Org Prep Daily

December 11, 2009

Predetermined Conclusions 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — milkshake @ 8:40 pm

I suddenly found myself in HR office this Wednesday in front of assembled top four bosses, faced with immediate dismissal. The story was that I supposedly yelled at a security guard and chased him around the lab  – which I have not done – but they already had it all prepared nicely (you see, they investigated it quietly for almost three weeks and they kept the meeting secret to the last minute) and there they would not allow any facts get in a way of their neat story. They threatened and bullied – that I better shut up and sign the papers they are giving me to sign or they will fire me right there. Needles to say, the HR meeting did not go down too well but it became noticebly nicer towards the end, especially after the boss of the translational research institute screamed on top of his voice that he is in control of the entire budget and that I am messing with the wrong guy – and then stormed out. (He threatened to leave the meeting unless I apologize for saying that their story makes no sense – and I observed that it would be perhaps helpful if he could leave the meeting).

What they insisted on was that I must undergo anger management treatment with therapist of their own choosing and they handed me a consent form – to sign away all my confidentiality over to HR, and to confirm that this is actually an employer-mandated psychiatric treatment that I am taking voluntarily so that HR could receive regular status reports from my therapist.

I guess they just tried to find out if I have any interesting personal problems and see how I am struggling through with the help of their therapist – who would then send a nice summary to HR about my treatment plan and attendance and they would just add it in the file…

I knew that they were considering layoffs next January because of the funding problems and from their nastiness I figured out that this was a cute method to have me certified as a nut so as to not to have worry about wrongful dismissal case from me in the future. Bending over and taking it from both ends would only save me couple weeks at best. So I boxed up my stuff, loaded it in my car and wrote back that  I can see someone if they insist but I am not signing away my shrink’s confidentiality over to HR. I also wrote  that it was a fine inquisition meeting – and that they should check the facts because there are people who can easily confirm that the guard story is a fabrication and that I hope they will at least have the decency to clear my name with the same eagerness with witch they have now besmirched it.

The next day my e-mail client stopped working and the PC logged itself off. That gave a hint that I should probably head down to HR so I said the goodbyes to my colleagues, handed back my keys + keycard and it was over in a civil way within few minutes.

As to why this has been staged the way it happened, there are several reasons but I think the main one was that the people I worked for got from me all what they needed, my salary just got past six figure and they were faced the financial pressure to have someone let go – in our group the potdocs cannot find staff jobs anywhere (and are willing to survive on indefinite postdoc-ship often due to the visa situation). I have had complained too much about the people here being left intentionally off the publications and cheated from their co-authorship on patents. I have been with the institute from the beginnig, and I am not an easy person to put up with, over the five years they had plenty about me on file – so they thought they can easily make it look like it I am creating some serious trouble and therefore they had no other choice but to let me go…

The reason why I wrote down all this unpleasant story is to firsthand inform my colleagues and friends who are reading this page because I did not have the time to speak with everybody before leaving.


  1. So sorry to hear about this. Hope you find something better quickly. :(

    Comment by psi*psi — December 11, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

  2. I am actually tremendously relieved because I have nothing to worry about anymore. After I got fired, I became relaxed for the first time in months. I did not know what was brewing but I had a distinct sense that I may not last long there. The research project and the lab that I cared about is over and I am completely free now. And in their rush to fire me they rather screwed it up which might turn out to be useful. Or not – we will see. At least I put up a good fight.

    I think I will rather like to stay in Palm Beach area – I have a house here, and savings enough to take care of my mortgage for about two years or so without a job, and my car is fine and my other expenses nominal. It is possible that I won’t ever have a job in chemistry after this – and it is fine with me. They have nothing to threaten me with because they already fired me, and they made a mess out of it rather helpfully.

    Comment by milkshake — December 11, 2009 @ 9:10 pm

  3. Yikes!!
    I’m glad you are financially stable for now, but that still stinks.
    Good luck

    Comment by Chemgeek — December 11, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

  4. Please let us know if you are interested to join a custom synthesis company.

    Comment by pm — December 11, 2009 @ 10:06 pm

  5. In other words, they were trying to make a case that you are as volatile as the experiments of your youth? ;)

    Good luck, and I hope this only means that we all get to benefit more from your encyclopedic knowledge…

    Comment by Kai — December 11, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

  6. Wow man. That’s soooooo not cool! It’s totally cheesy but I do think that life has a waking of working itself out. I’m sure that you will land on your feet. Good luck and know that you have a lot of friends here who are more than willing to help you out in whatever way they can.

