From: Jessica Martin <jessica.a.martin**At_Symbol_Here**UCONN.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Grad school, in students' own words: When a Distraction Becomes a Dissertation
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2020 08:13:44 -0500
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: B95F78C7-0B0D-4311-AD9D-A4F3A505C323**At_Symbol_Here**

Thank you for the share!

Jessica A. Martin
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Graduate Student Career Council
Joint Safety Team 
Pinkhassik Group, Department of Chemistry
University of Connecticut

"To change a community, you have to change the composition of the soil-
If you want to meet with me, come to the garden with your shovel so we can plant some sh-t." 
Ron Finley

"Argue for your limitations 
and sure enough they're yours." 
Richard Bach

"If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence,
try ordering somebody else's dog around."
Will Rogers

"People don't realize this about chemistry: 
it's a lifelong source of humor."
James B. Comey

On Feb 12, 2020, at 7:47 AM, DCHAS Membership Chair <membership**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG> wrote:

There's an interesting article about the challenge of investigating safety aspects of a research laboratory setting in C&EN this week. It raises interesting questions about safety education and culture in today's academic setting.

The article can be found at

Grad school, in students' own words: When a Distraction Becomes a Dissertation
by Jessica Martin, University of Connecticut, fourth year

Imay not get a PhD in chemistry. After passing my qualifying exam and winning a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, I was able to plunge into my thesis project. That was when I discovered that I found my project uninspiring and began seeking out distractions. One distraction was analyzing safety and hazard assessment within the work of chemists. I have struggled with the dissonance between industry calls for strong safety cultures and the revelations of disastrous industry misconduct. This prompted questions about how academia prepares PhD chemists, what skills are emphasized, and how hazard assessment of the chemicals we create should be included.

As I have pursued these ideas, I have had enthusiastic discussions with people throughout the chemical world who believe this work is necessary. I have gained fantastic mentors eager to engage in ways I never experienced with my previous project. This work became my focus, leaving no time for my official project.

My department has been remarkably supportive as I have changed my thesis to hazard assessment and peer-to-peer education within a graduate program. However, there is a debate brewing over what my thesis will look like come judgment day. There is the distinct possibility that it will be determined that this work does not add up to a PhD in chemistry. Even if it does not, I will walk out with a body of work of which I am immensely proud and connected to a community that is doing work that inspires me.

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