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Just a quick social media update: now you can follow ChemBark on Instagram.

You’ll probably just see an occasional photo or image there:


Oh, porphyrins…

A photo posted by ChemBark (@chembarkblog) on


The more active places to follow the blog are Facebook and Twitter. Join the fun — a very active chemistry scene on social media that includes eminent professors in addition to us lowly bloggers.

Mission Support

I took this photo of the chemistry building at SLU yesterday at 8:15 am. Note that the curb marked “fire lane” and “no parking” is completely full of parked cars.

I tweeted the pic and threw some shade on our Office of Parking and Card Services, because last year, they insisted it would be impossible to allow people in our department to use the curb for short-term loading because of the fire hazard presented by parked cars. True to their word, they have ticketed students and staff in our department who have attempted to run quickly into the building to attend to experiments. Given that none of the cars this morning had parking citations, I can only conclude that vehicles belonging to facilities crews and contractors are special and do not pose the same fire hazard as our cars. Or, perhaps, this is administrative hypocrisy at its finest worst.

At Caltech, parking is treated as a resource meant to support its students and staff. Despite having a campus in densely-populated Los Angeles County, the institute didn’t even charge for parking until around a decade ago, when space started to become limited. My favorite aspect of parking at Caltech was that students and staff could park on yellow-curbed loading zones after 5 p.m. You could drive right up to the door of the lab building! It was wonderfully convenient, and a boon to safety since the walk to your car at night was short.

Given the many benefits of the Caltech system, I thought our department should raise the issue of instituting similar parking policy at SLU. I drafted this letter and sent it up the chain. Unfortunately, little came of it. Our department was granted a few passes that allowed holders to park in a slightly-less-distant parking lot (perhaps, 100 yards away instead of 200) if they need to run inside the building.

The different approaches to parking policy mark a stark contrast in culture between Caltech and SLU. At Caltech, resources are milked to improve the efficiency of students and staff. At SLU, students and staff are milked of financial resources. Perhaps no parking rule illustrates this difference more than how cars are treated at night. Whereas all parking at Caltech is free at night—whether you have a day pass or not—parking at SLU can cost $10, regardless of whether you have a daytime permit. If I attempt to park at the garage closest to the chemistry department on the night of a sports game, SLU will charge me $10. My parking permit is no good. What a wonderful way to treat your researchers!

This picture, from Caltech’s Instagram stream yesterday, illustrates another nice thing that Caltech does:


Must be lunchtime. Caltech ❤️s Ernie’s. #caltech #campus #caltechalumni #summergram #nomnom A photo posted by Caltech (@caltechedu) on


Ernie is a guy who runs a food truck at Caltech. He is an institution within the institution—a legend—serving great food at cheap prices. Caltech could easily boot him off campus and drive students and departments to use campus eateries. But instead, Caltech provides places for Ernie to park his truck, giving students an inexpensive, convenient option to eat. During my official intake meeting with HR at Caltech, the HR representative even took out a photocopied map and highlighted the spots on Ernie’s route. It was awesome.

I would strongly encourage any organization to emulate this behavior and think how it could allocate under-used resources to improve the efficiency and/or morale of its community. Why not let researchers park in loading zones at night? Why not let students use the department’s nice conference room after hours? Or the big-screen of the lecture hall to watch movies?

Why not foster a friendlier, welcoming environment, where your university’s resources are used to support students and staff rather than wring every last penny out of them?

The 2016 Chemistry Faculty Openings List

ed_academic_bigThe end of summer means that the start of the academic hiring cycle is upon us. In celebration of this fact, Chemjobber and I are curating a list of all of the tenure-track faculty openings in chemistry. Well, not all of the openings. The list is limited to those that meet the following criteria:

(i) tenure-track faculty positions with anticipated start dates in 2016

(ii) in chemistry departments or with a focus on chemistry

(iii) at institutions in the United States or Canada

We’ll deal with jobs in gray areas—e.g., a pharmacology department posting for a medicinal chemist at a medical school—as they come up, but engineering jobs are out. Go to ChemEngBark or EngineeringJobber for that.

