Matt Hahn was at UC Davis giving a talk yesterday.
Yes @3rdreviewer has arrived at #UCDavis #holobiont #epigenetics #aquarius pic.twitter.com/yirR4rWdio
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) October 6, 2016
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js I did not have my laptop available so took notes with – gasp – a pen and paper. I thought it was quite a nice talk so am posting my notes here. More about Matt and his work can be found here: http://www.indiana.edu/~hahnlab/.
Still trying to wrap my brain around the controversy at UC Davis involving our Chancellor (the head of the University) Linda Katehi (see some of these news stories if you are not aware of what is going on). In some sense I could just watch this all from the sidelines and see what happens. But that is not in my nature. And, over the last month I have gotten a near endless stream of comments and suggestions (some in private, some in public) about the topic. Some say I need to be more vocal in condemning Chancellor Katehi (e.g., a student in my lab told me the other day that they have talked to faculty who are wondering why I am being so hesitant to condemn Chancellor Katehi). Other people (many) say any negative posts about Katehi are damaging UC Davis. Still others say and and all actions of Katehi must be considered in the context of overwhelming sexism against female leaders. And so on. In total I have probably gotten dozens of private comments and even more public comments about the case with suggestions for what I should be doing here.
For those who know me or know about me, I assume you know I am not exactly shy about expressing my opinions on topics like behavior of academics or academic institutions. For example, just after joining UC Davis I wrote a post that was shared widely, condemning a UC Davis Vice Provost over her misuse of her position in support of Closed Access publishing: Vice Provost of U. C. Davis on the wrong side of Open Access.
I give out all sorts of snarky awards on my blog to friends, colleagues, and other folds in the world for doing things I think are inappropriate (e.g., see this STAT story). Sometimes I go overboard in this, but certainly I am not hesitant at expressing thoughts when I think there has been something untoward going on. I try as much as possible to turn my microscope on myself and UC Davis too. For example, see this post from a few weeks ago: UC Davis Storer Lecture series – since 1963 87% of speakers are male.
Painful: #UCDavis Storer Lecture series – since 1963 87% of speakers are male https://t.co/uaBbnxPv5T pic.twitter.com/9GuFORRiqu
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 21, 2016
Again, I know I overdo this sometimes but I am certainly not hesitant to make my feelings know.
But the case of Chancellor Katehi leaves me on the fence and with my fingers unclear what to type somewhat. And so I thought I would try to write up what my thoughts are here, even if they are muddled. I wonder what other people think of the situation and would love feedback (as always) on this post.
So – what is so complex here? What am I trying to wrap my brain around? I think my challenge here comes down to the following: I don’t know whether some of the responses (including mine) to Chancellor Katehi’s actions are tinged with bias, especially sexism. Or, in other words, are the actions and inactions of Chancellor Katehi “firing offenses” or have they been overblown by biased and sexist points of view.
And honestly, I do not know exactly how to figure this out. On the one hand, I accept that there are massive amounts of sexism in society and certainly in regard to how we judge women in power. On the other hand, I think the actions and inactions of Chancellor Katehi and her administration have been serious (in a bad way). I note – one thing I have done to try and better understand my own feelings and actions in this saga is to compile all my posts and communications as best I can and go through them.
This has helped me sort out my thoughts and also helped show me at least that I was certainly not going easy on the UC Davis administration over these cases. I also re-examined my posts about the Pepper Spray incident and aftermath from 2011 which has many parallels to the current situation and also involved Chancellor Katehi. See here for those: posts about the UC Davis Pepper Spray Incident and Aftermath.
Below is a discussion based in part on going through the news stories and posts of others and posts of mine.
Maybe it is best to start with this. A few weeks ago I was pondering the fate of Chancellor Katehi and I wrote a detailed post about this The #UCDavis Chancellor’s Board Positions and the Need for a More Public, Open and Early Disclosure System.
I also included in that discussion some possible conflicts of interest of my own that might be clouding my judgment. Those are relevant to this post too and I encourage people to read them. Anyway, this post was written at the beginning of the latest controversy when all that had been disclosed was her acceptance of a set of outside Board positions that were controversial. I had written many mini posts and Tweets about the situation such as those below:
This is why I no longer use textbooks for courses. UC Davis chancellor received $420,000 on book publisher’s board https://t.co/q1evG9aTcG
— Bruce Rannala (@BruceRannala) March 5, 2016
And I also had started to see some calls for her to be fired and such and made a point to say I did not feel things were that far along and I also linked to some of those posts.
Am very disappointed in board membership choices by #UCDavis Chancellor Katehi but calls for resignation seem woefully reactionary (1/n)
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) March 5, 2016
Not trying to defend choices – I think she needs to disclose more details and actions (e.g., on Wiley) & how there was no COI (2/n)
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) March 5, 2016
But at this time, as far as I can tell no laws or policies were violated (actually it seems UC pushes / encourages board membership) 3/n
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) March 5, 2016
So rather than hanging Katehi out to dry as Janet Napolitano has done, better if UC took some responsibility 4/n pic.twitter.com/ovR7SY4Xet
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) March 5, 2016
What we need to do is systematically reverse the corporatization of UC from the top to the bottom and not just pick at one scab 5/n
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) March 5, 2016
#UCDavis Profs Niemeier & Beamish on UC Admins sitting on boards: Let’s focus on the process, not the person https://t.co/PWRY0ilXQd
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) March 10, 2016
Anyway I discussed all of this in the longer post linked above. In the post, I concluded two things at the time. First, the Board positions were not good ideas and second, that her actions in regard to these Board positions did not raise to the level of firing or asking for her to resign.
And I note – all of this was not just a remote discussion for me. I was part of the story in relation to one of her Board positions. And I got grief and support from people about my comments about this (even though I was clear to say to everyone I did not know anything about the Chancellor’s interactions with this university).
