Alternative Energy and Innovative Technologies: How Trump Might Be Able to Create New Jobs

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice, Uncategorized

Trumps ideas around job creation center around saving jobs before they leave or possibly bringing back old manufacturing/ mining jobs to the US. We just witnessed how effective Trump was convincing the Carrier Corporation to not outsource jobs to Mexico or close factories in Indiana and move them south of the border. Further, many of the jobs that Trump talked about during his scorch-the-earth campaign (both figuratively and possibly literally), are obsolete because much of what humans did in these jobs is now automated and their participation is no longer required.  Put simply, Trump needs to think outside of his box (which will be extremely difficult but necessary) for him to fulfill one of his major campaign promises of creating new jobs for workers in the financially-devastated American heartland.

To that point, Ross Sorkin suggested a possible strategy in an editorial in today’s NY Times business section. In the opinion piece, Sorkin suggests that Trump model his job creation strategy divined by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, the electric car company; SolarCity, the solar power provider; and SpaceX, the rocket company..  According to Sorkin, Musk has nearly 35,000 new jobs (most of which are manufacturing jobs) in the past decade. This is an outstanding accomplishment for a single individual entrepreneur. However, instead of naming Musk to advise him on job creation, Trump decided that he was going to rely on the advice of people like Jamie Dimon, of JP Morgan Chase, Robert Iger of Disney and Mary Barra of General Motors all of whom benefitted from President Obama’s government bailout and are not exactly paragons of innovation. LIke Trump, these business leaders represent the old guard that want things to remain the same to help them maintain their power bases, corporate stock prices and large oversized CEO compensation packages (Musk takes $1 dollar a year in salary and has paid as much as $600 million in taxes annually).

Not surprisingly, Musk is a Democrat and despite creating tens of thousand of new American jobs, he is under assault and being vilified by conservative groups. This is because Musk believes in climate change. According to Sorkin:

…Conservative groups and individuals have taken to the internet with a litany of real and fake stories attacking Mr. Musk for the government subsidies Tesla receives, and for his vocal warnings on climate change.

Even worse, Sorkin reported:

Robert E. Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corporation, the largest privately owned coal company, called Mr. Musk “a fraud” for accepting $2 billion in government subsidies for Tesla.

Yet despite this hateful and untrue assault by Trump supporters, Musk suggested to Sorkin that even though he did not support Trump, that he would be “happy to talk with him” about job creation and climate change.

If I were Mr. Musk, I would not hold my breath.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting


A Benefit of Climate Change? Fewer Cases of Plague Reported in the US

Posted in Career Advice

About 10 to 20 Americans are afflicted with bubonic plague each year, and 1 to 3 die from the infection according to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA. The natural reservoir of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, are  prairie dogs and ferrets, and fleas that infest those colonies can transfer it to squirrels, rats and mice, who like to live close to humans and their flea-carrying pets. Most of the reported cases of plaque occur in the so-called Four Corners, where Utah, Arizon, New Mexico and Colorado meet, and most victims live in rodent-infested rural dwellings. 

A study in this month’s issue of The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene tracked climatic conditions in 195 counties in 13 Western states, from Washington to Texas, that reported even one plague case since 1950. Cases have dropped over time, and the study concluded that rising nighttime temperatures since 1990 had helped. Warmer nights melt winter snowpacks earlier, leading to drier soil in rodent burrows. When the soil gets too dry, fleas die and transmission of Y. pestis is much reduced. 

While a reduction in the incidence of bubonic plague may be a good thing, it certainly doesn’t offset the potential catastrophic effects that may result if global warming is not kept in check! 

Despite the fearsome reputation the disease earned in the Dark Ages, plague can be easily treated with antibiotics if it is caught early enough. Also, improvements in sanitation and urban livings conditions has relegated plague to be classified as an endemic and ancient disease.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!



Bacteria, Eating Snow and Climate Change

Posted in Career Advice

We all know (or should know) that eating dirty or yellow snow is a big “no-no”. Those of us who are parents (and live in regions where there are regular snowfalls) teach our children this lesson as quickly as possible. That said, should parents worry when their children eat new or freshly falling snow because it contains air-borne bacteria? 

Last week, a group of scientists at Louisiana State University reported in Science magazine that there may be a relationship between ice-nucleating, air-borne bacteria and global rainfall patterns. For those of you who don’t know, the formation of ice in clouds is required for snow and most rainfall. Although dust and soot particles serve as ice nucleation particles, bacterial ice nuclei are capable of catalyzing freezing more quickly at much warmer temperatures and their presence in the atmosphere may affect the processes that trigger precipitation. Results from the Science study suggested that bacteria like Pseudomonas syringae, which have long been know to serve as nucleators and induce ice formation, are widely distributed in the atmosphere and likely play critical roles in influencing the amount of rain that falls at various locations in the world–pretty cool new stuff for those of us interested in global warming and climate change in general. Therefore, it surprised me when I saw that lay newspaper reporters chose to “cherry pick” data from the paper to suggest to Americans that even freshly fallen snow contains large numbers of bacteria and that, perhaps, parents should be careful when they allow their children to eat snow!

As a card-carrying microbiologist and seasoned science educator, I want to assure all of you that eating freshly fallen snow will not cause disease in you or your children. The types of bacteria found in the atmosphere, and ultimately in snow, are not human pathogens and don’t cause disease. Thankfully, in a story entitled “Study: Driven snow isn’t all that Pure” that appeared in my local paper (The Trenton Times)– a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health was quoted as saying ; “We eat stuff that’s covered with bacteria all the time, and for the most part, it is killed in the stomach.” Another pediatrician, who is a member of the academy’s committee on infectious diseases, reinforced the claim that snow munching was not harmful and said “Children practically bathe in bacterial when they go to the playground and they won’t get anything from snow that they would not get from dirt.”  

Although most of the stories about bacteria and snow munching that appeared in the lay media were “fluff pieces”, they did alarm some parents! As one mother said in the Trenton Times article: “When I heard bacteria, at first, I went “eeeewwww”. But as long as the kids eat snow as it’s falling, I think it is okay. I tell them not to eat it if it’s on the ground.” What was particularly troubling about her remark was her initial negative reaction to the mere mention of the word bacteria. Unfortunately, most Americans have little understanding about bacteria and the negative impressions that they have formed are based on the sensationalistic and often scientifically inaccurate pieces about “dangerous” bacteria and fungi (mold) that often appear in print media and on television.

In my opinion, America’s negative attitude and poor understanding of science is a consequence of ongoing, misguided science reporting that has plagued this country for years. Although the American lay news media is mostly responsible for this, scientists are also complicit because of their unwillingness or inability to publicly speak out on important scientific issues and problems.

I believe that scientists are obliged to do everything in their powers to ensure that lay science reporting is fair and balanced and that the correct scientific messages reach the American public. Our failure to act will surely jeopardize the future of American science–something that we Americans can ill afford. Enough said–have a plate of snow on me!

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!