Over the weekend, Mother Jones caught the attention of the scientific community with their story “SHE WAS A RISING STAR AT A MAJOR UNIVERSITY. THEN A LECHEROUS PROFESSOR MADE HER LIFE HELL” The article detailed the systematic power plays against Celeste Kidd, a former University of Rochester graduate student and current faculty member who was relentlessly harassed and retaliated against by T. Florian Jaeger a professor of Brain and Cognitive Neurosciences and self described ‘Dancer, architect of peace and human’*.

While the story lays out gut-wrenching details of Kidd’s earnest efforts to keep a relentless Jaeger at bay and out of her career, she was not alone. Details in a linked 111 page complaint to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission paint an even more lurid, repressive and systematic campaign on the part of Jaeger to sexualize relationships and the University of Rochester to save face, retain and promote him at any cost.

Jaeger was investigated for having sexual relations with trainees, harassing both students and colleagues and retaliating viciously against Kidd and other members of the faculty when he was investigated. The filing was made by a former graduate students and members of the faculty at University of Rochester. Richard Aslin and Elissa Newport have resigned because of the mishandling of this case with Aslin moving onto Yale. Newport is at Georgetown, and Hayden, a tenured faculty member who was retaliated against, and his wife accepted offers from the University of Minnesota.

Nature and NIH Director Collins working together to end harassment!

Those familiar with the case (myself included) watched the slow moving administrative trainwreck in the last few months make ham handed efforts to contain the damage. This summer, Jaeger was unceremoniously dumped from a list of speakers European conference as news of repercussions of his exploits congealed around him. Efforts were made to tried to appease faculty who were planning on leaving the university, considering legal action and being publically forthcoming about this years long debacle. Faculty who are still at Rochester quietly message they are unsurprised that U of R administration is slow, unresponsive and prone to hurting the innocent in matters where their reputation is at stake.

Kidd’s case is reminiscent of other’s experience with Title IX (See Tenure She Wrote: Gaslighting: How Universities Use Their Title IX Office to Crush Complaints).  What is surprising is the number of faculty who publicly and privately supported Kidd and denounced Jaeger. Even those wary of a ‘white man hero’ narrative, were stunned that Aslin’s previous positions as a vice-provost and dean held no extra gravitas with administration in weighing the group’s complaints about Jaeger.

Sexual Harassment Fighter and NIH Director Collins is Sure to Fly Into Action!

As U of Rochester has committed (at this point) to going to court, NIH and NSF hold the power to register their displeasure more quickly and decisively. Rochester holds 12 T32 NIH training grants, and one would imagine this is an excellent place for fearless fighter of sexual harassment NIH Director Francis Collins to begin his long awaited campaign to end the sexual harassment in sciences. Surely with this many supporting faculty, 111 pages and 300+ counts outlining how an institution harbors sexual predators, U of R will lose federal money, right Dr. Collins?

WE’D LIKE TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK. COMMENTS ARE FOR WINNERS.

Updated Disclaimer: This post was written by BethAnn McLaughlin and I speak for myself.

 

Post doc opportunities with Jaeger.

 

*Jaeger’s twitter post with a knife and graduate school reference. For those interested in his work, Jaeger is hiring two post docs. 

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4 Comments

[…] are sexually harrassed in science that make me angry every time I look at them. By linking to all the pieces online that show how hard it is to file these complaints against established men when […]

Thanks for sharing with the Scientopians, IBAM.

I’ve lost sleep over the idea of how best to make universities suffer for giving aid and comfort to abusers and monsters.  The consensus among many is that you have to hit them in the wallet, and that’s probably right.  The consensus also seems to be that it really has to hurt, and that’s probably right, too.  I get that targeting T32s would do both of those things.  What worries me is the idea that hitting T32s punishes trainees somewhat indiscriminantly and disproportionately.  Aren’t these the very people who are most likely to be the victims of people like Jaeger?  And doesn’t it seem like targeting T32s might just increase the collateral damage from the heinous actions of people like Jaeger?
 
I’m violating my own personal rule of not raising a problem unless I’m prepared to propose a viable solution that seems better.  I don’t have a great answer here.  Maybe target federal funds *except* for training grants?  Focus on R/U/P series grants or something like that?  I don’t know.  I just feel like I should speak up for trainees here, fully acknowledging that NOBODY is a fiercer advocate for trainees than the esteemed Fighty Squirrel.

Hey Josh,

I strongly discourage not getting enough sleep. I’ve even written a blog about it (with awesome gif’s, naturally) https://edgeforscholars.org/pencils-down-the-five-things-that-happen-when-you-dont-call-it-a-night/

I think taking on harassers needs to be a hit to training grants but you aren’t the only one who has questioned me about it.

My proposal Francis Collins can have for the low price of funding one of my R01s (pick the one about me going to Figi for 4 years to study sand!)

1. Every training grant submission needs to come with an institutional verification that none of the approved training faculty have been sanctioned for misconduct. If there is a training faculty member on a currently funded grant who has been sanctioned by EAP, Title IX or Equal Employment*, they will immediately be removed as an authorized mentor.

2. For current grant holders, they have 90 days to make sure their training faculty are up to par, and publically post the names of authorized training faculty. If not, they lose their training grants.

3. If you have had a public institutional debacle like U of R, you have 30 days to publically petition the NIH or NSF for why you should be allowed to keep training grants. After that, NIH/NSF has 30 days to decide if you’ll keep your training slots or not. 

Sure, this is going to hurt students. But its going to hurt institions a lot more. Training students is a priveledge and if you can’t stop harassing trainees and colleagues, you don’t earn that priveldge. 

 

* Universities use these investigative bodies interchangably based on who they view as most lax, willing to find for the university/faculty or resistent to questioning administration.

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