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Honor Rescinded

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has decided against making chemist Patrick Harran a fellow, according to Nature News.

The University of California, Los Angeles' Harran was among the 347 researchers elected to be a fellow in 2015, but the chemistry section of the society voted not to move ahead with his nomination due to the 2008 death of his lab assistant Sheharbano Sangji in a chemical fire in his lab.

The fire started when the syringe Sangji was using to transfer tert-Butyllithium broke, causing the substance to ignite. Sangji was not wearing a flame-retardant lab coat, and her polyester sweater caught fire. She died 18 days later.

Harran was charged with four felony counts related to occupational health and safety standard violations in the incident, as prosecutors accused him of not providing Sangji with proper training, though both UCLA and Harran said what occurred was an accident. The matter was settled out of court, and Harran was to pay $10,000 to the Grossman Burn Center and perform community service.

Sangji's family urged AAAS to withdraw Harran's nomination, Nature News adds.

"This action is huge, and impacts every scientist who aspires to be named for national recognition or international recognition," adds Neal Langerman, head of the consultancy Advanced Chemical Safety, at Nature News.

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