U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) today initiated a bipartisan investigation into allegations of assault and sexual harassment against a Boston University professor who has received nearly $5.5 million in federal grants.
According to media reports, the director of Boston University’s Antarctic Research Group allegedly assaulted and sexually harassed two female graduate students while on research trips funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA grants.
Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Johnson sent letters to Boston University, NSF and NASA requesting documents, communications and information regarding the following:
Grants or awards to the professor
Any complaints or investigations into alleged assault or harassment by the professor
Any actions Boston University, NSF or NASA has taken in response to the allegations
The letters read in part:
In October 2016 and May 2017, two separate Title IX complaints were filed with the University by former graduate students who had participated in Antarctica research trips with Professor Marchant. These allegations involved direct physical and verbal attacks on the female students, including threats from Professor Marchant to utilize his prominent standing and sizeable funding to prevent their advancement in the field of Antarctic research and block their access to future NSF research funding.
Professor Marchant’s alleged actions, if true, are an example of behavior that is not acceptable in the academic scientific community or in any professional environment.  The Committee has a responsibility to ensure that recipients of federal dollars are worthy of the taxpayer’s trust.  Any behavior that stymies the advancement and support of women in science should not be tolerated and this Committee will seek all surrounding facts.
The letter to NSF can be found here. The letter to NASA can be found here. The letter to Boston University can be found here.