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Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

PhD Movie?

Posted by naturalproductman on November 25, 2015

I had no idea that this movie existed until I saw an ad for it this morning at the elevator. Apparently there is a PhD Movie 1 and now a sequel. At first I thought to myself how strange that a group of grad students found the time to make a movie…but it is an actual movie and looking into the details, it looks like the actors are also real Caltech grad students.

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Another validation for natural product research

Posted by naturalproductman on October 5, 2015

The nobel prize in medicine announcement was made and the trio of winners (Satoshi Omura (avermectin), William Campbell (ivermectin), and Youyou Tu) had done natural product isolation work – one was Youyou Tu, the Chinese woman who discovered artemisinin (half of the prize)! An exciting win for natural product research!

Posted in Diseases, Malaria, Random, Unnatural Products | Leave a Comment »

The structure of academic science may be changing

Posted by naturalproductman on August 12, 2015

Here’s an interesting Science article with a scary thought: about how academic training is starting to lean towards training students into specialists. I think this leads to under appreciation of science as a whole or “tunnel vision”.

Science article

Research Policy paper

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A website about science

Posted by naturalproductman on July 11, 2015

Here’s a link from a reader who developed a website, “which aims to explain basic concepts of science, economics and technology”.

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Total synthesis is still strong – according to a title search

Posted by naturalproductman on July 10, 2015

There’s so much talk out there about how total synthesis is a dying field, and I guess I kind of understand the point. However, I was curious about this so I did a title search of journal articles on pubmed to see what this trend looks like. It seems that since 2005 with 408 articles published, the number of journal articles with the words “total synthesis” in the title shot up from 350 in 2004, and in 1999 there were 120 articles – a jump from 66 articles in 1998. So about the “dying field” statement, I don’t know if it’s just propaganda or if it is indeed a true statement – the numbers seem to indicate that people are still doing research in the field. From a synthetic chemist’s perspective, I feel that we are only limited by our own creativity (and funding).

* *So maybe the proper statement should be that the popularity of total synthesis was exponentially growing since the 1990s but now the number is just maxing out at about 500 “total synthesis” articles published per year with no decline in interest. I am correlating interest in total synthesis with the number of published “total synthesis” articles.

(Below is graph:  number of journal articles vs. year up to July 2015)

***It didn’t occur to me that a similar plot has been done but with JACS papers only.

totalsynthesistitlesJOURNALARTICLES 07.10.2015

The list:

pubmed – total synthesis[Title/Abstract]
year count
2015 294
2014 509
2013 513
2012 502
2011 519
2010 484
2009 478
2008 449
2007 393
2006 421
2005 408
2004 350
2003 347
2002 319
2001 273
2000 221
1999 120
1998 66
1997 62
1996 71
1995 26
1994 39
1993 24
1992 39
1991 27
1990 27
1989 27
1988 22
1987 33
1986 31
1985 21
1984 22
1983 20
1982 13
1981 21
1980 26
1979 24
1978 14
1977 55
1976 57
1975 51
1974 26
1973 41
1972 51
1971 38
1970 36
1969 42
1968 53
1967 28
1966 27
1965 22
1964 8
1963 6
1962 4
1961 2
1960 2
1959 1
1958 1
1957 1
1955 2
1954 1
1953 3
1952 1
1950 1
1949 1
1948 2
1947 2

**I decided to do a similar plot but by searching in Scifinder to see if I get any different numbers, and just like in the pubmed search, the numbers shoot up from the 1990s.

Scifinder graph:


Scifinder results (list form):

Sample Analysis – Publication Year Jul 11, 2015
Selected terms of 91 Sorted by Year
Analysis Value Count
1897 1
1900 2
1901 2
1906 1
1909 2
1911 1
1914 1
1917 1
1919 1
1925 2
1931 1
1933 1
1934 2
1935 3
1937 2
1938 1
1939 5
1940 4
1941 3
1942 2
1944 5
1945 7
1947 2
1948 5
1949 4
1950 13
1951 12
1952 10
1953 13
1954 14
1955 12
1956 27
1957 24
1958 14
1959 17
1960 30
1961 36
1962 36
1963 49
1964 38
1965 55
1966 64
1967 78
1968 126
1969 128
1970 115
1971 148
1972 137
1973 147
1974 114
1975 148
1976 151
1977 172
1978 162
1979 210
1980 207
1981 236
1982 230
1983 239
1984 247
1985 271
1986 292
1987 284
1988 268
1989 291
1990 288
1991 268
1992 261
1993 325
1994 337
1995 315
1996 392
1997 374
1998 419
1999 449
2000 529
2001 566
2002 630
2003 756
2004 681
2005 734
2006 783
2007 772
2008 796
2009 864
2010 894
2011 813
2012 861
2013 807
2014 768
2015 392

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Paving the way for a new generation of academic scientists

Posted by naturalproductman on February 23, 2015

I thought this was an interesting article from C&E News regarding faculty retiring. It has comments from Albert Padwa and Edwin Vedejs, some powerhouses in organic chemistry research.

