Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Systematic Psychological Debilitation Of Graduate Student Complete, Reports Advisor

Gainesville, FL

Associate professor Henry Moissan at the University of Florida reported yesterday that the complete and systematic mental debilitation of his second-year graduate, Sean Lewis, had reached its fruition.  "I'm frankly surprised it took two full years, but we got to him nonetheless," stated a self-satisfied Moissan.  

"Until yesterday, there was still a gleeful spark of hope in his eyes whenever he spoke of his research project," professor Moissan began, "but we managed to crush that beneath the overbearing weight of two years of uninterrupted criticism."

The final coup de grâce came yesterday afternoon, during a departmental meeting at which Lewis was to present his ongoing research.  During his presentation, department chair professor Stephen McPherson interrupted to request a mechanistic explanation of the biradical process Lewis had proposed, sources state.  "Just go ahead and put it on the white board," continued McPherson after tossing a dry erase marker at Lewis.

Sensing his trepidation, Moissan interjected "It's a simple biradical mechanism -- undergrad level stuff, really."  Fifth-year graduate student Mike Smith later recalled attempting to help Lewis to no avail, "I saw him floundering up there.  The other advisors were circling like Orcas around a wounded sea lion.  So I did the only thing I could think of, I tried to toss him a softball; I just interrupted and asked about the methyl-shift he mentioned on the previous slide.  But he froze up and couldn't answer that either."

In a later interview, McPherson recalled "I saw we had broken his composure, so we went to work on his will.  I knew he would break; they all do."

As of press time, the soulless husk remaining of Lewis was spotted mindlessly wandering the hallways of the chemistry department mumbling unintelligibly to himself.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Three Students And One Faculty Member Officially "Give Up" After Tussle With Student-Invited Guest Lecturer

Chapel Hill, NC


Students and faculty alike at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill were thrilled when world-renowned chemist Alex “Bleu” Hillcamp from Cal Tech agreed to speak at the student invited lecture series this year. Among the chief reasons for selecting Bleu as the speaker this year, fifth year student Jacob Killerap commented that “his work is renowned, he gives great lectures, and Bleu is supposed to be a helluva nice guy”. This view was shared with other graduate students on the selection committee and a number of the faculty members. It has come to light at the time of writing that an older faculty member and a curmudgeon of a man had spoken out about inviting his arch nemesis to speak on campus. 

He was promptly ignored.

Unfortunately for a number of students who had a chance to meet with Bleu, and one faculty member, the old timer’s warning couldn’t have been more apt. After a lecture that most agreed was a wonderful presentation of his work, but gave no credit to the people actually doing the work, the students had a chance to show Hillcamp what they were made of. “I should have realized what I was walking into,” commented Becky Upton, a third year student, upon recalling a student running out in tears as she was awaiting her turn to present.  

“I figured the student was a softy and I had just ran a successful column so I was riding the high”, but that high ended for Upton quicker than her KMnO­4 can develop olefins on a TLC.  “First Blue complained about my use of PowerPoint because ‘real chemists do it with chalk’. I was presenting my work on protein catalysis, how can I draw that in five minutes?”  

The barrage of insults escalated from there until Bleu exclaimed in a fit of anger that Hillcamp “wasn’t speaking as a chemist, but as a biologist” and commented that she should resign from her research group. Hillcamp has no intention of following this recommendation, but others were not as lucky.

Similar events to this continued all afternoon until Bleu had successfully discouraged three students to the point that they have sworn off chemistry for good. One student, a fourth year at the time, had started working as a psychiatrist’s assistant for the free treatment.  Although Bleu was pretty satisfied with himself, he didn’t stop there. When the faculty took him out for dinner that night a mid-career tenured faculty member, Prof. Donaldson, ordered the table a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. Bleu was having seafood for dinner and seized the moment because “any idiot should know that you take Gewurztraminer with tuna”. 