The jobs are sorted by their ‘full-consideration’ deadlines. Please leave a comment or e-mail me (paul at or Chemjobber (chemjobber -at- if you find an unlisted position or catch an error or broken link. Please send a link to the job posting as well, preferably one that is hosted on the institution’s server.

The full list, with expanded data, may be downloaded as a spreadsheet here. This spreadsheet includes columns for city, state/province, and department (in addition to the columns shown below).

The 2016 Chemistry Faculty Openings List

Downloadable Spreadsheet

Pri. Date School Specialization Rank
8/10/2015 Rhodes College Organic Asst
8/24/2015 Dalhousie University Analytical or Inorganic Asst
8/24/2015 Dalhousie University Computational/Theory Asst
8/24/2015 Memorial University of Newfoundland Organic Asst
8/25/2015 St. Bonaventure University Physical Asst
8/31/2015 Rochester Institute of Technology Biochemistry Asst
9/1/2015 University of Alabama Materials Asst/Assoc
9/1/2015 St. Olaf College Organic or Inorganic Asst?
9/1/2015 North Carolina State University Organic All
9/1/2015 North Carolina State University Analytical All
9/1/2015 Illinois College Inorganic / Organometallic Asst?
9/2/2015 California State U. – Channel Islands Physical Asst
9/5/2015 Creighton University Analytical Asst
9/9/2015 University of Houston – Clear Lake Physical Asst
9/11/2015 Emory & Henry College Organic / Biochemistry Asst
9/12/2015 Lake Forest College Organic Synthesis Asst
9/14/2015 Northwestern University Open Asst
9/14/2015 Whitworth University Interdisciplinary All
9/15/2015 Wheaton College Biochemistry or Organic Asst
9/15/2015 Mills College Analytical or Environmental Asst
9/15/2015 Georgia Tech Open All
9/15/2015 Georgia Tech Open All
9/15/2015 Georgia Tech Open All
9/15/2015 State University of New York – Oswego Organic Asst
9/15/2015 Cal Poly Pomona Biochemistry Asst
9/15/2015 State University of New York – Oswego Analytical Forensics Asst
9/15/2015 Butler University Inorganic Asst
9/15/2015 College of Charleston Inorganic or Biophys., Bioanal., Comput. Asst
9/15/2015 Rockhurst University Biochemistry Asst
9/15/2015 Emory University Open Asst
9/16/2015 Lawrence University Inorganic / General Asst
9/18/2015 California State U. – Chico Organic Asst
9/18/2015 Austin College Physical Asst
9/18/2015 University of San Diego Biochemistry Asst
9/24/2015 Hope College Biochemistry Asst
9/25/2015 San Jose State University Organic Asst
9/25/2015 Fort Lewis College Physical Asst
9/25/2015 San Diego City College Analytical Asst
9/25/2015 University of Virginia Energy All
9/27/2015 University of Rhode Island Open Asst
9/28/2015 Salisbury University Analytical Asst
9/28/2015 Florida Institute of Technology Analytical/Inorganic Asst/Assoc
9/28/2015 Florida Institute of Technology Physical Asst/Assoc
9/28/2015 Florida Institute of Technology Organic Asst/Assoc
9/28/2015 Swarthmore College Inorganic + Environmental Asst
9/28/2015 Brown University Inorganic or Computational Asst
9/28/2015 California State U. – Bakersfield Organic/Bioorganic Asst
9/28/2015 Stanford University Open Asst
9/28/2015 El Camino College Teaching General & Organic Asst?
9/28/2015 Dixie State University Biochemistry Asst/Assoc
9/28/2015 University of California – San Diego Biochemistry Asst
9/28/2015 University of California – San Diego Synthetic Assoc/Full
9/28/2015 University of California – San Diego Molecular Biophysics Asst
9/28/2015 University of California – San Diego Open Asst
9/30/2015 The College of Saint Rose Organic Asst
9/30/2015 California State U. – East Bay Analytical, Physical, or Biophysical Asst
9/30/2015 Hamilton College Biochemistry Asst
9/30/2015 University of Central Oklahoma Inorganic, Materials, Environmental Asst
9/30/2015 Morehead State University Organic Asst
