Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fellowship Programme 2016

This refers to the Note by the Technical Secretariat, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), regarding a Training Programme under the OPCW Fellowship Programme 2016. It will be held at the OPCW Laboratory, The Netherlands.

The fellowship will involve the development of training materials and e-learning modules for the analysis of compounds related to precursors, degradation products, and by-products of chemical warfare agents.

The fellowship will be for a duration of six (6) months in 2016. The exact date of commencement will be mutually agreed upon by the selected fellow and the Officials of the OPCW Laboratory.

In this regard, the Philippine National Authority on the Chemical Weapons Convention (PNA-CWC) Secretariat invites you to nominate qualified candidate/s, to attend the abovementioned fellowship. Given the purpose and technical nature of the course, candidates will be initially screened by the PNA-CWC Secretariat according to the following criteria:

  1. Chemists by profession;
  2. Have a Master’s or equivalent degree in chemical sciences or engineering, accompanied by an advanced degree (PhD) or five (5) years of relevant experience in a related field;
  3. Have a laboratory experience/ practical experience in the analysis of organic chemicals using chromatography, mass spectrometry techniques, and organic micro-synthesis;
  4. Have a theoretical understanding of other analytical techniques such as infrared and nuclear-magnetic resonance;
  5. Have an experience in the development of training courses, and experience in the analysis of chemicals related to the CWC;
  6. Have good computer skills and proficient in the use of Microsoft Windows; and
  7. Have a good command of English, including excellent writing skills.

Applications from qualified female candidates are highly encouraged.
The pre-selection will be performed by the Officials of the OPCW Laboratory. Three (3) shortlisted candidates will be provided a Letter of Endorsement by their respective National Authorities in order to be eligible for the final selection process. The final selection will be made jointly by the Director of the International Cooperation and Assistance Division of the Secretariat and the Head of the OPCW Laboratory in April 2016. Only one (1) candidate will be selected for the fellowship offered under this programme.

The OPCW Technical Secretariat will provide tutorship, equipment, and infrastructure free of charge and will cover travel-related expenses including airfare and medical insurance. The selected fellow will also receive a monthly allowance to cover basic living costs while in The Netherlands which is set at EUR 2,000 (not taxable).

The recommended candidate is invited to complete the Fellowship Programme Application Form (ANNEX A) and submit it to the PNA-CWC Secretariat (by email to pna.secretariat@gmail.com) no later than 29 February 2016. The Fellowship Programme Application Form must be accompanied by the following requirements:

  1. Up-to-date curriculum vitae;
  2. Essay (NOT exceeding 300 words) outlining the objectives the candidate wishes to achieve and the type of work experience he/she hopes to acquire during the period of the fellowship;
  3. Recommendation letter from the supervisor of the candidate at the institution where he/she is currently working, indicating how the training will be of benefit to the candidate’s present position, institution, and country; and
  4. Scanned copy of the personal identification page of the applicant’s valid passport.

Incomplete requirements or insufficiently detailed applications will not be considered by the PNA-CWC Secretariat.

Should there be queries or clarifications on this programme, the contact person is Ms. Nazrin Camille D. Castro at email address castro.nazrin@gmail.com.

The Hague Ethical Guidelines

A key component of supporting the peaceful uses of chemistry is the promotion of responsible conduct in the chemical sciences; and building on existing ethical standards in the global chemistry community, in partnership with scientific organizations and industry groups around the world.

As a way to further advance this important work, a group of more than 30 scientists and chemistry professionals from over 20 countries convened in The Hague to discuss the ethical practice of chemistry under the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Among the 30 scientists is Dr. Patrick John Y. Lim who represented the Philippines. He is the current Chair of the Chemistry Department of the University of San Carlos in Cebu.

The result of two workshops was The Hague Ethical Guidelines which serve as a tool to assess existing ethical codes and inspire new ones in a way which is fully compatible with the aims of the CWC. It is also intended to build understanding between scientists and society, and among scientists themselves, about the culture and practice of responsible science.

The initiative for the drafting of the guidelines for chemical practitioners was initially put forward by Germany which was welcomed by the 19th Conference of the States Parties (CSP). During the 20th CSP, States Parties as well as the Secretariat and all relevant stakeholders were encouraged “to promote awareness of these guidelines and their possible application.”

Click here to read The Hague Ethical Guidelines.