I know it must be a bitter feeling to have to stop doing research for ~50 years of your life, but I do agree that the younger generation needs to be accommodated in terms of funding and research space, because if an academic stays in his lab space for so long preventing a new generation to enter the university, then wouldn’t there be a gap for the next generation of scientists? It used to be normal for PhD scientists to start their labs at age 27, but now it’s becoming more common for people to have 8 year postdocs even or doing multiple postdocs (I guess this is more for biology too) and they will start their academic position at mid to late 30s. I wonder how the universities hiring new “young” faculty feel about hiring someone so old?

C&E News article

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roasted chestnuts = furfural

Posted by naturalproductman on December 15, 2014

C&E News had an interesting article on the scents of the season.

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Difference in media response

Posted by naturalproductman on December 10, 2014

I just thought I’d point some difference in responses between two recent retractions in Science vs. Nature.

There were two Nature papers recently retracted on stem cells from a group in RIKEN and it was all over the news in Japan.

On the other hand there was a Science paper recently retracted on a retro-“click” reaction reported by a group at the University of Texas, which was covered in C&E News.

Because I have been in both countries during the time these retractions occurred, I just thought I’d point out an interesting difference in response by the media (news coverage).

I remember being in Japan around January 2014 and turning on the news on the television and seeing a woman with a face full of tears at a press conference on almost every channel they showed the news. I wondered what it was about, and it was something about making mature cells into stem cells by treating them with acid. It was a big deal and a topic of discussion in probably every news show as well as of course your science news and blogs on the internet.

Meanwhile in the US, I don’t recall as much of the time when I heard about the Science retraction (looking back, it was around June 2014) but I remember seeing C&E News and other blogs (retractionwatch, pipeline corante) about the retraction in the US lab. The article was about reversing the click reaction (azide and alkyne coupling to make a triazole, and the paper was about doing the reverse reaction). I don’t think I have to be a science expert but it wasn’t as much of a big deal in the media – although still a serious debate about falsifying data and getting it published. I don’t remember seeing this story on the television.

I was just wondering, if the research was happening in the opposite countries (stem cell research in US and reverse click reaction in Japan), would a retro-click retraction of a Science paper be as big of a deal in Japan? And the other question: would a stem cell Nature paper retraction be as big of a deal in the US? Is it a difference between: (1) the importance of science in the media in the two countries, (2) the importance of the research areas (stem cell vs. basic science), (3) the genders of the lead authors (male vs. female), (4) a Science paper vs. 2 Nature papers, (5) a combination of all of the above, or (6) something else I did not mention?

Posted in Ethics, Random | 2 Comments »

Reminiscing about textbooks – top picks and why?

Posted by naturalproductman on November 26, 2014

Today I wanted to talk about the undergrad textbooks I had and highlight any interesting ones that stood out and why. Of course, these are all my subjective opinions and I am sure many people have their own favorites and reasons as well, so I invite any comments to talk about other opinions.

Inorganic Textbook:

Advanced Inorganic Chemistry by Huheey Keiter and Keiter was a great textbook. I remember going to the undergrad library and checking out the book on reserve and spending a few hours on Sunday just to read the book while I was taking my upper division inorganic chemistry class. What I liked about the book was that: it combined molecular orbital theory and practical applications (i.e. Tanabe Sugano diagram), it covered d-orbitals and had a good introduction to transition metal chemistry, which was a good introduction for any organometallic chemist. The problems in the end of each chapter were great.

There was some organometallic textbook by Hegedus as well, but I don’t recall too much theoretical explanations behind the different cross-couplings. But it is a good reference book to have if you want to be able to look up certain cross couplings.

Organic Textbook:

Organic Chemistry by G Marc Loudon was a good one for the straight chemist – the thing I liked about this book was that it flat out gave the explanations of concepts and in some parts of the book, it would have a little section for the practical application of the concept in biology. My memory of this book was that I would read it in the car during the summers just for fun.

Organic Chemistry by Vollhardt and Schore was another book that was pretty straightforward and easy to understand. I don’t recall the little sections that Loudon had though. I would also read this one in the car during summer for fun.

Organic Synthesis – The disconnection approach by Stuart Warren was a really nice book that was full of synthesis problems. I remember I went through that entire book of disconnections/retrosynthetic analyses over a two month period and after going through the entire book, I can safely say that I became a better synthetic chemist.

Physical Textbook:

Mcquarrie’s red Physical Chemistry textbook was pretty good – although I wasn’t too much of a math person in college because the multivariable calculus had given me nightmares. Sometimes it isn’t about the subject though, and it is more about the teacher. I think I just went to a fast paced undergrad competing with other top students. The classes were cutthroat and it was more of an environment where you would be left for scraps if you fell behind.

Biochemistry Textbook:

Lehninger’s book was good it had an online learning tool where you could go through some mini lessons on some topics.

To rank my top 3 books from my personal point of view, which reflects on my interests when I was younger: (1) Advanced inorganic, (2) Loudon’s organic, (3) Warren’s disconnection approach.

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Advice from Michael Doyle

Posted by naturalproductman on November 10, 2014

Michael Doyle gives advice about writing manuscripts in his ACIE profile article…basically he says to focus on the main points in the manuscript and all of the other details go to the supporting information. The intro persuades the reader to keep on reading. He started off his career as a professor at undergrad only institutions and moved to PhD ones and commented that at the undergrad only institutions, the resources are not as good but the students are top notch.


ACIE article

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