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This Week On CENtral Science: Percy Julian, #sherisangji update and more

Tweet of the week:

Before we head to the network highlights, just a note that this overlord will be taking a spring break, so Grand CENtral will, too. And no, we are not headed to party central in Cancun with Beaker.

To the network:

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots and Tribute To A Numerical Inorganic Icon: Kenneth Wade

Terra Sigillata: Google Features Percy Julian, Legendary African-American Chemist and The Case Of The Malodorous Metabolite

The Chemical Notebook: Coke Committed To Plant Bottle Despite JBF’s Bio-based Ethylene Glycol Cancellation

The Safety Zone: People v Patrick Harran: Opposition to the appellate court petition and Chemical safety tidbits and papers, from OPRD

The Watch Glass: Birthdays abound: Percy Julian and Robert Burns Woodward, plus Liner laminate

This Week on CENtral Science: fake meat, #chemsafety videos and more

Tweet of the week:

To the network:

Cleantech Chemistry: Fake Meat as Cleantech Investment

Newscripts: Chemists Save King’s College Choir and Amusing News Aliquots

The Chemical Notebook: Momentive On The Verge Of Bankruptcy and Siluria Is Looking Pretty Sharp

The Safety Zone: Safety videos, courtesy of a department contest and Boost your lab ergonomics IQ

The Watch Glass: Cupcakes & Eggshells and Chromosomes (1968)

This Week on CENtral Science: Green biz plan competition, workers’ comp for grad students and more

Tweet of the Week:

To the network:

ACS Meeting Updates: Roundup of Thursday and Friday #ACSDallas News

Cleantech Chemistry: Green Business Plan Competition: Start your engines and Biobased Solvent: Strip paint, clean the oven – without getting dizzy

Fine Line: The Thaw

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots and Tattoo Advice For Penning A Synthetic Symphony

The Chemical Notebook: Dow To Europe: Drop Dead! and What Might Be Tagged At Dow’s Yardsale?

The Safety Zone: Workers’ compensation for graduate students and People v Patrick Harran update

The Watch Glass: Space glare and Alaska Oil Spill (1989)

Last Week on CENtral Science: #ACSDallas smorgasbord and more

Sorry for the belated round-up folks. Back to usual this Friday. In the meantime, enjoy this ACS national meeting-heavy roundup of CENtral Science goodness.

Tweet of the week, from economist Paula Stephan’s chemistry job placement talk at #ACSDallas:

To the network:

ACS Meeting Updates: Roundup of Wednesday #ACSDallas News and Dallas: A Structural Analysis and Safety professionals: On the outer fringe or the leading edge? (cross post) and Roundup of Tuesday #ACSDallas News and Economist Paula Stephan Talks Chemistry Job Placement at #ACSDallas and Liveblogging First-Time Disclosures of Drug Structures from #ACSDallas and Roundup of Monday #ACSDallas News and Going Green On St. Patrick’s Day

Cleantech Chemistry: Help Solve a Water Problem

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots

The Chemical Notebook: The U.S. Cracker Leader Board

The Safety Zone: Safety professionals: On the outer fringe or the leading edge? (cross post) and Another acid leak at Tesoro refinery

The Watch Glass: Cephalopod camouflage and New York St. Patrick’s Day parade’s signature green stripe

This Week on CENtral Science: #ACSDallas, Terra Sig returns, and more!

Tweet of the week:

To the network:

ACS Meeting Updates (new!): #ACSDallas, Here We Come!

Cleantech Chemistry: The Biology in Green Chemistry

Fine Line: DCAT Week 2014

Grand CENtral: CENtral Science network update

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots

Terra Sigillata: Colorado Marijuana Product Potency: Just Another Herbal Medicine

The Chemical Notebook: BASF’s Climate Change Schizophrenia

The Safety Zone: #Chemsafety at #ACSDallas

The Watch Glass: Calculate pi with frozen hot dogs and Priestley’s birthday and Daylight Savings Time

CENtral Science network update

Keen observers may have already noticed that there are fewer blogs to choose from today. Sadly, The Haystack and Artful Science have officially entered retirement. Many thanks to Lisa Jarvis and Sarah Everts for their fantastic contributions to CENtral Science over the years. You can still read posts on both of their blogs either directly or through the “Archived Blogs” tab in the navigation bar. And luckily, both Lisa (@lisamjarvis) and Sarah (@saraheverts) are fairly active on twitter, so be sure to follow them there if you don’t already.

