Blogroll: Life in the lab

Editor’s note: As we continue to invite bloggers out there in the wild to compose our monthly Blogroll column, Matthew Hartings penned the September 2014 column.


Mourning a loss and celebrating the everyday.

The public hearing over the laboratory accident that claimed the life of Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji concluded on 20 June 2014. Jyllian Kemsley and Michael Torrice broke the story for Chemical and Engineering News on Twitter. Writing at The Safety Zone blog, Kemsley aggregated chemists’ responses and wrote a myth-busting post detailing and correcting misconceptions that some chemists had about the events that led to Sangji’s death. The chemistry community owes a debt of gratitude to Kemsley and Torrice for their outstanding coverage of this tragedy.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Paul Bracher and Chemjobber initiated lively discussions about the outcomes of the legal proceedings. A major thought running through these conversations was that university-employed chemical researchers are not protected from workplace hazards in the same manner as industrial chemists. This raises the question of what protection graduate students and postdocs are entitled to, if they are not considered employees of a university? While these issues remain for us to sort out, my thoughts turn to Sheri’s family and friends who will always live with her loss.

During this time of introspection, chemists also came together to celebrate the small victories, the setbacks, and the spinning wheels that constitute life in the lab. Doctor Galactic hosted #realtimechemweek in which chemists shared their ‘everyday’ on Twitter. The highlight of this celebration was the post announcing ‘Tweets of the Week’. While we normally celebrate publications and grants, it is good for us to celebrate the mundane and acknowledge the risks that accompany being a chemist.

Written by Matthew Hartings, who blogs at


[As mentioned in this post, we’re posting the monthly blogroll column here on the Sceptical Chymist. This is the September 2014 article]