One of the crucial measures of developing research programs
is keeping in touch with new ideas and combinations with
new equipment and theories.
Who can afford to purchase their own copy of their
favorite journal(s) these days? Prices are prohibitive,
even for libraries. So, societies and for-profit publishers
have taken advantage of electronic publishing.
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.
Meeting with many Ph.D. candidates who fret about
not having accomplished a series of publications in
peer reviewed journals is confounding these days.
As we look to intersecting fields with the chemical enterprise,
photonics continues to make enormous strides. Related
fields include optomechanics [interaction of EM radiation and
mechanical vibrations], opto-atomics [in precision time-keeping,
metrology, etc.], and polaritonics [carrier is polariton].
Genome, proteome, epigenome, metabolome,
pharmacogenome and dozens of other fields of study involve
chemistry. They all relate informally to the characterization
of molecular entities in biological fields translating into the
structure, function and dynamics of organisms.
One of the books that was on my desk recently was
Kevin Kelly’s, The Inevitable that talks about trends
and expectations of the world we are surrounded by
and influence our moods, behaviors and thinking.
Al Sklover offers insights that are unparalleled in the open
access world. SEE EMPLOYMENT LAW blog link on the left.
Preparing for some engagements I came across
several interesting items that readers might like.
How can you bring new ideas to an organization? When
first mentioned, members will say–that’s crazy! We’ve
done it before or it has been tried and look what happened….
Three possible revolutionary (and helpful) ideas are
offered here. One has been mentioned before, free dissemination
of high quality chemical information. Free the science!
There is a large hew and cry about increasing employment
opportunities for people in the chemical enterprise–
technicians, engineers, biochemists, and many sub-disciplines.
Are we asking the blind where to look and how to find trends,
opportunities, and ideas? We should have a whole division
entitled, Chemistry and the Economy which uses Economists
tools of data analysis and superforcasting!
Can we predict the outcome of experiments? Yes when we are
lucky… that is why we do experiments. A group from LANL,
I heard from a member of my network, uses informatics based
adaptive design to define new materials.
DISSEMINATE KNOWLEDGE FREELY
Many are not aware but over a hundred years ago a group of
scientists separated from the ACS and formed their own
society since their needs were not met. At this time the
critical needs of the world are not met by large commercial
interests and privatized, high cost journals. There is a
critical need to radically change how good information is
shared. A model for this has been published and is being
implemented. The incremental, “nibble at the apple” approach
that is not affordable outside large institutions should change.
NEW DIVISION: ECONOMICS AND CHEMISTRY
Chemists are not economists. Economists are not chemists.
Why are we asking chemists to assess the economy and
report on how the chemical enterprise evolves and what
will be viable career fields in the future. You can not look
at the past to predict the future. Things change fast.
We need, as a society, a new division dedicated to asking
economics questions about STEM fields.
The ACS, NESACS and other sections and divisions have
no influence over creating jobs in the private or the
public sector. There is a crying need for the ACS to
define a new and important role, outside of the chemical
realm that asks the questions we are not able to develop
answers or even superforecasts. Please let’s develop a
LANL INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENT
Many have learned that hunches tested by trial and error
have yielded new materials for practical materials. Think
of for example lithium battery cathode material. The
LANL group has developed a partial factorial designed
experiment approach that is quicker and more efficient.
This brings in innovations in statistical design much
needed in designing materials of the future.
Since Julian Assange opened access to critical files and
espionage, it was only a matter of time when we would
see wide spread hacking of scientific literature. While we
do not and are not condoning hacking a recent report tells of
amazing hacking of scientific journals.
We share an article which talks about tips for professional
telecommuting and virtual meeting/interviewing. While we
have entered previously on this topic, a couple of elements
are true and new.
Then, I looked at a nice “Acing the interview” presentation.
The speaker gave some insight that I share as preparation
for taking interviews.
HACKING SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
SOURCE: A. Staller, Open Access vs. illegal Access ECS
A grad student in Kazakhstan presumably released hundreds
of scientific journal articles. While many have come out
arguing that the current model limits scientific progress in
the Internet age, this could accelerate the process of open
Yet, it remains to be seen how a justifiable income stream
can come from open access models. Perhaps the music
model on the internet may find its way into scientific
literature for the masses.