This Week on CENtral Science: blogging academics, #Oscars2014, and more!

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To the network:

Cleantech Chemistry: Selling it: Making chemicals from CO2

Grand CENtral: Guest Post: “Why I Am Blogging on amphoteros.com” by Andrei Yudin

Newscripts: Just How Scientific Were This Year’s Best Picture Oscar Nominees? and Amusing News Aliquots

The Watch Glass: Probes study Venus

Guest Post: “Why I Am Blogging on amphoteros.com” by Andrei Yudin

Today’s guest post is by Andrei Yudin, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Toronto. His research group aims to build new bridges between basic chemistry research and drug discovery. During a sabbatical, Yudin launched a blog, and soon discovered that blogging brings several tangible benefits to his group as well as his research program. You can read his blog at www.amphoteros.com.

I have always been intrigued by science blogging, but the barrier to give it a shot of my own has been steep. When I started my sabbatical in July of 2013, I realized that I would have some extra time, making it the best moment for me to begin blogging. The idea of connecting with a target audience of fellow researchers using a new means was especially attractive to me. In addition, as I was running experiments during my sabbatical, my graduate students and faculty colleagues were curious about what it was I was cooking in the lab. I did not want them to think that I was “breaking bad”, so I decided to put it all out there – my successes, my failures, and a good dose of self-ridicule. This is how www.amphoteros.com saw its first post on July 20, 2013.

I quickly realized that there were relatively few research-oriented chemistry blogs, which stands in contrast to other disciplines such as biology. While the culture of chemistry is different and chemists do not often feel the need to collaborate with one another, our craft is becoming more interdisciplinary and new ways of communicating scientific findings and/or sharing opinions are only going to help.

At the moment, amphoteros is driven by my keen interest in science advances both basic and applied. People ask me how I find time for writing and coming up with original subject matter on a daily basis. I somehow do not feel challenged by this: there is always something “bloggable” I can come up with during my train ride back home. I cover a range of subjects and I always look forward to the feedback I get from the readers. The usual way I conceive my posts is by thinking about one of the dominant thoughts that has been consuming me on a given day. Typically, these musings are related to a particular publication, although I do not make a distinction between what’s current and what’s old. To me, something that is important, yet published 50 years ago, is current. In terms of content, I like to have a lot of graphics on my posts. This gives me a chance to practice ideas for my future lecture presentations. In academia, we always think about new ways of presenting our research in lectures, yet it is tough to sit down and implement them. I partially address this problem using my blog posts: many of them serve their purpose in lectures.

While I blog, I find it encouraging to communicate with like-minded individuals who provide interesting comments. People often contact me by email and say that they enjoy the content I offer. I also like receiving requests to cover certain topics. I am keen to see which subjects on the blog are particularly popular. Straightforward tracking mechanisms enable me to dig deeper into those areas.

My blogging activities have led to other tangible outcomes as well. For instance, I find it easier to recruit students as many of them find the material I write about both educational and interesting. I have gotten both graduate and postdoctoral applications as a direct result of my writings. I also find that, by following my blog posts, students who take my classes are better engaged with the material I teach. Blogging is also turning into a great mechanism to keep in touch with my former students.

One of the emerging trends I see is my lab engagement in writing blog posts. I already had several students guest-post interesting material and anticipate that these offerings will expand in the future. It is 2014 now, my sabbatical is over. Yet the blog is in good shape, I find time to write, and the readership is growing.

This Week (and Last) on CENtral Science: Mea Culpa and a Twofer!

Sorry for the radio silence last week. This overlord was a little overloaded. But to make up for it, here’s a double dose of network highlights.

