Another harasser bites the dust. Please don't pass him. [Updated Sept 24 2020: The New York Times weighs in]

Over the past weeks I have been Tweeting about the misconduct investigation the American Museum of Natural History in New York City has been conducting on its long-time curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, Mark Siddall. More recently I reported that he had been fired.

The official word comes today:

From: Michael Novacek <>
Subject: Message for Curators and Division of Invertebrate Zoology staff members
Date: September 4, 2020 at 3:01:14 PM EDT
Cc: Michael Novacek <>, Kala Harinarayanan <>

Dear Curators and Division of Invertebrate Zoology staff members,
We write to let you know that Dr. Mark Siddall was terminated from his employment with the Museum, effective September 3, 2020, due to violating the Museum’s anti-harassment policies. As a result, Dr. Siddall will not be available for any Museum-related work. If you have ongoing projects with Dr. Siddall, please contact your supervisor or the Provost’s Office.
Michael Novacek, Senior Vice President and Provost
Kala Harinarayanan, Vice President of Human Resources

It's too soon to say much about the details, but let's just say that he made the museum's women, and men too, miserable for many many years. He finally went too far, apparently, and now he is gone. Good riddance.

By the way, reports have reached me that Siddall is trying to find a new job, and telling people that he left the museum voluntarily. That is obviously a lie. Don't let this harasser get passed, please.

Update: I am still piecing together the full story here, but it is clear that the museum has known about Siddall's behavior for many years, and in fact he had been reprimanded for sexual harassment some years back. Banned from teaching in the museum's graduate school, I am reliably told. More to come.

Update Sept 9, 2020: A pattern of years of abuse, covered up by the American Museum of Natural History.

Over the last 24 hours, a number of Siddall's victims and their allies (including people the victims have told) have taken to social media to briefly describe their experiences with him. A key, widely shared demand is that the museum engage in full disclosure of how and why Siddall was allowed to traumatize colleagues for so many years. That means disclosing who knew, when and what they knew, and what they did or did not do about it. Perhaps will take some lawsuits from survivors to pry that information loose, but the museum would be better off doing its own, fully transparent, inquiry now, and let the chips fall where they may. Perhaps even a fully independent inquiry would be necessary to get at the truth.

The AMNH is evidently hoping that getting rid of Siddall after all these years, with a minimal internal announcement to museum staff, is enough to show that they take harassment seriously. Bullshit. My sources say that the museum administration was fully aware--right up to the top ranks--of Siddall's behavior all this time, but that the HR department was used as a shield to deflect all complaints. They got away with this for years. We still don't know what the actual findings were in the investigation of Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example; and the only time that the museum has shown any transparency was in the case of disgraced human origins curator and sexual predator Brian Richmond. Why? Because Science magazine already had the whole story.

It is heartening to see the pressure building on the museum. But what about the New York media? The New York Times never wrote a word about the Richmond case, and reported next to nothing about the Tyson case. Why not? Another question that needs answering, although the overlap between New York elites that run the museum and the Times might provide some clues.

Update Sept 11, 2020: Survivors begin to speak out. The search for accountability begins.

Over the past couple of days, survivors of Siddall's abuses and other witnesses to aspects of them have been very vocal on social media. These expressions of outrage, grief, and anger represent acts of courage by women (and a few men) who have never been given the forum nor the opportunity to be courageous, because the fear of retaliation--and the almost total negligence of their plight by the AMNH administration, from HR to the top echelons--made it almost impossible.

I'm going to quote some of the statements people have made, leaving out the names, since these are not my stories to tell and I have not talked to some of the survivors about their experiences. But since they are public I think it is important to put all these reactions in one place, so that everyone can feel the weight of the abuse and oppression Mark Siddall (and those who enabled him, see below) was responsible for.

--"I'm overwhelmed by how many reaching out also suffered at his hands. We are not alone. We will get through this together."

--"I carry an enormous amount of trauma in me that I generally try to stamp down but these past weeks have reminded me that it's very much still there. Seeing his photo so much is jarring and painful. Reading the name is painful... I hope someday to not have these reactions and I hope that the others are able to heal, too."

