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Posts Tagged → UCLA

This Week on CENtral Science: Whale Fossils, Oscar Noms, UC Davis bailout, and more

Tweet of the Week:

On to the network:

Artful Science: Two million-year-old whale fossils printed with 3D technology

Grand CENtral: Guest Post: “Science, the human endeavor” by Biochem Belle

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots and Need A Centrifuge? Print One Out and I’d Like To Thank The Academy, Nay, Harvey Weinstein

The Safety Zone: A brief Friday chemical safety round-up

The Watchglass: When TSCA was a bill and Wire Suit and Chemistry Imagined

Chemistry Jocks Return By “Doing ELISA”

Back in June, I started up a friendly little competition between the makers of two chemistry rap videos submitted to Newscripts. The clear winners were some undergraduate students who made a video entitled “Chemistry Jock” for extra credit in their organic chemistry class at UCLA. Now I’m not sure that the competition was exactly fair given that there were about 250 students in the class who all seemed to vote at least twice, but nonetheless, the “Jock” video won—and is still continuing to win on YouTube. It’s a true standout: As of the writing of this post, the video has been viewed on the clip-sharing site more than 25,000 times.

Not ones to let fame go to their heads, the hard-working Chem Jocks are back with another educational video, this time about the process of doing ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay).

As you can see, the ELISA clip even includes some animation on how the assay works. This is for the benefit of high school students in CityLab, a science program held on Saturdays for inner-city Los Angeles kids. Yannick Goeb, Kimberly Bui, and Justin Banaga (the first three to appear in the ELISA video in chronological order) premiered “Doing ELISA” there as part of their volunteer work. Click here for more information on the third-year life sciences students.

My favorite line? “My rhymes are so sick, I think I’m gettin’ ill/Can’t tell if I’m infected, but ELISA will.” The parting shot–the double pipette ejection by CityLab Executive Codirector Kevin Terashima–is also delightful.

Now on the Sheri Sangji Case: The L.A. District Attorney's Office

Sangji's hood

Sangji's hood after the fire. Credit: UCLA

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) last week sent its findings in the investigation of the death of University of California, Los Angeles, chemistry researcher Sheri Sangji to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s office will now review the case and decide whether to file charges against the university or any of its employees.

Sangji, a research assistant in the lab of chemistry professor Patrick Harran, died a year ago after being badly burned in a laboratory fire. Cal/OSHA investigated the incident and subsequently fined UCLA $31,875 for laboratory safety violations related to Sangji’s death.

As is standard practice in the case of a workplace death, Cal/OSHA’s Bureau of Investigations reviewed the case to determine whether there was sufficient evidence of criminal violations of the California Labor Code to warrant referring the case to the DA’s office.

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Cal/OSHA Investigates UCLA, Again

(Post updated at end.)

The University of California, Los Angeles, is still under the microscope of state regulators. California Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) officials paid the school’s chemistry & biochemistry department a surprise visit on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Cal/OSHA spokesperson Erika Monterroza says that the inspection marked the opening of a new investigation into laboratory health & safety at the university, although she refused to comment on the details of the investigation while it is ongoing, including what prompted it. California law gives Cal/OSHA six months to complete investigations, although the agency usually takes 3-4 months, Monterroza says.
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Tampering with Evidence?

One of the allegations that has been printed in other media accounts of the lab fire and its aftermath at the University of California, Los Angeles, is that members of Patrick Harran‘s lab tampered with the incident scene. Based on documents C&EN obtained through a California Public Records Act request, this seems to be what happened:

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Evaluating Safety

Employee performance evaluation forms

C&EN has a comprehensive story out today on the lab fire and its aftermath at the University of California, Los Angeles. Research Assistant Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji died as a result of injuries sustained in the fire, which occurred while she was handling tert-butyllithium.

One of the things that has come up repeatedly while I’ve been covering the incident is the fact that, while industrial research labs reportedly have no problem managing to include safety in job expectations and performance reviews, that is something that is not done in academia. In terms of faculty expectations, perhaps research, teaching, and service should explicitly be safe research.

Neal Langerman, the founder of the company Advanced Chemical Safety and a consultant to the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Committee on Chemical Safety, has gone so far as to contact the ACS Board Committee on Grants and Awards to discuss how ACS (which publishes C&EN) might consider including safety records in award decisions. He discussed the proposal with the committee during a conference call in July. The committee will consider the idea at future meetings, says Eric C. Bigham, the committee’s chair.

While incorporating safety into grant or award decisions may sound like a good idea (or not–I know that at least Chemjobber disagrees), as in many things, the devil might be in the details.

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