US National Academy of Sciences expels member for the first time for sexual harassment

The American Astronomer Geoffrey marcy, who discovered the first exoplanets, was expelled from the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS), after being convicted of sexual harassment. This is the first time that the scientific council disposes of one of its members for acting in an urgent manner and without the consent of the other person.

The academy, founded in 1863, sent an email to all its members with the news that Marcy, 66, had been expelled for misconduct.

The complaint was executed by the French scientist Francois-Xavier Coudert, who granted documented evidence against the astrophysicist, for two years. However, these were studied until the fall of 2020.

The accuser, who is also a computational chemist at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), also pointed to three other council members. It was about the evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala, the cancer biologist Inder Verma and the information theorist Sergio Verdu.

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The membership of Marcy, known as the most prolific investigator within the NAS for accounting for the largest number of discoveries, was canceled since May 24, arguing that the member had violated the harassment policies of the US corporation.

The decision was also disclosed to the media with scientific repercussions, such as “Science Insider”, a site where the scientist’s departure was publicly announced. This resolution consisted of the majority approval of the council, exceeding two-thirds of the votes in favor of his expulsion.
However, this was not the first event in which Marcy was involved in issues related to sexual harassment. Since 1995, San Francisco State University denounced the professor for attacking his students.

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But it was not until 2015, when the University of California (UC), in Berkeley, presented the case of four students. The students were harassed during the season from 2001 to 2015, years in which the astronomer failed to comply with the anti-sexual harassment policies of the academic institution.

Faced with these accusations, the planet researcher assured that he has always supported equal opportunities and success for women, within the academy and in the scientific field.

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“My attractive and empathetic style could surely be misunderstood, which is my fault for the miscommunication. I would never intentionally hurt anyone or cause distress,” he objected on “Science Insider.”

In addition, the spectroscopy specialist spoke about his expulsion from the NAS: “I have been completely out of organized academy for more than five years,” he said.

Marcy’s expulsion is “a positive step, but a small step,” said Coudert, the investigator who carried out the accusations of the members of the research center.

However, he maintained that the lack of action against the other defendants, such as Verdú and Verma “shows that NAS’s policy is too weak and, therefore, ineffective. They are allowing bad actors to remain members of the academy, “he said.


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