    Comment by Bunsen Honeydew — December 11, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  7. Man, I don’t believe that there’s a blogger who deserves to be hired more than you. Best of luck, Milkshake.

    Comment by Chemjobber — December 11, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

  8. That’s really disappointing to hear. I sure hope your blog doesn’t go down, but I understand. I’ve often referred to your “Milkshake Manifesto” and “Notes on Terrible Reactions” posts. They’re great! And I’ve found clutch advice on a bromination using light and NBS here.

    Any advice or reflections on working for a hybrid academic-industry institute? I’m interviewing at similar institutes very soon.

    Comment by jb — December 12, 2009 @ 8:04 am

  9. Wow, this is happening in the US? You could take this to the courts, man. Wish you all the best.

    Comment by Daniel — December 12, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  10. I read somewhere that people in the US nowadays only save a fraction of what they used to do a couple of decades ago. This sad incident is an important reminder of the necessity of creating a personal war chest, and I hope you are getting a decent interest on the money you have put away.

    Comment by Eman — December 12, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

  11. Crazy story. I hope you have some legal recourse against them. Good luck to you.

    Comment by Jordan — December 12, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

  12. Sorry to hear about this, Milkshake. You’re a tremendous chemist, no doubt someone would want to pick you up.

    If you stay in the palm beach area – is there anywhere else to work? Or are you thinking of doing something else with your life?

    Good luck! I’ve followed your blog since it began – it’s top-notch.

    Comment by T — December 12, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

  13. Damn Milkshake,

    It looks like institutes try to do this world wide. Good to hear you have shed that heavy burden that was once resting on your mighty shoulders. Take a nice holiday and then find a lab to keep the synthetic posts rolling in. I know a lot of people will be worse off without your insight into org preps.

    Comment by OrganicOverdose — December 15, 2009 @ 1:04 am

  14. I am so sad to hear about this happening to you Milkshake. Have a good break and enjoy your holiday. Many many happy thoughts to you!

    Comment by Taitauwai — December 15, 2009 @ 3:39 am

  15. Sir, I am really sorry to hear this. Your blog is without a close second my favorite chemistry-related site on the web, and one of the most practically useful. I am sure you can find a position with the expertise you have clearly demonstrated in synthesis. And if you find a good company to work for, post it on here so the rest of us unemployed bench monkeys can send in our CVs.

    Comment by opsomath — December 15, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

  16. At the very first glance of this particular post I had thought that you were writing about something happened in the distant past.

    I had the impression that you were happy at the institute. I guess you are not only the casualty of its financial pressure but also the politics. It’s really shocking that they just don’t realize, or maybe don’t care about, your value. Very sorry indeed! It’s especially inhuman IMO when someone does this during the holiday season. Hope things work out better for you.

    Comment by pc — December 16, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

  17. I had the same impression as #16, that the timeline would eventually unfold into some obscure era (1990’s) by the end of the post. It surely is one heck of a crazy story before christmas. Florida is still beautiful in December.

    Comment by sks — December 17, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  18. I am one of those “lurking” readers, who wonder but never comment. I am sorry to read about this -it’s not fair and it’s not human :(. Hope however you will get a job in chemistry if this is what you want and we can still keep on learning from you. Or better, come back to Europe:D.

    All the best and a good holiday season!

    Comment by AW — December 17, 2009 @ 11:58 am

  19. Thank you everyone for the well-wishes. Also, I should mention that we are now averaging close to one thousand hits per day. I suppose it was only for the lack of recent posting – and any other stuff such as a report on asymmetric hydrogenation of 3,6-disubstituted chromenes would be probably followed with a similar degree of excitement.

    As to whether this is real (and what to expect if you are getting fired in US). After couple of industry position in US, I can tell you that the game is always rigged, and you should expect that the HR dude pretty much follows what he is asked to do by the top management. His first priority is to cover his own ass, and to protect the company from getting sued. You don’t want to go to HR and spill your heart even when they encourage you to do so – anything you tell them gets written down and put in your file for a future use…

    At my first company they were looking for reasons to cancell my company-sponsored Green Card application which was just few months from completion, and it was done because someone was trying to get back at my boss, and thus they learned (unofficially) that I might leave once I get a green card after almost four years with them. So the HR-man dug through my file and pulled out a three-year old admonishment from my boss (for working late night in the lab alone) and they tried to build a case around that to deny my green card.