Tweets of the weeks:



To the network:

Artful Science: A blogging siesta

Cleantech Chemistry: Stop Saying Indonesia is the Third-largest GHG Emitter and Big Growth Seen for Biobased Materials and Chemicals

Grand CENtral: The West Virginia Chemical Spill: Chemists React and Guest Post: “Recent Gender Ruckus Reminds Us To Be Vigilant” by Maureen Rouhi

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots (2/21) and Amusing News Aliquots (2/28) and Google Glass Might One Day Diagnose And Track Diseases Like HIV

The Chemical Notebook: The Curious Case Of Cereplast

The Safety Zone: Dow worker death likely due to reaction of trimethylindium with cleaning fluid and Tesoro says CSB lacks jurisdiction to investigate acid leak

The Watch Glass: Chaos research and Hoover’s “Chemistry in Crime Detection” and Olympic antidoping measures and The Chemistry of Learning and Memory

Guest Post: “Recent Gender Ruckus Reminds Us To Be Vigilant” by Maureen Rouhi

Today’s post is by Maureen Rouhi, C&EN’s Editor-in-chief.

Suspicions of sexism roiled the theoretical chemistry community last month when organizers of the 15th International Congress of Quantum Chemistry (ICQC) posted a partial list of speakers. The all-male list prompted theoretical chemists Emily A. Carter of Princeton University; Laura Gagliardi of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; and Anna Krylov of the University of Southern California to urge a boycott of the conference for its “gender-biased discriminatory practices.”

Gender inequity continues to persist in science. Until it disappears, we all must remain ready to expose it, because exposure leads to awareness, which improves fairness.

The 15th ICQC will be held in China in June 2015. It is being organized by chemistry professor Zhigang Shuai of Tsinghua University, under the sponsorship of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. The academy’s president is Josef Michl, a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The boycott call, he says, could be pivotal “in the long and difficult struggle that women have faced in science in general.” In a letter to academy members, he thanked Carter, Gagliardi, and Krylov for “raising a well-justified objection.” He also apologized for the “premature public release of a partial speaker list.”

“It is really terrible that this happened,” says Kendall N. Houk about the events that led to the boycott call. Houk is a chemistry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an invited speaker. “But at least it has catalyzed a visible uproar and vivid reminder that chemists need to keep vigilant to avoid lapsing into old, bad habits that continue to disadvantage women scientists.” Houk says female members usually make up at least 25% of his research group. “They are becoming excellent computational chemists, and I look forward to their being speakers at future ICQC meetings.”

“The majority of the theoretical chemistry community is welcoming to female scientists,” says Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, a chemistry professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and an invited speaker. However, she adds, certain pockets “have cultures that are less welcoming to female scientists,” and people must speak up and point out unfairness when it is apparent, as in the case of the 15th ICQC’s all-male partial speaker list.

“Despite increasing awareness, biases are still prevalent in certain situations,” Hammes-Schiffer says. The boycott petition and the ensuing discussions will force people to examine their subconscious biases and to behave and make decisions in a manner that will lead to change, she adds. “As more women move into leadership positions and as the gender ratio continues to become more balanced, the culture will shift. Until then, we need to remain vigilant and to train our students and postdocs in a way that ensures that future generations will create a culture that is equally welcoming to both genders.”

In the meantime, the list of speakers for the 15th ICQC has evolved. To date, of 33 invited speakers, seven are women, a larger share than in previous ICQCs. Whether the boycott call caused this spike, I can’t tell. I give the organizers the benefit of the doubt that they had planned to invite this many women all along.

Whether this representation fairly reflects women’s participation in the field is another question. Michl says one has to look at those who lead research groups because they would be the pool of potential speakers. An educated guess could come from examining the corresponding authors in journals that publish only theoretical chemistry. In the 2013 issues of the Journal of Chemical Theory & Computation, the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, Theoretical Chemistry Accounts, and the Journal of Computation Chemistry, women represented 11.49% of corresponding authors, for a 1:9 ratio of women to men, according to Michl. “The numbers clearly provide only a partial view, since much theory is published in journals that also publish articles from other subdisciplines; for example, the Journal of Physical Chemistry and the Journal of Chemical Physics,” he says.

Whatever is the true representation of women in the field, “it is low, and we need to continue to bring more women into theoretical chemistry,” Michl says. He notes that about 40% of graduate students in theory today are women. “This generation will run the show in a decade or two,” he says. “And the ratio of 1:9 will then be nothing but a bad memory.”

From The CENtral Science Blogs