--"Mark Siddall [was] my postdoc advisor from 2012-2014... I am also a victim of his actions, especially gender and sexual harassment... My lack of publications during the years in Mark's lab have been used against me in job searches, as has my lack of recommendation letter...I feared retaliation due to his volatile personality..."

--"...[Siddall] messaged me incessantly until I paid attention to him, often asking things like 'which bottle of wine should I drink?' And when I didn't pay attention he threatened to take away my research resources."

--"It's horrible that  Mark Siddall was allowed to hurt more people before action was taken. I filed a complaint against him for accosting me at a bar. [AMNH] determined it wasn't a pattern of behavior so no action was taken."

--"...I call bullshit on there not being a pattern of behavior  since I don't know a single person who's had to interact with him in-person that hasn't had a bad experience."

"...I stand with survivors 100%. The whisper network warned me about him practically as a matter of orientation."

--"Seconded. Was warned as a MA student, even."

--"I wasn't even at AMNH or working on [invertebrates] and yet the whisper network still warned me about him."

--"I knew as an MS student studying mammals at an entirely different institution, back in 2013."

--"Complaints against him go back years... [but he was allowed to keep teaching in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program even after being banned from teaching grad students.] ...
Why was he allowed to supervise a group of  vulnerable young (mostly female) undergrads when he was  not allowed to teach in the grad school?"

--"Years ago, a museum curator wrote me a long, vitriolic email after I gave his exhibition a mixed review. I felt so scared, sure I'd done something very wrong. Now I learn he's been fired for violating their harassment policy and duh, of course, the problem there hadn't been me."

--"Siddall was a bully and a jerk and when you build institutions that shelter or encourage bullies and jerks you often find yourself giving shelter to harassers as well."

--"...there are indications that Mark is trying to get a new job in academia and/or rebrand himself as a COVID scientist. Please don't pass the trash or perpetuate misinformation."

--"So I too will add my voice and call on my institution, AMNH, to  make a public statement on Mark Siddall's history of harassment, laying out what they knew and when they knew it. All members of AMNH--students, post-docs, and staff, alumni, former REUs--deserve to know."

"--I'm against 'cancel culture' but for real plz don't hire Mark Siddall. He has harassed not one not two but THREE of my friends in professional settings. (Plus some acquaintances). That behavior makes women feel so unwelcome in science."

Here are some messages sent directly to me by museum colleagues:

--"I cautioned various people that I know, not just students,  to steer clear of Siddall because he could be verbally offensive, especially to curatorial colleagues, male and female..."

--"The man... vowed he was going to destroy everything about my life."

--"[Brian] Richmond and Siddall are but two examples of a
culture resistant to change. In my opinion, this is the bigger story
than the single individual who was outed, and the circumstances in
which that happened, for several reasons. The people who ignored or
covered this up for years are still firmly in control. The steps taken
to address the systemic problems are band-aid solutions, creating the
appearance that something has been done when little has changed on the
ground. Finally, and most importantly, there are others who have
conducted themselves at least as badly, in terms of 'violating the
Museum's anti-harassment policies', without ever being called to
account. This is actually quite well known..."

--"...while I completely agree that the individual in
question got what he deserved, it seems blatantly hypocritical to
single him out while others escape scrutiny, and the administration
gets a pass for turning a blind eye. As the saying goes, the fish rots
from the head."

Who who responsible for letting Mark Siddall harass and abuse colleagues for so many years?

To answer this question, reporters are going to need to investigate what happened internally at the museum over the years, much as I tried to do with my 2016 investigation for Science magazine of disgraced human origins curator Brian Richmond. When I say reporters, I do not just mean me, although I am obviously on the job (is it not shameful that so far no other publication other than this blog has reported on Siddall's firing? Not the home town papers, the New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News; not Science or Nature or any other science publication. Do better!)

