The most dangerous period for chemists…
Aug31

The most dangerous period for chemists…

…is graduate school, argues Derek Lowe at Chemistry World: [J]ust as lab hours per calendar day (and perhaps also hours worked alone) are at their highest, one’s own experience is nowhere near at its peak. Graduate school is where chemists encounter a lot of reagents and procedures for the first time, and not all of these encounters will go smoothly. This is when one might find out, for example, just how remarkably air-sensitive...

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Will a new overtime threshold affect postdocs for the worse?
Jul15

Will a new overtime threshold affect postdocs for the worse?

From a discussion about whether the Department of Labor’s proposed expansion of overtime eligibility will raise postdoc pay, a rather worrying comment: At many Uni’s, postdocs are classified in some nebulous category somewhere between grad student and indentured servant. My university (top 5 in total NIH funding) does not pay payroll taxes or withhold federal taxes, thus furthering their claim that we are not employees,...

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Safely experimenting with actinides
Jun02

Safely experimenting with actinides

A few weeks ago, I wrote a C&EN Science Concentrate about a new californium complex with covalent bonds to its ligands rather than the ionic interactions traditionally expected for actinides. The work was led by Thomas E. Albrecht-Schmitt, a chemistry professor at Florida State University. His lab at FSU works with thorium, protactinium, uranium, neptunium, plutonium, americium, curium, californium, and—soon, for the first...

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Harran still complying with proescution agreement in #SheriSangji case
May21

Harran still complying with proescution agreement in #SheriSangji case

Patrick Harran has a court date today to check in with a judge regarding his agreement with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Harran was to pay a fine and complete community service in exchange for the DA eventually dropping charges of four felony violations of the state labor code. The case arose from a 2008 fire in his lab that led to the death of researcher Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji. Harran had paid the fine...

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Lab safety task force launched by Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities
May07

Lab safety task force launched by Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities

The Association of Public & Land Grant Universities (APLU) has established a Task Force on Laboratory Safety, which held its first face-to-face meeting in Washington, DC this week. The goal of the task force is to build on academic lab safety reports issued by the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2012 and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2014, says one of the task force’s chairs, Taylor Eighmy, vice chancellor for...

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Trial starts for Texas A&M University at Qatar fatality
Apr29

Trial starts for Texas A&M University at Qatar fatality

Nearly one year ago, Hassan Kamal Hussein died after an incident in an engineering lab at Texas A&M University at Qatar. Doha News now reports that a trial has started in the case. Some details from the Doha News story: Hussein is identified as a laboratory coordinator and he suffered fatal head and neck wounds in an explosion. He was using some sort of equipment that was being installed to produce gasoline (petrol) from natural...

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