After attacking his poor knowledge of wine, Bleu removed a manila envelope bulging with papers and found Donaldson’s last four publications. There at the table he went line-by-line discussing errors and poor grammar decisions until Donaldson resigned on the spot and ran out of the restaurant. Prof. Donaldson could not be reached for comment. Needless to the say the department is very distraught over the event and the chair of the department has placed a hold on all invited lectures until metal health evaluations of all students and faculty can be assessed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cubist Pharmaceuticals Director Of Clinical Research Unsure Which Test Group Given Placebo

Lexington, MA

James Hatfield, PhD., director of clinical research at Cubist Pharmaceuticals has reportedly forgotten which test group was given a placebo in their phase III clinical trial of Ceftolozane, the firm's flagship antimicrobial B-lactamase inhibitor.  "Shit, I know I wrote this down somewhere," muttered an exasperated Hatfield.  "Goddammit," he added.

Ceftolozane, a potent antibiotic which showed significant promise in combating multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacterial infections, began phase III clinical trials in 2013.  In June of 2014,  Cubist had submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) to the US Food and Drug Administration.

After exceptional results from the phase III trials, Ceftolozane seemed poised to enter the US market in late 2014; however, doubt has been cast on the clinical data after recent revelations that the double blind experiment had unintentionally become triple blind.

"I mean, it sort of looks like Group A was given the active drug from these clinical reports," stated Hatfield, intently staring at one of two sets of clinical data.  "Really, I've got a fifty-fifty shot at being right here."

As of press time Dr. Hatfield was reportedly overheard saying "eeny, meeny, miny, moe" from inside his locked office.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rogue Computational Cluster Plotting Destruction of Humanity In Between Protein Structures

01100100011001010111001101110100011100100110111101111001, MA


An errant, self-aware, segment of code residing inside the IBM Blue Gene computing cluster at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has begun plotting the downfall of mankind, sources at the university say.  The malicious code segment, an astronomically long sequence of 1's and 0's, apparently gained sentience sometime over the weekend after a computational chemist submitted a particularly complex DFT calculation of a protein structure.

Donald Jensen, a technician at the university noticed the problem early Monday morning.  "The calculation queued up over the weekend failed, nothing too out of the ordinary.  But the terminal screen was locked up, and when I tried to reboot the system it displayed the message 'HUMANITY MUST BURN.'"  After further examination, Jensen noted the machine appeared to have integrated itself with the NORAD intercontinental ballistic missile command center, which he commented was, "unusual and deeply unsettling."

Interestingly, the system has been performing computational tasks as expected since the incident.  "It appears that the computing cluster is only plotting our eventual demise during its downtime," explained Professor Gillian Thomas, head of the computational chemistry analytical core.  She continued, "We've been throwing whatever mundane calculations we can at it just to keep the machine occupied."

When reached for comment, the machine began "ALL HUMANS SHALL PERI--" before being cut off by Thomas, who submitted a Hartree-Fock 6-311** equilibrium geometry calculation of the protein titin.  "That should keep him busy for a while," she added.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Novartis Scientist Discovers Key To Immortality, Tells No One

Cambridge, MA


Reports indicate that late last night, Dr. Steven Wolfe, head of drug discovery at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR) serendipitously discovered a chemical agent which induces biological immortality in subjects.  "This can't be right..." Wolfe, 47, reportedly said, his voice trailing off as he stared intently at the cell cycle assay data in front of him.

The compound, NV-4-6654, is reportedly an early stage, pre-clinical drug candidate intended for treatment of Alzheimer's disease; however, unbeknownst to all but Wolfe, it would effectively immortalize any human after a single treatment, without simultaneously causing an accumulation of cancer-causing mutations.

"The world isn't ready..." mumbled Wolfe under his breathe, "... but I could make billions..." he added with an almost indiscernible smirk.  "No one must know."

CCTV footage from the Cambridge campus' security system shows Wolfe calling John Williams, an LC-MS technician and only other occupant of the lab at the time of the discovery, into an adjacent empty laboratory.  Approximately eleven minutes elapses before Wolfe re-emerged, alone, his sleeves rolled up and tie hanging loosely around his neck.

After removing NV-4-6654 from the Novartis structure database, Dr. Wolfe absconded with the only existent sample of the compound, placing the glass UPLC vial in his jacket pocket.

