Thursday, October 5, 2017

Nobel Prize to Organic Chemistry: Decreasing Frequency

Today, on 4th October 2017, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. I was eagerly waiting to see any name from Organic chemistry field, but got disappointed as this year also no prize for hardcore Organic chemistry.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 was awarded to Prof. Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Prof. Joachim Frank (Columbia University, New York) and Prof. Richard Henderson (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.) for their extraordinary contribution to the developing of Cryo-Electron Microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution. Many congratulations to all of them for their hard work and recognition and also felt happy to read more about Cry-Electron Microscopy technique.

If we trace back. since last seven years, no one from pure Organic Chemistry area got Nobel Prize. Recent one in the year 2010 for Palladium chemistry in Organic synthesis for Heck/Negishi/Suzuki and prior to that one in the year 2005 for Alkene metathesis to Chauvin/Grubbs/Schrock team and in 2001 for Chirally catalysed hydrogenation reactions to Sharpless/Noyori/Knowles team. This simply means, the frequency of getting Nobel prize in Organic chemistry is reducing, although there being many deserving Organic chemists worldwide. One reason could be, the current research trend of organic synthesis area is not matching with changing selection criteria of this highest scientific award.

We Organic chemists may claim of being the only applied discipline among other disciplines of Science, producing huge number of molecules having vast applications from biotech, pharma to material science areas. We have many deserving Giants in Organic chemistry field, who are famous for Total synthesis of complex natural products, new reactions/method development, synthesis of novel applied molecules etc etc., but when we see research areas of award recipients in recent past, it brings the feeling that we are far away from current day trend and it is a kind of warning too.

Just simply making new chemistry or molecules is not enough. There seems to be an immediate need for changing the trend and research focus. Today, the research outcomes that have INTERDISCIPLINARY FLAVOR, bearing significance to solving the REAL WORLD PROBLEMS are having more recognition in Scientific society.....

Monday, October 2, 2017

On The 10th Anniversary Of My PhD Degree Award Day.

On Sept. 30, 2017 exactly 10 years passed I got the PhD degree awarded at Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. In other words it is the 10th anniversary of my PhD degree. I celebrated that special day on social media and in that excitement I wrote a refreshing mail to my supervisor. As he is now 70 years old retired Professor, spending most of his time at home, easily available for interaction, replied quickly with happiness and full of regards wishing better future. It is very special day as it was one great milestone of my life.

Yes! It was my dream and ambition to pursue the highest academic degree, the PhD in Organic chemistry discipline. I could have taken some gap to pass CSIR-JRF exam and directly enter the course, but situations were not in favor of me. Therefore, I chose to work after M.Sc. While continuing my job, I kept on chasing my dream for which I gave a big fight. I knocked many doors, wrote mails, contacted many people, begging for admission to doctoral course. Later I got entry to NCL Pune, for which I must thank some of my friends/well wishers. Here again one more hurdle came, as the administration cancelled the policy of applying for SRF after working as RA for 1-2 years and made CSIR-JRF as compulsory requirement. Then, I had only one option left is to try for PhD abroad, which many of my colleagues were trying. I too followed the same process by taking guidance of my reporting scientists at NCL, Pune. On one fine day, I got admission for PhD at Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan under the supervision of Prof. Norikazu Nishino. On 3rd October, I flied to Japan and started my dream course. Those three years of PhD course were hardest in my life. I worked very hard as it is culture in Japan. I still remember those sleepless nights, the toughest boss and his hard training. Published some papers and also presented my work in some conferences at Europe (Poland) and Tokyo, Japan. Finally after successfully defending my thesis work, I got awarded the PhD degree. That’s how I achieved my GOAL and I have to thank many of my friends and family who directly and indirectly helped and supported me in many ways.

Like a usual doctorate, I too carried out two Postdocs for more than five years. The first Postdoc was at Florida State University, USA, spending two years in the laboratory wherein Taxol synthesis was made a history. For second Postdoc, I again moved back to KyuTech, Japan to work for three years in the emerging area of solar cell research. 

Having spent almost eight and half years in academia in abroad, acquiring vast experience in various research fields of interest, I decided to return back to my home land India. I dreamt of a career where in I will have enough freedom and flexibility to do what I want to do. As there is a saying that, “Sometimes reality becomes the strangest fantasy of all”, I found getting into my desired job was not so easy. Huge competition, need for papers published in top-tier journals, less number of openings and many more. For time being I dropped the idea of joining academia and thought of opting for other alternative paths where my training/skills can be explored. Finally the destiny brought me to the Industrial world and I started my career in the corporate organization as Scientist, nature of job being custom synthesis and contract research.

Industrial jobs are totally different from academic jobs. Here you don’t need multiyear Postdoc experience or more number of publications etc. Industrial jobs mainly need how skilled/trained you are to reach the target in given time. Maintaining timelines, meeting targets, planning, results and more importantly how efficient you are as a team player and as individual contributor are the crucial requirements in any industrial jobs.  

Now when I look back and ask myself, what was purpose behind doing PhD, I usually get confused what to answer. I am also unable to answer, whether I really explored all the experience and trainings to bring them to reality. The journey of life takes many turns and many times we fail to notice those turns. We dream of something and something else happens, but that doesn’t mean one has to give up ones passion, the goals, and the ambitions. In today's competitive climate, when the secure jobs are lacking, to be successful is all about having the strong drive to push forward even when you are struggling.

