Bentivegna, V. et al
Research Chemist Dr. Jamie Dennis was shocked to discover that they were on the FBI watch list after googling the chemical structure of phenylalanine, without specifying that they did not intend to make meth.
“I’m usually so careful,” says Dr. Dennis. “One of the first lessons you learn in a chemistry undergrad course is to always, always, put “but not for drugs” in a google search. Especially if you’re looking at crystallization temperatures.”
This is not the first time a member of the chemistry department has been flagged. In 2015, a grad student was temporarily suspended bringing blue rock candy to an after-class happy hour.
“For the last decade or so, we’ve had to be a lot more careful,” said FBI Agent Susan Pearson. “We’ve put tabs on all chemistry teachers, chemistry grad students, and chemistry researchers, just to be safe. With those paltry teaching salaries, everyone wants to be the new Walter White.”
Dr. Dennis says that they’ve learned their lesson, but after comparing their postdoc stipend to the money that could be made from a few illegal synthesis reactions, says they will now simply complete future searches in Incognito mode.