9/30/2015 University of Central Oklahoma Open, expertise in NMR Asst
10/1/2015 College of Wooster Analytical (MS, Environmental) Asst
10/1/2015 College of Wooster Inorganic (Polymers, Organometallics) Asst
10/1/2015 Humboldt State University Analytical Asst
10/1/2015 Hillsdale College Biochemistry Not Spec.
10/1/2015 University of Miami Materials/Energy Asst/Assoc
10/1/2015 University of Richmond Inorganic Asst
10/1/2015 University of California – Irvine Atmospheric Asst
10/1/2015 University of California – Irvine Atmospheric Full
10/1/2015 Western Washington University Analytical Asst
10/1/2015 San Francisco State University Analytical or Inorganic Asst/Assoc
10/1/2015 Providence College Inorganic Asst
10/1/2015 Oklahoma State University Organic or Open? Asst
10/1/2015 Northeastern State University Physical/Analytical? Asst
10/1/2015 California State U. – Fresno Computational – Biochem or Organic Asst
10/1/2015 University of Toronto Experimental Physical Chemistry Asst/Assoc
10/1/2015 University of Maryland – College Park Organic Asst
10/1/2015 Brigham Young University Open Asst
10/1/2015 Susquehanna University Organic Asst
10/1/2015 Loyola Marymount University Organic Asst
10/1/2015 Loyola Marymount University Biochemistry Asst
10/1/2015 University of the Pacific Biochemistry (Anal., Phys., or Expt.) Asst
10/1/2015 University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Open Asst
10/1/2015 University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Open Assoc/Full
10/1/2015 University of Michigan Open Asst+
10/1/2015 Cornell University Organic Asst
10/1/2015 Columbus State University Organic Asst
10/1/2015 Sam Houston State University Chemical Education Asst
10/1/2015 Sam Houston State University Inorganic Asst
10/2/2015 DePaul University Organic / Polymers Asst
10/2/2015 Washington State University Inorganic Asst
10/2/2015 San Jose State University Analytical and/or Inorganic Asst
10/4/2015 University of the Sciences Organic and/or Inorganic Asst
10/5/2015 University of the South Organic Asst
10/5/2015 Penn State Erie, The Behrend College Organic / Bioorganic / Biochemistry Asst
10/5/2015 Lafayette College Organic Asst
10/5/2015 Penn State Inorganic/Materials All
10/5/2015 Penn State Organic All
10/5/2015 Penn State Experimental Physical or Analytical All
10/5/2015 Texas Tech University Soft Matter Asst+
10/5/2015 Ursinus College Organic Asst
10/5/2015 University of Colorado – Boulder Physical Organic Asst
10/5/2015 Bates College Organic (Neuroscience slant?) Asst
10/5/2015 Univ. of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Organic (Chem. Bio. or Polymers) Asst
10/5/2015 Univ. of North Carolina – Pembroke Analytical, Forensic, or Physical Asst+
10/5/2015 Marshall University Organic Asst
10/6/2015 MIT Open Asst
10/7/2015 Christopher Newport University Biochemistry Asst
10/7/2015 Christopher Newport University Analytical Asst+
10/8/2015 Tufts University Interface with Life Sciences Asst
10/9/2015 Skidmore College Computational Asst/Assoc
10/9/2015 Hobart and William Smith Colleges Phys./Inorg./Anal./Environ./Materials Asst
10/10/2015 Davidson College Inorganic Asst
10/12/2015 Duquesne University Organic Asst
10/12/2015 Bucknell University Materials All
10/12/2015 California Lutheran University Organic Asst
10/12/2015 California State U. – Long Beach Materials, Inorganic or Physical Asst/Assoc
10/12/2015 Wabash College Analytical Asst+
10/12/2015 University of Pittsburgh Physical Asst
10/12/2015 University of Pittsburgh Organic Asst
10/12/2015 University of Pittsburgh Inorganic/Materials Asst
10/14/2015 Spring Hill College Physical Asst
10/14/2015 University of Kentucky Biochemistry / Mol. Bio. Asst
10/14/2015 University of Kentucky Synthetic Biology Asst
