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Michele Dufault

It's always sad to hear about tragedy within your community, especially when it involves someone young and promising. We at PhysicsBuzz and Physics Central are very saddened by the death of Yale University physics and astronomy undergrad Michele Dufault.

Dufault, a senior at Yale, was working alone on her senior project in a chemistry laboratory late at night on April 12 when her hair apparently became caught in a lathe - a rotating machine that shapes wood or metal. It is believed she was pulled into the machine and died of asphyxia. She was discovered in the lab by other students and emergency workers arrived sometime near 2:30 a.m.

Dufault was very involved in several physics groups and had worked on projects for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where she worked on underwater robotic vehicles, and NASA,
where she worked on a plasma physics experiment.

The lab where Dufault was working, Sterling Chemistry Laboratory, was closed for a time following the accident and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating the accident.

Our thoughts go out to the families, friends and colleagues of Dufault and to the entire Yale community at the time of this tragic loss.


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