Turns out that as a PhD chemist your chances are better than as a biosciences PhD.  Seems that 15,000 bioscience PhDs are produced each year versus 2000 chemistry ones!

The ACS recently had a webinar on this topic : http://acswebinars.org/doctoral-glut  (soon available as an archived broadcast)

Forbes wrote an article based on the the webinar: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2012/11/12/chemistry-job-market-likely-to-rebound-before-biosciences/

And some bloggers also had a podcast discussion on the same topic after the webinar: http://chemjobber.blogspot.ca/2012/11/podcast-doctoral-glut-see-arr-oh-and.html

Well worth pondering if you are in a PhD or postdoc position. One remark that stands out is that it is the student’s responsibility to pay attention to job prospects and make sure that they know all the possibilities that are out there.  Not getting a professorship is not a failure -there are many more types of careers for PhDs that you think!


food scientist


Food science: A smorgasbord of opportunity

Alla Katsnelson
Nature 491, 149–150 (01 November 2012)
doi:10.1038/nj7422-149a    Published online    31 October 2012

With the big focus on food shows and chef contests, along with the massive success of the Modernist Cuisine books, jobs for food scientists are now trendy and more plentiful.
This article highlights some types of research and some of the pitfalls that may occur to the unwary…

Careers for Scientists in the Patenting World – Science Careers – Biotech, Pharmaceutical, Faculty, Postdoc jobs on Science Careers

People sometimes find a lot of excuses as to why they cannot do something instead of just trying it.
Here is one story of someone who thinks anything is possible even with a disability!

Student has no trouble visualizing a doctorate in chemistry
By Ed Fletcher (efletcher@sacbee.com)
Published: Monday, Sep. 12, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 1B

Even the most adept chemistry student will spend an evening hopelessly staring at models of double helixes, polypeptides and ribonucleic acids.

Not Henry Wedler.

Blind from birth, Wedler, who is working on his doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of California, Davis, sees these complex structures in his mind and occasionally with his hands.

I note that he is hedging his bets too by having a second undergrad degree in History and minoring in mathematics. Who knows what his career path will be.

Inspiring for anyone who doubts themselves!

The Guardian comments on a paper that states that one half of all STEM grad do not get a job in science.

I like that this comment ends with:

…what’s the problem if Stem graduates end up in careers outside science and engineering? If anything, we need more of it. We’re crying out for more scientists and engineers to teach in schools, get into politics and the civil service, and become involved in running companies. The scientific method should be more embedded in society, not less.

The ACS Webinar series is doing a session on alternative careers for PhD students (and they are using the same name as my blog – coincidence or flattery?) on Oct 4th, 2011. Remember that if you can’t make that date, the webinars are archived and you can watch them later!
These webinars are always informative and often fun!

The Road Less Traveled – Alternative Careers for PhD Scientists

The skills you obtain as a PhD scientists are valuable, but not only in traditional jobs. Process development, analytical thinking, research techniques, and technology skills are highly sought and desired in government and private industry. Join Dr. Steve Carlo as he describes how traditional skills are more easily applied to alternative careers than you think.

Dr. Steve Carlo is a PhD physical chemist, currently working for the Federal Government as a technical manager.

taking a plunge!

I keep having these brilliant ideas for new inventions that I am sure no one in the history of the world has had before (right…) but taking the plunge to bring an idea to product is a scary one if you have financial commitments such as a family or a debt.

Here is some help:
Is Being an Innovator-Entrepreneur Your Cup of Tea? is the first webinar in a 7 part series on entrepreneurship and how to be successful at it. The live webinar was held at the beginning of April but the next six are still to come:

1) Is being an Innovator-Entrepreneur my cup of tea?
Meet, talk, and learn from the many successful chemical entrepreneurs. It takes more than an innovation to make a successful business – consider what skills and support (family, friends) system you may need.

2) Evaluating your idea and your goals
This is where it starts and a lot of thought should go in to generating the best idea. You could use friends and instructors to have a free-flowing discussion. This meeting should generate several ideas which you could cluster and further refine.

3) Conduct Market Research and Patentability Opinion
This step requires searching patent and market databases. The patent searches are conducted with two separate goals. One is to do a patentability assessment and the second is a ‘freedom to operate’ assessment. The market research is to get as much detailed and specific information as possible.

4) Perform Feasibility Analysis and Pick your Industry
This step is a check to insure that the business you are proposing is sound. The four major feasibility analysis are: technical, financial, organizational and market. Also, you need to assess the industry you are preparing to enter.

5) Learn How to Sell
If you build it, will they come? An idea/product/service is only worth as much others are willing to pay. It is important to learn the different strategies to sell to scientists vs. non-scientists (customers, financiers, elected officials, etc.). Get to know how much they are willing to pay for your widgets.

6) Write Your Business Plan
Now is the time after passing all of the above tests to write your plan. The plan is intended for two main audiences: investors and your company employees. The plan should explain all of the fundamentals of your business from day to day operations to long term strategies for sustainability.

7) Raising Money and Finding the Right People
This is a very difficult step for a small start-up, since your company on paper may not be of a high value to investors. Governmental agencies are a great source, but they require time to get money. Also know that ‘good money’ is hard to get but is more valuable than ‘fools money’. Your company will also need experienced business personnel to run your business. Where to find them and how to pay them are key stumbling blocks. Forming a strong network is extremely important. Selecting the right Angels or VCs will be critical to help you financially and to connect you with key contacts.

Hmmm…got a better mousetrap?