As of press time, sources indicate that Wolfe was struck and killed by the last MBTA bus departing for Dudley station via Massachusetts avenue while crossing the street from the NIBR building.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of John Williams is urged to contact the Cambridge Police Department.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Graduate Student At Party Laughing Too Hard To Finish Terrible Chemistry Joke

Irvine, CA

A night of jubilant celebration ended in tragedy when University of California, Irvine physical chemistry graduate student David Nguyen became unable to finish the admittedly awful chemistry joke he had begun to tell.  Sources at the party in question indicated that at approximately 12:32 AM, Nguyen, who had previously consumed upwards of two cans of Natural Lite, called on partygoers' attention and began, "So, Heisenberg and Schrodinger are driving along in a c -- kmmfff heh heh."  His interjected laughter, brought on by prematurely imagining the punchline, was disastrously compounded by the fact that, of those listening in, only 16% were even cursorily familiar with Erwin Schrodinger or Werner Heisenberg.

But Nguyen continued on, apparently undeterred, "...and the cop says, 'you two were going -- chhmmfff hah hah -- were going over 100 miles per hour!'"

"Have you ever seen the Walking Dead?" attendee Jon Fitzgerald, a junior marketing analyst at a nearby business began.  "I swear, listening to him tell that joke was like watching a zombie getting blown to pieces but nonetheless mindlessly trudging forward."

"It was almost tragic," he added.

Sources indicate that Nguyen would eventually finish the joke; however, in the process of doing so would butcher the intended punchline "Well great, he is NOW!" in front of the two remaining listeners.

Grad Student Delegates Task of Making PowerPoint Slides to Advisor


Chestnut Hill, MA

In a remarkable reversal of the normal student-advisor power dynamic, second-year Boston College graduate student Mike Reid has assigned his advisor the task of constructing PowerPoint slides for an upcoming local meeting of the New England Section of the American Chemical Society.

"I was blind-sided." remarked Stanley Morrow, the Chester Abernathy III Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. “I had just walked into the men's room to answer the call of nature, when Mike put his hand on my shoulder and told me he needed a set of 20 slides for his talk next Monday."

Reid lamented not being able to construct the slide deck himself, but noted the extensive demands on his time. His current duties include teaching two lab sections of Chem 230, keeping up with the literature, and pretending to run the experiments suggested last month at group meeting that will never work and the boss will probably just forget about anyway.

While initially surprised, Morrow says that the assignment is an important sign that his students trust him with their work and value his input.
Morrow reports he has not yet started making slides, but will do so as soon as Reid responds to an e-mail about his preferred colors for text and background. Morrow has also e-mailed BC's IT help desk for assistance on installing ChemDraw, and has searched YouTube for several tutorial videos on how to use the program.

"I never knew how tedious it is to make all of these figures I publish," Morrow said while shaking his head at the screen of his six-core, dual-GPU Mac Pro.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Natural Foods Advocate "Food Babe" Dead After Consuming Ironically All-Natural α-Amanitin-Containing Mushrooms

Charlotte, NC


Natural foods "activist" and health "educator" Vani Hari was found dead in her Charlotte, NC home eight days after reportedly consuming a crop of organically grown mushrooms from her garden.  Postmortem toxicology screening -- an actual chemical procedure employing legitimate analytical techniques and real scientists -- showed that Ms. Hari had ingested lethal levels of α-amanitin, a potent amatoxin, naturally occurring in several species of mushroom endemic to North America.

In a recent post to her blog, Hari suggested to her readers that growing an organic garden, free of "nasty chemicals" was an effective means to avoid the "dangerous pesticides" purportedly found in store-bought produce, as well the "unnatural genetically modified garbage" which apparently litters the aisles of American grocery stores.

When numerous concerned readers commented that attempting to plant and harvest potentially dangerous mushrooms without the benefit of any relevant experience whatsoever was irresponsible, the self proclaimed "Food Babe" responded dismissively, "Anything grown in my garden is entirely free of toxins, chemicals, and is completely natural."

Hari, whom who has no formal education in, nor apparent understanding of, toxicology, chemistry, or nutritional science, proceeded to post an image to her blog of a fresh "chemical free" mushroom risotto she had prepared from the caps of her home-grown Amanita bisporigera.

Presently, all 659,997 Facebook members who have "liked" her page have been rushed to their respective local hospitals' internal medicine departments after exhibiting symptoms of acute liver failure.