    It was actually a misunderstanding back then, someone reported me for what she though was breaking my promise to her (about not working alone) and my old boss wrote angry letter before he checked the facts. Afterwards he withdrew the admonishment, apologized and assured me that I had nothing to worry about and that he took back a copy of this letter from the company VP. But a copy of his angry letter to me re-surfaced three years later, long after my first boss who wrote the stuff left the company, and the person who reported me for working at night alone was long-gone too. I was called to a meeting suddenly and there i was sitting in front of the research site director, our HR guy, and the top HR lady who flew in from Cincinnati headquarters just for this reason, to investigate – and they all went on very seriously about how they are so not going to get me green card because I would leave if they did, and I was a bad bad employee with a 3-year-long record of disciplinary problems…

    Comment by milkshake — December 17, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

  20. Damn Milkshake,
    Sorry to hear about this, but I’m glad you stashed some cash.
    Drop me a line if you’re out West and want to give a research talk to keep the resume fresh.

    Comment by Rhenium — December 17, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  21. At one point in this country, HR was known as “personnel”. They were advocates for the employees. Now, we are just “resources” and their role has moved from protecting the employee to protecting the company (management).

    Comment by Milo — December 18, 2009 @ 9:05 am

  22. I wish you good luck. I find this blog a source of inspiration and delight because of both excellent chemistry stuff and the stories. The latter especially because of the interesting stories from the days on our side of the pond. There is one insignificant detail in your writeups that bothers me: I think when extracting, it should be partitioning instead of portioning. :) I sincerely hope we shall hear more from you!

    Comment by JH — December 18, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  23. best of luck, thanks for all the blogging i got link here from ‘in the pipeline’ and enjoy the chemistry you post!

    Comment by okemist — December 18, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

  24. I am sorry to hear this. For a person with immense talent and great passion to do chemistry, should be the boss in his own right. The kind of understanding you have in process chemistry and medchem, you should seriously think of academics. hell with ur employer.

    Comment by pashu — December 19, 2009 @ 4:39 am

  25. Damn, the things aren’t that shiny in the Lerner empire.

    I wish you all the best, pal. I think you’ll be in great demand as a private consultant.

    Comment by LiqC — December 20, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

    • soon after they fired me they called a meeting here in Medicinal Chemistry and announced there will be no further layoffs in the group (“inspite of what people may read on the internet”) but the 2010 budget for research in the group is slashed to 50% of the previous year.
      There will not be any more money from Florida after that so the medchem research groups and projects that do not find grant funding would have to go in 2011.

      I should mention that in the last year we have been already saving hard, and we had repeated discussion about how to save tiniest sums of money (we were supposed to buy from companies who offer free shipping, etc). They eliminated the phone-in purchase orders already more than a year ago, and instituted exeedingly bureaucratic online purchasing system, which delays all purchases by at least one day and makes the tracking of missing and back-ordered deliveries a lot more cumbersome. When they introduced the online system, they took this opportunity to remove all authority to order chemicals from the staff employees. You need to have an authorization for any purchase, the order does not get processed until someone gives a go-ahead, and there were only two people in chemistry who could do that (with one of which I was on non-speaking basis so he never approved any purchase for me).

      I have been taking care of solvent orders for our group, among other things, and I have pretty good idea how much we were spending on average. The solvents used for purifying compounds are by far the most expensive item, and we have been getting them at deeply discounted rates already. A 50% budget reduction means that the medchem will effectively grind to halt.

      Comment by milkshake — December 21, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

      • I know exactly what you’re talking about. When first introduced, this Sciquest thing seemed like a great idea. I don’t know what’s going on now, but deuterated DMSO I ordered in early November came in just today. I think there’s an approving authority beyond our boss/admin. We’ve almost run out of solvents a few times because they started to take forever to be delivered.

        I don’t even know how he (or anyone, for this matter) is managing to maintain a functioning lab of this size.

        Comment by LiqC — December 21, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

  26. Hey man,

    I get really angry inside when I read this… I’m sure you can find a new job soon, F*** these companies (and especially the backstabbing-too-dumb-for-a-real-job monkeys in HR)

    Comment by Timo — December 22, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  27. Hey Milkshake,

    Sorry to hear about the work situation, but it sounds like very soon it is going to be an intensely sucky place to work at anyway. Hope you land somewhere you like.

    Love your blog, it is well written, intelligent, informative, and entertaining. I really can’t give it higher praise than that.