RA Position for Development of Technology for Efficient Microalgae Production

Project Title: Development of Technology for Efficient Microalgae Production: Photobioreactor Design, Feed and High-value Metabolites
Project Leader: Fabian M. Dayrit, PhD
Project Venue: Ateneo de Manila University Department of Chemistry
Project Duration: Until Sept 2016

Qualifications:

  1. BS Chemistry degree
  2. Basic skills in chemical analysis and microbiology
  3. Preferably, background in simple electrical manipulations
  4. Good writing skills
  5. Has the initiative and willingness to learn new skills

For interested applicants, please email Dr. Toby Dayrit at fdayrit@ateneo.edu. Include CV and a list of 3 references.

Lea Macaraig

Lea Macaraig obtained both her bachelors degree in Chemistry and Computer Engineering, and masters degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the Ateneo de Manila University. She pursued a doctorate degree in Energy Science in Kyoto University, and is presently a post-doctorate researcher in the research group of Dr. Erwin Enriquez.  Her research interest is in the makeup, design, and architecture of materials used in energy sources, specifically photovoltaic cells under the PICARI Project (Philippines-California Advanced Research Institute) funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). They are working on the development of sensitized perovskite-based solar cells. Dr. Macaraig stressed the significant difference in budget allocation for science education and research. “But it’s in the good ideas. From good ideas you can do research even if you have a lower budget compared to your peers in other countries.”

The chemistry educator in Dr. Macaraig, safeguards her students become better equipped in the laboratory skills expected of them. “Secondary schools in the Philippines do not have good teaching laboratory practices.” She mentioned that focusing on skills training than concepts and will in turn make the students eager to learn, especially in her advanced chemistry classes. On the other side of the spectrum, there are students who might be anxious of learning chemistry. “You just need to guide them,” she added. Dr Macaraig hopes that the Philippine education would allot more time in a student’s formal education to research. “We do three or four years of lecture-lab concepts for chemistry majors, then do a one-year project at the end. That one year is short. In Japan, that one year is not enough.”

The present scenario in chemical industries requires refinement in the research experience qualification for employment. In other countries, she states that to be accepted in a certain industry position, the applicant must have earned at least a masters degree, and have considerable experience in research: in the Philippines, it is still at the bachelor’s degree level. Many bachelor’s degree theses have not yet delved deep enough.

“When I was younger, recalled my dad mentioned he is a chemist, I said I wanted to do his job.” I always accompanied my dad in the fields and in the forests. How do these play in Lea’s life explains why she is chemist today. In her spare time, Lea fiddles in aquaculture and agriculture. She also enjoys watching sports such as basketball and Formula One.

Two Research Fellowships in Analytical Chemistry Skills Development

This refers to the Note by the Technical Secretariat, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), regarding the Two Research Fellowships in Analytical Chemistry Skills Development. The programme is organized by the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (VERIFIN). The fellowships will be held at the VERIFIN Laboratory in Finland.

The programme is designed for relatively young chemists with relevant practical and theoretical experience in analytical chemistry/ bioanalysis or synthetic chemistry. The fellowships will be for a duration of six (6) months starting in the spring of 2016.

The Philippine National Authority on the Chemical Weapons Convention (PNA-CWC) Secretariat[1] would like you to recommend 1-2 qualified candidate/s, a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Specialistand/or a Synthetic Chemist, to attend the abovementioned programme. Given the purpose of the course, candidates will be carefully selected by the PNA-CWC Secretariat and the OPCW Technical Secretariat according to the following criteria:

NMR Specialist

  1. Have a practical experience in analytical chemistry, including sample preparation and analysis methods of compounds related to chemical weapons agents;
  2. Knowledgeable in both NMR spectroscopy and information technology;
  3. Have a practical experience with computers and basic software; and
  4. Have a good oral and written command of English.

Synthetic Chemist

  1. Should have a practical experience in organic synthesis and gas chromatography;
  2. Should be knowledgeable of organic reactions;
  3. Have a practical experience with computers and basic software; and
  4. Have a good oral and written command of English.

Applications from qualified female candidates are highly encouraged.

Two (2) candidates will be selected for the fellowships offered under this programme in two (2) phases:

  1. Pre-selection of the candidates will be made before 19 February 2016; and
  2. Final selection by the OPCW will be made before 29 February 2016.

In this context, it should be mentioned that VERIFIN will pre-select at least four (4) candidates for the fellowships, whose applications will be forwarded to the OPCW. The Director-General of the OPCW will select the research fellows to be supported by the OPCW, based on the recommendation of the Review Committee. Applications shall comply with the requirements of the OPCW Fellowship Programme, details of which are available on the OPCW website (www.opcw.org).