To figure out who is responsible, one must start with the frankly useless Human Resources division, which also figured heavily in my Richmond investigation. Dan Scheiner, former vice president for human resources, was the key person responsible for Richmond and also for passing on so many reports of misconduct by Siddall. As one museum colleague put it to me:

"Mark Siddall is just one of many harassers in Invertebrate Zoology at AMNH. Look into the VP of Human Resources Dan Scheiner and Don Sposato, both of whom have left the museum recently. For decades, they brushed off complaints or turned complaints from women against them, even insinuating intimate interactions between the complainee with the harasser as cause for harassment. Scheiner and Sposato were enablers of/complicit in terrible, terrible harassment from several of the curators in the division. It is one of the most toxic environments."

Okay, so we have evidence that HR not only turned a blind eye but actually enabled abusers.

Who else? The AMNH Provost, Mike Novacek, was fully involved in both the Richmond and Siddall cases, and fully involved in decisions about what to do about them. Novacek has declined to be interviewed over the years, but his role is clear from evidence from other sources.

Who else? I am still working out the role of the museum's various deans and other administrators. But the museum's lawyers knew and were involved at every step of the way, which strongly suggests that museum officials all the way up to the top of the hierarchy were aware that complaints were being made and aware of how they were handled--perhaps even providing the instructions for how they should be handled. Indeed, multiple sources tell me that at one point, some years back, Siddall was offered a job in Canada (University of  Guelph), but the museum bumped up his salary and his research funding so he decided to stay.

Who are we talking about here? Ellen Futter, the AMNH president? To paraphrase how a colleague put it above, what did she know and when did she know it? What other museum execs were in the know about Siddall?

Let's get at this, New York reporters; let's get to it, science journalists. I will do my bit, please do yours, and press for the kind of full accountability that the victims and survivors of Siddall, Richmond, and all the other abusers (their time will come, surely) roaming the hallways  of the American Museum of Natural History.

Let's get the accountability ball rolling. My email to Anne Canty, AMNH's Senior Vice President for Communications, Marketing, and Digital 

I've known Anne Canty since late 2015, when I first began reporting on the Brian Richmond case. She contacted me after learning that I was talking to colleagues at the museum and asked if she could help. One of her first questions was whether my story was for Science or "one of the other publications you write for." After I gave her the bad news, but also made clear that I already had most of the details reported and needed comment from her, Canty began to cooperate to a certain extent, making disclosures that the museum normally keeps secret under its "personnel matters" policy (the policy that so many institutions use to protect their reputations and then pass the harasser as quickly as possible.)

It does not look as though Siddall will be lucky enough to be passed, but there is still a lot to know about who enabled him all these years, as discussed above. As head of communications, Anne is the first stop for reporters who want to follow up on this story. My email to her today:

Dear Anne,

I hope you are doing well.

I am aware that you do not want to answer my queries these days, perhaps because you think that since I took my #MeToo reporting onto my blog I can be ignored. In reality, that is not the case, as a number of abusers have recently learned, including the president of the University of Adelaide, the head of the ancient DNA lab there, and many others. I continue to be active as a #MeToo reporter because survivors continue to ask me to do it.

At the moment I am the only reporter covering the Mark Siddall firing, and that may or may not change given the reluctance of the New York press to publish anything negative about the museum. But as the only reporter, current and former colleagues at the museum are literally flooding to tell me their stories.

There is a major and growing call for the museum to exercise both transparency and accountability concerning who knew about Siddall, who protected him, who overlooked his abuses, and who put the institution’s reputation before the health and safety of the museum staff. If the museum does not pay attention to these calls, there may be hell to pay this time. In many ways, the museum got a free pass on the Brian Richmond case, by at least adopting some momentary (and very partial) transparency about the investigation.

So I would ask you not to ignore this email, which has the force of a lot of survivors behind it. Talk to me, tell me what the museum is doing, answer my questions, and most importantly, make a serious public statement about the Mark Siddall case and why his abuses were allowed to go on for so long.

One thing is sure: I will not stop reporting on this, and the survivors of abuse will not stop talking to me.

I look forward to hearing from you. This letter is on the record.

