WESTWOOD—Patrick Harran, a Chemistry Professor at UCLA, is under scrutiny for receiving a fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In December 2008, Harran, 46, was charged with three felonies for violating the occupational health and safety standards within his lab.
Sheharbano “Sheri” Sangji, a 23-year old research assistant to Harran, suffered extensive second and third-degree burns from a chemical compound that burst into flames when it became exposed to air. Sangji was not wearing a lab coat at the time and died 18 days later. It was discovered that prior to the incident, the lab lacked proper protective gear and flammable liquids were stored unsafely.
Harran struck a settlement with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office to dismiss his case if he committed to 800 hours of non-teaching community service at UCLA’s Hospital and UCLA Health Services, in addition to teaching a seven week summer chemistry course on organic chemistry, and paying a fine for up to $10,000.
The University of California-Board of Regents was also charged with violating the state labor code, but the charges were dropped in 2012. Since the accident, UCLA has taken proper measures to improve safety and working conditions.
The scientific community is currently seeking that the AAAS reconsider their nomination to honor Harran.