Apocalypse averted: Biological Sciences uses zombie threat to encourage lab safety


Fred Rawlings a Zombie Hunter hands back camera to Grace Mayeur and Ariel Blythe-Reske who are posed as zombies at the “Help Prevent a Zombie Apocalypse” in the Biomedical/ Biological Science Research Building Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday October 8, 2013. Photo by Joel Repoley

By Angela Reinmund

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People often joke about the zombie apocalypse and how they will prepare for it, but staff at UK’s Biomedical/Biological Sciences Research Building took things a step further.

A “Help Prevent the Zombie Apocalypse” laboratory safety fair held in the building Thursday had the goal of teaching students about lab safety in a unique way.

Attendees were encouraged to dress up like zombies for a costume contest.

“People would normally be intimidated by anything that is about working in a lab,” said Rachel Eldridge, a staff member of UK’s Environmental Health and Safety Department. “So this fair is to teach people how to be safe in a lab with a fun theme.”

People who attended the event were given a card with information about each booth on it, and tasked with visiting each one to learn about how things in a lab can affect them. .

With a card, attendees were given a gift at every booth, along with free food and drinks.

“Zombies are created by accident from chemicals, radioactive materials or infectious agents and those are all things that are worked with in labs,” said Holley Trucks, assistant biology safety officer. “Since zombies are so popular right now, we decided to embrace that and to make it the theme of the fair.”

At 1:15, all of the zombies were called to the front of the room to be judged on their efforts for designing the best zombie costume.

The winner, agricultural biotechnology junior Gavin Hall, took the prize of a backpack full of supplies to survive a zombie apocalypse.

“I started to work in a lab this year,” Hall said. “And I thought that attending this and participating by dressing like a zombie would help with building connections. This theme helps prevent a zombie apocalypse even though the likelihood of that happening isn’t very strong.”