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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(US) She Blew the Whistle on Pathogens That Escaped From a Government Lab. Now She’s Being Fired – Vice (Maddie Bender | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 10, 2020

A scientist who manages a biosafety lab in Washington State says she’s being retaliated against for reporting a leak of an unknown quantity of unknown aquatic pathogens into Lake Washington.

A career scientist who works for the U.S. government is alleging that her supervisors have retaliated against her for sounding an alarm about biosafety and workplace hazards. Her lawyers claim that she has been unfairly targeted for complaining about a litany of issues at a government science research center since 2017, including requesting an investigation after an unknown quantity of pathogens were released from her organization’s biosafety laboratory into the second-largest body of water in Washington State.

Evi Emmenegger worked at the Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC) in Seattle since 1996 until this January, when she was placed on administrative leave and served with a notice of proposed separation. The center is a branch of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which studies natural resources and environmental and ecosystem health, water use, and Earth science.

Emmenegger managed an aquatic biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) lab, one of the few in the U.S. built for studying aquatic pathogens that pose a high risk to the environment. She also conducted research on fish diseases in a BSL-2 facility and the BSL-3 lab contained within it.

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(US) Fired cancer scientist says ‘good people are being crushed’ by overzealous probes into possible Chinese ties – Science (Jeffrey Mervis | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 10, 2020

One of Pearlie Epling-Burnette’s students expects to receive her Ph.D. in cancer biology this spring from the University of South Florida. But Epling-Burnett won’t be there to help the student defend her dissertation, the last step before earning her diploma. That’s because, on 19 December 2019, the Moffitt Cancer Center told Epling-Burnette it would fire her unless she resigned immediately.

Another ‘good’ example of the principle the true picture and the complexity of a situation may not be clear in the headline from the quick characterisation of a situation.

According to Moffitt, Epling-Burnette and five other senior scientists got the boot because they were involved in collaborations with institutions in China that “violated multiple Moffitt policies and federal grant standards.” But the 59-year-old Epling-Burnette, an immunologist who began working at Moffitt in 1988 and held its equivalent of tenure, disputes that conclusion.

In an exclusive interview with ScienceInsider, she says she is being blamed for things that never happened. Her actions violated no federal or institutional policies, she asserts. All her dealings with China, she adds, fell within the scope of a longstanding joint venture between Moffitt and Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital (TMUCIH), for which Tianjin pays Moffitt $500,000 annually. And she says everything was done with Moffitt’s knowledge and consent.

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A message for mentors from dissatisfied graduate students – Nature (Chris Woolston | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 8, 2020

In this second article to mark Nature’s 2019 graduate survey, respondents call for more one-to-one support and better career guidance.

When Peter Butler started his PhD programme in physics at the University of Bristol, UK, he saw himself spending many hours at a whiteboard working on problems, with his supervisor by his side. Those long hours of togetherness never materialized. In that sense, he says, “I didn’t get what I expected.” However, he adds that his supervisor gave him plenty of good strategic advice and helped him to get published. And having to turn to other people for support was useful, he adds. “I had to act like a scientist.”

This commentary and the survey that underpins it (data available online) points to serious dissatisfaction among HDR candidates, which should prompt institutions to reflect on their guidance and monitoring of supervisors.  We have included links to ten related items.

Butler was one of more than 6,300 graduate students worldwide who responded to Nature’s fifth biennial PhD survey. These students had much to say about the state of mentorship at their institutions and in the scientific community. Their answers and free-text comments made clear that they often aren’t getting what they expect, or need, from their supervisors. The full data set is available at One telling statistic was that nearly one in four said they would change their supervisor if they could start their programme again; the 2017 figure was similar.

The survey — created with Shift Learning, a London-based market-research company — had its bright spots. Overall, 67% of respondents said they were satisfied with their relationship with their supervisors, with 41% of those in Africa and South America saying they were very satisfied. Some are especially grateful. “When I started my PhD, I didn’t know about all of the possibilities,” says Marina Kovačević, a PhD student in physical chemistry at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia. Now, she hopes to run her own laboratory, a goal that her co-supervisors encourage by letting her help to write proposals and take on other tasks of a lab leader. ”She is truly one of the most devoted PhD students,” says one supervisor, Branislav Jovic.

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1.2 Billion Records Found Exposed Online in a Single Server – Wired (Lily Hay Newman | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 7, 2020

Here’s the next jumbo data leak, complete with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles.

FOR WELL OVER a decade, identity thieves, phishers, and other online scammers have created a black market of stolen and aggregated consumer data that they used to break into people’s accounts, steal their money, or impersonate them. In October, dark web researcher Vinny Troia found one such trove sitting exposed and easily accessible on an unsecured server, comprising 4 terabytes of personal information—about 1.2 billion records in all.

Does your institution have a policy/guidance document on hacked or scraped data?  If not it should.  While the data may be existing and online somewhere, it’s “fruit of a poison tree” in that it was obtained without consent, probably in contravention of a platform’s policies and there is a good chance at least one law has been broken.  At the very least an HREC would need to consider whether a waiver of the consent requirement can be approved.  It would appear to be a very serious source of risk exposure for an institution and a member of the institution’s executive should sign off on the project.

While the collection is impressive for its sheer volume, the data doesn’t include sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers. It does, though, contain profiles of hundreds of millions of people that include home and cell phone numbers, associated social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Github, work histories seemingly scraped from LinkedIn, almost 50 million unique phone numbers, and 622 million unique email addresses.

“It’s bad that someone had this whole thing wide open,” Troia says. “This is the first time I’ve seen all these social media profiles collected and merged with user profile information into a single database on this scale. From the perspective of an attacker, if the goal is to impersonate people or hijack their accounts, you have names, phone numbers, and associated account URLs. That’s a lot of information in one place to get you started.”

“What stands out about this incident is the sheer volume of data that’s been collected.”

Troia found the server while looking for exposures with fellow security researcher Bob Diachenko on the web scanning services BinaryEdge and Shodan. The IP address for the server simply traced to Google Cloud Services, so Troia doesn’t know who amassed the data stored there. He also has no way of knowing if anyone else found and downloaded the data before he did, but notes that the server was easy to find and access. WIRED checked six people’s personal email addresses against the data set; four were there and returned accurate profiles. Troia reported the exposure to contacts at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Within a few hours, he says, someone pulled the server and the exposed data offline. The FBI declined to comment for this story.


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