    Comment by Chemoptoplex — December 22, 2009 @ 10:06 am

    • The main difficulty is a combination of the completely impossible job market for synthetic chemists and the housing market slump. If I could find a job somewhere and sell the house (without losing about 150k that are already paid in it) most likely I would not fight.
      Also, I found out more about how this was prepared 3 weeks in advance – you would not believe it! Fortunately there is a straightforward and a completely legit way to deal with these nice people – it takes time and lots of determination but little money.

      BTW, check out the new Clooney movie Up In The Air – Its a riot.

      Comment by milkshake — December 22, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

  28. What the f****? Just back from vacation and this story! So, what now?
    How about OPD? Will you continue – I guess no Scifinder and no access to journals anymore? My favorite site, damn. I don’t know what to say – I am so killed with this news.

    Comment by krest17 — December 22, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

    • I have Scifinder access and I just purchased Chemdraw ($160, ugh) but not a journal access.

      Org Prep Daily goes on: It might even get more interesting in the future. Don’t be killed by the news, it is an opening episode of original series that may run for awhile. I think its going to be an exciting season.

      I found out that it was just one guy organized it all – this guy is the boss of Translational Research Institute (that means the whole drug discovery) and he is in charge of budget and hence very powerful – he can dissolve research groups just by saying there is no money available; and of course he totally abuses his authority.
      He waited until my boss was on family leave (because his father died) and the chemistry department boss was traveling, and the VP for research of the entire institute was just visiting from California. Apparently this nice man told the visiting VP that I am a raving loon who is yelling at guards at night and chasing them around – a complete fabrication – and he got from this VP the go-ahead to fire me immediately.

      Our HR guy did not obey the order (to fire me at once) arguing that there was no fresh dirt on me so even if the story was true he cannot dismiss me based on this alone – so instead they were going to give me “one more chance” in form of a mandatory anger managment treatment followed by a layoff at some convenient date early next year. So they prepared this meeting in secrecy, working on it for weeks, and as soon as I walked in they started it with threatening me with immediate dismissal unless I go to see their shrink and sign over all patient confidentiallity over to HR, all the while urging me to start looking for a new job as soon as possible, etc etc.

      I think my immediate bosses did not know much about the stairs being soaped for me – but later they were coerced into going along with the scheme…

      Comment by milkshake — December 23, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  29. Milkshake,

    That sucks…sorry to hear about all this. Between In The Pipeline, Curly Arrow, and OPD, I have picked up some great tips, techniques, etc. The company I work for will probably be hiring synthetic chemists early next year (north of SF), email if interested.

    Comment by D — December 22, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

  30. hi milky

    [edited out] are hiring….Wish you the best

    Sorry for the edit – and thanks for the info! Milkshake

    Comment by provocateuer — December 23, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  31. I m very sorry to know this sad story but u do not need to worry as u r very talented chemists. keep on mind that there is one proverb in my country” if u have foot, u can find many shoes”. good luck ahead

    (Nepali citizen)
    currently Ph.D. defended student in South Korea

    Comment by Santosh Kumar Gurung — December 25, 2009 @ 12:24 am

  32. Sorry to hear about it. At least in medicine there is a steady supply of sick patients. Whether you get paid for it is another matter. 10 years ago in the People’s Republic of New York, I received 7.50 for a 15 minute revisit for a Medicaid patient (less than the cabbie who brought them). Good luck !! Please keep posting


    Comment by luysii — December 26, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

  33. Damn, Milkshake, that is terrible news. Once HR gets involved, things are going to go poorly, they can always screw you, due to the massive power/info imbalance, just like Kafka’s “The Trial.” Bastards! Best of luck. “Kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight”

    Comment by Jose — January 1, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

    • our institute has two separate HRs but they do not operate independently. From what I gathered the HR in California did not sign in on this – at least not yet. (I think they were not informed originally about this case built against me up until I got fired. Now all this mess…)

      So I am still working through the system – trying to convince the highest powers that they ought to investigate what has happened here, and maybe reconsider having me back. Its a long shot but I have to give it a try – it would be much preferable to cooperate with some sort of inquiry rather than rushing into the all-out confrontation; there are some decent people at the institute who might help if I remain reasonable.

