Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chemistry Soliloquy

Good evening, honored blog readers. It's been pretty sparse 'round these parts lately.

Found at a country market out in the woods.
Perfect Fall sunflower.
Not to worry...I'm not hanging up my proverbial spurs just yet. But life sure is different, nearly two years into my latest #altchemjobs venture. Remember my initial post, where I couldn't quite come to terms with the size and intricacy of my new professional home?

Well, I still haven't.

It's a strange feeling: I spent nearly 14 years at the bench, setting up reactions, drawing schemes and mechanisms in ~20 line-ruled, hardcover lab notebooks with the respective companies' names etched in gold along the spine. I distilled solvents, sourced intermediates, rinsed reactors, and held forth at innumerable whiteboard (and chalkboard!) arrow-pushing sessions. At the end of the day, success was measured in off-white, crystalline powders and clear liquids in scintillation vials or crowded lab refrigerators.

I don't do much chemistry nowadays. At least, not the type you'd be familiar with from the foregoing description.
The script now unfolding? Facilitating chemistry - helping to transform thoughts, dreams, and ideas into reactions, systems, and products.

New cross-coupling? Let's invite in a consultant or speaker. Lab equipment? We'll get a prototype. Must-have software? Arrange some demos and evaluations. Along with the never-ending study that accompanies this career choice: stay abreast of the literature, learn from your competitors' mistakes, build your network out to compensate for the tangled web of interdependent departments in modern pharma. I can proudly say that I work with some of the smartest people I know, and I field calls from time zones all over the globe.

To paraphrase aprochrypha - "May you live in interesting times." And, I do. I really do.

Who could ask for anything more?

(More chemistry posts coming soon...whenever the 'interesting times' become slightly less hectic for a while...)


  1. Moving from chemistry production to QC has largely taken me out of the lab. And darn it, I really, really miss the lab work. Technically I also work in applications development, but QC occupies most of every day. I'd like to have lab time again.

    1. Sometimes, I'll walk by an empty hood, and think "If I just went in and set something up quickly, just for an hour, would anyone notice?"

    2. Heh. A [former] security guard at NIST, Christopher Bartley, recently pled guilty for trying to do exactly that during his weekend rounds at NIST.

      Of course, Bartley was making methamphetamine. Trying to make something else might be better-received.

  2. Now that you are already facilitating, while the rest of us still have to run the columns, you have made the transition from an underpaid specialist to an overpaid glib generalist.

  3. I love that your #altchemjobs transition has been so successful. Now about those invitations to pitch new software..... 😉😉🤓


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