I confess, I found the responses of the “Pro-Katehi” people really disappointing in this story. The Board positions seemed clearly to be bad ideas – riddled with potential or real conflicts of interest and poor judgement about what the response would be to these positions. And I wrote publicly as such. For example:
.@jrossibarra @Graham_Coop @jonfwilkins can’t imagine why students angry about Wiley Board https://t.co/NpYjGDj4N6 pic.twitter.com/rOAyWddufN
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) March 13, 2016
and @Graham_Coop the more I look at this “defense of Wiley” Board position from #UCDavis admins the more icky I feel pic.twitter.com/IAzYI3qgwR
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) March 12, 2016
But I still tried to temper my positions and thoughts to give Chancellor Katehi the benefit of the doubt. And also a student protest began in response to the initial stories and eventually the students “occupied” the Chancellor’s main office. I don’t have the time in this post to cover the protests, the response to the protests and the response to the responses. But it got ugly. And this made things extra complex. But the protests were quite important in keeping attention on the stories and in revealing both the good and bad sides to some of the critical responses to the Chancellor’s actions.
Since that time much else has happened. First, it was revealed that UC Davis had a set of contracts with outside agencies to do damage control PR of various kinds. This literally exploded into a PR nightmare for UC Davis with news coverage from across the globe and massive criticism on social media. I was one of the people throwing out negative comments. I was angry and embarrassed and wrote about this extensively.
And I went out of my way to share critical posts about the administration and to also share some past posts of mine about the pepper spray incident.
Well, $&(!#$&*@#$&@#*)Y: #UCDavis spent thousands to scrub pepper-spray references from Internet https://t.co/u3carw6IDo
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 14, 2016
Did I mention $&*@)!@&$_*(_!$)~(*_$&_!^@)*%&^)!*@&^)^%*&!^@))&*^%)^&!@^)&%!@#) https://t.co/hS6dVV3NDW
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 14, 2016
So is #UCDavis now going to hire same company to scrub internet of stories about them scrubbing internet? https://t.co/hS6dVV3NDW
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 14, 2016
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js And I just decided that I felt the need to post about it a lot. For example:
Re https://t.co/u3carw6IDo The pepper spray incident & aftermath wasn’t something to scrub from the internet but something to learn from 1/2
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 14, 2016
One does not learn from something by erasing a record of it. This is maddening #ucdavis #verysad 2/2 https://t.co/feuaKqT0lO
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 14, 2016
Phew: Now it feels really scrubbed https://t.co/py0fQWjAnj
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 14, 2016
But for both of the above stories alternative more supportive narratives were being presented by the UC Davis administration and by various friends and colleagues of mine (and even myself). These supportive narratives basically took four forms:
- First, many suggested that many of these actions were perfectly acceptable normal behavior by a university and its leader. UC Davis and many others kept saying things like that the PR campaign was just about promoting good things UC Davis did.
- The second form of supportive narrative was that even if these actions were wrong, there were minor infractions.
- The third form of supportive narrative, which I myself discussed and struggled with, was that the Chancellor had done many good or great things and that evaluating her actions should be done with the big picture in mind.
- The fourth form of supportive narrative, which was not shared much publicly at first, was that the response to Chancellor Katehi’s role in these actions was tinged with sexism.
I did not buy the first two supportive narratives (that this was normal behavior and that the infractions were minor) and still do not. And I posted about this repeatedly. See for example:
Ugh #UCDavis implies marketing led to high ranking of Vet School and C&ES not quality https://t.co/jWd1tffNmh pic.twitter.com/7jesFF2ofR
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 15, 2016
And the third supportive narrative was complicated. After all just liking what people have done in some area is not enough to grant them a pass on transgressions. We needed to examine the current actions in detail to figure out just how bad they were. But the fourth supportive narrative struck a cord with me. Why? Well, because I have worked for years with Chancellor Katehi on some issues in bias against women. And I have become actively involved in fighting implicit and explicit bias against women in academia and it is pervasive. And I deeply respect the people who kept bringing up this issue.
So as the story continued to evolve it came to a head early last week. Various emails were circulating around campus suggesting that UC President Napolitano had asked Chancellor Katehi to step down. And some were happy about this. But others were not. I was asked to sign a letter to Napolitano about the case and on first read it simply seemed to be saying “Back off and give the case some time” and so I signed it. But then I reread it and felt it was too supportive of Chancellor Katehi’s actions (and made some statements for which I did not know of any evidence) so I removed my name. And then an email came which included a letter written by a colleague of mine Linda Bisson who I believe is very level headed and fair and reasonable. The letter was to President Napolitano and it discussed possible sexism in the responses to Chancellor Katehi’s actions. And even though I was not sure how I felt about the letter, I felt that it had to be shared publicly. So I asked – and Linda Bisson allowed me to post it on my blog: Letter from #UCDavis Profs to Janet Napolitano about possible sexism in responses to Chancellor Katehi’s activities.
Just sharing the letter itself generate some heated discussions. I again note – I was not endorsing the letter. I just felt the ideas in the letter needed to be brought into the discussion even if I was not sure how I felt about the letter.
The more I think about it the more I realize that sexism is clearly a part of the response to Chancellor Katehi’s actions. Egregious actions of other UC leaders who are male have not been met with the same level of response. Repeatedly. This just seems unfair in many ways. And also the reaction from President Napolitano seemed pretty extreme and overly personal and reactionary (e.g., some of the charges in it were not part of the current discussion).
And so I went back an reexamined the first three supportive narratives I outlined above trying to consider how they could be viewed in the face of sexism. Regarding the first supportive narrative I guess a question to ask is – what do other universities and university leaders do? But even if things are done by others I don’t think that justifies them. I think the PR campaign was massively misguided. I think the Board positions were unwise and riddled with potential and real conflicts of interest. So regardless of what others do I think these were missteps. They show a lack of foresight in thinking about what others would think about these activities. And the leader of a major university needs to use such foresight and use it well.
Regarding the second supportive narrative, I think this is more complicated. At first it seemed the Chancellor and her staff were defending all of her actions (the first narrative) which I found unseemly.
But then she did (sort of) apologize and said she would work to fix any mistakes. I found the apology unconvincing to be honest but was happy to see it. So she was accepting some responsibility for mistakes and thus I could in a way cross of the first narrative. Thus we could now discuss whether these mistakes were enough to lead to firing / stepping down. At that point after consulting many colleagues, I decided that I was still displeased with the Chancellor and her administration in many ways, but that I was hoping that we could move forward in some way.
I think the third narrative (that I felt she had done many good things for UC Davis) played a big role in my thoughts here.
But then, just thereafter there came some new revelations. And these ones I think rewrite the situation a bit. First, President Napolitano had apparently asked Katehi to resign (as mentioned above). And Katehi apparently decided not to.
Just got this email forwarded from #UCDavis Chancellor Katehi on her commitment to staying as Chancellor pic.twitter.com/hTJKVnH15d
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 27, 2016
And then the hammer came down from President Napolitano including various new accusations. And also the Sacramento Bee revealed further details about the recent social media “listening campaign” paid for by the UC Davis Administration.
Read the ‘listening reports’ that UC Davis’ PR firm provided Katehi’s aides: https://t.co/kU71jha3RQ
— dianalambert (@dianalambert) April 29, 2016
These two stories together were particularly distressing to me. And most distressing they revealed a side of the story I have not discussed move above which was there throughout. This involves the communications from Chancellor Katehi and her administration about all of these topics. Napolitano, for example, was angry about the possible misleading statements about Chancellor Katehi’s role in the PR contracts. And though I think the Napolitano letter has some problems (e.g., no
consolation consultation of anyone from UC Davis apparently before taking this action) I also did feel that some of the communications from the UC Davis administration were misleading. The UC Davis Administration had been trying to say in regard to these PR and social media contracts that they were all about promoting UC Davis and not about watching or trying to clean up the reputation of Chancellor Katehi. But if you look at the listening reports published by the Sacramento Bee – they are all about Katehi. And even more disconcerting, they included a lot of material about me and my brother and many colleagues. It just smelled really off to me. And so I got angrier and angrier. And less forgiving.
And the fact that the reports published by the SacBee included a lot of material about me and my brother and close friends and colleagues really threw me into a bit of a rage.
So @dianalambert those are painful – includes reports about @mbeisen @lpachter @BruceRannala and more #ucdavis role in this is pathetic
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 29, 2016
@phylogenomics @dianalambert @mbeisen @lpachter @BruceRannala impressive: top “influencer”, in front of @sacbee_news pic.twitter.com/4Cu9upwmJC
— Fabian Rivera-Chávez (@FabianRChavez) April 29, 2016
And these were just the latest examples of disastrously bad or misleading or inaccurate communications coming from the UC Davis Administration. The press releases they had been putting out were pretty awful. The statements they made were frequently incomplete or downright misleading. And they seemed to never really get the seriousness of any of the situations. I had been pointing this out along the way but it just never got better. It just got worse. A good summary of the communications problems has been discussed by Marcos Breton in a series of articles in the Sacramento Bee. For example:
@ted_geier @sacbee_news communications coming from #UCDavis admin are disastrously bad (eg see https://t.co/Hd5lzDxbp6 by @MarcosBreton)
— Jonathan Eisen (@phylogenomics) April 19, 2016
So after all the saga, after all the rehashing of my prior responses, I feel torn still. I get that there is real sexism in how women and women leaders are treated. I have been fighting such sexism for years and been inspired by how Chancellor Katehi
fight’s fights such sexism with action. But I think even in the face of this, there are real and distressing mistakes that Chancellor Katehi and her administration have made and keep making. And these mistakes are doing damage to my beloved UC Davis. In addition, and also very important, I worry deeply about unfair charges of sexism against critics of Chancellor Katehi. There are real and valid criticisms of Chancellor Katehi and her actions and her administration and discounting them all just because some aspects of the situation involve sexism is also damaging.
In the end, am I willing to wait for the results of the planned investigation by the University of California into Chancellor Katehi’s actions? Yes I am. Do I think she will be absolved of the more serious charges? I do not know but I truly hope so.
But regardless of the results of this investigation, I am deeply worried about how the entire situation impacts UC Davis. Yes, Chancellor Katehi deserves to be treated fairly. And yes, she has done some very good things for UC Davis. And yes I like her personally. And yes there is a great deal of subtle and not so subtle sexism in the world and likely some in the response to her actions. But I am unable to stop coming back to the series of clear mistakes that have been made. Of actions and inactions that have shown poor judgment. And of repeated, baffling, and damaging poor communications in response to the ongoing situation. I have given as much benefit of the doubt as I am able to give I guess. And at this point in time I have just really had enough. I hope we can move UC Davis back to a better path as soon as possible. Maybe this could happen with a rapid (very rapid) and complete and open investigation of Chancellor Katehi and of her being cleared of all major accusations. I hold out hope for that to happen. However, it seems to me that the most obvious way forward, unless something else drastically changes, is going to be with a new Chancellor.
Some responses and comments
Well worth reading: https://t.co/ZqqKJApKUa
— Alex L (@AlexLey) May 2, 2016
If you’re following #UCDavis and the Katehi saga you owe it to yourself to read this @phylogenomics post. https://t.co/WwGssfXyez
— Kent Holsinger (@keholsinger) May 2, 2016
Punchline (don’t let that abbreviate his nuances/keep you from reading important faculty thoughts): new chancellor. https://t.co/RilOZsISoq
— Ted Geier (@ted_geier) May 1, 2016
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js UPDATE May 4, 2016. 9 PM. After a lot of thought and discussions with many many many people about this post and about Chancellor Katehi I have come to the conclusion that we need a new Chancellor at UC Davis. I have come to this conclusion for many reasons which I will try to write about as soon as possible.
From: Linda Bisson
Date: Sun, Apr 24, 2016 at 6:43 AM
Subject: Letter to President Napolitano
Dear President Napolitano:
We want to express grave concern over a pattern of negativism in the press and social media regarding women Chancellors and senior administrative leaders. There are strong parallels between the singularly intensive criticism of our Chancellor Linda Katehi and that previously of Chancellors Fox (UCSD) and Denton (UCSC), and of UC Vice President Greenwood. Yet, the activities that are being criticized clearly fall within the standards of UCwide practice. This pattern is exemplified by a 2006 LA Times article that criticized compensation practices for senior UC executives: those singled out for criticism for “extravagant pay practices, perks and privilege for top executives” are all women (http://articles.latimes.com/2006/feb/16/local/me-cap16). The intensity of the criticism at the time ended in tragedy for Chancellor Denton. Chancellor Fox’s term was equally framed as fraught with turmoil, turmoil apparently not experienced by her male colleagues who were facing identical issues due to budget cuts and lack of diversity and inclusion. In an article in the San Diego Union Tribune written on Chancellor Fox’s decision to step down (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2011/jul/05/fox- leaving-ucsd/?#article-copy), she is described in terms steeped in implicit gender bias such as the quote ascribed to former President Atkinson: “She handled that as well as she could have handled it” – not as well as anyone could have handled it or as well as it could have been handled.
Women in leadership positions are often the victims of intense implicit bias and, as a consequence, of the phenomenon of “single storyism” – the reduction of their actions to a simple narrative that appeals to the biases of a broad section of society, in this case implicit gender bias and women being incompetent for their position. Whatever they say or do in response is twisted to fit the “single story.” We think the LA Times article listed above illustrates perfectly the problem of the single story experienced by senior women administrators at UC. If the LA Times story were rewritten today, Chancellor Katehi’s name is likely the only one that would be added to the list.
All of UC is richer because of the participation of women and underrepresented groups at all levels. We know you and your leadership team share this belief. We are concerned that UCOP does not recognize that senior administrators who are identified with an underrepresented identity vital to our diversity are subject to vilification in the press simply because of that identity. We are also concerned, as recent press regarding our Chancellor Katehi demonstrates, that Chancellors and other senior administrators are not well-equipped to deal with single storyism, nor is there the recognition that others, such as UCOP, must step in to address the criticism as well.
The absence of factual information on UC policies and practices with respect to external compensation for all senior administrators has led to speculative and negative public debate regarding a single senior woman, when the practice of external involvement is widespread. We would like to request clear articulation from UCOP of both the formal policies and the informal practices as they pertain to executive compensation (e.g., have senior managers been encouraged to participate in activities outside UC). We note that legislators are calling for the same review. UCOP’s understanding of the broader issues involved is essential to informing these external discussions. The need for UCOP to take action is urgent.
We thank you for considering this request.
Linda F. Bisson, Former Chair, Davis Division of the Academic Senate, 2006-2008 & 2011-2012
Rachael E. Goodhue, Chair Elect, Davis Division of the Academic Senate 2016-2018
I got an email announcement for a talk that seems potentially quite interesting. The problem is not the talk. The problem is with the endowed Lectureship that this talk is connected to. So here is the post I have worked on on and off over the last year or more.
UC Davis has an endowed lecture series- the Storer Lectureship in the Life Sciences. It has been running since the 1960s and is a relatively big deal on campus here. The speakers come in, usually give one or two talks (one for the public and one for researchers). They usually have a big dinner (I have gone to a few of these) and the speakers get a decent honorarium (a few thousand dollars) and some sort of gift.
Most years I have been here, I have received a request from the organizers for suggested speakers and every once in a while I have made suggestions, some of which have even led to invitations. Recently, I had suggested a famous colleague who is also a UC Davis alum. Alas, she could not come. The organizers asked if I had any other suggestions and I sent them a list of a few candidates who are both very good, well known and do something related to microbes. The organizers really liked one of the suggestions and asked if I would be willing to invite this person.
So I started drafting a letter. And as part of drafting a letter I wanted to give examples of past speakers to show how great a set of speakers we had for this series. So I Googled “Storer” and
UC Davis” or something like that and got to the page:
And that is when I got a bit heartbroken. The speakers have been, well, very male. I note I spent a while looking at descriptions of each speaker that I did not know to try and determine their gender, looking at their web sites if available, or how they were described (e.g., what pronouns were used). I am pretty confident in the assignments though I realize this is an error prone approach. Here is the full list as far as I have put together with the males labelled in yellow and females in green.
|Oct 5-16, 1963||Ernest W. Caspari||University of Rochester|
|Oct 17-31, 1966||Vincent G. Derhicr||Univesity of Pennsylvania|
|May 7-20, 1967||Ernst Mayr||Harvard University|
|Nov 3-15, 1968||Elizabeth C. Crosby||Univesity of Michigan|
|Jan 3-15, 1969||W.D. Billings||Duke University|
|Apr 13-23, 1969||Frank Fenner||Australian National University,|
|Apr 5-19, 1970||A. Frey-Wyssling||Eidgenossiche Tcchnische Hochschule|
|Nov 11-23, 1970||Carl L. Hubbs||Scripps Institution of Oceanography|
|Feb 1-12, 1971||H.L. KornBerg||University of Leicester, England|
|Nov 22-Dec 3, 1971||Hilary Koprowski||University of Pennsylvania|
|Jan 17-28, 1972||George Beadle||University of Chicago|
|Jan 17-28, 1972||Muriel Beadle||University of Chicago|
|May 1-12, 1972||Sterling Hendricks||Agriculture Research Service, U.S.D.A|
|Oct 16-27, 1972||George Gaylord Simpson||The Simroe Foundation|
|Feb 23-Mar 9, 1973||Sir Alan S. Parkes||The Galton Foundation|
|Apr 9-20, 1973||Peter R. Marler||The Rockefeller University|
|May 7-18, 1973||George C. Cotzias, M.D.||Brookhaven National Laboratory|
|Nov 6-13, 1973||Eugene E. Odum||University of Georgia|
|Nov 12-16, 1973||Peter Alexander||Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital|
|Mar 4-15, 1974||Davis A. Hamburg, MD.||Stanford University School of Medicine|
|Apr 1-15, 1974||Kent V. Flannery||University of Michigan|
|Nov 4-15, 1974||Garrett Hardin||University of California, Santa Barbara|
|Mar 30-Apr 9, 1975||Kenneth J. Carpenter||University of Cambridge|
|Apr 20-May 2, 1975||Murray S. Blum||University of Georgia|
|Oct 20-31, 1975||Bert W. O’Malley, M.D.||Baylor College of Medicine,|
|Apr 12-23, 1976||Sydney Brenner||Division of Cell Biology of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England|
|May 17-28, 1976||Peter S. Carlson||Michigan State University,|
|Nov 22-Dec 3, 1976||Roger Y. Stanier||Pasteur Institute,|
|Jan 24-Feb 4, 1977||Peter Albersheim||University of Colorado|
|Feb 22-Mar 4, 1977||*Jere Mead, M.D. Cecil K. and Philip Drinker||Harvard University|
|Apr 11-12, 1977||S. J. Singer||University of California, San Diego|
|Nov 20-30, 1977||James D. Ebert||Marine Biological Laboratory|
|Feb 8-15, 1978||Sir Kenneth Blaxtcr||Rowen Research Institute|
|Apr 5-12, 1978||Eric H. Davidson||California Institute of Technology|
|Oct 9-20, 1978||Jutgen Aschoff||Max-Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology|
|Feb 20-22, 1979||*Burt L. Vallee, Paul C. Cabot||Harvard Medical School|
|Apr 24-26, 1979||Carl R. Woese||University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign|
|Nov 5-16, 1979||Daphne J. Osborne||Oxford University|
|Februarv 4-15, 1980||John F. Eisenberg||Smithsonian Institution.|
|Apr 16-18, 1980||George E. Palade, M.D.||Yale Medical School|
|May 5-16, 1980||Jerre Levy||University of Chicago|
|Oct 27-30, 1980||Colin Blakemore||Oxford University|
|Jan 21-27, 1980||Pierre Dejours||CNRS|
|Feb 26-Mar 5, 1981||Richard Alexander||University of Michigan|
|Oct 20-27, 1981||Alfred F. Harper||University of Wisconsin Madison|
|May 11-19, 1982||Glenn W. Burton||USDA-SEA|
|Oct 11-18, 1982||Richard F. Leakey||National Museums of Kenya|
|Jan 6-11, 1983||Eric R. Kandel, M.D.||Columbia University,|
|Oct 12-18, 1983||Donald S. Farner||University of Washington|
|Feb 13-15, 1984||Daniel Branton||Harvard University|
|Apr 24-26, 1984||J. Michael Bishop||University of California, San Francisco|
|Dec 3-6, 1984||Maurice Fried||National Research Council|
|Apr 3-8, 1985||John Krebs||Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology|
|May 8-14, 1985||Geoffrey M. Ole Maloiy||University of Nairobi|
|Oct 8-10, 1985||Michael P. Hassell||Imperial College, London|
|Apr 21-24, 1986||John Maynard Smith||University of Sussex.|
|Dec 1-4, 1986||Aldo Carl Leopold||Boyce Thompson Institute|
|Mar 2A, 1987||Gerald Edelman||The Rockefeller University|
|Nov 10-12, 1987||Jean-Claude Chcrrnann||Pasteur Institute, Paris France|
|Jan 15-20, 1988||Jean-Pierre Changeux||Pasteur Institute, Paris France|
|Apr 11-15, 1988||John I. Harpcr||University College of North Wales|
|Oct 17-21, 1988||Rudiger Wehner||University of Zurich|
|Oct 23-26, 1989||John C. Torrey||Harvard University|
|Feb 26-Mar 2, 1990||Heinz Saedler||Max-Planck-Institute|
|Nov 5-7, 1990||Francis Crick||The Salk Institute|
|Jan 28-31, 1991||Thomas A. McMahon||Harvard University|
|May 28-30, 1991||Lynn Margulis||University of Massachusetts|
|Nov 18-21, 1991||Richard C. Lewontin||Harvard University|
|Feb 4-6, 1992||Philip Leder||Harvard Medical School|
|Apr 13-16, 1992||Patrick Bateson||University of Cambridge|
|Nov 16-19, 1992||Melvin I. Simon||California Institute of Technology|
|Feb 1-5, 1993||Anne McLaren||Wellcome/CRC Institute|
|Apr 13-16, 1993||Judah Folkman||Harvard Medical School|
|Jan 24 -27, 1994||Philippa Marrack||National Jewish Center|
|Feb 28-Mar 3, 1994||Stephen O’Brien||National Cancer Institute|
|Apr 18-21, 1994||Roy M. Anderson||University of Oxford|
|Oct 31-Nov 2, 1994||Michael J. Berridge||The Babraham Institute|
|Feb 6-10, 1995||Hal Hatch||CSIRO Division of Plant Industry|
|May 1-5, 1995||Elaine Fuchs||The University of Chicago|
|Oct 16-19, 1995||Peter Ellison||Harvard University|
|Mar 4-8, 1996||Gottfried Schatz||University of Basel, Switzerland|
|Apr 8-10, 1996||Daniel Hillel||University of Massachusetts at Amherst|
|Feb 3-6, 1997||Peter R. Grant||Princeton University|
|Apr 14-17, 1997||William J. Lennarz||State University of New York|
|May 5-7, 1997||Carolyn W. Slayman||Yale University School of Medicine|
|Apr 20-22, 1998||Floyd Bloom||The Scripps Research 1nstitute|
|May 18-20, 1998||Ian Wilmut||Roslin Institute|
|Jan 11-13, 1999||Leroy E. Hood||University of Washington|
|Apr 26-28, 1999||Patricia Goldman-Rakic||Yale University School of Medicine|
|Jan 30-31, 2001||Charles Arntzen||Arizona State University|
|University of Oxford|
|Mar 4-6, 2002||Jan H. Hoeijmakcrs||Erasmus University|
|Apr 11-12, 2002||Fred H. Gage||The Salk Institute|
|May 6-7, 2002||Phillip A. Sharp||Center for Cancer Research, MIT|
|Jan 13-15, 2003||George M. Martin, M.D.||University of Washington|
|Mar 10-11, 2003||Kim A. Nasmyth||Vienna Biocenter|
|Apr 28-29, 2003||Tim Flannery||Director of the South Australian Museum|
|Dec 1-2, 2003||William Greenough||University of Illinois|
|Feb 18-19, 2004||Bruce Ames||Children’s Hospital, Oakland Research Institute|
|Nov 29-30, 2004||Hans Herren||International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology|
|Apr 26-27, 2005||H. Robert Horvitz||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|May 9-10, 2005||Steven Chu||Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory|
|Jan 24-25, 2006||Cynthia Kenyon||University of California, San Francisco|
|Mar 14-15, 2006||Thomas D. Pollard||Yale University|
|Oct 23-24, 2006||Mimi Koehl||University of California, Berkeley|
|Dec 4-5, 2006||Simon A. Levin||Princeton University|
|Apr 5-6, 2007||Sir Peter Crane, FRS||University of Chicago|
|Apr 23-24, 2007||Stephen Quake||Stanford University|
|May 14-15, 2007||Pasko Rakic||Yale University|
|Mar 23-24, 2009||Sean Carroll||University of Wisconsin|
|Apr 20-21, 2009||H. Allen Orr||University of Rochester|
|May 19-20, 2009||John Doebley||University of Wisconsin|
|Mar 11-12, 2010||Elliot Meyerowitz||California Institute of Technology|
|May 17-18, 2010||Robert Langer||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|May 11-12, 2011||Nina Federoff||Pennsylvania State University|
|Jan 11-12, 2012||Jane Lubchenco||NOAA|
|Apr 24-25, 2012||Ilkka Hanski||University of Helsinki|
|May 30-31, 2012||Loren Rieseberg||University of British Columbia|
|Oct 2-3, 2012||Ed Delong||MIT|
|Nov 15, 2012||Jordi Bascompte||Estación Biológica de Doñana|
|Nov 19, 2012||Simon Boulton||London Research Institute|
|Jan 16, 2013||Ary Hoffman||University of Melbourne|
|Jan 31, 2013||Jonathan Losos||Harvard|
|Mar 18, 2013||Gloria Coruzzi||NYU|
|Apr 10-11 2013||Peter Agre||Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute|
|May 6, 2013||Richard Wrangham||Harvard|
|May 16, 2013||Sue Carter||RTI International|
|May 28, 2013||Larry Gold||CU Boulder|
|June 4, 2013||Eric Schadt||Mount Sinai|
|June 05, 2013||Nancy Moran||Yale|
|Oct 28-29, 2013||Walter Bodmer||University of Oxford|
|Dec 4-5, 2013||Ronald Kaback||UCLA|
|Feb 24, 2014||Patricia Wright||Stony Brook|
|Mar 5-6, 2014||Steve Carpenter||University of Wisconsin|
|Apr 9-10, 2014||Jerry Coyne||University of Chicago|
|May 20-21, 2014||May Berenbaum||University of Illinois|
|May 28-29, 2014||Joel Cohen||Rockefeller University|
|Oct 28-29, 2014||Charles Rice||The Rockefeller University|
|Nov 19-20, 2014||Rolf Zinkernagel||University of Zurich|
|Apr 15-16, 2015||Tim Clutton Block||University of Cambridge|
|Oct 7-8, 2015||Richard Lenski||Michigan State|
|April 22, 2016||Steve Nowicki||Duke University|
The total numbers come to 19 females out of 142 speakers or ~13% female and 87% male. Ugh.
And the person I had suggested to invite was male. So I wrote back to the organizers and I wrote:
From: Jonathan Eisen
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2015 11:34 AM
To: XXXCc: XXX
Subject: Abyssmal gender ratio of speakers in the Storer Lectureship series
XXX and XXXX
With sincere apologies but …
In preparing a letter of invitation for XXX I decided to include some examples of previous Storer Lecturers. And therein lies the problem On the web sitehttp://www.dbs.ucdavis.edu/seminars_and_events/storer_lecture_list.htmlfrom my count, there are 121 past speakers listed. Of these, 15 appear to be female (from my estimate). That comes to 12%. That is embarassaingly low. I hope my calculations here are wrong.
Can you tell me if the Storer Lectureship has any policies regarding diversity of speakers? If yes, can you provide me with those details.
If no, I recommend you implement one as soon as possible. Either way, I refuse to have my name affiliated with this series, and will not invite anyone to talk in it, without further information and without some serious attempt to figure out how to do a better job representing the diversity of biologists who could give such talks.
They wrote back with a very detailed response and were very supportive of the concept of increasing diversity of speakers. And they explained some of the efforts they had made in this regard. And they really seem to be trying in some ways. But in the end, their main justification for the lack of diversity was that they were trying to invite already recognized, in essence famous, biologists. People who had won a Nobel or were in the National Academy of Sciences or were HHMI investigators. And this pool, that they had chosen, was skewed in gender balance.
So I wrote back to them June 18:
Thanks very much for the response.
I understand you have some constraints and greatly appreciate that you are committed to trying to improve the diversity of speakers. However, the end result is truly not acceptible in my mind and therefore I believe more needs to be done, urgently, to improve the situation.
What are some possible ways to improve the situation?
Well, the number one recommendation I would make would be to not constrain the pool to honorific groups that themselves have severe skews. No we cannot solve those skews and there are many causes for them. But I believe it is a major mistake to use the diversity of those groups (NAS, Nobel, HHMI) as a target. Either invite people to represent diversity well even from a constrained pool, or, open up to a broader pool (there are plenty of incredible scientists who have not gotten HHMI, NAS, or Nobels).
In addition to opening up the pool and not aiming at such a low bar, there are many things one can do to improve the diversity of speakers. I have written about this extensively as have many others. I can point the committee to some of these articles if interested.
In the end, whatever the reasons are, the Storer series has ended up with extremely biased gender ratio of speakers. I think it is up to the committee to fix this with a combination of actions. But the first thing I would recommend is to not use the diversity of a set of pools you have chosen as an excuse. We can and should do better and if the pools are the reason, the pools from which you sample need to be changed.
They wrote back, saying they were really committed to achieving better gender balance in the future writing “we are totally committed to the same goals as you in terms of gender balance now and in the future.” And they also wrote that they expected “the final lineup to reflect at least 30 percent or more female” as long as one additional woman (the person I had originally recommended) would come (though I had told them she said she could not). And then they asked if I would reconsider inviting the man who I had been about to invite that had started this whole discussion.
So I wrote back again July 14:
Thanks again for the response. And though I do not want to continue beating a dead horse, I am not convinced we are doing enough in this area. For example, what explains the “at least 30 percent” and how close to 30% will that be. This is important as, for example, the National Science Foundation will not support their people attending meetings if female speakers are at < 33%. I think 30% is, to be honest, just not acceptable in biology. So beofre contributing any more to this series I need to know exactly what is meant by "we are totally committed to the same goals as you in terms of gender balance now and in the future.”
For example, here are some questions I would like to know the answers to:
- Are you committed to achieving gender balance in the speaker series or just saying you are being more even than before?
- Are you committed to researching and using diverse options to ensure diversity of speakers beyond just focusing on who is invited?
- Are you interested in understanding why the series has been so undiverse in the past and addressing this directly or just moving forward?
- Are you willing to address the lack of diversity in the past publicly and also discuss efforts to improve the diversity?
I would very much like to know more detail about how serious you are to having a diverse series and what you plan to do to achieve this.
With apologies, but in regard to inviting XXX or XXX. I am sorry but given the past record of this series, which as I said is among the worst I have seen anywhere, I am just not willing to be involved in any way until I see a stronger and more public committment to diversity.
I am happy to help with the series and to help improve the diversity of speakers. But this should be done openly and publicly and forcefully. And without evidence of this, I am unable and unwilling to be involved.
And, well, I have not heard from them again. So, I am writing this. For many reasons. But a key one is, I think we need to be more public about such issues. And we just need to fix things that are broken.
So today I decided to make the post live. I wish I had done this earlier.
— Andy Jones (@andyojones) April 21, 2016
Important read: “UC Davis Storer Lecture series – since 1963 87% of speakers are male” https://t.co/gcsgSt1Woe
— Alexandra Rosati (@AlexGRosati) April 21, 2016
Another example of male-biased seminar series. https://t.co/cFFrErA8Ah
— Haldre Rogers (@haldre1) April 22, 2016
So, I assume by now many people out there have heard about the controversy going on at UC Davis over the board positions taken by the UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. If you have not – here is a brief summary.
- In late February, Chancellor Katehi accepted a board position at the for profit educational company Devry but then steeped down after complaints. See for example this story by Diana Lambert in the SacBee for details. Note – she has admitted that her accepting of this position prior to getting approval from the UC President was a violation of UC policy.
- Chancellor Katehi received $420,000 in compensation for serving on the board of John Wiley and Son’s from 2012-2014. See this SacBee story by Diana Lambert and Dale Kasler for more detail. In relation to this report, Chancellor Katehi has apologized and has said she will donate “all the stock proceeds” she made from Wiley to a Scholarship fund for UC Davis students.
- Chancellor Katehi served on the International Advisory Board of King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia for a year. This is the same University that has been strongly critiqued for its practice of paying highly cited scholars to become adjunct faculty in order to boost its ratings. It has been reported that she did not attend any of the board meetings in person and did not receive any compensation for this. See this and this for more detail.
- Calls for Chancellor Katehi to resign or be fired. These calls have come from various sources including multiple members of the California State government; some students and others at UC Davis; and a few publications. See for example this and this and this and this.
- There have also been calls to have more oversight of conflicts, more transparency, or just not allowing serving on for profit boards.
- There have been multiple statements of support for Chancellor Katehi including from other UC Davis administrators, some faculty, members of the local community, and others.
- Students have had multiple protests on campus including the occupation of Chancellor Katehi’s office in Mrak Hall on UC Davis Campus. See for example this and this and this and this.
But … there is one major thing that gives me pause here. And it relates to the comment above about trying “tried to be as objective as possible” here. The reason this gives me pause here is because one of the key issues at play relates to “Conflicts of Interest” – both real and perceived – in the Chancellor’s board positions. Many critics have argued that each of these board positions comes with major conflicts of interest in the Chancellor’s job as the head of a major public university. The Chancellor’s supporters have argued that these board positions at worst involved the appearance of a possible conflict and not any real conflict.
Why I am digging into this conflict of interest topic? Because I think one key way to help people assess whether there are any real or possible conflicts of interest in one’s activities is to fully disclose as much as possible about one’s activities. And I think the UC in general and the Chancellor of UC Davis could do a much much much better job in terms of disclosures. And I have a proposal for that.
But before we get into that I think it is necessary for me to make some disclosures. Here are some:
- I am a Professor at UC Davis
- I have worked on a few projects with the UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi directly and indirectly and I have always had positive interactions with her).
- I have worked on the UC Davis ADVANCE Project ( to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers) for which Chancellor Katehi is the lead.
- I don’t always agree with actions taken by Chancellor Katehi but I do believe she is truly committed to improving UC Davis
- I have worked for many years on “open access” to scholarly literature (and a little bit to textbooks) and have occasionally been at odds with the John Wiley and Son’s company.
- I was involved in an exposé of what I believe to be unethical behavior of King Abdulaziz University a few years ago in their attempts to buy rankings by trying to have scholars change their institutional affiliations on publications and in citation databases. See for example this and this and this. I note – I was threatened by one of the people from KAU who I helped expose. I am NOT A FAN of KAU.
- I spent almost two months writing about the pepper spray incident and follow up in 2011 in an effort to help save the image of UC Davis, which I love. See some of my posts about this here. The whole incident and the aftermath was very traumatic for the University and many individuals associated with the University, including myself. There were calls for Chancellor Katehi to resign then. And there were statements of support by deans and faculty. I refused to sign either. I thought she and the UC Davis admins made many mistakes and did not by any means deserve endorsements. But I also thought it was unclear if their mistakes were enough for them to be pushed out.