10/15/2015 Harvard University Open Asst
10/15/2015 Washburn University Forensics Any level
10/15/2015 University of Toronto – Mississauga Bioorganic Asst
10/15/2015 York University Materials Asst/Assoc
10/15/2015 York University Materials Full
10/15/2015 University of Texas Organic Asst
10/15/2015 Nevada State College Physical / Biophysical Asst
10/15/2015 University of Delaware Inorganic Asst
10/15/2015 Washington University Organic Asst
10/15/2015 The Scripps Research Institute Organic, Medicinal, Chemical Biology Asst
10/15/2015 The Scripps Research Institute Organic, Medicinal, Chemical Biology Assoc/Full
10/15/2015 University of Pennsylvania Biological Asst
10/15/2015 University of California – Santa Cruz Computational/Theoretical Asst
10/15/2015 University of Louisville Organic All
10/15/2015 University of Utah Organic All
10/15/2015 University of Utah Experimental Physical All
10/15/2015 University of Texas Experimental Analytical/Physical Asst
10/15/2015 Texas A&M University Open Asst+
10/15/2015 Texas A&M University Organic Asst+
10/15/2015 Virginia Tech Energy and the Environment Asst
10/15/2015 New York University Synthetic Organic Asst+
10/15/2015 New York University Experimental Physical or Biophysical Asst+
10/15/2015 New York University Materials / Polymers Asst
10/15/2015 Lawrence Technological University Inorganic, Materials Asst
10/15/2015 Purdue University Analytical Assoc/Full
10/15/2015 Lehigh University Bioanalytical Asst
10/15/2015 University of California – Merced Open (Experimental) Asst
10/15/2015 University of California – Merced Theoretical/Computational Asst
10/15/2015 Xavier University of Louisiana Biochemistry Open
10/15/2015 Earlham College Analytical Asst
10/15/2015 Virginia Tech Open / Interdisciplinary Asst
10/15/2015 Barnard College Inorganic Asst
10/15/2015 Boston College Chemical Biology Asst
10/15/2015 Southwest Baptist University Experimental Physical or Inorganic Asst/Assoc
10/15/2015 University of California – Davis Materials Asst
10/15/2015 Notre Dame Open All
10/15/2015 University of Central Florida Biochemistry Asst/Assoc
10/15/2015 Georgia Tech Renewable Feedstocks All
10/15/2015 Vanderbilt University Exp. Physical (at Interface…) Asst
10/15/2015 Emporia State University Analytical / Forensic Asst?
10/15/2015 Marquette University Analytical Asst
10/15/2015 Colorado State University Chem. Bio., Physical, or Soft Mater. Asst/Assoc
10/15/2015 Colorado State University Chem. Bio., Physical, or Soft Mater. Asst/Assoc
10/15/2015 University of Utah Chemical Biology Asst
10/15/2015 Converse College Physical Asst
10/15/2015 Johns Hopkins University Biological All
10/16/2015 Cal Poly Pomona Organic Asst
10/16/2015 Reed College Inorganic Asst
10/16/2015 University of San Francisco Biochemistry Asst
10/16/2015 Carthage College Analytical Asst?
10/16/2015 College of William and Mary Physical Asst
10/18/2015 University of Illinois Open Asst
10/19/2015 University of Kansas Medicinal All
10/19/2015 East Central University Open Asst
10/21/2015 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Organic All
10/21/2015 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Biochemistry All
10/22/2015 Univ. of Texas – San Antonio Mass Spectrometry (Bio) Asst
10/23/2015 University of Windsor Environmental All
10/23/2015 St. Ambrose University Biochemistry Asst
10/23/2015 San Diego State University Inorganic Asst
10/26/2015 Westminster College Inorganic Asst
10/30/2015 Temple University Analytical, Organic, Chemical Bio. All
10/30/2015 UCLA Inorganic Asst
10/30/2015 Northern Illinois University Open Chair
10/31/2015 University of Louisiana – Lafayette Polymers Asst
10/31/2015 California State U. – San Bernardino Bioanal., Biomat., or Environmental Asst
10/31/2015 University of California – Davis Organic “LPSOE”
