About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Politics in the Lab | Main | Putting Some Numbers on Peer Review »

December 17, 2010

Jobs Roundtable Recap

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

And here's the recap for the jobs roundtable week, up at ChemJobber. There's been a lot of interesting stuff posted, and I'm glad to have been able to help call attention to it all. . .

Comments (15) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Curt F. on December 17, 2010 7:16 PM writes...

I think the Tuesday post from Leigh Krietsch Boerner was particularly great. Lots of data, lots of new information.

Permalink to Comment

2. Morten G on December 20, 2010 10:02 AM writes...

I notice for many open positions (in macromolecular crystallography) the emphasis is not on whether you have a BSc or PhD but what experience you have. So really what do you get from a PhD? The opportunity for more freedom in research when you are employed?

Permalink to Comment

3. Mary on December 20, 2010 2:07 PM writes...

The post by Leigh Krietsch Boerner was soviet style propaganda at its best. Anything associated with the ACS has a foul stench to it.

It was nothing more than 'most new PhDs have no problem finding a job or postdoc'. That 'or postdoc' is nonsense. Postdocs are NOT jobs, and they are easy to get. I'd assert 90% (if not more) of new grads head to postdocs or teach for America.

I assume that LKB has access to real jobs that are not posted on the ACS website.

If this is the case, let us know where they are.

Permalink to Comment

4. Chemjobber on December 20, 2010 7:22 PM writes...

Mary, that's quite a set of accusations. I'll point out that the data is all from NSF, so that's where you should be pointing your finger.

Permalink to Comment

5. Curt F. on December 20, 2010 8:11 PM writes...

Mary, I'd assert 90% (if not more) of new grads head to postdocs or teach for America.

I'm guessing you did not examine this chart very carefully.

p.s. I can't get my internets to smell like anything. What settings should I use?

Permalink to Comment

6. GreedyCynicalSelfInterested on December 21, 2010 2:12 AM writes...

@4, Chemjobber, Post-docs are still not jobs. Period.

Anything with NSF has a foul odor associated with it because they are just shills for academics. Drag the idealistic 21 year-olds into graduate school with promises of great, interesting careers, and the chance to "save the world, or planet, etc." Never mind that you won't be on the real job market for 5 to 9 years or more.

Someone from NSF produced a 1989 paper claiming that there would be a shortage of 500,000 scientists and engineers by the year 2000. After that BS, they lost any credibility with me.

Permalink to Comment

7. Curt F. on December 21, 2010 2:35 AM writes...

My personal experience as a post-doc has been absolutely wonderful. I couldn't have asked for a more rewarding experience. And I would add that I've been quite happy with my salary while a post-doc, too.

As a 21-year old I was indeed enticed by the promise of a great, interesting career that grad school seemed to offer. So far, I haven't regretted it. It's not fair to say that someone "dragged" me into life as a post-doc or graduate student. 21-year olds are adults. Adults take responsibility for their own choices.

Permalink to Comment

8. Chemjobber on December 21, 2010 8:07 AM writes...

@Mary, GCSI:

Let's see what we have so far: implications that ACS and NSF data are not to be trusted and a false accusation that Leigh believes "postdoc = a job".

A question: If ACS and NSF are both purveyors of bad data, where should we turn? What data sets do you suggest?

Permalink to Comment

9. Thomas McEntee on December 21, 2010 11:40 AM writes...

Stalin supposedly said "It's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes." When a small chemical distributor I worked for was shut down in late 1985, I filed for unemployment coverage in New Haven, CT and I distinctly remember having to list my education (PhD, Organic Chemistry) and work history (12+ years in pharma/chem manufacturing). I didn't get any leads on jobs but that experience leads me to wonder if unemployment coverage filings could be tapped for data on who's out of work and what their background is. The whole process was pretty humiliating and that was the mid-1980s!

How many of the scientists who have lost their jobs in big pharma and the chemical industry have filed for unemployment coverage? What are they doing for work? I'll venture that many scientists won't file for coverage, so you'd lose a lot potential data points. And I'm certain that one of the major political parties would scream about invasion-of-privacy and the other would scream about the cost of collection/analysis of the data.

Permalink to Comment

10. Chemjobber on December 21, 2010 1:09 PM writes...

@Thomas: I suspect that severance packages are small enough that people are forced to rely on unemployment insurance these days. Then again, who knows?

Permalink to Comment

11. Here's some data on December 21, 2010 3:07 PM writes...

Here's some unofficial data from a coastal "top 10" organic chemistry PhD program. It is a quick survey of students from synthetic groups (Total synthesis/methodology) who are/were actively pursuing employment. Although the data doesn't speak to the motivations of the students, the absence of any Pharma offers is certainly noteworthy...let's hope the New Year brings better results!

Organic Chemist #1 – Post-doc
Organic Chemist #2– Management consultant
Organic Chemist #3– Post-doc
Organic Chemist #4– no job (leaning towards post-doc)
Organic Chemist #5– no job (leaning towards post-doc)
Organic Chemist #6– Post-doc outside of chemistry
Organic Chemist #7– no job
Organic Chemist #8– no job
Organic Chemist #9– Management consultant
Organic Chemist #10– no job

Permalink to Comment

12. Chemjobber on December 22, 2010 9:09 AM writes...

I've linked some true Soviet-style propaganda in my handle.

Permalink to Comment

13. horsetoothjackass on December 22, 2010 8:39 PM writes...

The nonexistant job market for organic PhD's can be attributed to the perfect storm described below.

1) Big Pharma has been shedding jobs for years due to generics and drugs going off patent.

2) Medium size biotechs and pharma companies have also been shedding jobs.

3) Small biotechs have been either going under due to the financial crisis or focusing on late stage products.

4) Thousands of chemistry jobs have been outsourced to India and China. Even small companies have 1 or 2 directors managing chemists overseas.

5) Due to the crappy economy, most employees are cautious about hiring, no matter what sector of the economy.

6) Whatever few jobs remaining, chemists have to compete against H1bs.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Permalink to Comment

14. Nick K on December 23, 2010 3:16 PM writes...

A couple of PhD organic chemists I know here in the UK have retrained as electricians and plumbers. Needless to say, their prospects and pay are far better than those who have remained in Chemistry.

Permalink to Comment

15. Yan on December 23, 2010 8:12 PM writes...

I'm wondering how much the ACS pays certain posters for their lame, 'we've got all the data, we've got all the answers and there's nothing to see here' response to the crisis in chemical employment.

The fundamental problem is that Academics benefit from the degradation of their non-tenured servants.

P.S- I don't ever recall having been asked any questions by either the NSF or ACS.

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry