Corruption Can Not Be Contained: The Geoff Marcy Edition

Not being so young anymore, I’ve come to realize that there are very few cases of the ‘one bad act.’ When someone is repeatedly corrupt in one aspect of his life, he is usually corrupt in other areas as well. Which brings us to something I haven’t seen discussed much about astronomer Geoff Marcy, who resigned after multiple incidents of sexual harassment came to light (boldface mine):

It was well known that he had intimate relationships with several of his female students. But it is not the only aspect where I felt Marcy’s ethics were questionable.

In 1987, Marcy’s colleague in the search for exoplanets realized that he had handed her a revised copy of their joint grant proposal. On the copy Marcy had given her, both their names appeared, his as main investigator and hers, as co-investigator. But Marcy’s official copy, the one he had submitted to the funding agency, bore only his name.

She reported this to the department head, who fired her on the spot. Marcy was the rising star of his department. She then filed a formal complaint for professional misconduct against Marcy. But she was unable to recover her position and she left the field of astronomy. Following these events, a few people tried to draw the University’s attention to Geoff Marcy’s inappropriate behaviour with his female students.

Gender may have very well played a role here, but this was certainly–based on Marcy’s actions–brutal, naked careerism–not to mention plagiarism (assuming some of the ideas and text were hers, he stole them. Period). If there had been the appropriate intervention then, maybe some women wouldn’t have been harassed.

Leaving aside the what-ifs, it’s pretty clear Marcy is a nasty piece of work, in more ways than one.

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2 Responses to Corruption Can Not Be Contained: The Geoff Marcy Edition

  1. been watching the Marcy thing from my crisis PR perch. All I can think of is “drip, drip, drip.” Free advice: “The allegations are only 89 percent correct” is not an effective PR strategy.

  2. Pingback: Return of the Link Love | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured)

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