Learning from a tragedy, and forthright feedback.
Although the death of Sheri Sangji after an accident at UCLA was more than three years ago, it continues to generate interest, especially when news broke that UCLA and her PI Professor Patrick Harran were being charged for felony violations of labour laws. For continuing excellent coverage of this, read C&ENtral Science's The Safety Zone by Jyllian Kemsley (http://go.nature.com/rEvMq8 for example). Kemsley regularly rounds up news and blog discussion about the case, so The Safety Zone is a great place to start finding out what people think about it.
Matt Hartings at ScienceGeist (http://go.nature.com/7WVvpL) took a different tack to many of the bloggers discussing the specifics of the case, and the possibility that Harran may face jail. Hartings, an assistant professor at American University and thus responsible for training students in the lab, put forward some ideas for how safety training could be improved. Following on from ChemBark's suggestion of incorporating safety into weekly group meetings (http://go.nature.com/YTw8n7), Hartings proposes that these could be held at the start of the week. That way, new reactions could be discussed before they were performed, forcing individual group members to “assess the safety of any new procedure”. Furthermore, everyone else present in the lab “will be made aware of when any hazardous protocols will be in use”. Regardless of personal views on the specific advice, it is good to see lessons being learnt and safety being discussed seriously.
And finally...ratemyprofessor.com is probably already famous — or infamous — among some of our readers, but we recently learnt of BerateMyProfessor (http://beratemyprofessor.blogspot.com). This contains some student evaluations from the anonymous blogger's “ten years of teaching general and organic chemistry”. There are some forthright views from all those students, especially when it comes to their professor's 'attempts' at humour — and dress sense!
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Blogroll: For safety's sake. Nature Chem 4, 147 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1292