I can't disagree more with the following statement byGinger Pinholster, AAAS director in the office of public programs, to UCLA's Daily Bruin that the decision to award Harran a fellowship was tied only to his scientific achievements. "(Selection as a fellow) doesn't reflect behavior or other issues." Even if one accepts this premise, which I do not, the incident for which Harran was found responsible occurred in his research lab. It is a part of his scientific achievements and can't be separated from them. The AAAS decision only reinforces the perception that many in the top level of research only give lip service to safety. In general, I think that perception is wrong, but this decision certainly does not do anything to dispel it.
Steven S. Funck, MS, CSMM
Natural Sciences Laboratory Program Manager
One College Ave.
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Phone: (717) 796-1800 (ext. 2079)
Fax: (717) 691-6046
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**med.cornell.edu]On Behalf Of Monona Rossol
Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2015 9:20 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] AAAS Fellowship Decision Criticized
By separating the chemical achievements from the ethics, the award reaffirms the public's picture of the evil and inhumane scientist. And frankly, it makes me question this organization and it's members' ethics and values as well.
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President: Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012 212-777-0062
From: Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG>
To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Sent: Sat, Dec 12, 2015 8:54 am
Subject: [DCHAS-L] AAAS Fellowship Decision Criticized
From the Scientist:
Biochemist Patrick Harran of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has been named one of the fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for 2015. Harran joins 346 other fellows from diverse disciplines and from institutions across the nation for their "contributions to innovation, education, and scientific leadership."
But Harran's election is being criticized due his role in a tragedy that unfolded in his lab seven years ago. On December 29, 2008, Harran's research assistant, 23-year-old Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji, was badly burned in a fire that engulfed her clothes and body as she handled a dangerous chemical, tert-butyllithium. Sangji, who was not wearing the proper protective lab coat as she conducted the experiment, died from her injuries 18 days later. In 2011, Harran was charged with three felony counts of health and safety code violations that contributed to the tragic accident. Avoiding jail time, Harran was forced to pay $10,000 and served 800 hours of community service, in addition to other penalties.
Sangji's family has written a letter to Gerald Fink, president of AAAS, Phillip Sharp, chairman of the association's board of directors, and members of the AAAS council, asking that they reconsider their decision to honor Harran. "No family should have to deal with our loss," Naveen Sangji and M. Hussain Sangji wrote on behalf of the Sangji family. "And certainly, no principal investigator who runs their laboratory in a criminally negligent manner as Patrick Harran has should be bestowed with any awards. We respectfully request that you refuse to honor the unsafe science conducted by an unethical scientist."
Ginger Pinholster, AAAS director in the office of public programs, told UCLA's Daily Bruinthat the decision to award Harran a fellowship was tied only to his scientific achievements. "(Selection as a fellow) doesn't reflect behavior or other issues," Pinholster told the campus newspaper. According to the Daily Bruin, Harran could not be reached for comment.
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