In a press release yesterday, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced that the association's chemistry section has asked the association's governing council to reconsider election of Patrick Harran as a AAAS Fellow.

Harran was in charge of a University of California, Los Angeles, lab where a fire occurred in 2008, fatally injuring staff researcher Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji. Harran was subsequently charged with felony violations of state labor code and is currently fulfilling the terms of a settlement agreement with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

The AAAS press release says in part:

The Chemistry Section's request to the Council was made after it became apparent that an initial review of Dr. Harran's nomination materials had not included all relevant information. ....

Under AAAS bylaws, Fellows are nominated either independently by three existing AAAS Fellows, as in Dr. Harran's case, or by the elected leadership of topical membership Sections. Following review by the relevant topical sections, successful fellows are then ratified by elected members of the AAAS Council, without interference or influence by AAAS staff. Newly elected Fellows are then inducted at a ceremony during the AAAS Annual Meeting in February.

In November, AAAS had announced the election of 347 new Fellows, to be honored at a 13 February awards ceremony. Last week, members of the nomination reviewing committee became aware of a 2009 case involving the death of a technician in the UCLA laboratory of Dr. Harran.

An additional announcement will be made as soon as the relevant AAAS governance bodies issue a final decision in this case.

The chemists on the AAAS governing council are AAAS president and Council chair Geraldine Richmond, Judith Burstyn, Marisa Kozlowski, and American Chemical Society president-elect Donna Nelson.

The chair of the AAAS chemistry section steering group is Bruce Bursten, who served as American Chemical Society president in 2008. Other members of the section steering group can be found here.