MacArthur Award-winning ecologist Priyanga Amarasekare has been suspended from UCLA for a year without pay, apparently in retaliation for speaking out against discrimination against her in promotion and advancement. She has also had her research grants taken away, her grad students reassigned to other supervisors, been barred from campus, and been subjected to additional sanctions. Nature news story here.
Like the many other ecologists who know Priyanga, I’m shocked and appalled by UCLA’s actions here. Priyanga didn’t sexually harass anyone. She didn’t commit scientific misconduct. She just stood up for herself. And for that, UCLA is sanctioning her in ways that threaten her career and livelihood.
If you want to help, here is a petition to UCLA that you can sign, asking that Priyanga be reinstated and compensated. And here is a GoFundMe set up by Sally Otto, to help Priyanga with day-to-day expenses. Priyanga has two children to support, and she’s months away from foreclosure on her home. Please donate if you can.
UPDATE: Nature got hold of documents from a UCLA committee that investigated Priyanga in March 2022. The investigating committee recommended a letter of censure and probation, for violations of confidentiality and procedural rules committed in the course of criticizing department policies and the conduct of her colleagues. The UCLA Chancellor overruled the investigating committee and imposed disproportionately harsh penalties. The documents seen by Nature also confirm that there were no accusations of academic misconduct or illegal behavior against Priyanga.