10/31/2015 Augsburg College Physical Asst
10/31/2015 Auburn University Computational Asst
10/31/2015 Auburn University Energy Asst
10/31/2015 Auburn University Small Molecule Synthesis Asst/Assoc
11/1/2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Organic or Chemical Biology All
11/1/2015 University of Maryland – Baltimore County Chemical Biology Asst
11/1/2015 West Virginia University Analytical Asst
11/1/2015 Rowan University Analytical/Bioanalytical Asst
11/1/2015 University of Central Arkansas Analytical Asst
11/1/2015 Harvard Medical School Chemical Biology Asst/Assoc
11/1/2015 University of Colorado – Boulder Theoretical Asst
11/1/2015 University of Colorado Chemical Biology Asst+
11/2/2015 University of California – Berkeley Experimental Physical Assoc/Full
11/2/2015 Univ. of Massachusetts – Amherst Polymers Asst+
11/9/2015 University of Denver Biochemistry/Biophysical Chemistry Asst
11/10/2015 University of Colorado – Denver Theoretical / Computational Asst
11/13/2015 Georgia Tech Polymers All
11/15/2015 Murray State University Synthetic Organic Asst
11/15/2015 Murray State University Polymers or Materials Asst
11/15/2015 University of Connecticut Open All
11/15/2015 University of Connecticut Open All
11/15/2015 Montclair State University Analytical Asst
11/15/2015 Georgetown University Synthetic Macromolecular Asst
11/15/2015 California State U. – Los Angeles Analytical Asst
11/15/2015 Boise State University Inorganic Asst
11/15/2015 University of Minnesota – Morris Open Asst
11/16/2015 California State U. – Stanislaus Analytical, Biochemistry, or Food Asst
11/25/2015 University of Florida Soil and Water Chemistry Asst
12/1/2015 Suffolk University Physical? Asst
12/1/2015 California State U. – Fullerton Theoretical Physical Asst+
12/11/2015 University of Arkansas – Little Rock Analytical Asst
Not spec. University of Chicago Inorganic Asst
Not spec. University of Chicago Organic Asst
Not spec. University of Chicago Physical Asst
Not spec. Stetson University Environmental / Sustainability Asst
Not spec. Northwestern University Organic Systems Assoc/Full
Not spec. Concordia University Wisconsin Medicinal All
Not spec. California State U. – Los Angeles Inorganic Materials Asst
Not spec. Georgetown College Biochemistry Asst/Assoc
Not spec. St. John’s University Medicinal Asst
Not spec. Princeton University Open Asst
Not spec. Radford University Biochemistry Asst
Not spec. Radford University Organic Asst
Not spec. SUNY Polytechnic Institute Nanoscale Science All
Not spec. Louisiana State University – Alexandria Open Asst/Assoc
Not spec. Moffitt Cancer Center/U. South Florida Medicinal / Synthetic Organic All
Not spec. Moffitt Cancer Center/U. South Florida Medicinal / Synthetic Organic All
Not spec. Colorado College Bioorganic Asst
Not spec. Purdue University Drug Discovery & Development Full?
Not spec. University of Tennessee – Martin Analytical Asst
Not spec. University of Tennessee – Martin Open (Organic or Physical) Asst
Not spec. Biola University Analytical Asst
Not spec. Clarke University Analytical / Instrumental All
Not spec. Liberty University General / Inorganic Asst
Not spec. Marshall University Medicinal Asst/Assoc
Not spec. Southwestern Oklahoma State Univ. Medicinal Asst/Assoc
Not spec. The College of St. Scholastica Biochemistry Asst
Not spec. Wayne State University Open All
Not spec. UT Southwestern Medical Center Open Chair
Not spec. Bridgewater State University Biochemistry Asst
Not spec. University of Florida Anal./Inorg./Mater./Phys./Theo. Full
Not spec. University of Houston Biophysical Asst
Not spec. Bowie State University Analytical Asst
Not spec. Columbia University Organic All
Not spec. St. Peter’s University Biochemistry Asst
Not spec. Houghton College Biochemistry Asst/Assoc