Best wishes,

Michael Balter
Writer/reporter (anthropology, #MeToo, mental health, environment)
Adjunct Lecturer (Journalism),
   City College of New York
Paris correspondent, Science 1991-2016
Adjunct Professor of Journalism "emeritus,"
   New York University and Boston University

Tweet: @mbalter


"Lying is done with words and also with silence." --Adrienne Rich

Further update, Friday afternoon: Museum officials say more to AMNH staff.

To: amnh-staff <>
Subject: [AMNH-Staff] Message for the AMNH Community


Dear Members of the AMNH Community:


Last week, we informed curators and members of the Invertebrate Zoology Division that Dr. Mark Siddall’s employment with the Museum was terminated, effective September 3. This action was taken following the Museum’s receipt of formal complaints, a full investigation, and a finding that Dr. Siddall violated the Museum’s sexual harassment and bullying policies. In addition to sharing this information, we want to underscore the Museum’s commitment to a workplace and academic environment that is safe and respectful, and free from harassment of all kinds.


We understand that many of you may have heard this news informally and may have questions or concerns, and we wanted to directly inform our community of our decision. We also share this information because many of you have collaborated with Dr. Siddall, and this decision may affect your work.


We also recognize that an occurrence like this may raise questions about the Museum’s work environment, and the desire for more details, particularly when some individuals are publicly sharing their own perspectives and personal accounts. However, the Museum does not share details of individual investigations or personnel decisions. We strive to balance our commitment to supporting the valid concerns of members of our community with the goals of ensuring a fair investigatory process and outcome, and an environment that encourages future complainants to come forward. 


It is also important to acknowledge the movements that have led to meaningful changes in recent years around issues of sexual harassment and discrimination. In recognition of those changes, the Museum has taken concrete steps to strengthen internal policies, training programs, and processes to make them more robust and comprehensive, and those improvements have been critical to this termination. These policies, and Dr. Siddall’s termination, reflect the Museum’s strong commitment to ensuring a workplace and academic environment that is free of harassment or bullying of any kind.


Waffirm our commitment to maintaining an environment that is safe and respectful, and free from harassment of all kinds, and to continuing to listen and learn. We look forward to ongoing conversations about how we can best live up to the highest moral and ethical standards in our dealings with each other.


To that end, we would also like to remind everyone of the processes in place to both prevent instances of harassment and bullying and to provide avenues for those who feel they have been harassed or bullied. Soon, all Museum staff will receive details on our required annual anti-sexual harassment training, which this year will be conducted online. Additionally, in the fall there will be outreach from the Museum’s Title IX Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Specialist, Ben Marzolf, to schedule meetings to further discuss the resources available to the Museum community and how the Museum can support and improve workplace experiences.


Finally, all members of the Museum community may contact Ben Marzolf at 212-769-5316 or or call the confidential hotline at 1-800-620-5571. Taking advantage of the full spectrum of these resources is a crucial component of achieving our common goal of protecting our community.



Michael Novacek, Senior Vice President and Provost


Kala Harinarayanan, Vice President of Human Resources

Several people have already commented to me about this particular passage, carefully worded to be somewhat ambiguous:

"We also recognize that an occurrence like this may raise questions about the Museum’s work environment, and the desire for more details, particularly when some individuals are publicly sharing their own perspectives and personal accounts. However, the Museum does not share details of individual investigations or personnel decisions."

Some are interpreting this, I think rightly, as a veiled admonition not to speak publicly about what has happened, including to the media. If that is wrong, perhaps museum officials can reassure museum staff that they have every right to speak out without fear of retaliation. As one researcher put it: "If Michael Cohen can write a book then victims can Tweet."

The passage also implies, as one colleague put it to me, that any experiences made public and outside the official investigation do not really count. But of course they do.

(People wanting to comment on this letter or any other aspect of this case are very welcome to use the Comments section of this blog, which is moderated. I will moderate comments as fast as I can.)

Update Sept 18, 2020:

There's likely to be important developments soon in the news coverage of this case. I hope that the issue of AMNH's accountability, or lack of it, will be raised.

Meanwhile a colleague who knows Siddall writes:

"They hired him for his reputation as a renegade in his science and his sharp critique of those with differing views that always bordered on bullying, but was hailed as clever. Turns out those traits are not restricted to his scientific writing."