SOURCE: WSJ 3-18-16 “Rules of etiquette for virtual
While it is a common trick for interviews, this article points out
it is improper etiquette to not know all the attendees/observers
in a virtual meeting. The “who just joined beeps” are unwanted
distractions and finding a way to say you are leaving a meeting,
via announcement or texting to or having another cover announce
your imminent return.
PREPARATION FOR INTERVIEWS
SOURCE: I. Bloch, Ace the Interview, Strategies
She does cover the usual story telling strategies, STAR, and
background research (salaries, glassdoor, connections,
grooming, good questions, and more), what comes out of
this webinar is
(1) in US you have to promote yourself,
(2) identify what separates yourself from other applicants,
(3) come up with three 3 strengths and be able to insert
them at appropriate points
(4) on weaknesses, avoid identifying a core competency issue
for the positions
Our mind travels in two directions when we read or view media.
We either reinforce our previously held beliefs or become
convinced of one side in a controversy. An article link
suggest that this should awaken us to become critical
consumers, always asking what is the supporting data and its
origins and can other, viable conclusions be drawn with the
personal self-assessments which draws the conclusion that
so many of these tools are out there and she bemoans any
of their benefits.
Are you amazed as I am looking around at all the solar
electric panel installations appearing on neighbors roofs and
in barren fields? An almost forgotten approach to energy
conservation remains viable for us– conversion of
incandescent to LED lighting.
Slowly but surely, step by inching step, we are observing
ACS adopt open access journal publications. Recently
ACS announced ACS Omega in addition to Central Science.
Cost and availability of publications are encouraging the
movement. It is hard to understand the reluctance other
than that is the way it has always been done, especially
since more journals than not are both in print and
WE BELIEVE WHAT WE READ; BE CRITICAL
SOURCES: S. Galea, Fortune 12-15-15, p. 75 “The Big
Think,” and V. Sole-Smith, RealSimple, “Getting to know
S. Galea informs readers that reading can be confusing
when critical conclusions by different authors are
diametrically opposed. It is the role of “leaders” he
opines to ask the hard questions, dig up the answers,
imperfect as they may be, and importantly distinguish
the motivations that may bias the conclusions.
[Strong article about CRITICAL THINKING.]
Sole-Smith presents her study in a popular magazine
of emotional assessment tools. It might be that her
conclusions do not ask the hard questions. Her
preferences might be not as clearly defined in the
output. These tools provide insight about a range of
other “types” and she may find she is a mixture.
This can offer unrealized value.
GLOBAL ENERGY– CONSERVE USING EFFICIENT
SOURCE: A. Staller, ECS Blog, “Low Hanging Fruits of
While replacing fossil fuel power generation with solar
energy conversion seems attractive, it is costlier and has
unanticipated side costs that are not advertised to
consumers. Staller points to a simpler and adaptable
approach that is proven and useful on a large scale.
Worth the quick read and implementation.
See also #1 way to fight climate change
OPEN ACCESS THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE FOR
SOURCE: A. Yarnell, CEN 12-14-15, ACS publishing
Beginning to be “published” in Spring, 2016, also allowing
authors the flexibility to transfer manuscript submissions
from one ACS journal to another.
It is a step in the right direction.
A balanced discussion occurs in wiki.
It is the beginning of the 2015 Fourth Quarter and the
stock market has not been universally good this year.
Not going into any of those details, but will point you
to an article about some opportunities that certain
technical professional investors might calculate for
themselves using Turbotax of similar software.
ROTH IRA RECHARACTERIZATION CALCULATION
SOURCE: L. Saunders, WSJ 10-3-15, “Why it’s prime
time for Roth IRA”
Roth IRAs are the “gold standard” of tax sheltered
retirement plans from which withdrawals are presently
tax-free on untaxed gains and after tax contributions.
The issue is in the short term past many investments
lost value. This article suggests Roth investors might
undo Roth conversions last year or this year and
avoid paying the taxon value that has “vanished”.
