News of Carriera's appointment reignited debate over a letter he wrote in 1996 describing the long working hours he expected of those in his research group at the time. In a statement released Sept. 5 Carriera said "I regret writing this letter, as it in no way reflects my leadership approach today. . . . Whether I am leading a lab or leading a journal, I am committed to promoting a sustainable and positive cultural shift in our industry."The full text of Professor Carreira's tweets follows:
A statement from Prof. Erick Carreira:
“I regret writing this letter, as it in no way reflects my leadership approach today. I have made peace with those impacted by the letter. (1/3)
In the decades since it was written, I’ve grown as a teacher, as a mentor, as a researcher and as a person. I am proud of the way I work with my colleagues and students and believe that a healthy work-life balance is now more important than ever. (2/3)
Whether I am leading a lab or leading a journal, I am committed to promoting a sustainable and positive cultural shift in our industry.” - Erick Carreira (3/3)It has literally been 10 years since this letter was first posted in the chemistry blogosphere, and I don't wish to replow this particular bit of thorny ground. I felt these statements from former students are relevant in terms of testifying to life in and around the Carreira lab, and that this letter seems at least a bit of an anomaly.
I do think it is very likely that senior academics and administrators who select editors-in-chief of major publications were not aware of this letter's impact among chemists in the 2000s and beyond, who are far more plugged into life online than those who were trained in other times. This is not the only letter of its genre, but I think it's the emblem of a certain culture and a certain attitude within organic chemistry. I think that the letter took on a life and a meaning of its own on the internet beyond an interaction between a specific professor and a specific postdoctoral fellow, and it's bluntly clear that The Powers that Be were unaware of that.
As I noted this weekend, it would have been better if this letter were to have been repudiated openly and repeatedly by the broad chemistry community for the last 24 years. That we have a statement of regret from Professor Carreira now is a start.