ACS Science Policy Fellow: Barclay Satterfield

October 30, 2008

During her fellowship, Barclay has had the opportunity to work on a number of policy development and advocacy efforts with ACS, ranging from the congressional briefing series to the ACS policy website.  In particular, the fellowship has offered her several excellent avenues to work on environmental policy — an issue that has long been her primary professional and personal interest.

Satterfield Video Interview

Satterfield Video Interview


View a video interview of Barclay

Barclay Satterfield is the Science Policy Fellow in the American Chemical Society’s Office of Legislative & Government Affairs.  She completed a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Yale University in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 2007.

As a graduate student, she worked with polymer membrane fuel cells, helped run a student organization, Greening Princeton, and completed a certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy through Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

The Science Policy Fellowship in the American Chemical Society’s Office of Public Affairs experience offers a broad exposure to the workings of the office, the Society, and the science policy world as a whole.

Barclay’s projects have included staffing an ACS-sponsored workshop on non-technical barriers to sustainability in the chemical industry and helping use the workshop results to craft a viewpoint article that was submitted to the journal Environmental Science & Technology.  In addition, she has contributed to two policy statements for the Society: one on visa policies for visiting students and researchers and the other on sustainability in the chemical enterprise.

Barclay has helped develop and organize three congressional briefings as part of the Society’s Science & the Congress briefings project: one presenting the science, policy, and business perspectives on climate change, one on measurements and impacts of the disappearing Greenland ice sheet, and a third on including nanotechnology in science education.

In addition, Barclay has been in charge of developing the office’s policy webpage —   This has been a chance to learn and share advice and ideas for members to become involved, help organize policy activities at the local section level and ensure successful advocacy meetings with their elected officials.   The web project has also offered an excellent motivation to study the office’s goals, methods, and history of achievements and to grapple with effective ways to communicate these to Society members and the public.

Finally, during her fellowship Barclay has had many chances to promote science policy as a career path for scientists and engineers.  At ACS national meetings, she has staffed the Legislative Action Network booth, both recruiting LAN members and answering questions for those interested in applying for an ACS Public Policy fellowship.  She has also traveled to appear on two career panels in the graduate chemistry departments of Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, Urbana Champagne.  She has also described her experiences for the internet audience in a recent video and in this blog.

The ACS Office of Public Affairs is now accepting applications for its 2009-2010 public policy fellowships.  The application deadline is December 31.  To learn more about this exciting opportunity click here.

The Finer Art of Salary Negotiation in a Downturn Economy

October 27, 2008


For the month of September the national unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.1 percent but was up from 4.7 percent a year earlier.  Raises are expected to remain stagnant with the economy showing no signs of a rebound.  Overall the outlook looks bleak and you are thinking it is probably not the best time to ask for a salary increase.  You may want to reconsider.
Pay raises may be harder to come by in the current business environment but if you prove that you are an indispensible part of an organization’s ability to survive the downturn and can help the organization to thrive during the next expansion you may have nothing to lose by asking.

The average pay raises were at about 3.8 percent in 2008 where in 2007 the average salary increase was 3.7 cited by the latest survey data by global consulting firm Mercer LLC. This is expected to remain the same in 2009.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited consumer prices have climbed 5.5 percent from July 2007 to July 2008. This is the fastest spike since May 1991.  Bottom line is salaries for American workers are not keeping pace with inflation.

Workers looking for an above average pay increase will have to prove their worth as many organizations targeting higher compensations for their top performers.  According to Mercer, high performer employees or about 14% of the workforce can expect to see about 5.6 percent pay increase.  Another 08 survey by Hewitt Associates shows top performer salaries grew by 10.8 % and may increase by another 10.6% in 09.



If you feel you deserve an increased you will have to justify.  The justification for increase should be based solely on your performance with established goals, cost saving strategies or new business development.  You will need to show that you have been an asset to the organization with numbers and specific examples.  Be prepared to answer questions and make a solid case. 


Some companies may not be able to provide a salary increase but you maybe able to negotiate on other benefits or put yourself in a good position for the future.  Be creative and always keep a good attitude.  Attitude can go a long way and companies appreciate strong team players.  


Here are a few steps to get you through the process: 


– Research your company to find out how well they are positioned in comparison to their competitors.  If your company is doing well use it to request a pay increase.  If not, with the company struggling, showing you understand can help eliminate resistance from your boss in response to your request.  But this can help set you up for future pay increases.