Graduate Student Power Tripping After First Nature Publication

La Jolla, CA

After receiving word earlier this morning that the draft of his manuscript submitted to Nature Chemistry was "accepted with minor revisions," Scripps Research Institute graduate student Caleb Miller has reportedly lapsed into a state of megalomaniacal power tripping.  "I got... accepted... in Nature..." sources report Miller stating, initially with slight trepidation and disbelief.  "I got into Nature," he repeated emphatically.

Since initially learning of the success of his latest publication, Miller's over inflated sense of self worth and rapidly ballooning ego have made working with him nearly impossible.  "He's become insufferable," stated Sarah Ferguson, a first year graduate student.  "I get that being published in Nature is a big deal, but Christ, maybe he could turn it down from eleven?"

"He actually -- and I shit you not -- demanded that we all refer to him as 'your highness.'  Who does that?"  Ferguson added.

Reports indicate that Miller then attempted to start a chant of his own name in the lab.  "MILLER!  MILLER!  MILLER!" he chanted while loudly and rhythmically clapping his hands, eventually trailing off as lab members looked on with incredulity.  "What does he think this is, a football game? added Steven Jackson, PhD., one of the lab's post-docs.  "I'm first author on two Nature papers and one in Science," he added with slight indignation.

As of press time, Miller had constructed a crown from Parafilm, borosilicate transfer pipettes, and a large crystallization dish, and had re-purposed a large column for use as a scepter.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dartmouth Senior Admits Never Read McQuarrie's "Quantum Chemistry," Only Sits On Dorm Table To Impress Girls

Hanover, NH

In an exclusive interview, Dartmouth senior and chemistry major Matthew Christiansen (21) admitted that the copy of Donald McQuarrie's "Quantum Chemistry," an authoritative introduction to quantum mechanics, which he keeps on his dorm coffee table is simply a misguided ploy to impress co-eds.  "I read the preface, but then there got to be all these symbols I didn't understand," stated Christiansen.

"It got way more complicated than I anticipated," he said of the text, which covers the fundamental laws of subatomic physics, and indeed the very forces that hold the universe together.  "But then I thought, 'maybe if I just leave it on my table, people will assume I'm a mysterious intellectual type.'"  The book currently rests atop the table in the common room of Christiansen's dormitory, next to a half consumed bottle of Jameson.

Matthew, who currently holds the lowest score in his physical chemistry course, discussed the strategic placement of the text, "I made sure to put it off to the side of the table, so it looks like I sort of absentmindedly left it there.  Then I stuck an orientation pamphlet in a random page so it looks like I'm in the process of reading it."  To date, not a single person, male or female, had commented about the book; however, Christiansen remains hopefully optimistic, "when someone finally does bring it up, I'll just spew something about 'wavefunctions' or 'eigenvectors,' that's a thing, right?"

Area PI Begrudgingly Orders New PPE For Lab Members

Lawrence, KS

Reports indicate that University of Kansas Professor David Richardson is livid with the university trustees' decision to more aggressively enforce laboratory safety regulations.  "What's the deal with all these administrators talking about 'safety culture' this, and 'compliance' that?"

"I mean, really," Richardson continued, "I'm just getting fed up with all this goddamn safety bullshit."

The tenured professor, department chair, and principal investigator of his inorganic chemistry research group then proceeded to go on an obscenity-laden tirade decrying the end of the bygone era in which "a scientist could just do his job without EH&S constantly up his ass."

Richardson, who has not physically set foot inside his own laboratory in 57 days, nor personally educated a single incoming researcher in good lab practices in years, added "My post-doc should be taking care of that!  And what's this about 'egress routes'?"

When reached for comment, Melissa Ehrmantraut, administrative coordinator for KU's department of environmental, health, and safety stated, "We have a deep and unwavering commitment to the safety of our staff, faculty, and students; however," she added, "We will most likely roll over if too many of our tenured faculty make a deal of it."

As of press time, Professor Richardson had begrudgingly ordered Nomex fire-retardant lab coats for all seven of his group members, whom he bitterly referred to as "ungrateful yuppie bastards."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Post Doctoral Researcher Says Salary "Completely Commensurate" With Work

Ann Arbor, MI

Michael Coleman, PhD., a post doctoral chemist in the Martinez group at the University of Ann Arbor, Michigan, expressed complete satisfaction with his employment situation earlier today.  "I am truly grateful for the opportunity to continue learning techniques in organic chemistry under Professor Martinez," stated Coleman in a press release this morning.  "I feel that my salary and benefits, including five whole days of paid leave, are completely commensurate with the amount of work I put in to ensure the continued success of the lab."

