University of Adelaide begins "culture check" of its ancient DNA center and the director, Alan Cooper. A euphemism for an inquiry into bullying, harassment, and other alleged misconduct going back many years.

Alan Cooper
As I have reported over the past couple of days on social media, the University of Adelaide has, at long last, begun an inquiry into serious allegations of misconduct by its ancient DNA chief Alan Cooper. The inquiry was prompted by complaints both within the university and from external sources, since Cooper's activities are widespread and they affect colleagues across Australia and beyond.

I have also reported that I am reliably informed that Cooper and his chief administrator at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), Maria Lekis, are actively discouraging students and postdocs at ACAD from talking to investigators. They are also taking other steps to impede the inquiry which I will discuss in the next report. That might explain why this is being euphemistically called a "culture check," so that Cooper does not have to be suspended as director of ACAD during the inquiries; nevertheless his reportedly active attempts to interfere with it should be a clear sign to the university that this needs to be done.

The following email was sent to ACAD members today, Wednesday July 3, announcing what is being called an "ACAD culture check." It remains to be seen whether this will be a serious inquiry or if Cooper and his allies will be successful in obstructing it. There seems no reason why past members of ACAD, and anyone else who has evidence to present, should not also contact the investigators to gain input into the process.

From: Head of Biological Sciences
Sent: Wednesday, July 3, 2019 5:26:05 PM
Cc: Larraine Sandford
Subject: ACAD culture check

Dear staff, students and affiliates,

I am writing to you as you are a person involved in the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.

The University is currently conducting a culture check in relation to the Centre.  SAE Consulting, an external consultancy, has been engaged to progress this. 

All staff, students and affiliates in the Centre are encouraged to participate.

The University wants to see that all staff, students and affiliates are engaged in a positive and collegial environment.

Your feedback and contribution will assist to inform us about the culture of the Centre, and what, if any, changes might be made.

As I will be away on a period of leave from Friday 5th July, please contact Larraine Sandford, Case Management Advisor, Workplace Relations on 8313 1287 or to request an appointment with SAE Consulting. While I am on leave Larraine will be the point of contact for you during the culture check.

I encourage you to assist in this culture check to provide an informed and accurate picture as to the Centre's culture.

Requests for sensitive discussions can be readily accommodated.
For information, the University's Whistle-blowers’ Policy can be accessed here

In addition to the session with the Corporate Health Group, the University’s employee assistance provider, scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, you may at any time seek confidential support from them on 8352 9898 (after hours 0418 883 855) or visit for more information. This service is provided at no cost to you.


Professor Megan Lewis
Head, School of Biological Sciences
The University of Adelaide, AUSTRALIA 5005
( +61 8 8313 5328 | *

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