Deadline is Oct. 15. Comments might be helpful
DIGITAL LIBRARY AND OPEN ACCESS
SOURCE: ECS Open Access
Alternative Article Impact
Got my first email from ECS Weekly Digests from two technical
areas that I signed up for. They inform me of recent publications
that this society reviewed and accepted. Beyond my expectations
was outstanding other services that will allow me to communicate
better, learn new areas and deepen my understanding of the
practical outcomes of scientific investigations.
Sometimes cartoons in “digital libraries” can be outstanding
in effectively communicating results, impacts and directions.
BONUS: SCIENCE OUT OF THE BOX
Years ago, I attended a futuristic talk about the hydrogen
economy before it was “in fashion.” This post links to
an important environmental article discussing safe handling
New material science and surprising properties of
light are reported in a recent issue in the photonics
Open Science publication from the ACS comes with
SAFE HANDLING: HYDROGEN
SOURCE L. Gallagher, American Laboratory September,
2015, P. 14, “Safe Handling of Hydrogen in the Laboratory“
In addition to materials of construction, design and
specific procedures, inert gas handling facilities
are essential to purge and dilute and gas monitoring
protections and alarms must be installed and tested
regularly. See also safe handling procedures.
Hydrogen based micro-economies will emerge just as
Tesla charging stations are proliferating.
SOURCE: Photonics Spectra, Sept. 2015
Graphene can be functionalized into a light emitter
by strategic incorporation of boron. Nano-optics and
Spin properties of light are also highlighted in recent
issue photonics Spectra.
SOURCES: Interview with C. Bertozzi
Table of Contents
Carolyn Bertozzi is a visible leader who heads
organizations and publications and presents her
case of pursuing careers in chemistry. Here also
is a notable effort in an open access journal. Wish
to see more of this as it is the wave of the future
and a way that society publications can compete
with commercial publications.
We do not see it but we expect remote control and
digital data access connected through wireless devices.
This provides challenges, opportunities and a need for
perceptive awareness for each of us.
One of the journals that I receive is Interface which
contains startling in-depth technical reading for a
general technical audience. Several top-tier articles
on energy conversion and electrochemical production
of essential feedstocks. There are several catching
articles worth perusing, from which I highlight one
on ammonia. It is far more than just headlining
A continuing debate among scientists and engineers,
innovators and inventors is the role of patents in
progress. While not part of most graduate and post-
graduate training and more importantly reading, a
deeper awareness of the patent realm is highlighted.
HETNETS, 5G CONNECTIVITY IN YOUR FUTURE
SOURCE: Fortune Ad Section August, 2015, p-51-3
PCIA informed us of amazing transformations happening
in our lives as we carry and use portable remote control
and communications devices with us. A ten-fold increase
in global “traffic” is expected in four years.and we will
all be affected. So it is “join us or get out of the way.”
Software is replacing custom hardware in creating
HETNETS heterogeneous networks and robust remote
applications, like surgery, is being conceived.
View PCIA webpage for more.
OPEN ACCESS PUBLICATION: AMMONIA
SOURCE: Interface Summer 2015, 53ff
J. Renner, L. Greenlee, A. Herring K. Ayers,
“Electrochemical Synthesis of Ammonia: A Low
Among the many things we see emerging are open
access publications of high technical merit like
the ECS journal, Interface. One stalwart article
in this quarter’s issue is on the “mastery of nitrogen”.
The article brings together President Millard Fillmore
state of the union address, BASF’s Bosch Haber
process and selective catalysts to point out where
chemistry can make a difference in reducing where 1%
of all energy is used and 3% of all greenhouse gases
See, for up coming article sourced above.
SOURCE: The Economist 8-8-15, p. 11
“Time to fix patents“
After defining what patents are and are not, hearing
many sides of the controversial issues of patent
protection and legal rights might be a good place
for people not versed in this important technical
topic to read and study.
The Economist offered a slanted journalist article
to shine light on an everlasting topic. The comments
to the article reveal a much more complicated, many
sided landscape, even including some interesting
innovations in the European patent system.
This past week I had the marvelous experience to explore,
absorb and experience new technology at an Exhibition
and Technical conference. Let me share three findings.