This post will be updated periodically through the rest of 2015. Last updated: 11 September 2015. Total number of positions: 255. New positions added today: 7 (marked in red).

More Chemistry at Sporcle

I’ve updated the quiz on Nobel laureates to include the most recent winners. Can you name a chemistry laureate’s surname for each letter of the alphabet?

Also figured I’d mention what is probably my all-time favorite quiz from the site: name an element that fits each of the thirty given criteria.  

Previous posts (1 2) cover some of my other favorite chemistry quizzes.

Orgo Thursdays

ed_academic_bigOne of the nice things about being a professor is that you have the agency necessary to successfully garner support for causes you feel are worthwhile. Earlier this year, I brought to SLU something that I had sorely missed from my time as an undergrad at NYU: organic division problem sessions. These were held once a month during the school year and worked as follows:

Each organic group took turns hosting the sessions. The hosts would be responsible for bringing pizza, beer, and 3 or 4 hard, graduate-level organic problems. The organic students and faculty would gather at 6 pm, eat, drink, and work the problems. Volunteers would put up their answers, the audience would nitpick and argue, the faculty would weigh in with suggestions, and if no one could figure them out, the people who brought the problems would set us straight.

The attendance of organic graduate students was expected, and undergraduates were welcome to attend. In something of a paradoxical twist, I think these sessions were instrumental in both (i) making me appreciate that organic chemistry is hard and (ii) making me feel like organic chemistry was something I could do.

At Harvard, I attended Christina White’s monthly organometallic sessions, even though I was the dumbest participant by far. Each person was responsible for bringing one slide that summarized a recent paper from the literature. While these weren’t problems, there was a fair amount of arguing over mechanisms. The White Lab’s departure to Illinois marked the end of these sessions for me. It’s kind of unfortunate that Harvard had nothing else—that I know of—considering the rich history of late-night organic chemistry seminars at Harvard led by Woodward.

Earlier this year, I decided to champion these blasts from the past and start one at SLU.

On the third Thursday of every month, I host a voluntary organic problem session. I bring pizza and three graduate-level problems, and the students work them over, present ideas, and face my ridicule—or occasionally, approbation. Usually I steal problems from texts, but if I’m feeling saucy, I’ll write them based on interesting papers I’ve come across and stashed away.

While attendance at Orgo Thursdays is completely voluntary—except for my grad students, for whom the session replaces group meeting that week—we’ve averaged 12 participants over the first seven sessions. That’s makes the sessions just a shade smaller than those at NYU, and isn’t too shabby given the size of our department.

Now that I’ve seen these sessions from both sides of the table, I am convinced of their value in a number of areas:

1. For any skill, if you don’t use it, you lose it. The problems keep students and me thinking about fundamental course material long after final grades are in the books. The continued practice is going to help our grad students become better teachers and perform better on their comprehensive exams, which are taken in the summer between their second and third year.

2. There is something to be said for placing students in uncomfortable situations where they have to think on their feet and be brave. This is a life skill that classes often don’t focus on developing.

3. These sessions are a great opportunity for everyone to interact with people from other research groups. I believe strongly that departments should actively foster wide collegiality, where students and faculty have meaningful interactions not only with their labmates, but with people in other labs. Such an environment is so much more enjoyable and supportive than when each group is an island.

4. These sessions help me get to know our students better. It’s never a good situation when a professor has to write a ‘third’ rec-letter for a student he hasn’t talked to since a class four years ago.

5. The problem sessions give undergrad students an opportunity to stay involved in organic chemistry after their sophomore classes in the subject are done. Undergrads also get a taste for what graduate school is like, given they are working graduate-level problems alongside our graduate students. When I was an undergrad, it was empowering to participate in these sessions.

My plan is to keep hosting Orgo Thursdays until I run out of problems or money to buy pizza. So long as people keep coming, I assume they see value in the activity too.