Part II:  Set up and Use
What I like about Hinshaw is that he does a fishbone diagram
to assess a wide variety is issues that could come up in
working with a common analytical tool.
1 comment
Professional Skills. MBA, Six Sigma Technologies and PMI Project Management Certification
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 10:10 am

After our formal technical training, which may be experiential,
[non-academic] but most often involves the academic realm–
BS, MS, PhD and post-doc, many in government, industry and
entrepreneurial career paths find business certification a very
positive growth dimension.

This can happen when we choose to continue formal academic
work with an MBA or 13-week MBA certification.  When we
explore this option we find 2-year and 3-year MBAs where the
longer term allows developing specialization skills.  The 13-week
in-residence programs had prerequisites of solid business experience
and tighter admission and stronger longer term career commitment
from a sponsoring organization.
One clear strength of the MBA programs is the networking, both
formal, through the university, and informal, through connections
and associations (alumna, alumni).
In the 1980s formal business certification programs were developed
in parallel to MBA programs.  These should be of interest to many
people since they may be more specific to certain aspects and
more broadly respected as providing necessary background and
organization useful in certain fields.  These are the PMP Project
Management Professional and Six Sigma “Belt” programs.  
I am surprised that ACS has not incorporated both of these in
career continuous education plans.
PMP Program covers a broad range of 
skills and experiential 
 to help improve the success rate of projects.
Six Sigma asks about understanding customer requirements and
mapping a process to identify and measure defects, losses and waste
using statistical methods, measurement systems and data analysis.
I find people who complete an MBA curriculum or are certified
PMP or Six Sigma are encouraged and are proponents of their
The training in each seem to differ and it is worth noting PMP
emphasizes the “waterfall model“.   The training methodologies
may emphasize other approaches, as listed here.
An objective comparison of PMP and Six Sigma appears in this chart.
1 comment
After Action Review. Job Search and Interview Process
Filed under: Recent Posts, Interviewing, Position Searching, Mentoring, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:28 am

Recently a colleague reported his experiences he observed
during his job search.  It points out the importance of networking
[2] , doing After Action Reviews, knowing that you can build your
career by taking related positions, where you learn and practice
applicable skills productively.  After all, a career is a process of
growth combined with continuous learning.

   applied online and got a personal contact of mine to forward my resume 
to the hiring team…he felt comfortable to refer me.
   it was too late, they had already considered a candidate. 
   This year they contacted me.   So as you have so many times emphasized,
networking is key to getting one’s resume noticed.

Career is a Process:  
A senior level manager:
-  Asked about my industry experience and was probing about my interests,
strengths and ability to work in a team. We really clicked in the interview.
It was a pleasant conversation about various aspects of manufacturing, QA,
 QC , work ethics, and honesty. he was very pleased that I was familiar with
Quality Management System. I felt we were already colleagues in the interview.
Among questions asked:
-  what I do not like, and what I like.
-  given a situation what do I prefer: perfect and late, good and on time, or quick
and early…something like that.  I elaborated on each as it all depends according
to me. For example, I recall saying it depends on how critical it is. In a situation
where you are looking at an API, it is critical to be within the acceptance
criteria/specifications, better be late but safe.  But for a report, as long as all
the important information are there, I won’t delay it for perfection. I recall also
talking about how in a team, different people have their own preferences - in
terms of how to present a table. I personally don’t like to delay output for these 
things (as long as it is not wrong). 
Another Interviewer/non-technical manager:
-  were able to relate a little as I had previous experience in the finance
department when i was in accounting.
-  ended up in a conversation about the market, competitive advantage, pains
of month/year/quarter ends.
-  Talked about SAP and Oracle.
-  He actually appreciated that I knew about science and financial side of the
After Action Review:
-   if I run into a situation like that again, I should transition my mindset into a
“sales pitch”- meaning, I should do the best I can to use facts from my
experience to support each criteria they are looking for.
 asked to visit the lab and areas of interests. I found it odd they did not propose.
comments (0)
Resumes for Technical Roles.What can be done to improve chances to get interviews.
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Mentoring
Posted by: site admin @ 10:42 am

Recently I have received requests to review resumes and cover
letters for people who have completed several post docs and
wonder what can they do to attract interview attention.

First it was important to realize that they do not see the
changing role of push-pull marketing using on line profiles.  
Since online profiles can contain much more information than
resumes and can be accessed in a multiplexed mode, quite often
this is a leading recruiting step.  Push marketing is typified by
sending your resume to a recruiter or uploading to a website.  
Pull marketing occurs when recruiters review profiles on line.
The online profile needs to be very good and show
communication savvy, while being consistent with your resume.
Second.  When I examine the profile/ resume/ cover letter package
I  ask for the job description.  The exact title [cover letter], job code
[cover letter], 
and keywords [cover letter, resume, online
profile-Linkedin] need 
to be listed in the documents.  It is critical
since screening is often done by ATS applicant tracking systems.
One colleague was an ORISE Fellow at FDA and did not mention
knowing about FDA regulations, how 
FDA reviews applications
and industry specific qualifications in the highlights section.
Third.  While the ATS examines the full document, human reviewers
will want to see information that is easy to read, error-free and
to the position.  Please:
  - avoid long paragraphs of information in cover letter or resume
  - use gmail, not yahoo, aol or education-based email address
  - insert your experience section before education, after you
reach five or more years beyond your last degree.
While it might be very true, statements like the following are
not taken seriously:  
‘I believe I am a
quick learner as demonstrated previously where
worked in various fields (materials, analytical and clinical)
and published
. I hope my skills and background are a
for to satisfy the requirements for the … position. I thank you for
your time and enthusiastically look
forward to hearing from you
soon. ‘ [note too many ‘I’s’– whole letter had >16]
for we know other interpersonal, cultural, and nonverbal 
factors can dominate.  [Technical skills alone are not enough.]
While the ACS offers good general suggestions about 
writing documents, specific situations require outside-the-
box thinking.
-  when there is little evidence for scientific accomplishments
via patents and papers, consider creating a List of Projects
addenda that might mention project work on proprietary
material ethically and legally.
-   when seeking positions of some authority and responsibility,
providing information in the affiliations or highlights section
or in the cover letter or in the Linkedin profile where you
point out project and team leadership and responsibility 
revealing emotional intelligence
1 comment
Economics in the Chemical Enterprise. Career Management. Tips for managing the attention economy
Filed under: Recent Posts, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:28 am

Herbert Simon is credited with recognizing that in a
data rich world what is critical is managing audience
attention.  Combined with the attitude that audiences
prefer A I D A, the digital media promoters code…

we lose our focus, disturb our direction and slow our progress.
Leaders of the digital and media organizations realize this
and take advantage of the uninformed.  It is critical that
technical professionals understand this and improve the
way we manage ourselves, our colleagues and teams.
The technical world including the chemical enterprises is
dominated by the “attention economy.”  Earlier this blog posted
the influence of robotics and artificial intelligence in career
management in the chemical enterprises.  Financialization
also dominates chemical enterprises.  
Recently, Tristan Harris’s work was discussed on HBO where
he described what we can do to contain and manage attention
hijacks which Kevin Kelly referred to in The Inevitable.  Harris
prescribes actions we can take to contain the outside influences
that digital media and devices introduce in his web site: 
time well spent   
Tristan’s article
is must read for each of us interested in proactively
managing our attention and careers.
1 comment