Update Sept 24, 2020: Yesterday the New York Times posted a story on Siddall's firing, by reporter Julia Jacobs, which was good to see. Siddall got a chance to offer some lame denials of his well documented behavior, and a survivor of his abuse--former museum microbiologist and current dean of science at the City College of New York, Susan Perkins--got a chance to briefly describe her experiences. Perkins' comments at the end of the story, which suggest that the museum did far from all it could to deal with Siddall's long history of abuses, contrasted sharply with quotes from communications VP Anne Canty, who attempted to avoid any accountability for the museum's failure to act.

As I have banged away about above, this really has to be the next step in any serious reporting on not only the case but previous ones that the Times has not seen fit to cover. The AMNH, a hugely important institution in New York City, has basically gotten a pass from the Times and other New York media from any serious coverage. Perhaps some enterprising reporters will now see that there is much that needs looking into; the comments below suggest that as well.

Post a Comment


Anonymous said…
If he was banned from teaching in the grad school, I'd love to know why he was allowed to take (all women) REU students at least as late as 2018...
Anonymous said…
If this is true, then there need to be resignations higher up the chain.
Benjamin said…
He was in fact the co-PI on the REU program at AMNH, for the 2014-2020 period...
Michael Balter said…
Yes, the ban on teaching was apparently at the graduate school, whereas the REU program was for undergrads. Working to fine tune the reporting. One thing for sure: Siddall is no longer entitled to NSF grants. I am checking on that now.
Unknown said…
The REU program is overseen by the graduate school.
Anonymous said…
Gee....NSF grant is up in 2020. That means the report is due. Can't help but wonder why they chose to can him now. Maybe bad optics to have a man with at least 3 years of formal harassment complaints penning a government funding document....or maybe I am reading in too deeply.
Anonymous said…
If it's true that the New York Times has not been covering issues of sexual harassment by AMNH curators, what about the New York Post?
Anonymous said…
Siddall is not the only harasser at AMNH.
Michael Balter said…
Re the last comment: No, not by a long shot. Let the others be warned.

Many survivors of his abuse are speaking out, everyone needs to hear them.
Anonymous said…
Just found this on twitter:

"Years ago, a museum curator wrote me a long, vitriolic email after I gave his exhibition a mixed review. I felt so scared, sure I’d done something very wrong. Now I learn he’s been fired for violating their harassment policy and duh, of course, the problem there hadn’t been me."

Posted by based in New York
Anonymous said…
This incident was quietly outed because they had no choice. This news needs larger traction in the media. But there is vitriol in other academic/cultural spaces that no one calls out because the suspect threatens and bullies victims, and people buy into it, or are in fear of their future that they go along with it because let's admit it, there's a lot of nepotism in hiring practices. Upper management don't see it because the suspect is "one of them", and those of a lower title are deemed not worth listening to. I'm a victim, I've seen other victims get bullied out when they don't go with the program. HR is only there to protect the interest of the employer, they don't care about the employee. That's why so many don't go to HR, why bother. Don't need that blemish following your career, as unfair as it is.
Michael Balter said…
Re the last comment: Yes, this is clear from my reporting so far. HR (and those higher up) knew about and tolerated Siddall's sexual misconduct, severe bullying, retaliation, and constant drunkenness for a decade or longer. The Brian Richmond case really changed nothing at the museum, only in anthropology more broadly (and even there I have had to continue to report new cases where nothing was done until there was public exposure.) Let's get it all out there.
Anonymous said…
When the AMNH dismantled its joint student program with various universities (Cornell, Yale, NYU, Columbia, Hunter College, CUNY, etc.) to establish its own "university" and award degrees, this had to be approved the State of NY (Albany). Thus, governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and other representatives need to be made aware of their management and accreditation of their program.
Who is the external reviewer of this education program?
What student support services were established with the school and how many complaints have they received over the years?
After these shameful sordid episodes with multiple curators, AMNH's education program should be dismantled. AMNH is unable to self-police a small institute of ~40 curator-professors.
(But see how fast they fire a cleaner or painter who looks at a female worker walking by.)

