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Backlash after shutdown of Swiss astronomy institute

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Science  03 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, pp. 574
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6363.574

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Summary

When ETH Zurich in Switzerland quietly dissolved its institute for astronomy in August, it aimed to put a scandal to rest. But last week, after extensive coverage in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper and criticism from its own faculty about its handling of the case, it launched an official investigation into the original allegations: that a leading professor there, astrophysicist Marcella Carollo, mistreated graduate students for more than a decade, while the administration ignored complaints against her. Carollo's husband, cosmologist Simon Lilly, was also a professor at the institute. The university administration said the institute was disbanded because having a married couple serve as professors together "was not ideal." Students accused Carollo of "inept management," bullying them, and demanding "superhuman commitment." Carollo's supporters say she drove students hard because she wanted them to succeed in a competitive field. They say the university exacerbated the situation because it lacks standard procedures for dealing with misconduct accusations.