– Arm yourself with facts that support your request for a pay increase. Make a list of your achievements with any backup documentation from vendors, co-workers, management, etc.
Research your salary within the organization and find out what other professionals in your field and/or location.  This will give you a starting point to bargain.  If you are below then can give you have a bargaining chip to use as a starting point.  If you are on target then position your value as an employee.


Whatever the outcome listen to your boss and show management that you are a top performer.  This could help propel you to new heights in the organization.  Remember, you are your best advocate so time to toot your own Horn.  No one else will care or take the time/energy as much as you will.



This article was written by Liane H. Gould, Manager of Career Services of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.

Reacting to Economic Pressures

October 21, 2008

Jeff Kindler, CEO of Pfizer, addressed the HSM World Business Forum in New York a couple of weeks ago. He stated that Pfizer had sufficient cash flow to weather the storm, but what does this mean for you and me?

Although Mr. Kindler acknowledged that hardships were ahead for all world markets, he stated that “With Pfizer, we are very fortunate. We have lots of cash flow and a strong balance sheet, and project we’ll generate $18B cash flow this year.”

At the time of the address the US Congress was still in discussions about whether to approve the $700B rescue of Wall Street. They have since acted, sending Ben Bernanke’s team into overdrive, but the recovery is slow and a global recession is looming.

Pfizer, along with almost every publicly traded company in the world has taken an economic beating. At the time of this writing, Pfizer’s stock performance roughly matched that of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In recent days, Pfizer’s stock prices have shown modest gains from a low of $14.31 on October 10, 2008.

The effects of the market have also spread to privately-held companies, academic institutions and even the government. At times like these it is best to avoid any sudden moves. If you have a job, keep it. If you are looking for a job, consider accepting an offer of employment that meets your minimum salary and work requirements with an eye toward “upgrading” to a better job after the economy recovers.

Now more than ever it is important to check on the people in your network. Say hello and find out what they are doing. In some cases, they may ask you for help, but it is important that you keep up with these connections, because you may need them later.

This is the time to be indispensable, versatile and resilient. Take a moment to update your resume. Keep your knowledge base current through reading or training. And be willing to try new projects that push you beyond your comfort zone. The worst thing that you can do right now is to bury your head in the sand and wait until this all blows over.

In the coming months, we can expect the current wave of mergers and acquisitions to continue as well-established and more stable companies shop for bargains among highly leveraged start-ups. We can also expect reorganization, restructuring and realignment in corporations as they reinvent themselves and eliminate or spin off any underperforming units. In many cases, this will be bad news for our members; however, some companies are still hiring. Vertex has added two dozen job listings to the ACS Careers Jobs Database in just the past few weeks. All the same, most companies will take a wait and see stance as the markets regains its focus and center.

It is important to remember that an economic recovery will happen. People still need basic goods and services including medications, and they will also want the high-end electronics and accessories that our industries provide. The world is currently holding its breath. We must wait for it to exhale.

This article was written by David E. Harwell, Ph.D.,Assistant Director for Career Management and Development at the American Chemical Society.

Pharmaceutical Industry Outlook — International Employment Opportunities

October 13, 2008

ACS Industry Forum Teleconference with Dr. Carolyn Ribes from Dow Chemical in The Netherlands.
Today I listened in on a teleconference, where the featured speaker was Dr. Carolyn Ribes, Technical Leader, Core Research and Development, Dow Benelux BV. Carolyn is from the United States, but has worked in Argentina for a year, and is currently in her third year working in the Netherlands. The tile of her talk was “Working Seemlessly Across Borders”, and much of what she said applies to people who work across cultures, as well as those who want to work across the border. Below are some of the most important ideas I took away from the session.

Some general advice for professional career development:

  1. Be adaptable and flexible
  2. In industry, everyone must be a team player
  3. Continuously learn
  4. Must be well-networked both within the company and outside the company
  5. Use information management tools

Communication is more than just speaking a common language – though that’s important! It includes many other features, most of which run along a continuum. You need to figure out where you are, and where the other person is, in order to communicate effectively and avoid insulting or offending the other person. For example:

  1. how direct people are, being blunt vs. softening the edges
  2. importance of saving face, accepting criticism
  3. task or people oriented – get down to work or get to know each other
  4. context sensitive information – how important is the surrounding information

Cultural Awareness means understanding the background and expectations of other people, and acting in a way that they expect. The golden rule is no longer “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but ““Treat others the way they want to be treated”. A subtle, but real, distinction. Some characteristics you may want to think about when getting to know other people are:

  1. what is other person’s culture, and what do they expect
  2. importance of individual vs. part of a group
  3. time is finite – work stepwise until reach goal, or work on multiple things until they’re done
  4. share power – flat or hierarchical
  5. take on or avoid risk
  6. level of control they feel they have over their own lives

Do you thrive on diversity? Do you want to learn the language and culture of another country? If you decide you want to immerse yourself in another culture by moving to anther country for an extended period of time, start looking for those opportunities. Let your leadership know hat you area available for relocation, and get the skills and training necessary so you are ready to take on an opportunity when it arises.

