Archive for the ‘Mailbag’ Category

Have Any Questions for Hiring Managers?

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Linda Wang, a reporter for C&EN, wrote ChemBark with the following:

I’m exploring an employment feature, which will be a “frank conversation with hiring managers.” I was wondering if you would be willing to post something on your blog for me soliciting questions from job seekers? This is my query:

Got a question for a hiring manager, but afraid to ask? C&EN is exploring an employment article that seeks to answer these burning questions. Please send your questions to Linda Wang, C&EN senior editor, at Questions will be anonymous.

Of course, while it’s fine to e-mail Linda directly, why not drop your questions in the comments for all of us to discuss and enjoy?

One thing that I have always wondered is how much your education can hurt you on the job market. How often do managers toss out applications from people with Ph.D.s because the business wants to pay around the median M.S. level and doesn’t want to spend resources hiring someone who will just keep looking for a better position? My sense is that a lot of Ph.D.s are willing to be “underemployed” but end up getting chucked right off the bat.

The same thing goes for academic jobs. How many people with Stanford/MIT Ph.D.s get rejected right off the bat for academic jobs at small colleges in rural areas because the school does not want to waste resources interviewing a highly educated, coast-dwelling candidate that will probably get other offers? What is the most effective way for a candidate to communicate to the hiring committee that he/she is serious about looking for a job at these schools?

Columbia Professor Dance Party

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

This video is pretty hilarious:

Congrats to Breslow, Nakanishi, and Sames for having good senses of humor. The holiday skits at Harvard were canceled a long time ago because a few people there took themselves a little too seriously.

Also, thanks to the three tipsters who e-mailed me different versions of this link. (And, of course, now that I’ve gone back and checked, this video has already made the rounds on Twitter. I will now go back under my rock. Bye.)

WWWTP? – Sci-Fi Classic Edition

Monday, September 17th, 2012

It’s time to start attacking the ChemBark mailbag. Let’s begin with this little gem sent in by Excimer:

Photo credit: Excimer


Excimer writes:

I’m currently reading the sci-fi classic series Cities in Flight by James Blish, and hooray! there’s organic chemistry in it. Unfortunately, it looks like this.

Indeed. You’ve gotta love the: (i) Texas carbon, (ii) doubly-bonded hydrogen, and (iii) calcium–carbon bonds. I guess this sci-fi classic is heavier on the fiction than the science.

Interesting Vendor Mail

Friday, August 24th, 2012

It seems that VWR and I have very different opinions as to what constitutes “IMPORTANT Information”:



A dinosaur squishy toy attached to a 15%-off coupon for a new balance only musters an 8.2 out of 10 on my scale of importance, but thanks for writing.

Jamba Juice Hates Chemistry

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Just about every chemistry blogger—including me—has lamented the increase in the number of businesses that advertise their products as “chemical free”. This rampant war on chemicals is as distressing to our field as it is to common sense—no product is free of chemicals.

But while I’ve seen plenty of anti-chemical ads, I’d never seen an anti-chemistry ad…until now:

Photo credit: Megan!

My fabulous labmate Megan snapped this photo at the Jamba Juice on historic Colorado Blvd in Old Town Pasadena. For those who might not be familiar with Jamba Juice, it is a fast food chain that sells overpriced fruit drinks to people who want to pretend they are living a healthy lifestyle. Imagine a less successful, fruity version of Starbucks. The slogan on their trough reads:


Well, hot damn. No chemistry…whatever that means. And here I thought “chemistry” actually had a positive public image (e.g., “that football team has good chemistry”). Oh well. Not for long.

Jamba Juice even has a handsome anti-chemistry commercial too:

Oh no! Taurine? Inositol?! I don’t want anything to do with those!

Give me real fruit juice (for $6.99 + tax) and I’ll forget about the fact that real fruit juice naturally contains inositol, and taurine naturally accounts for 0.1% of our body weight.

Argh! I’ll stick to soda to wash down this stupidity.