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Monday, December 18

UCLA professors to be honored by AAAS for scientific research


Two UCLA professors will be honored as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, in February.

Patrick Harran, a biochemistry and chemistry professor, and Douglas Black, a microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics professor, were among 347 AAAS members who were selected in November to be fellows. AAAS members selected 24 University of California researchers as new fellows.

AAAS is the world’s largest scientific society. Its fellows are scholars who conduct notable research in 24 scientific fields, including agriculture, biological sciences, chemistry and engineering, according to the AAAS website.

Harran, who was selected as an AAAS chemistry fellow, researches synthetic organic chemistry. Black researches gene expression and gene splicing and was selected as a fellow in the AAAS biological sciences section, according to the AAAS list of 2015 fellows.

Previously elected AAAS fellows can nominate scientists who have been members of the organization for four years. Nominations are then voted on by the AAAS council prior to selection as a fellow.

In 2011, Harran was charged with felony counts for violating state health and safety standards following a fire accident that resulted in the death of a research assistant working in his lab.

The research assistant was not wearing a protective lab coat while conducting an experiment with a flammable substance, according to a California Division of Occupational Safety and Health report.

In 2014, Harran reached a settlement after agreeing to complete teaching as well as 800 hours of nonteaching community service and pay a fine of $10,000, according to a Los Angeles District Attorney press release in 2014.

Ginger Pinholster, AAAS director in the office of public programs, said the AAAS fellow selection process is based strictly on scientific achievement.

“(Selection as a fellow) doesn’t reflect behavior or other issues,” Pinholster said.

Pinholster added the AAAS administrative members who oversaw the selection process for the fellowship were unaware of the charges against Harran.

Harran could not be reached for comment.

The 2015 AAAS fellows will be recognized in February at the 2016 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Compiled by Keshav Tadimeti, Bruin contributor.

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