Before accepting an overseas assignment, carefully it carefully. Will you enjoy the time spent in that position/country? Is this a step up for your career, or will it perhaps allow you to move up in the future?

Once you make the decision to go, there are a host of logistical issues to take care of:

  1. visas and permission to work there
  2. finances and taxes – in both countries, must keep good records
  3. personal aspects – partner’s employment, children’s schooling,
  4. cost of living, but money is not always the most important factor
  5. getting an international driver’s license
  6. Learn how to remain visible to colleagues back in US headquarters

For dual career couples, the odds of both finding jobs in the same place can be vanishingly small. They increase if both work for the same company, since the company will know you want to move together. For couples who don’t work at the same company, the best thing can be for one person to accept a position, then the partner find a job after the relocation has taken place. The partner will have more restricted degrees of freedom, but can do a more intensive search since they will already be in the new location. VISA issues can sometimes be expedited once you are in the new country as well.Working overseas can truly be the experience of a lifetime, if you let it. Even after returning to your home country, you will be looking at things through a new lens. Your old life may look very different to you than it did before you left.

She recommended the Peace Corp Cultural Training for further study in how to fit into a new culture.

For details of future talks in this series, or to download her slides, see the ACS Careers Blog.

Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. Scientific Communication Services since 1992, Balbes Consultants

Author of:  “Nontraditional Careers for Chemists,” published by Oxford University Press (2006)

Join us for the next ACS Careers Industry Forum:
Title: An Alternate Career Path: Starting and Running Your Own Chemical Company
Speaker: Dr. Michael Strem
President, Strem Chemicals, Inc.

Hear the experience of a successful industrial chemist who founded his own company immediately upon receiving his Ph.D. in chemistry.  Scheduled for 2 – 3 p.m. ET on November 13, 2008, the teleconference will feature Michael Strem, Ph.D., President of Strem Chemicals, Inc.  As an industrial chemist, Dr. Strem will speak on his experiences and lessons learned as the founder of a small chemical company that has grown since its founding in the 1960’s. There will be a 30-minute discussion with Dr. Strem followed by a 25-minute Q & A session.

Don’t miss out, register in advance.  For additional information about upcoming speakers, click on the ACS Careers Industry Forum tab located at the top of the ACS Careers Blog.

Interview with Dr. Abou Gharbia, Sr. VP at Wyeth – Part 2

October 8, 2008

Advancing your Career in Pharma:  Part II

This is a continuation of our discussion with Dr. Abou Gharbia, a recent guest speaker of the ACS Careers Industry Forum.  For a full bio please go to our blog.

Part I provided an overview of Pharma R&D operations and entry-level opportunities at Wyeth.  We will continue talking about key ingredients to advancing your career in pharma.

After a few years, some chemists may want to consider a career change, moving off the bench gaining experience in other functions and moving into management.  Dr. Abou Gharbia pointed out that there are many opportunities in other parts of the company for chemists to explore.  After 5-6 years, employees that become familiar with the business, could be considered for work in other parts of the organization.

“Some of these functions may depend on their writing skills.  If you have strong writing skills you may consider becoming a clinical writer, or [if you have strong] coordinating [and] multitasking [skills consider a role in] project management, or [you may enjoy working in] regulatory affairs.”

Management positions such as director, senior director, and even vice president are available as per departmental needs; however, organizations generally promote from within for these high-level positions.

“… advancement will depend on you: your performance, the quality of work you’re doing, inventive contributions, communication skills, interpersonal skills, which are really important.  You could be a rocket scientist, but nobody [will] want to work with you [in the absence of key interpersonal skills.]”

Dr. Abou Gharbia mentioned that in the beginning of his career as bench chemist, he worked without any technical assistance.  His rise through the ranks took time and effort.  It also took passion.  Dr. Abou Gharbia believes that the reason he excelled in his job, is that he really loves doing chemistry with a purpose.  He goes on to say that he really believes that everyone can excel in their job.if they worked hard on the tasks at hand.

He also points out that some time your most creative chemists are not necessarily your best team players and we need to create the right environment to bring the best out of every one. Transitioning from the lab into management requires you to interact with multiple individuals in various departments.

“interpersonal skills are really important, and to manage and move the program forward [requires] working with not just your chemists, but also biologists, patent attorneys, and multiple organizations within the company.  So it’s important for individuals who wanted to progress into the management ladder [to be able to contribute to working in a multidisciplinary team.]”

When asked about globalization, Dr. Abou Gharbia stressed the opportunities for chemists in the US and abroad.  He cited his experience with outsourcing 150 chemists in India, but stated that this outsourcing initiative did not result in any job losses in US operations—only expanded capacity.  The expansion of operations into India also resulted in opportunities for US chemists to work in India through a rotation program.  These interactions broke down cultural barriers between operational sites and allowed for efficient IP transfer.

To listen to the complete conversation with Dr. Abou Gharbia or to read the interview transcript from the interview, please the ACS Careers Industry Forum page.

Interview with Dr. Abou Gharbia, Sr. VP at Wyeth – Part 1

October 6, 2008

Advancing Your Career in Pharma: Part I

The recent launch of the ACS Careers Industry Forum was a success with over four hundred registrants from all over the world calling in to listen to our guest speaker, Dr. Abou Gharbia, Senior Vice President at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and head of its chemistry and screening discovery research program.  He joined Wyeth in 1982 and rose through the ranks, eventually overseeing a group that included some 500 scientists at four research sites in the United States, as well as an additional 150 chemists at GBK bio in Hyderabad, India.  For a full biography of Dr. Abou Gharbia please go to our website.

Dr. Abou Gharbia discussed trends that can affect your career path in the pharmaceutical industry. He provided a brief overview of Wyeth as a company outlining the organizational structure, mission and goals.  The organization has about 45,000 employees world wide, and ranks in the top 10 global companies.  Wyeth discovers and markets innovative pharmaceuticals in various platforms, such as small molecules, vaccines and proteins.  Research is conducted mainly on the east coast of the U.S., with recent partnerships and collaborations with companies in Dublin, Ireland, and Scotland Chemists at Wyeth are involved in all stages of discovery from initial synthesis to clinical evaluation.  Therefore, they must have a comprehensive view of the process approach utilizing various multidisciplinary skill sets.  For example, medicinal chemists must work with other scientists to design the best possible drug candidate taking into account predictions from computational chemists, results from biological pharmacokinetic and metabolic studies.

Dr. Abou Gharbia suggests “… when try to  treat any illness you try to find out…what causes the disease (called target), and make molecules which actually alleviate or modulate those targets…”

Molecules will have an effect on the human body and vise versa.  Therefore, it is not enough to make a molecule to act on a disease agent.  A chemist must also be aware of what other effects the drug may have on the body, and what alterations to structure of physical properties the body may make on the drug candidate (metabolic pathway).  The daily job of a medicinal chemist is multifaceted.  They not only synthesize molecules but also , interact with colleagues on the team, attend meetings and give presentations.

“That is why you’ll find communication skills, even though we’re talking about just the chemist, it is important.

At Wyeth, approximately 50% of Chemical sciences organization  work on the synthesis of target molecules, and the remainder of the staff vary in their role from those in testing and assay development, to screening, structural elucidation, and purification, to computational chemistry.

There is a high attrition rate for drug candidates in the clinic where almost 100,000 molecules are initially screened.  The list of viable candidates is quickly winnowed to a few hundred through initial testing, and subsequently down to 1-2 of the candidates will make it to the market.  This is a very tedious process, but it ensures that only the best drug candidates make it into the marketplace.

To help reduce attrition,  a chemist will conduct pharmaceutical profiling.  An analytical chemist will look at the drug-like properties and see if the molecule is soluble and whether it will reach the appropriate biological target so that the molecules can reach the target and produce the desired effect.

“If you treat patients with depression, it [is] no good for the patient, [if] you give them a molecule which cannot reach the brain because [it can not] cross blood-brain barrier.  So when we work in the lab, we make sure that the molecule we make will have the properties to reach the brain to treat the patient.”

There are a multitude of job opportunities for chemists in the pharmaceutical sciences.  They can work in drug discovery as medicinal chemists , performing analytical analysis, computational analysis, or biochemistry.  We will continue our discussion with Dr. Abou Gharbia in Part II of our series on our blog.