VERIFIN will provide tutors, equipment, and infrastructure free of charge; while the OPCW will cover travel-related expenses including airfare, accommodation, daily allowances, and medical insurance.

The recommended candidate is invited to complete the Application Form (ANNEX A) and submit it to the PNA-CWC Secretariat (by email to pna.secretariat@gmail.com) no later than 04 February 2016. The Application Form must be accompanied by the following requirements:

  1. Up-to-date curriculum vitae;
  2. Essay (NOT exceeding 300 words) outlining the objectives the candidate wishes to achieve and the type of work experience he/she hopes to acquire during the period of the fellowship;
  3. Recommendation letter from the supervisor of the candidate at the institution where he/she is currently working, indicating how the training will be of benefit to the candidate’s present position, institution, and country; and
  4. Scanned copy of the personal identification page of the applicant’s valid passport.

The Secretariat will provide a Letter of Endorsement in order to be eligible to apply for the programme. Incomplete requirements or insufficiently detailed applications will not be considered by the PNA-CWC Secretariat.

Should there be queries or clarifications on this programme, the contact person is Ms. Nazrin Camille D. Castro at email address castro.nazrin@gmail.com.

Click here to download the Application Form.

Olivia Erin Buenafe

Olivia “Oui” Buenafe’s research is focused on natural products chemistry with application
in drug development and she is presently involved in the Tuklas Lunas Project by PCHRD (Philippine Council for Health, Research, and Development) along with Dr. Fabian Dayrit, Dr. Nina Rosario Rojas, and Dr. Merab Chan. “We are looking into screening select plants such as turmeric and see if we could get any bioactives in there that could help mitigate degenerative diseases that come with ageing.” She graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City as the first straight BS/MS Chemistry graduate and obtained her doctorate degree from the Katholiek Universiteit Leuven.

Dr. Buenafe’s research experiences here and abroad made her more aware of the real essence of the word research. “You realize that the word research has two parts: ‘re’ and ‘search.’ You don’t usually get it right the first time, which is why it’s re-search. You have to search for [the answer] again. It’s not a direct thing. You have to try different ways in attacking the problem to come up with a solution.” She relates this to her experiences as a chemistry teacher in the Ateneo de Manila University: “…there’s no tried and tested way in going about teaching the different branches of chemistry. There are many different styles, and they all work. It just depends on who you’re teaching. It’s also not a one way thing. It goes both ways.” By giving her students what she knows, Oui gains insight about her interests and the students’ passions as well.

Like most researchers in the country, she hopes for greater visibility of studies done in the country. More importantly, she adds that studies and development of chemistry education is required for the cultivation of a culture of science in the Philippines. “Not just for the chemistry majors, but for the lay persons as well. A dream of a researcher is to be able to communicate to ordinary people about what they’re researching on especially in the field of chemistry, and most importantly in the field of drug discovery and research. Not just the technical persons in campus, but those outside as well, and how they would benefit from it.”

“I also do hand lettering in my spare moments. That’s how I de-stress,” the amateur calligrapher in her retorted. She sees the art form as both a hobby and an analogy to her classes. Whilst teaching analytical chemistry laboratory, she views precision in writing akin to laboratory practices. “Every stroke, every movement is deliberate.”

Submissions Open For The 2016 Reaxys PhD Prize

Recognizing the brightest young chemists of the future

New York, December 8, 2015, Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, has announced that submissions are now open for the 2016 Reaxys PhD Prize. Now in its seventh year, the Reaxys PhD Prize is open to talented PhD students or recent graduates conducting original and innovative research in chemistry that demonstrates excellence in methodology and approach. Since its introduction in 2010, the Prize has nurtured advances in chemistry by giving young chemists worldwide who have produced truly ground breaking research the recognition and opportunities to both extend their network and share knowledge.

The 2016 Prize is open to any student who is either currently in a chemistry PhD program or who completed their PhD after January 1, 2015. To apply a candidate needs to submit a published, peer-reviewed article, a CV (resumé); and a letter of recommendation from their PhD supervisor. With previous winners from Asia, Europe and the Americas, the 2016 winners could come from anywhere in the world. Finalists for the Prize will join the Reaxys Prize Club, a unique, international network of chemists from all research areas and career paths which also provides travel bursaries for members to meet and study with one another. The finalists will receive personal and unlimited access to the rich content of Reaxys and Reaxys Medical Chemistry, and are invited to present their research at the Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium; where the three winners will each receive $2,000 in prize money.