Anonymous said…
AMNH has been a hot mess for years; back in the 90s and 00s they developed a culture of "bad boy" curators who saw themselves as iconoclastic scientific rebels; really they were just nerds who were suddenly told they were rock stars. It was pretty routine for curators, staff, and students to hit the bars on Amsterdam Ave. and get roaring drunk together. All sorts of bad stuff ensued. The Administration treated Science like an unruly autonomous zone that was allowed to police itself. Bullying and unprofessional behavior was rife. Siddall was of that generation.

I'll share a story of AMNH HR from back in those good old days, 10-15 years ago. A colleague of mine went to file a report about a notoriously nasty curator. The report concerned behavior observed towards a third party, so of course the HR deputy director told her that was hearsay and he wasn't going to do anything. But she stood her ground. The deputy director pulled out a bulging file and showed it to her. "This is that guy's file," he said. "Now, do you still want to file a report?" The clear implication was that nothing would happen, other than putting her at risk of retaliation. It was widely believed that HR would routinely pass information about complaints to the curators concerned. She did not file the report, so of course it never happened.

I would love to tell you that things have changed at AMNH since then, but from what I hear there is still bullying and still abuse. If you're a tenured curator, especially one of long-standing, you can pretty much treat your staff however you want. They really need to clean house.
Anonymous said…
It is quite clear that a number of the comments here are written by people who are not at AMNH. The joint student program was never dismantled. That is just false information. If anything it was strengthened with the AMNH PhD program. It is also completely untrue that if you are a tenured curator there (even those who have been there for many years) that you can just strut around and treat people badly. This depiction of one of the older and most public scientific research institutions in the US is just patently false. There isn't rampant abuse of everyone all over the place, and all faculty are not evil sociopaths. That's just ridiculous. Many people do care and are very concerned, including among the tenured and non-tenured senior scientific staff. And many people have fantastic experiences as students, postdocs and junior faculty, with many going on to some of the most spectacular careers with deep fondness for the institution and their mentors. Certainly there are some problems, but perhaps as Anonymous said "They really need to clean house." Well perhaps that is exactly what they are doing? But to impugn everyone at the senior levels on the science side of the institution is just outright libel and promoting disinformation. In fact a number of the administrative and Education staff are also tremendous bullies or irresponsible, but the majority of the museum's 1000+ some-odd employees are really good and decent people who have dedicated their lives to science, the teaching of it, and the production of new knowledge, from the guards and custodial staff, to the teachers, exhibition designers and research staff. A sense of balance is needed here in this discussion. Not blanket anger and cancellation of an entire, complex and multifaceted institution. There are a lot of good people at AMNH too.
Anonymous said…
"It is also completely untrue that if you are a tenured curator there (even those who have been there for many years) that you can just strut around and treat people badly." - oh come off it, Anonymous Sept 24. If you work at AMNH, you know that's not true. What is true is that many people end up deciding, for their own career security, that it's better not to make a fuss, knowing that their complaints will not be taken seriously.

"But to impugn everyone at the senior levels on the science side of the institution is just outright libel and promoting disinformation." Ellen Futter has been president of AMNH since 1993. Mike Novacek has been a curator since 1982 and Provost since 1994. Ann Siegel has been VP for Operations (which includes HR) since 2010 and was a senior administrator for at least a decade before that. All of the things that are being written about now, and which happened in the past, occurred on their watch. That's not libel - it's a statement of fact.

Obviously there are many good and decent people at AMNH. Obviously many people (including me, BTW) find working there to be one of the most rewarding experiences of their life. But the "few bad apples" explanation is as inadequate here as it is for, say, discussing entrenched problems in the police. At some point, you have to take a step back and look at the wider institutional failings. For many of us that worked, or continue to work there, that fact is blindingly obvious.
Jyrki Muona said…
Having known so many of these people for a long time and visited the institution for more than 20 years I would like to say a few words about these anonymous comments. First, I find it cowardly not to sign ones comments. It is awfully easy to shoot from the dark. I know many of the "rock-star" curators and I believe it is very unfair to suggest they are bullies and whatever without exact acts and names to back it up. No one has the right to accuse groups on the basis of single guilty parties. I would think this is self-evident in these BLM times. Sexual harassment is another matter and should always be acted upon and fast. I would not be surprised if the AMNH has the same problem as many other institutions - there is no systematic way to monitor this. Acting on official complaints only is nor a very good strategy. In this respect the administration is the one that failed.
Anonymous said…
"First, I find it cowardly not to sign ones comments."

