Part-time job

As doing a post-doc only fills my days and not my nights, I thought I might replace sleeping, my spare time, with a part-time job. I tried the local supermarket, but it seems Germany does not partake in 24h consumerism in quite the same way as the UK, so my hopes of serving baked-beans  microwavable bratwurst at 3 am to eccentric shoppers and drunks were dashed. I had pretty much given up hope of filling those wee hours in the night with anything but sleep, before a new opportunity arose for me to share (unsolicited of course) with people some of the thoughts that pass through my brain. Fortunately for all concerned, these are no longer unfiltered ravings of someone who spends more time than they should inside, but patiently edited musings of a serious scientist.

Much to the dismay of anybody with an interest in making molecules, Paul Docherty’s five-year tenure at Chemistry World, guiding readers through the perils and ecstasy of total synthesis has prematurely ‘Gone to Completion’. Paul’s Totally Synthetic column was a delight to read, and not only helped point me in the right direction when it came to choosing a research field (synthesis), but also introduced me to the world of blogging. I really wish him all the best for the future.

Paul’s ‘retirement’ left a gap over at Chemistry World, one that couldn’t readily be filled by any single individual. Instead, a bold step was taken and three chemists were invited to write in rotation about various aspects of synthetic chemistry – the official announcement is here. The author of the brilliant B.R.S.M. has entertained us with beautifully written analyses of total synthesis over the past couple of years, and deservedly will be now taking this into print. He will also be joined by a long-standing member of the online chemistry community, the excellent ChemJobber, whom since 2008 has been helping chemists track down those elusive things know as ‘jobs’. ChemJobber will be bringing process chemistry to the table for your enjoyment. And finally, yes, my dreams of a part-time job were answered. Presumably not due to my idealistic(?) opinions about synthetic methodology, or how easy I was to work with (it turns out I found being edited a little disconcerting to begin with), I was greatly honoured with the opportunity to write alongside B.R.S.M and ChemJobber. Every three months I will be lucky enough to express my take on some of the most exciting synthetic chemistry methodology published. The first one will soon be on its way to your letter box, or, if you can’t wait, you can get a not so sneaky peek here, with a bonus online only figure. First up is a delightful piece of work from M. Christina White (which also made it into our Paper of Year seminar here in Muenster)  – I hope you enjoy it.

This is a great opportunity, and I’d like to say thanks to Phil and Phillip, the guys that made this happen. Paul Docherty’s column will surely be missed, but hopefully we can at least begin to fill the gap left behind with some exciting work. I have read the blogs of B.R.S.M. and ChemJobber for a long time, so I can at least go as far as to say you will not be disappointed by their articles.

Happy New Year

Scientist called a whore for turning down an ‘opportunity’

I can hardly call myself a blogger these days, but this pissed me off enough to relearn how WordPress works. Again.

Apparently this is doing the rounds on the internet, but the chemistry blogs have been pretty quiet on this, and it is DEFINITELY worth a mention.

Following a cordial invitation, a cordial discussion, and a very polite thanks but no thanks, Dr. Danielle N. Lee (aka The Urban Scientist) was called an URBAN WHORE (my emphasis) for turning down the opportunity to write a guest blog post for

This is unacceptable in every possible way imaginable, and is made worse by the presumption that it is unlikely that the same disrespect would have been forthcoming to all. Gender, ethnicity, and background are all likely factors here.

Thankfully (based on blog comments)  it appears the offender has been sacked and an apology issued.

A much fuller write-up on this story is here on CENblog.

Dr Lee’s written response is here (after it had been removed and then reposted) at Scientific America.

A very restrained video response has also been posted on YouTube: