A renowned geologist who teaches at Boston University is now at the center of new sexual harassment allegations leveled by two graduate students who claim that the professor behaved inappropriately during research expeditions in Antarctica.
Two women came forward to accuse David Marchant of sexually harassing them during small-group research expeditions dating back two decades, when Marchant was an assistant professor and they were graduate students under his tutelage, Science magazine reported.
Jane Willenbring, who currently works as an associate professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, recalled incidents where Marchant pushed her down steep slopes, threw rocks at her while she urinated, called her a “slut” and a “whore,” and pressured her to have sex with his brother.
According to Willenbring, she waited until October 2016 – after she had already secured tenure – to file a complaint against Marchant for fear that he would intervene to try to get her fired as soon as the allegations surfaced.
The second complainant, who used the pseudonym Deborah Doe, accused Marchant of calling her a “bitch” and a “c*nt” multiple times. She also claims that Marchant vowed to ensure that she would never obtain research funding upon earning her Ph.D, a promise that caused her to switch career paths.
The two women’s testimonies compelled several other women to come forward with stories of Marchant treating them inappropriately during the same period, including Hillary Tulley, a high school teacher in Illinois.
“His taunts, degrading comments about my body, brain, and general inadequacies never ended,” she wrote in a supporting letter filed with Boston University investigators, claiming that Marchant was trying to bully her into leaving Antarctica.
Marchant is a well-known figure on the BU campus, having won two prestigious teaching awards. In 2014, Marchant was named a professor of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, securing him a $1 million, 5-year award dedicated to improving science teaching.
“Boston University’s investigation into these allegations is ongoing,” he said in a statement. “I have cooperated fully in that investigation. I do not wish to compromise the integrity of that investigation by making any comments before the investigation has been completed.”