AMNH's terms of employment make unauthorized disclosure of matters relating to the operations of the museum a disciplinary offense. Commenting publicly on this blog could, in theory at least, open current staff up to action by the museum. I suspect this, rather than cowardice, is the reason many people are choosing to remain anonymous.

BTW, this restriction does not apply to tenured curators.
Jyrki Muona said…
Indeed, and as you do not disclose anything about museum matters in your recent comment, what else than cowardice can this reflect, "anonymous"?
Anonymous said…
Ah, Jyrki.... sometimes justice must wear a mask.

So long, everyone
Anonymous said…
As Anonymous 24 225PM said, "Ellen Futter has been president of AMNH since 1993. Mike Novacek has been a curator since 1982 and Provost since 1994. Ann Siegel has been VP for Operations (which includes HR) since 2010 and was a senior administrator for at least a decade before that. All of the things that are being written about now, and which happened in the past, occurred on their watch. That's not libel - it's a statement of fact."

Indeed, perhaps that is the key. Any institution needs turnover at the highest levels, to constantly refresh and improve a place such as a research institute. Almost no other universities or research institutions allow such lengthy terms for administrators, for good reason. Even if Futter and Gugenheim bring in money, the model they operate under is outdated, 1980s corporate sytle, and poorly imagined, with little initiative, except to boost themselves up with the board by doing the same thing over and over. Has anyone ever considered that Gugenheim, who runs Fundraising, Government relations and Education at AMNH, has a complete conflict of interest by the very nature of her job? You can't have the head of fundraising also running one of the mission goals, at the expense of others. No for-profit place would allow such a thing. No non-profit place should even even go near such a situation.

By the way, I don't think that HR falls under operations. It is usually legal counsel, but I don't know for AMNH. I have nothing to do with it, but I do love that institution. It's a crown jewel of NYC, and even the country.
Anonymous said…
My heart goes out to those who suffered sexual and other harassment at the hands of Siddall and others at the museum.

I have to say that I’m experiencing schadenfreude over the news that Siddall has lost his job. He is a nasty piece of work. He may know his leeches, for all I know, but his other work is complete garbage. (See his 1997 paper with Kluge titled “Probabilism and Phylogenetic Inference” if you want a good laugh.) My impression is that the AMNH is one of the few places where he could have gotten a job.

In fact, most evolutionary biologists look askance at the fervent adherents to the parsimony method, with its peculiar philosophical justification, that the AMNH harbors. The scientific culture there is quite strange. (Strange beyond the sexual harassment, I mean.) They have (or had) what they called “New York Rules” in the question and answer session after a talk. They feel free to be jerks in asking questions. Unfortunately, I believe that this type of scientific behavior has spilled over into the Hennig Society, which counts as members many AMNH scientists.

The resources available at the AMNH are wonderful and it’s a shame that so much was wasted on Siddall, along with several other mediocre scientists there. With luck, the AMNH will be able to replace Siddall with a decent scientist.
Jyrki Muona said…
This latest "piece of information" is a great example of what kind of nonsense people write when they can use "anonymous" as their weapon. Indeed, most "evolutionary biologists".
This particular message is rubbish and has no content that would require anonymity. It is pitiful example of misuse of anonymity. Having no moderation invites this kind of rubbish.
"Mediocre scientists" - who measured, where and how? Please, tell us your name and we can evaluate YOU.

