This morning is the mandatory lab safety training new graduate students have to go through. I probably shouldn’t be excited, since I heard this is actually just a boring lecture. But we do get to use a fire extinguisher at the end, so I’m holding out for that bit of excitement.

But we all know the cool part about working in laboratories is the potential for disaster, right? I mean, who didn’t go to chemistry lab secretly wishing something would explode? Be honest. If you’re like me, you note down all of the potential hazards while in the lab. There are simply just so many different pieces of equipment that you need to be aware of while in your chemistry class. If you find yourself working with items as delicate as a freeze dryer, you may want to think twice when you try and dip your finger in the test solution…! Lyophilizers are just as dangerous if you’re not paying attention.

What’s your best lab disaster story?

Mine actually happened when I was teaching, rather than as a student. We were using Bunsen burners and the rubber tubing connecting the Bunsen burner to the gas source caught on fire. The professor, other TA, and I all just sort of stared at it dumbfounded for a couple of seconds before one of us thought to just turn off the gas. Molten rubber is not a nice smell.