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Yale Undergraduate Dies in Machine Shop Accident

Yale University is mourning the loss of an undergraduate who died after an accident Tuesday night in a chemistry machine shop.

According to a statement today from school officials, senior Michele Dufault died after "what appears to have been a terrible accident involving a piece of equipment." The New Haven Register reports that Dufault's hair got caught in a metal lathe, a machine that holds and rotates material so it can be shaped with tools. Sterling Chemistry Laboratory, where the accident happened, is closed today and classes and labs are canceled. Those using the basement machine room were required to take a shop class, the Yale Daily News reports.

Dufault was a physics and astronomy major from Massachusetts. She participated in a NASA program in which undergraduates conduct experiments in a reduced gravity aircraft, and she worked on robotic vehicles in a student program at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution last summer, the Register reports. Yale's statement says: "By all reports, Michele was an exceptional young woman, an outstanding student and young scientist, a dear friend and a vibrant member of this community."

Dufault's death follows another tragedy involving a Yale science student. Last month, a former campus laboratory worker pleaded guilty to the 2009 murder of Annie Le, a graduate student in pharmacology.