Sheri was an experienced chemist and published researcher who exuded confidence and had performed this experiment before in my lab. Sheri had previous experience handling pyrophorics, chemicals that burn upon exposure to air, even before she arrived at UCLA. Her most recent position prior to joining the group involved "scale-up process safety." However, it seems evident, based on mistakes investigators tell us were made that day, I underestimated her understanding of the care necessary when working with such materials.I cannot read this portion of the statement as anything other than 1) casting doubt on the public assertions and impressions that Ms. Sangji was inexperienced and 2) by doing so, attempting to affect the pool of potential jurors for any ensuing legal actions.
I say this because I am surprised at the assertion that Ms. Sangji was previously working in "scale-up process safety"; if so, this casts a different light on her level of experience.
I also believe that it is aimed towards affecting potential jury members for this reason: this is Harran's first (to my knowledge) public statement. Why not issue a three sentence statement? "I am sorry for Ms. Sangji's death. As it happened in my lab, it was my responsibility -- there is no excuse. I will do my utmost to avoid the situation in the future." His actual statement, in my opinion, will do nothing to make Professor Harran look better and will only intensify the criticism aimed at him from different quarters.
UPDATED: Emphasized that Ms. Sangji was previously working in process.