Yesterday, the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced that it would rescind its election of University of California, Los Angeles, chemistry professor Patrick Harran as a AAAS fellow. The AAAS statement says:
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today announced that its Section on Chemistry has voted not to move forward with the nomination of Patrick Harran as a Fellow, following re-review of his nomination.
On December 18, the AAAS Council approved the Chemistry Section steering group’s request to conduct a complete re-evaluation of Dr. Harran’s nomination after it became apparent that an initial review of nomination materials had not included all relevant information. Members of the nomination reviewing committee recently became aware of a 2008 case involving the death of a technician in the UCLA laboratory of Dr. Harran.
The AAAS Council Subcommittee on Fellows, which is empowered to review the nomination and election process, is also considering changes to the Fellow review process for subsequent nominations.
The statement is confusing, because in AAAS’s Nov. 16 fellows election announcement, it said that the fellows–including Harran–had already been elected. Now it’s saying that it won’t move forward with the nomination. If Harran was already elected, wouldn’t AAAS have to revoke that, not just put a halt to the nomination? I asked AAAS director of news and information Gavin Stern to clarify, but I haven’t heard back yet.
Update with a clarification from Stern:
Dr. Harran’s case is unprecedented under AAAS bylaws and the history of AAAS elected Fellowship, which dates back to 1874. Dr. Harran was nominated independently by three existing AAAS Fellows and then ratified by elected members of the AAAS Council. Under our bylaws, this process is member-driven without interference or influence by AAAS staff. On December 18, the Chemistry Section steering group received approval from the Council for a complete re-evaluation of Dr. Harran’s nomination. They decided not to move forward — therefore Dr. Harran will not be installed as a fellow.