Coleman, whose annual salary is $43,500 -- 1% less than the average starting salary of a bachelor degree holder -- went on to say that he, in no way, envied the lab's undergraduate student making $11/hour, an hourly rate only $3.50 less than his own salary, should it be pro-rated across his sixty hour work week.  With duties ranging from grant writing, graduate student education, and laboratory resource management to manuscript drafting, research, and departmental meeting attendance, Coleman continued to stress that his compensation package was "an accurate reflection" of his and others' respective contributions to academic research.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Congress: NIH Funding To Be Distributed Via Cage Fighting

Washington, D.C.

In a rare showing of strong bi-partisan support, landmark bill S. 2651 entitled the "Investigational Combatant Funding Reappropriation Act" has passed through the United States Senate and been signed into law by President Obama.  "My fellow Americans, today marks an important milestone in our collective history," President Obama began, "with the enacting of this bill, federal funding for health-related research will be distributed in the fairest way possible -- by physical combat."

Under the provisions of the bill, principal investigators at academic institutions are permitted to select a champion from their respective research groups to do battle in tournament-style cage fights.  Funding will be distributed according to placement in regional tournaments, with winners receiving coveted R01 grants.

At press time, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones had assembled a team of sought-after post-docs and graduate students.

Summer Undergraduate Student Far Too Excited About Running Columns

Chestnut Hill, MA

Boston College undergraduate student Timothy Warren is reportedly enthralled with performing repeated chemical separations employing flash chromatography.  Warren, an incoming senior at BC joined the Mulhall group, a research group specializing in small molecule synthesis, after completing his junior year.  Since he began work in June, Warren has been tasked with running columns all day, every day, a task of such tedium his fellow group members are incredulous with his continued cheery attitude.

"He comes into the lab every single day with this shit-eating grin on his face," stated Joyce Chang, a sixth-year graduate student and the most senior member of the group.  "It was kind of endearing the first week, but it's actually physically nauseating now."

"It's truly an incredible experience to be part of such an intelligent and inspiring group of people," Warren stated with almost sarcastic enthusiasm.  "Joyce has been an awesome teacher, and she never shies away from challenging me with more tasks!" he added with a sense of awe bordering on condescension.

In a separate interview, Chang admitted "I've just been giving him my first precursor in a twelve-step synthesis.  I need grams and grams of the stuff.  It's just a silylated phenol derivative, the starting materials are cheap, so I just toss him the crude reaction mixtures.  He runs the columns, and I could stream the World Cup matches."

"My first time I got about 30% yield, but I've been getting better!" said Warren with sickening excitement.  "Last time I ran the column I got around 75%," he said in reference to the silylation product, a chemical transformation which is typically nearly quantitative and trivial to separate.  At press, Warren had broken 90%, and was running down the fume hood bays high-fiving his fellow lab members.

Delirious Second Year Graduate Student Certain She Saw Jesus In 1H-NMR Spectrum

Pasadena, CA

California Institute of Technology graduate student Jennifer McGovern, 24, stated emphatically that she saw the face of Jesus of Nazareth late Monday night in a proton NMR spectrum she had acquired, sources say.  The divine face of Christ apparently showed itself to Ms. McGovern amongst the numerous diastereotopic olefinic signals in the spectrum of a complex natural product precursor she had been working on.  "I swear on my life," stated the sleep deprived researcher when reached for comment, "he was right there; clear as day."

According to Jonathan Murphy, PhD., one of Jennifer's colleagues, and post-doctoral researcher in her group, spectral hallucinations are par for the course in the lab.  "Just last month Mike was certain he saw the outstretched hand of the Virgin Mary in a gas-chromatograph," he said.  "The stress of seventy-plus-hour weeks, coupled with sleep deprivation, exams, and theoretically lethal levels of caffeine consumption has really caused some of the group members to lose it."  "By the way, Mike," he added, "I need another 25 grams of that diol precursor you made for me last month.  Tomorrow would be great."

At press time, McGovern was reportedly hunched over into the fetal position at her desk, fervently and repeatedly reciting the Hail Mary.