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Martin Nowak Sanctioned for Jeffrey Epstein Involvement

3.25.21


In an email sent this afternoon to faculty members, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in the departments of mathematics and organismic and evolutionary biology, and the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) dean Claudine Gay announced disciplinary actions against Martin Nowak, professor of mathematics and biology, stemming from his connections to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Those connections were spelled out in a 2020 report: between 1998 and 2008, Epstein made gifts of $6.5 million to the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, which was run by Nowak. (That figure made up the largest share of the $9.1 million in total gifts that Epstein donated to the University during that period.)  

“Following a thorough review by the FAS, in which Professor Nowak had the opportunity to participate,” Gay wrote, “Professor Nowak’s actions were found to have violated several FAS and Harvard policies,” including professional conduct, campus access, and guidelines for responding to requests for endorsements.  

In her email, Gay announced that the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics would be shut down and that Nowak would no longer hold an appointment in the department of organismic and evolutionary biology. [Updated March 25, 12:55 p.m.: A spokesperson for FAS has clarified earlier information provided by the spokesperson to reporters: Nowak will continue to hold appointments in both departments.] He will remain on the faculty of the mathematics department, but Gay listed two-year limits that would be placed on his advising and research activities there:  

  • Professor Nowak will not be eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator (P.I.) on any new grants or contracts and will be able to serve with a co-P.I. only on already existing grants.
  • Professor Nowak will not be allowed to take new postdoctoral fellows or other researchers under his supervision.
  • Professor Nowak’s current graduate student advisees will be co-advised with another faculty member from an FAS department, and he is not allowed to take on new graduate students. 
  • Professor Nowak will continue to teach but is not allowed to advise undergraduate theses or other vehicles for undergraduate student research.
  • At the end of this two-year period, Gay will decide whether to restore some or all of the above privileges. 

“Operating in a manner consistent with our policies, norms, and standards is one of the fundamental obligations we must each fulfill as members of the Faculty,” Gay wrote, adding that the sanctions against Nowak are “proportionate to the severity of the behavior observed and seek to uphold and further our shared community standards, while keeping the way open to productivity and improvement.” 

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