- Other disclosures of mine are here: https://phylogenomics.wordpress.com/about/disclosures
OK – so that is a way longer introduction than I had imagined in getting to the question of “what should we do now?”
- I personally think that accepting each of these board positions was really not wise. Yes, the Chancellor may have accepted them with the best of intentions. And yes, she may not have done anything inappropriate in her time on the two on which she served (Wiley and KAU). But I think it would not have been that hard to imagine how these board positions might be perceived – especially by UC Davis students. And that alone I think should have led to turning down these board positions. She has admitted Devry was a mistake. She has not admitted (as far as I know) that Wiley was a mistake but has hinted that she can see how some people may not like it. She has not admitted at all that KAU was a mistake as far as I can tell (and has defended it as being in the interest of promoting diversity), but given that it was known in 2011 widely that they were buying ranking in a seemingly unethical manner, this should have raised some red flags. I do wonder a bit whether my really unpleasant interaction with KAU has made me more judgmental about this board position than maybe I should be (hence why I thought it was important to disclose this above).
- Despite the above comments, I do not think that the board positions taken by the Chancellor are enough of a problem to call for her firing or resignation. There are two major reasons for this. My min reason for this is that I think one has to weigh the board position issue against all she has done as Chancellor and overall I believe she has done many very good things as Chancellor and that she is truly and deeply committed to UC Davis. I understand that other people do not agree with this. So I think in a way how people respond to this board position issue may relate largely to how good a job they think she has been doing as Chancellor.
- I think a key mistake in this whole situation involved a poor job of disclosure. More on this below.
- I think another key mistake has been the slow and minimal communication with UC Davis and the public in response to these issues. I really wish Chancellor Katehi and UC Davis administrators would hold some town halls or the like to discuss these issues and to explain to us why these board positions were taken.
In general I think disclosures of possible conflicts of interest are done really poorly in academia. So poorly that before this whole issue cropped up at UC Davis I made a proposal that scholars add disclosures to a centralized universal scholarly ID system known as ORCID. See Improving Ability to Identify Possible Conflicts of Interest of Scholars 1: Adding a Disclosure Field to ORCID. This would certainly help when on sees a paper by someone (say, Eric Lander) and would allow one to get more information about their possible conflicts of interest (say, billions of dollars in possible royalties for the institute one runs). I think such a system would be very useful. But it is not really enough for the issue at hand here.
Proposed Public, Open, and Early Disclosure System for UC Administrators.
- This system should be applied to all top UC Administrators (UC President, Chancellors, Provosts, Deans, and possibly others)
- Disclosures of outside activities and potential conflicts of interest must be made publicly available in a centralized location.
- This would include Form 700s and other declarations.
- I have been told such forms are available for all UC Admins. They are certainly not readily available.
- UC Administrators should be required to update such disclosures quarterly
- The disclosures need to be referenced and linked readily and widely:
- The disclosures should be provided at the administrator’s profile pages
- Disclosures or links to them should accompany all official communications of these administrators (much in the way disclosures should accompany scholarly publications).
- Administrators should be required to submit proposed outside activities to the public PRIOR to commencing those activities.
- There should be a public commenting period regarding these proposals
- The specific activities and compensations must be included in all proposals
- The proposals should include a discussion of the putative benefits to the UC for such activities.
- There should be a more public, more formal review process for determining if the proposed activities are in the best interest of the UC
- These disclosures should happen whether or not any other regulations about outside activities happen.
- 3/23/16. Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic. UC Davis Students Demand the Ouster of Their Chancellor.
- 3/23/16. Michael Lewis in the Davis Enterprise Point of Brew: Brewing courses for Chancellor Katehi
- 3/21/16. Sam Stanton in the SacBee: Lawmaker shifts course, now says UC Davis chancellor should remain
- 3/20/16. Jann Murray-Garcia (Adjunct Asst. Prof. at UCD School of Nursing). Just Us in Davis: I stand with Chancellor Katehi.
- Kris Hooks in the Sac News and Review 3/24: UC Davis student protest of Chancellor Katehi enters third week
- 3/23/16 Conor Frierersdorf in the Atlantic: UC Davis Students Demand the Ouster of Their Chancellor
- 3/23/16 Oona Goodin-Smith in USAToday: Protesters call for ouster of UC-Davis chancellor
- 3/24/16. Rachel Leibrock in SN&R. Time to go.
- 3/28/16. California Aggie: Fire Katehi protest continues through break
- 3/29/16. Roman Rivilis – ex ASUCD Senator: Indicting Linda Katehi
- 3/29/16. Collection of faculty call on Katehi to resign. Faculty Statement Supporting the MRAK Occupation and Call For Katehi Resignation
- 4/3/16. Sunday Commentary: Student Protests Starting to Open Up Troubling Findings about UCD
- 4/4/16: UC Davis Chancellor Katehi apologizes to lawmakers over ‘lapse’ in taking DeVry seat
Been attempting to get for 700s for the Chancellor (as an exercise, not to dig into them in any detail). Writing about it in a seagate post.
Crossposted from microBEnet
Every year for the last few years I have given a talk on the “Evolution of DNA Sequencing” at the “Workshop in Applied Phylogenetics” at Bodega Bay Marine Lab. I just did the talk and thought I would post the slides here. I note – I also added an evolutionary tree of sequencing methods which I include here as a separate animated gif too.
I note I posted a request to Twitter the day before the talk pointing to last years slides and I got lots of helpful suggestions from people about what to add or change. I included links to Tweets in the talk and thanked those people on the slides. But I would like to thank everyone here too. Published originally on March 10, 2015. Updated 10/20/15 with information below and republished. Finally posted the video of the talk (recorded using Camtasia) to Youtube. It is imperfect (there are a few things I said that came out wrong .. it was late at night). But since it may be helpful to people I am posting it.
Here is a quick roundup of the Roundtable discussion I was involved in on Microbiomes in Food and Agriculture run by the IFAL at UC Davis.