The deadline for submissions is February 8, 2016. After this date, submissions will be reviewed for: originality, innovation, importance and applicability of the research; the rigor of approach and methodology; the quality and clarity of published work; and supporting evidence of these accomplishments from the recommendation letter and CV. This process is managed by a board of internationally renowned chemists. The board will subsequently select the 45 finalists. These finalists will be invited to attend the 2016 Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium, where all finalists will have the opportunity to meet and share their research.

Every year we are impressed by the quality of entries to the Reaxys PhD Prize, and I am sure 2016 will be no exception,” said Dr. David Evans, Scientific Affairs Director at Reed Elsevier Properties SA. “In six years we have received nearly 2500 submissions from across the globe. The Prize is an opportunity to identify and support some of the brightest minds in the youngest generation of research chemists, and entry to the PhD Prize Club, helps all 45 finalists network and share knowledge giving them a running start to their chemistry careers.

Read more about the 2016 Reaxys PhD Prize on Elsevier Connect. For more information about the Reaxys PhD Prize and to submit an entry, go to http://inspiringchemistry.reaxys.com/phdprize.

Reaxys empowers chemistry research and development by providing structure, property and reaction data, experimental procedures and literature. It is designed to support early drug discovery, education, material selection and synthesis planning; its capabilities include data export and integration to enable harmonized analysis of in-house and external data. Reaxys improves R&D productivity by delivering the facts the way chemists need them. For more information about Reaxys visit www.elsevier.com/reaxys.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirectScopusElsevier Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 33,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries. www.elsevier.com.

Media Contact

Christopher Capot
Director, Corporate Relations
Elsevier
+1 917 704 5174
c.capot@elsevier.com

Soma Chakraborty

IMG_1864_1 copy“I always want to give to my students. Students here are willing to absorb new knowledge, and takes on the challenge.” Dr. Chakraborty affirmed. Let’s face it, not all teachers will have this frame of mind. Dr. Chakraborty, or Doc Soma as known by her students and peers, has been with the Ateneo chemistry department for nearly 10 years. She says that as a professor of chemistry, she always has a good experience with students in the classroom and in the laboratory. She hopes to see more Filipino scientists gaining visibility in the international research arena. She suggests that apart from exploring the scientific research topics that has been adequately studied by other researchers, they can also focus on the challenging projects related to natural resources(products) to draw the attention of scientists from the other parts of the world and to establish an unique identity.

Professor Soma Chakraborty finished her masters in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi and later her doctorate degree in the Polytechnic University, New York and post-doctoral fellowship from Columbia University, New York. Working in different aspects of polymers, her research focus is the synthesis, and modification of polymer-based materials as vehicles for controlled release for drug delivery. She is known in the department for the extensive study on crosslinked ε-caprolactone (ε-CL) based nanoparticles and hydrogels with enzyme catalysts to yield completely biocompatible products. Other studies on ε-CL include polymer architecture by using co-monomers to alter the tertiary structure of nanoparticles. She is equally interested in the fabrication of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIP) for more efficient isolation of targeted natural products in collaboration with the other researchers in the department including Dr. Fabian Dayrit. Chitosan which is commonly found in the carapace of arthropods is used for such application.

When not in the daily grind of teaching and research, Doc Soma unwinds from stress by painting, dancing, cooking or simply grabbing a good book to read.

The Family that Cared for Richard Heck

By Fabian M. Dayrit, PhD.

Richard F. Heck

Unfortunately the portrayal of the events prior to the death of Prof. Heck is incomplete. It’s not true that he died without being cared for. Let me share with you some details that will hopefully give you a better picture of the situation. I am writing this to honor his memory, to show gratitude for his family, and to correct the news that he was not cared for. Richard Heck did have a family that cared for him until his death.

I first met with Prof. Heck a few days after the announcement of his Nobel award in 2010. The Integrated Chemists of the Philippines was organizing the 26th Philippine Chemistry Congress in April 2011, so he would have been a great plenary speaker. We found him living in a modest home in the Tandang Sora area. He had completely retired from Chemistry and had been out of touch with things for over 10 years already. He also suffered from dementia and so did not want to talk science, but was happy to inspire the young. We arranged to have some of our MS Chem students interview him at his home.