      Comment by milkshake — January 2, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  34. on an unrelated note (maybe as a distraction): have you seen the article in the latest nature rev. drug discov. on pharmaceutical innovation? seemed right up the alley of some of your posts…

    Comment by Kai — January 4, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

    • thank you for pointing me to the article – no I did not read it yet because I have been fired in the last few weeks. Publically-accessible uni libraries that have chemistry journals are actually quite far from here.
      Dark take on innovation in big pharma: I guess if you had talked to pretty much anybody among the thousands medicinal chemists currently looking for job they would tell you something very similar about the industry; The only chance is in the academic research and in small-to-midsize companies. But successful small companies do not last long… One of these days the pharma industry will end up consolidated into one giant Pfizer crater.

      Comment by milkshake — January 5, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  35. Hi Milky
    seek ur favor for some good procedure(literature)
    Bromomethylation of phenol


    Comment by Santosh — January 8, 2010 @ 12:58 am

    • 1. I have no access to literature since I was fired
      2. I don’t think you can bromomethylate regular phenols: you would obtain dark oligomeric resins instead
      3. Ortho and para hydroxy benzyl halides are unstable because of the facile halide elimination producing reactive quinomethide species
      4. Writing off-topic and demanding inane comments can get your IP address spam-flagged here; it may happen sooner if you leave them under this post

      PS: Perhaps you may want to look into aminomethylating your substrate by classical Mannich reaction (2 equivs Me2NH, 1 eq CH2O, catalytic acid, or alternatively with Me2N=CH2+ Cl- commercial reagent) because with phenols and indoles the protonated form of dimethylamino is actually a rather decent leaving group – even more so if you add some methyl iodide to quarternize. For example see the reactions of gramine (3-dimethylaminomethylindole). Or you can protect the phenol first and then chloromethylate

      Comment by milkshake — January 8, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

  36. Milshake, it’s been a while since I do not enter hear and I read this bad news.

    I am sorry that you have lost your job. Anyway you must be confident in your skills and experience to find new positions in research or in other fields like consultancy.
    Indeed, it’s what the blog is about, it is pure consultancy, I have asked for help a few times and you and the rest have advised me really well.

    Looking for a job outside chemistry it’s the first thought we have when we have problems with our job or layoffs are coming, it’s a ‘hot blood’ feeling, when some time goes by and we reflect more deeply we have to consider chemistry again because it’s what we like doing. And it’s clear like water that YOU LIKE CHEMISTRY.

    One last reflection, consider carefully whether it is the best for you to remain working in the same place after all that stuff. In the short term, if you are accepted again, it could be like a moral victory but in the long term new problems will arise because you’ll have to deal with the same wrong people.

    Comment by vasili — January 10, 2010 @ 7:15 am

    • Sure it wouldn’t be as pleasant to come back but please consider the alternatives – selling the house at a huge loss, looking for a job in this lousy job market and perhaps even getting a new job but with a considerable pay-cut, leaving behind the enormously successful collaboration project (we were getting visibly nearer to a drug candidate with mid-nanomolar cell-active compounds just after few months of work; and I made all the compounds by myself and I brought this collaboration to the institute).

      Lets wait and see – There is ongoing HR inquiry into the circumstances of my dismissal and when it gets completed, in few weeks, I think everybody involved will have a much clearer understanding of the situation.

      Comment by milkshake — January 10, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

      • The decision is obviously yours.

        I think you have absolutely done right investigating what has happened. Once you have all the data and if they are accepting you again, you can make the choice of remaining or leaving.

        I wish you the best whatever this choice is.

        Comment by Vasili — January 11, 2010 @ 8:22 am

  37. If I were you I’d take to recording every conversation that I had with these people, and try to find out what they’d been saying about you in emails to each other (maybe there is some kind of FOI system you could exploit?)

    Comment by Ed — January 11, 2010 @ 4:33 am

    • I do not record the conversations because it would be an illegal thing to do so without a consent, and the recordings would be inadmissible as evidence. But if it turns out that our conversations got recorded at the opposite end I wouldn’t protest too much – I have nothing to hide or retract.

      The ongoing review of my dismissal is not actually a management misconduct investigation so far: my understanding is that the formal inquiry is about re-examining the accusations and the procedures originally used for my dismissal. I should add that I am still fired as of now, without the health insurance; it has been a month already and the institute still has not mailed me neither a letter confirming that I got fired, nor the information on how to extend my health coverage while unemployed. I need to see a dentist rather urgently so this situation truly blows.

      Update: I just got the COBRA paperwork this afternoon, full month after I got fired – the time stamp says that it was mailed out on January 7, to inform me that the old coverage will end on December 31. Unbelievable.

