Sad story in this week's Science, about a scientist suing her mentor and Yale for their lackluster response to her being sabotaged. From the article:
Koziol's studies of how the genome switches on after an egg is fertilized had begun failing mysteriously in July 2011, a month after she started her postdoc in the developmental biology lab of Antonio Giraldez. In August, she began producing transgenic zebrafish; they all died, not once, but time after time. A lab technician assured her she was doing everything right, and colleagues' fish were fine. So Koziol produced a new batch of fish and divided them in two groups. One she put in a container labeled with her initials, MK, as she had done before. She left the other half unmarked. Sure enough, the labeled fish died; the others were fine.
The experiment was a key step in proving that someone was tampering with her experiments, according to a lawsuit Koziol filed with the Superior Court in New Haven on 7 February. When hidden cameras were installed in the lab, they revealed a fellow postdoc poisoning her fish, the complaint says. Now, Koziol is suing the alleged perpetrator, Polloneal Jymmiel Ocbina. According to the complaint, he left Yale after he was caught on video.
Ugh. Labmates are supposed to be your colleagues...people you turn to for advice, learn new techniques from, discuss career options with. If you don't get along with them, then fine, talk it out or avoid them. But don't freaking resort to sabotage. When I hear about conflict/competition between labmates happening, it's usually cause of an unfriendly environment perpetuated by the lab head. From her complaint, it sounds like this case may not be any different:
From then on, Koziol's relationship with her boss deteriorated. The complaint says he refused to provide her with a letter about the sabotage, which presumably would have helped explain her lack of data to future employers. Koziol alleges that he criticized her work and character, didn't help her make up for the lost time, gave her "angry looks when passing in the lab," didn't list her as a contributor to a Nature article, and threatened to fire and "destroy" her. Koziol became depressed, suffered from sleeplessness, and gained weight; when she and Giraldez talked for 3 hours in August 2012, Koziol "cried throughout the meeting," the complaint says.
Koziol filed a grievance procedure against Giraldez, which she lost; Yale, in its statement to Science, calls her allegations against Giraldez and the university "factually distorted and legally baseless.
I feel for Koziol. Obviously the sabotage occurred, and it's up to the system to determine whether Giraldez and Yale failed her. I think this is all a symptom of the greater problem within research, where faculty are put under increasing pressure to produce papers in order to fight for funding. This results in some PIs prioritizing data production over proper mentorship, and questionable stuff like this and data manipulation can occur.
Glad to see that Koziol is back in a supportive environment (her thesis lab with Nobel laureate John Gurdon...who has amazing hair btw).
Hope she eventually finds some resolution and peace!