Nearly 700 astronomers have signed a letter of support for early-career researchers who recently reported cases of alleged bullying at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. The university announced last week that it would launch an external investigation into allegations that a leading professor of astronomy, Marcella Carollo, had exhibited “inept management conduct toward many of her graduate students.”
The ETH investigation follows the university’s August decision to close the Institute for Astronomy, where the alleged mistreatment took place. That decision was made quietly, and few in the astronomy community noticed until 21 October, when the Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported extensively on the allegations, including charges that authorities had ignored earlier reports of misconduct.
After the story appeared, two dozen of Carollo’s colleagues and former lab members drafted a letter defending her and her husband, cosmologist Simon Lilly, both of whom were hired in 2002 to launch the institute. That letter acknowledged that Carollo could be “a relentless task master” but said this stemmed from a strong commitment to her students and a “desire to maximise their career chances.”