BEN FRANKLIN EFFECT
A keen observer of human and natural phenomena, Franklin
is attributed with an effective form of flattery that creates
The effect was learned at the first workshop began at 7am
and where few were in attendance.
I arrived early, greeted the speaker and offered to help in
any way she felt was valuable.
Afterward, she said you need not attend this session and I
appreciate it. Would you be willing to come and do a
presentation to my group?
Later in the morning I attended a presentation on getting your
work published in society journals. The organizer responded,
you do not need to attend this session; as you were here last
In this session, I learned a lot about how media is changing
technical publication in journals.
Doing favors for others is a form of flattery and a way
of furthering both yours and their goals.
Source and origin is nicely described.
Editors of JBS and JALA (Biomolecular Screening and
Laboratory Automation) talked about constructing papers
that journals will accept and what authors can do after
1. know the audience of the journal
2. create good titles for your article
3. while the scientific method is undergoing added modifications
it is good in all cases to describe the question you are trying to
answer for the general audience before you are finished with
1. person who did the work first
2. no more than 2 co-firsts
3. P.I. last
4. corresponding authors, typically PI, but no more than 2
5. Avoid gamesmanship [like listing famous author in paper to
get it published]
1. in the multi-media, open access age, find ways to promote
ethically and legally
2. use social media to share and show discussion and implications
3. institution press releases.
What in tarnation is that? It is the reverse of Moore’s Law about the
increasing trend in the speed and virtual memory of computational
devices. Francis Collins eloquently brought this in to his keynote
when describing NIH and Pharma’s dilemma of finding therapies
for human diseases.
The number of new drugs approved every 9 years has halved since
Did you observe the oxymoron headline on scientist employment
in C&EN 12-22-14, p.11 Temporary Turmoil? It got me to
looking deeper to find out more– differences between fields,
differences between locations, where is the data and what does
it really mean…See Critical thinking questions we should
apply when reading reports.
Are you currently in a position and wonder how to move
to another position? An interesting link is shared giving
the trend in “prized ponies,” in job market terminology,
those who are passive candidates, already working but
“shackled” into their current position.
Many scientific and engineering societies are finding
that subscription-based publication of findings and applications
are not meeting their core mission. Open access has the
potential of distributing more evenly (without bias) and widely
advances that are the output of scientific and engineering
One of the leading objections in the publication world
dominated by large societies and publishing houses is the
curious use of “impact factor” for whole journals for
career advancement purposes.
SOURCES J. Wright, Forbes 5-28-2013
“Influence of international graduates on STEM worker
shortage” ,and following articles
J. Weismann, Slate 7-10-14 “The stagnating job market for
young scientists“; Simply hired trends
Since the graphic made little sense in the above mentioned
magazine, it seemed like a good starting point to ask some
questions. Wright indicates 40% of 25,000 PhDs are
granted to international graduates. 30% obtain positions
in the US on temporary work visas.
Some areas and fields have gained openings, Wright cites.
Weismann examines trends in separate STEM fields in
a helpful manner. His conclusions, stated by quoting
other writers, may be debated.
ONLINE MARKETING FOR NEXT POSITION
SOURCE: Rachel Silverman, WSJ 1-2-15, p. B1
“New Year, New Job? Read this first“
The Economist, 1-3-15 p. 17
“There’s an App for that“
Silverman’s article hints at how companies are competing
for talented professionals. Cost-cutting seems to be
edging out retention and engagement and, rather than
giving pay increases, bonuses are offered. She puts forward
findings that new online services like online dating models
now exist– Poacht, Switch, Poachable are seen for
hard to fill and engineering positions.
A related piece by Lindsey Gellman “Show me your
Stuff” reveals that corporations are hiring using simulations
and assessment tools to reveal decision making ability and
The final lines in the piece: leave three positives
with the hiring entity.
Finally striking a similar cord to what has been brought
to your attention is the breaking up of tasks into different
skill level parts and having temporary staff handle less
impactful portions and outsourcing. The Economist
article highlights this that seems to be a continuation
PITCH: OPEN ACCESS
SOURCE ECS Interface Winter 2014. p. 31
Trends: erosion of subscription revenue and subscribers
competition from commercial publishers that game
the impact factor system and impose deals to library
collections, reduced library budgets, consolidation
in the publishing industry, and increasing number of
The article hits a number of important long term
issues that our society could do better opening a
Over the last few years in graduate student self-assessments, one
of the leading values that they express is for Security. In a sense,
we can all relate to the desire for a secure future.
