Ralph Stuart

The Committee on Chemical Safety (CCS) honors Ralph Stuart, past committee member (2018–2022) and committee chair (2018–2020), who passed away on December 6, 2023. He also served on the CCS Safety Advisory Panel as a member from 2005–2023 and chair for a portion of that time. Ralph was recognized as a leader and visionary by his colleagues in the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world of Environmental Health & Safety, and numerous additional professional safety associations.

Over the course of nearly 40 years, he made significant contributions to advance safer practices in academic and industrial laboratories. Ralph led many safety projects in CCS and in the Division of Chemical Health and Safety (CHAS) that will undoubtedly have a lasting legacy and impact safety in laboratories far into the future. To name a few:

  • ACS Presidential Safety Summits – As the Chair of CCS in 2018, Ralph worked with then-ACS President Peter Dorhout to organize and implement the first ACS Presidential Safety Summit. The summits are now supported by ACS on a regular basis.
  • Peer-Led Workshops – An innovative initiative that engages emerging graduate student leaders in the facilitation of the transfer of safety knowledge and improved safety culture to their peers.
  • Ralph worked with PubChem staff, as well as a subject matter expert from the Division of Chemical Information (CINF), to improve the usability and accessibility of chemical safety information for the laboratory community. We now recognize these resources as Laboratory Chemical Safety Summaries (LCSSs) on the PubChem website.

CHAS has posted a beautiful memorial where you can leave your thoughts and memories about Ralph. Ralph’s family will have a private memorial service in 2024, and these remembrances from the CHAS website will be shared with the family. CHAS also has plans to celebrate Ralph’s life over the coming year, including a special symposium at the Fall 2024 meeting.

On a personal note, Ralph was a mentor and inspiration to me. I was honored to have been selected to be his “team” advisor on matters related to chemical safety education. One of my favorite quips from Ralph was the story he told about the person who once asked him how big of an explosion his hood could contain. The way Ralph told it, his reply was, “How big of one are you planning on having?”

Sammye Sigmann, CCS Chair (2022–2024)