It won’t be long before A Retrosynthetic Life returns with some regularity. I thought I would write a lot once I finished my PhD, but I am in 100% holiday mode. I started writing the blog when I began writing my thesis i.e. when I was incredibly busy and should have been doing more important (according to some) things. Following this logic, I am sure that when my life again becomes really hectic and I return to full-time employment (in about 3 weeks), I will find plenty of time to pick up where I left off.
See you then.
Following a quick twitter exchange with @Nic_Derbyshire, I sent her an email about how I went about my postdoc application. I thought it would be useful to share my experience, and I have thrown in advice I have received from a plethora of sources as well. It seems quite a fitting time to post this considering the current discussions about the future of synthetic chemists at In the Pipeline and ChemJobber. I think the advice here is applicable to applications for postdocs in all scientific disciplines, but take care with respect to industrial job applications – these could have very different requirements and the application process can vary widely.
This is based on my limited experience, that of friends and colleagues, watching my boss go through the process, and advice from academics, postdocs, ex-postdocs and the like. Please fell free to add any of your own experiences in the comments.
I will break this down into a few major points and then discuss each one a little.
Having temporarily forsaken the shining lights and heavy atmosphere of Manchester city living for the clear skies and peace of East Yorkshire country life, my weekends have a different, less foggy, more wholesome feel about them.
Today I mainly read the newspaper – a real one made of paper, not one of those pesky ones that you can find on the internet – and I had a really great time. Here are some of the stories that made my day so interesting:
- Being a massive pro-choice advocate and a massive fan of not being ridiculous, I have been following “Vaginagate” for the last few days. It turns out the word vagina is highly offensive in the Michigan house of representatives. The word is….”so offensive [Mike Calton] doesn’t even want to say it in front of women” and has resulted in no less than two (female, of course) politicians being temporarily banned from speaking in the house.
- A brilliant interview with the incredibly intriguing 92-year-old James Lovelock. Lovelock is the man behind the Gaia theory, and has made the news more recently with the not so small admission that his prediction that billions will die by the end of the century due to global warming may have been ‘extrapolating too far’.
- A very interesting extract from Florence Williams‘ new book Breasts: a Natural and Unnatural History. The extract begins discussing the lack of knowledge and understanding of the constitution and function of breast milk, moves onto the virtues of breast-feeding, before a worrying turn to discuss the passing of chemicals accumulated in breast tissue onto the child. Be wary though….no references for the science are forthcoming and I have no knowledge of her reputation as a science writer. The science may be incomplete, plain wrong, or, the evidence may back up all of her statements – I just don’t know. Read this critically!
- The front page one liner ‘What makes a good wife?’ had me riled before I got to the article, but this opinion piece by @tanyagold1 is darkly amusing and poignant. “Sally Bercow is not a good wife, and she is punished for it, because conservative newspapers are run by conservative men”.
- Or how about this brilliant feature on controversial Russian photographer Irina Popova. At 21 Popova moved in with Lilya whom she met on the street in the middle of the night. Lilya was drunk/high having a pee on the street, and was out with her baby daughter. Popova’s photos of Lilya’s family life have caused uproar in Russia, and bring into question the role of the photographer.
My viva is impending so this is not a full return to A Retrosynthetic Life, but I had to post this.
A few weeks ago I struggled to write a biography for Donald J. Peterson who had been featured on the Mega Chemist Challenge. It turned out he had spent his entire career working in an industry and as a result, all that I could find was a facebook page with only a little information.
It hadn’t really crossed my mind since I posted the solution, but then yesterday I received an email with three comments on the solution for that week, all from Alyce H. Peterson. Alyce is Donald Peterson’s wife and was responsible for setting up the facebook page – “much to [her] husband’s consternation” – to celebrate his achievements. Her last message was really heartfelt and along with her post on facebook I wanted to repost it:
Hello, again. Much to my husband’s consternation, but believing he should have recognition for his outstanding work in Chemistry, I was the one who set up the Facebook page, “D.J.Peterson,PhD/the Peterson Olefination Reaction”. My novice attempt does include his educational biography so please feel free to visit there in order to gain any other knowledge of his background.I visit Facebook only a few times a month so had no idea people might be looking to contact him. He just read THESE posts and was amazed at the interest in him. He and I have been married almost 55 years..childhood sweethearts. He is a TERRIFIC guy, soft spoken, incredible sense of humor and very much up to date on current news. Thanks, Karl!
What I love the most is that she found the page searching for the “Peterson Olefination”. I don’t know if Alyce is a chemist or not, but either way, that really is love.
This weeks Mega Chemist is Matt Gaunt for Cambridge, UK.
One of Gaunt’s papers will follow but I am afraid there will be a delay. The hand in date for my thesis is nigh, so the next couple of weeks on A Retrosynthetic Life may be a bit quiet. Fear not though, the Mega Chemist Challenge will be back looking better than ever…..
Seen as though this weeks problem is quite easy I will keep the clues sparse.
PhD completed in 1999 under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan B. Spencer
Post-Doc with Professor Amos B Smith
Junior Research Fellow in the lab of Professor Steve Ley
Independent research career began in 2003