Interestingly, very recently an accomplished scientist who was hired
by a drug discovery company CEO was publicly fired
(ie. story in the WSJ) for not rapidly leading his team to develop
new profitable products.
He had been there but 7 months…
Security needs “a 21st century meaning in technical careers.”
It is the ability to look where fields and needs are moving and
proactively seek out skills preparing us to contribute and
have further development plans.
Desperation, exasperation, and despair appear in the eyes of many
STEM field graduates about what they will do for STEM JOBS. It is
more about “minding the gap” between what is taught and practiced
in your education and training and what is needed in emerging and
growing fields. Just as the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky
said ‘pay attention to where the puck is going to be, not where it
What societies do you belong to? What local sections do you
actively participate in? How do you decide? What is offered and
WIIFM (what is in it for me)? Just as the Internet has triggered
changes in marketing and sales of books, consumer items, and all manner
of knowledge sharing (MOOCS, weblogs, webinars) it is also changing
the playing field for technical societies.
SECURITY IS THE VALUE OF APPLYING YOUR STRENGTHS
FOR EVOLVING DEMANDS AND PROACTIVELY WORKING
ON PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANS GETTING US READY.
SOURCE: Career Planning Career Mapping Tool MONSTER
Monster has put forward a forward seeking tool that might
be of value to your thinking process about managing your
However, leaving this on a computer or in a cloud file
while seeming to be current misses the urgency humans place
in face-to-face interactions.
Plan to develop mentors, sponsors and referrals by working hard
to help others meet their goals. Lou Adler offered salient advice
- get help in being a “perfect fit” for an opening.
- people who refer you for an opening, help themselves by helping
- know what recruiters seek when filling a position (they work for
the company), and give examples in your resume and relate stories
when you interview
Security is also about protecting your valuable information,
reputation and computer resources. In a podcast I recently listened
to I became convinced to explore ‘Krebs on Security.‘
- security tools
STEM JOBS: SHORTAGE OF JOBS or SHORTAGE OF SKILLED
We need to “keep up with the times.” If my university is not dedicated
to doing it, I need to find other avenues. If my employer does not have
the funds or give me the time to do it, I have to find other avenues.
We must keep abreast of evolving needs of employers.
EXAMPLE: 25 years ago only a few places sought HTML coders.
Ten years later, your entry card was punched with HTML experience.
HTML is less a key but a commodity today. Jobs can be had with a
lower salary or for niche hiring (projects).
Other experience with cloud computing and analytics seems a better path.
There is a “gap” between curves of skill level in what we learn and
what is needed in positions. Peter Grey points out to independently
learn and gain experience in emerging technologies and critical ‘hard
skills’. Gain experience and meet goals in new areas of challenge
instead of repeating previous career path efforts. Learn from and keep
peers in your network.
Further reading from a recruiter about STEM jobs.
TRENDS IN TECHNICAL SOCIETIES
The debate goes on: Is it worthwhile to belong to a technical
The presence of the Internet and online Open Access Technical literature
might influence some segments of the professional population.
The need shifts depending upon the fields that you are involved,
your current and future needs, and your personal assessment and
how you would use the society for your advantage (WIIFM).
Some questions to help you decide about society membership:
Are you stuck where you are with little or no help out? (connections,
networking, sense for where field is moving and what is emerging,
access to leaders and hiring managers, finding solutions to problems,
finding resources and tools to solve problems)
Do you have mentors to ask about alternatives for decisions?
Do you feel that you are doing something that has already been solved
by someone else before? (Googling your question does not help!)
Are there situations that a group effort in advocating a cause would
be much more effective?
Some questions to help you decide about belonging to a large, broadly-
involved organization or a smaller, more cutting edge, faster moving
Do you want to be elected, volunteer for and serve in a leadership
capacity? (chances are better in smaller org. or a local section)
How are you planning to continuously improve and update your
skills to be prepared for the future?
