At EH&S “Meet and Greet” researchers learn about safety resources at UCLA

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On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, students, postdocs, and faculty gathered for a UCLA Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) “Meet and Greet”. 

Laboratory safety is at its best when EH&S professionals and researchers work together and the event was a great opportunity for members of our labs to meet and get to know EH&S staff members and to learn about all the safety resources available to researchers at UCLA. 

Select photos from the event can be viewed below and a photo gallery of additional photos can be viewed here

In his welcoming remarks, Dean of Physical Sciences Professor Miguel García-Garibay, also an organic chemistry professor, stressed how important safety is at UCLA. “Every aspect of safety works better when there is a strong collaboration between the researchers at the bench and the safety specialists from campus EH&S,” Garcia-Garibay said. “As indicated some time ago by Chancellor Block, our common goal is to become ‘Best in Class’ in academic laboratory safety”.

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(Left) Organic chemistry professor and Dean of Physical Sciences Miguel García-Garibay spoke about the importance of safety in the lab. (Right) Dr. Stephen S. Sasaki encouraged everyone to stop by and chat with him about any safety concerns at the EH&S Young Hall Safety Office, Room 1217.

In his presentation, EH&S safety specialist and chemistry & biochemistry alumnus, Dr. Stephen Sasaki (Ph.D. ’18 Tolbert group) gave examples of the resources and support available to Bruin researchers and he encouraged everyone to feel free to stop by the EH&S Young Hall Safety Office located on the first floor of Young Hall in Room 1217. “I really enjoy researchers stopping by the Young Hall Safety Office to discuss everything from everyday policy to awesome experimental setups – it’s just great helping out however I can, “Sasaki said.

Following Sasaki, members of the UCLA Joint Research Safety Initiative (JRSI), graduate students Arundhati Deshmukh (Caram group) and Dane Stanfield (Schwartz group) spoke about the recently launched JRSI which is a grassroots safety initiative run by UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry graduate students with the aim of improving research safety for their peers and the department. 

Lab safety expert Professor Craig Merlic, Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Safety Committee and Executive Director of the UC Center for Laboratory Safety, ended the presentation portion of the event with a slide show describing the safety resources provided to our researchers, such as state-of-the-art lab coats and prescription safety glasses. He also discussed recent lab accidents that happened at UCLA and how they can be avoided. Finally, in the context of building a strong culture of safety, he discussed how safety must become routine in everyone’s work. He quipped that “lab safety is a lot like exercise, once a month is not good enough; it is a daily exercise”.

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(Left) In his remarks, Merlic described how lab accidents happen and showed photos of the aftermaths. (Right) JRSI members Anu Deshmukh and Dane Stanfield at the pizza reception following the presentations.

Following the event, attendees enjoyed pizza and soda on the patio while meeting and talking with EH&S Laboratory Safety Specialists. Tables were set up with fliers about safety topics as well as demonstrations of safety tools.

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(Left) EH&S Specialist Erika de Guzman discusses safety materials with lab support staff member Maria Dimaano-Salanga. (Right) Professor Craig Merlic talks with postdoc Dr. Evan Darzi (Garg group) and EH&S Specialist Judi Abegania.

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Chemistry & Biochemistry alumni EH&S Laboratory Safety Specialists Drs. Stephen Sasaki, Scott Hsieh, and Christopher Kolodziej.

Three of the EH&S professionals on the staff at UCLA EH&S are alumni of the department. Lab Safety Division Manager Dr. Scott Hsieh received his Ph.D. in biochemistry with Professor Sabeeha Merchant in 2011, Chemical Hygiene Officer Dr. Christopher Kolodziej received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry with Professor Heather Maynard in 2011, and Laboratory Safety Specialist Dr. Steven Sasaki, whose office is in the Young Hall Safety Office Room 1217, received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry with Professor Sarah Tolbert in 2018. Not present at the event was alumnus Laboratory Safety Project Manager Dr. Jack Bracken who received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry with Professor Patrick Harran in 2016,

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The EH&S specialists who were on hand at the event to speak to attendees and answer questions – Front row (left to right): Stephen S. Sasaki, Erika de Guzman, Judi Abegania, Christine Tafoya, Bridgette Neri, Kikei Wong, Robert Acha. Back row (left to right): Chris Lutton, Scott Hsieh, Christopher Kolodziej, Michael Williams, Jose Corral, Scott Fan, Matt Damron. 

Discussions about safety don’t need to wait for these types of special events! All researchers in the department are encouraged to either stop by to see Dr. Stephen Sasaki in Young Hall Room 1217, or contact him by email at or by phone at (310) 206-3661. General safety questions can also be directed to

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,