      Comment by milkshake — January 11, 2010 @ 8:37 am

  38. Milkshake:

    No matter what happens, I really do suggest you retain an attorney and let them know that you have retained one “just in case”, an attorney anxious to, if it comes to it, depose the security guard you allegedly argued with or whatever.

    Comment by MedInformaticsMD — January 11, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

    • It was the very first thing that our chemistry department director asked me about, right the next day after I got fired – and I promised to him then and there that no lawyers would be involved from my end for the sake of reversibility.

      I like to talk to people directly and paying a lawyer to write on my behalf would be a confrontational gesture that would get me nothing. Please remember that I am still hoping to return to my job. I do not wish to sue for money and as a rule I never threaten anyone – so what would be the point of getting a legal representation? (Besides, a lawyer would know nothing about the workings of our institute so I would end up preparing everything for him anyway. )

      Comment by milkshake — January 11, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

      • With the outcome of the HR re-investigation now known (hint: predetermined conclusions) I am now actually looking for legal representation. If anyone knows decent intel property and labor law attorneys please let me know.

        Comment by milkshake — January 20, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  39. Give ’em hell, sounds like they deserve it!

    Comment by Ed — January 21, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

    • yes, first the stuff goes to ORI. When the investigations are concluded everything will become a lot clearer.

      Comment by milkshake — January 21, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

  40. Wow. Just wow. And one thought only evil corporations did this. Seems the whole rotten structure is crumbling down. Much good luck for the future.

    Comment by Wavefunction — February 3, 2010 @ 12:16 am

    • Its not crumbling down yet. Only bits of plaster are pealing from the facade so far but it is weak alright because the funding is running out – I heard that the VP for research who reportedly gave a go-ahead for my immediate dismissal has been proposing to shut down the translational research institute entirely and disperse the groups that cannot get a grant funding. This proposal was reportedly floated already a year ago. And the milder version of this is what basically took place immediately after I was fired: the Florida government money going into TRI is cut by 50% for 2010 and the PIs were told that whoever does not have grant funding in 2011 he will have to cut people and eventually leave

      In this respect you can understand why the TRI director manufactured the case against me with the help of HR, and why my direct boss and my the chemistry director sold me to them. They were very happy about my results and about the collaboration that I brought them – but with me gone the grant money will stretch longer.

      Comment by milkshake — February 3, 2010 @ 3:03 am

  41. Damn. Best of luck – not that that helps.

    You may not wish to retain a lawyer, but I would have brought in my union immediately. They have more experience dealing with this sorta bullshit.

    Comment by Sili — February 6, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    • The things are gradually moving ahead and the next steps have to be prepared carefully.

      Comment by milkshake — February 6, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

  42. Oh no! When I visited your lab in Palm Beach, you looked very happy there and it looked like an ideal place. My friend was also very happy with his postdoc there. Maybe the writing is on the wall for chemistry as a career choice as a whole for me; I was looking into getting an MBA after I’m done with the postdoc.

    I didn’t find out until today since I live many timezones away now and it’s only now that I’m writing a paper again finally (i.e. procrastinating on the chemistry blogs; gah! Better get back to writing or I’ll be in bed at 3 am again). Now I’m definitely going to follow what happens. I might come down to Miami in the summer for a few days and if I do, we should definitely go to my favorite sushi place in Ft. Lauderdale and discuss organic synthesis — I’ll pay (seeing as you have no job and need to save money; organic synthesis discussion not really necessary I suppose — but you wouldn’t believe the recent huge explosion in my lab just because someone forgot something very basic).

    Comment by uncle sam — February 10, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    • Don’t worry, maybe the institute will volunteer and pick up the tab for our sushi…

      Career-wise: there must be tens of thousands of qualified synthetic chemists without a chemistry job these days in US, and many are stuck and too old and too one-sided and socially impaired for a meaningful second career. It is probably a good idea to try not to join them.
      Go into a chemical business or some other applied field where there is not such a terrible glut of applicants, and try to get some edge over everybody else. I have a bright and hardworking friend who dropped out of a grad chemistry program, and finally he tried to return into a chemistry grad program while working at an engineering company – and of course he found out that it was impossible to get into chemistry program and keep his full-time job at the same time. But he got into economy and business afternoon classes without problem, and he is a lot happier now – and they actually like him at the school and are proud to have him there because he is the only dude in the class with a science background. He is going to wind up rich eventually – which is something that hardly ever happens to synthetic chemists.

      Comment by milkshake — February 10, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

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The Shocking Blue Green Theme. Blog at


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