How will safety and common good be served best? Prevention
(like checklists) rather than band-aiding failing flow chart or procedures
BONUS: It is noteworthy to point out an organization that is
reinventing itself as it sees the changing landscape in publishing.
The way they are doing it is an example to point out.
As is often said, the only constant is that things will change.
Several links to nonlinear Internet trends are offered in
Regarding Massive Open Online Courses–
who seems to benefit, what is happening in traditional
‘brick institutions’ and start up companies.
Regarding attempts to improve email efficiency,
Regarding the unintended effects on people’s posture
of our Internet based society.
Regarding where the cloud is moving next.
SOURCE: The Economist, 6-28-14, P. 20, “The digital degree“
MOOCs is upsetting previous models of higher education of
lectures, cramming and examination. As most technical areas
of study include texts, references, laboratories, computational
resources and sophisticated equipment, there is a gap. This is
despite the improved access the Internet provides.
This article gives an intriguing status, offering
- MOOCs are likely good for experienced, degreed professionals
who have goals and specific outcomes in mind
- ‘digital courses are intertwined with existing curricula…
half …at MIT take a MOOC as part of their course.’
- a second generation of MOOC, with a MOOC Masters in
computing parallel to an on-campus course at Georgia Tech.
- some MOOC companies are ‘pivoting’ their models, Udacity
- all is changing; it is far from the initial idea of John Newman’s
SOURCE: R. Feintzeig, WSJ 6-18-14, p. B7. “A company without
Email? Not so fast.“
Email usage continues to explode. It remains preferred and widely
used to collaborate. Yet, it is inefficient.
This article alerts to innovations to substitute some elements of
email and their early results.
SOURCE: J. Whalen, WSJ 6-24-14, P. D1. “Slouch at your own
Our body positions and posture are affected by sitting in front
of computers and hunching with smartphones in our hands.
These activities experts attribute give rise to a chronic
condition called Kyphosis, affecting back tightness that
many feel and even suggested a depression of mental
It feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it.
RESEARCH EXPERIMENTS VIA CLOUD RESOURCES
SOURCE: E. M. Rusli, WSJ, 7-1-14, P. B4. “Research
labs jump to cloud.”
There are some experiments that can be contracted, dialed
into into robot routines and analyzed with appropriate
outputs. This is an emerging trend, just as ’round the
clock’ experiments around the globe are used to accelerate
progress. A couple of start up companies at various
incubators are developing routines and cataloging what
is working and their associated business models, in a
way like SalesForce.com does for customer relations
BONUS: VIRTUAL UNREALITY
A new book by Charles Seife hits hard at all the places
that should be scrutinized in our world of virtual people
and devices, including SEOs, photo hoaxes, dating
scams, fake news reports, discrediting personalities,
and many others.
Before we get to three items, Al Sklover shared
some amazing, in-the-moment employee benefits
that firms offer, in place of real pensions…
In the same vein, we link to highlights of an
article on Daniel McFadden about consumer choice,
things that affect our decision making process.
A second link relates to ideas on how scientists
and engineers participate in social media. While
we are for the most part scientists and engineers,
it is interesting to learn what drives and divides
business school talent assessment–
CHOICE DECISION MAKING INFLUENCES
SOURCE: The Economist, “Free exchange“,
Mcfadden overlaid neuroscience and psychology on
economics in relaying a conclusion that our preferences
are “fluid.” He cited:
- mundane things are valued more highly when we
think of them as “our own.” Think: stocks we hold whose
price has dropped, insurance policy deductibles [premiums
for lower deductibles], even our clothes that we own.
- memory and experience of an event are dominated
by how we feel at its peak and near the perceived end.
- order in the presentation of alternate choices and what
happens right before the choice exhibit strong influences.
Think: social networks, online habits
- more choices is not always good.
BUSINESS SCHOOL SELECTION
SOURCE: M. Korn, WSJ 5-2-13 p. B1
It is interesting to track how business schools are
adapting to hiring practices in their industries. They
seem to be adapting assessments of personal
and emotional competencies based on scoring