At that time, he was almost completely dependent on his wife, Socorro, and his nephew, Michael Nardo. He was also very much attached to Michael’s child. He seemed happy with his simple life. It was also clear that he had no family to go back to in the US so this was his home.

Prof. Heck brought his family along to our chemistry congress in Cebu. We arranged for him to have a session with the student participants in the annual Chemistry quiz contest for high school students, an event which he enjoyed.

Socorro was many years younger than Richard (almost 20 years, I think), and so I was surprised and saddened when she passed away two years ago. Richard’s care fell to the hands of Mike.

People ask about the financials and what has happened to his share of the Nobel funds. I am guessing that Socorro, like all Filipina wives, probably took care of managing the funds. Certainly, I don’t think that Richard would have been in any condition to manage it properly. So when she passed away suddenly, I don’t know if any of the financial information and legal papers would have been attended to. I don’t know if Mike has knowledge of how to manage the legal situation since Heck is a US citizen and Mike is not a “next of kin”.

The Nardos are a family with modest means so it was a big burden for them to take over the care of Richard with the many medical complications that had come up. All they had was Heck’s $2,500 pension and a US insurance company that was delayed in its payments to the hospital. Mike told me that they had to sell their car to raise more funds for Richard’s care. From Mike’s description of Heck’s condition, it’s possible that Alzheimer’s may have been setting in as well.

The first day of the wake on Saturday, October 10, was assigned to the Philippine chemistry societies. I was at the wake in the afternoon when the GMA news crew was interviewing the two caregivers. The reporter was obviously more interested in the news angle that Heck had been abandoned. We asked them whether they wanted to interview others who were also at the wake (Dr. Alvin Culaba, VP of DLSU, and Drs. Armand and Odette Guidote were also there at the time) but they were satisfied with the story line that they got from the caregivers. This was also the story that came out in Rappler.

In addition to the family, we should also be thankful to De La Salle for welcoming Richard to their academic community and for providing for the wake expenses. I am sure that this added to the joy of his final years.

Richard Heck did have a family that cared for him.

——————–

About the author: Dr. Dayrit is an Academician of the National Academy of Science & Technology (Philippines). He is a Professor of Chemistry, Ateneo de Manila University, and the current president of the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines.

Ateneo’s Chemistry Department Chair

By Mark Adam Ferry

jmdJose Mario M. Diaz is appointed chair of the Ateneo de Manila chemistry department, a diverse academic unit dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in research and teaching. Diaz pleased and excited on this opportunity, is looking forward to continue Ateneo’s research tradition and to further the conversation on issues germane to teaching and research.

“Faculty staff in foreign universities has less teaching hour responsibilities, and more time to do research.” Diaz, lamented. Managing teaching and research on top of a boat load of paperwork, limited research materials and equipment seemed to be on a collision course to his targeted goals –but nothing that an engineer cannot handgrip.

Diaz completed his master’s degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of the Philippines (Diliman) and his doctorate degree in Materials Engineering from Tokyo University. His core focus areas on material science include research on plasma processing and composite. “We utilize the fourth state of matter in modifying surfaces of materials to make new materials”. An example is the enhancement of polymer-based surfaces using plasma for better surface adhesion. At present, Diaz is looking at a new direction into composites by utilizing various fibers as reinforcement. For instance, naturally-procured fibers derived from pineapple leaves were modified to have flame-retardant properties. He is collaborating with Dr. Erwin Enriquez in a PICARI (Philippines-California Advanced Research Institute) research project on modifying raw materials via plasma processing in sensitized photovoltaic cells. “At various fabrication stages of the cells, we are trying to include plasma processing to clean surfaces and to improve performance,” Diaz added.

The chemistry department has clearly begun bracing the expected difficulties and challenges that lies ahead from the K-12 implementation. “I hope to see a smoother transition from secondary to tertiary education, but I expect it’s going to be turbulent. We’ll see mismatches with the expectations of the tertiary level with what the secondary education is producing.” Diaz added.

Like most newbie administrators, he is optimistic to see changes in the educational system including a smoother transition from the academe to the industry and a clearer career paths for chemistry majors. Diaz is pleased that Ateneo has a mechanism to support financially, faculty who are just starting to setup their research. He is optimistic to see more faculty involved in research and less on teaching or administrative work.

On occasions when his conscious and subconscious mind is not occupied with the fourth state of matter, Diaz loves being a plain dad and spends time with his wife and three kids.