Boston University is investigating allegations of sexual harassment against the chair of its earth and environment department, according to Science. Two female former graduate students say that David Marchant harassed them during geological research expeditions to Antarctica when he was still an assistant professor. Other women reportedly accused him of similar behavior and male witnesses confirmed some of the complainants’ accounts; one man said he regretted not speaking out sooner.
Jane Willenbring, now an associate professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of the University of California, San Diego, said that Marchant called her a “slut” and a “whore” and encouraged her to have sex with his brother, who was also on the trip in 1999, Science reported. She also alleges that Marchant repeatedly pushed her down a steep slope, threw rocks at her while she was urinating outside and purposely blew volcanic ash into her eyes while she was experiencing painful ice blindness. A second, unnamed complainant who has since left academe says that Marchant verbally harassed her and threatened to block her access to research funding.
Willenbring reportedly waited to file a complaint with Boston about Marchant until after she obtained tenure, for fear of professional retaliation. Marchant, who declined comment, was scheduled to be honored as a fellow of the Geological Society of America this month, but last week his name was removed from the GSA website listing of new fellows, according to Science.