I always receive many mails from future aspirants asking for guidance for joining PhD course and also information about Postdoc jobs. To all of you I can tell only one thing that, PhD is not a degree, it is a training course to make you a professional researcher. It opens up the gate for the research career. In broad sense all these PhDs, Postdocs are simply stages coming in the huge canopy of research profession. You may aim for academic career or industrial life, but for both options PhD is the first stage and without PhD further journey will not continue. Postdoc training is necessary when you opt for academic career otherwise it is not helpful in anyway. Also moving to industrial job after Postdoc will simply delay your professional growth in industry.

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Oral Presentation At JCS Spring Meeting-2012.

Following is my "Oral presentation"presented at 92nd Annual Spring Meeting of The Chemical Society of Japan held at Yokohama, Japan. The work is concerned with study of influence of anchoring groups on the photo-sensitization behavior of unsymmetrical squaraine class of dyes.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Collection Of Organic Chemistry Video Lectures.

Following are series of "Video Lectures", by Prof. James Nowick (University of California, Irvine), Prof. Peter Volhardt (University of California, Berkeley), Prof. Hardinger (University of California, Los Angeles) and Prof. Greg Cook (North Dakota State University) covering fundamental aspects of organic chemistry, reactions, theory and applications of organic spectroscopy techniques (IR, MS and NMR). There are also some lab demonstration videos on common organic chemistry experimental techniques like reaction monitoring, work-up, isolation and purification of organic compounds from MIT, Cambridge.

By clicking on following links one can see the list of videos uploaded on You-tube.

  1. Fundamental organic chemistry lectures by Prof. James Nowick (UC, Irvine).
  2. Lectures on organic spectroscopy by Prof. James Nowick (UV, Irvine).
  3. Organic chemistry video lectures by Prof. Peter Vollhardt (UC, Berkeley).
  4. Organic reactions and pharmaceuticals lectures by Professor Hardinger (UCLA).
  5. Organic chemistry video lectures by Prof. Gregory Cook (NDSU).
  6. Organic chemistry laboratory techniques videos (MIT, Cambridge).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Prof. E. W. Dijkstra's Three Golden Rules for Successful Research

Following are three very important GOLDEN RULES by Prof. E. W.Dijkstra, a computer scientist, which every researcher should remember to succeed in their research.
  1. Raise your quality standards as high as you can live with, avoid wasting your time on routine problems, and always works as closely as possible at the boundary of your abilities. Do this, because it is the only way of discovering how that boundary should be move forward.
  2. We all like our work to be socially relevant and scientifically sound. If we can find a topic satisfying both desires, we are lucky; if the two targets are in conflict with each other, let the requirement of scientific soundness prevail.
  3. Never tackle a problem of which you can be pretty sure that (now or in the near future) it will be tackled by others who are, in relation to that problem, at least as competent and well-equipped as you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How To Write A Scientific Paper

Disseminating new information to the scientific world by publishing your results in scientific journals is one of the main aspect of scientific process. It is a communication process of contributing ones results to the knowledge pool. Writing such a scientific paper is an art, which needs certain training, following some rules etc to make a story of results obtained to tell the overall theme of novelty to the scientific community.
I was searching for some tips or guidelines which could help to learn how to write a scientific paper and fortunately, found some of following interesting web links. I am not saying there are the perfect tips, but these of some of interesting stuffs with many interesting guidelines given there for young researchers to learn this skill of writing. I hope these are going to be useful for many students and researchers. 

Apart from that, one can watch some of following video demonstrations on writing good quality research papers. 

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    The 6 Truths of Organic Chemistry

    One of blog writer in "Chemistry Blog" namely Azmanam in his recent blog article entitled "How to Succeed in Organic Chemistry", has listed out some interesting points and called them as 6 truths of Organic chemistry, which every organic chemistry student must remember, are as follows.
    1) Approach unknown reactions just like you should approach all reactions
    – Identify nucleophile(s)
    – Identify electrophile(s)
    – Nucleophiles attack electrophiles
    – Repeat
    2) Weaker Acid Wins
    – In and acid/base equilibrium, the equilibrium favors the side of the arrow with the weaker acid (the compound with the higher pKa)
    3) Mind your charges
    – Make sure the net charge of all compounds is consistent throughout a mechanism
    4) The 2nd Best Rule
    – The 2nd best resonance structure usually defines a functional group’s reactivity
    5) When in doubt: Number Your Carbons!
    – When coupling 2 molecules, if it not readily obvious where the various atoms go in the product, number the carbon atoms in the starting material and map those numbers on to the product.
    6) Carbonyls: THE CODE
    – There are only 3 elementary steps in a carbonyl addition mechanism.
    1) Proton Transfer (always reversible)
    2) Nucleophilic Addition to a Carbonyl (electrons go up onto oxygen)
    3) Electrons Collapse Down from Oxygen (and kick out a good leaving group)

    The steps can be in any order and repeated, but those are the only 3 steps needed for addition to acid chlorides, acid anhydrides, aldehydes, ketones, amides, esters, and carboxylic acids (including aldol and Claisen reactions).