Anonymous said…
It is naive to assume everyone has the luxury of not staying anonymous on the internet. There are many people out there who will retaliate against you if you so much as hint towards their bad behavior. Over the years, Mark Siddall retaliated against many of his students, post-docs, and colleagues. If you don't believe me go on twitter and see for yourself. The stories are popping up everyday and there are many who still will not speak up due to fear of retaliation.
Anonymous said…
He broke an ex-wife's arm in an argument.
Anonymous said…
I would love to give more information, but I'm not sure the ex-wife wants that information known. Btw, there's more than one ex-wife. Somebody should just ask him about it.
Anonymous said…
Why has no one mentioned vivisection? How many animals did he kill? I heard that he decapitated a snapping turtle and dispatched hundreds of fish for his graduate work. This man is a menace.
Anonymous said…
Siddall interviewed for a job at my grad program in the late 90s. I'll never forget the faculty member who said in response, "We don't hire mean people here."

I can personally vouch for the raucous, self-aggrandizing behavior of some of the museum's cladists described by those above. They were/are little people with big thirsts for booze and attention, who bullied continually. Not all curators by any means, of course, but a chosen few set a locker-room tone that was impossible to escape in certain parts of the museum.
Anonymous said…
I can personally vouch for the fact that people used to snort coke off of his desk at Christmas parties. And he had a fully functioning still in his office, like M*A*S*H*. He told me he learned that from Bruce Ranalla when they were grad students in Toronto. Ask Bruce if he had a still. Everyone, literally everyone would visit Siddall's office to booze-it-up: especially the "woke" people of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (ask about the "hat parties" they all got drunk at, there are plenty of drunken pics of half the people who have now tried to distance themselves from him) but also Vice President Novacek, Vice President Scheiner, and Vice President Guggenheim and wealthy donors besides. I saw the likes of Glenn Close, Adam Savage and Bob Shaye in his office drinking very heavily.
Whatever Siddall's faults were, they were actively encouraged by the museum administration as long as it drove donations from the wealthy Upper East Siders they had him cozying up to.
Jyrki Muona said…
Well, now I understand well that these are listed by "Anonymous". This contribution suggests that Siddall's faults included ("whatever they are") distribution of controlled substances and drinking at work, in addition to the previously suggested bullying and harassments AND that all these things were encouraged by the museum administration. He certainly had faults but to claim that the administration actively encouraged these should be backed by real evidence, not stories about some unspecified party.
Easy to see why this person does not want to sign his/her "testimony". Perhaps again the justification is "Justice has to wear a mask" - well, not in a democracy. Only intentional malice needs one in real life - life is not a movie for children.
I have personally only once and then shortly attended one of the Xmas parties. Strange how very normal it appeared. Perhaps that year the rave was not on.
Jyrki Muona
Anonymous said…
Balter will not post this.
But what you are missing is that the anonymous claims of wife-beating, vivisection, and hard drugs are just as specious as all of the unsubstantiated other crap Balter posts himself anonymously on his own blog in order to drive traffic. He learned this in his communist agitprop days of the 60s.
He is not a reporter.
He's a troll fighting a defamation suit.
He used Mark's face illegally on his gofundme page.
If you want to do something, do something for Siddall who was falsely accused the instant he uncovered data fabrication by an underperforming student who changed her story later.
Anonymous said…
I interacted scientifically with Mark Siddall 20 or so years ago and attended a couple of conferences with him, etc. Never saw any of this negative stuff, and recall how he ended a telephone conversation at that time to his wife: "I love you very much." Maybe Mark doesn't have a halo shining brightly aboved his head (I don't know), but reading between the lines, some people here are using this debacle to do some back-stabbing, to whatever extent. I once heard a senior scientist in the U.S. (a dodgy character as far as I am concerned) pass unethical behavior (such as back-stabbing) off euphemistically as follows: "..... in a very competitive field." As if that is supposed to make it all okay.
Michael Balter said…
I've published this last comment just as an example of the kind of absolute nonsense the backlash against the #MeToo movement is generating. This writer has absolutely no knowledge of the allegations concerning Siddall, and all they can do is reassure us he is a nice guy and loves his wife. To basically accuse the victims of lying without any evidence is just amazing.

Again, an example of the kind of evidence-free, knowledge free thinking some who consider themselves scholars all too often engage in.