Empathy expert resigns as head of Max Planck institute after report confirms

first_imgIn The ReSource Project, Tania Singer sought to demonstrate that meditation can make people more kind and caring. Email Moritz Hager/WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) By Kai KupferschmidtDec. 5, 2018 , 1:45 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) In August, Science reported that a number of researchers at the institute had leveled complaints against Singer, including allegations that she had created an “atmosphere of fear” in the workplace, and mistreated female employees who became pregnant. All but one of the researchers asked to remain anonymous because they feared for their careers.In September, Martin Stratmann, president of the Max Planck Society in Munich, Germany, appointed a committee to investigate. Last month, the committee submitted its report, which confirmed the bullying allegations but noted there was no evidence that Singer had committed scientific misconduct. News of Singer’s resignation was first reported by Buzzfeed.In her letter, Singer wrote that she had not intended to hurt researchers in her department, and that she had “worked on the expense of my own balance, even though this was apparently not visible to you.” She also noted that Max Planck officials have agreed to let her finish remaining projects together “with a mini‐group, separated from Leipzig.”There are still some unresolved questions, however, including which institute her research group will ultimately join. Singer intends to remain as the principal investigator for at least some of the work of The ReSource Project, her ambitious study investigating the effects of meditation, according to one of Singer’s colleagues.Bethany Kok, a former member of Singer’s research group who is now lead data scientist at EmpowerTheUser, a tech company in Dublin, felt relieved by yesterday’s announcement. “What I wanted out of this was that other people would not have to go through what we went through and it sounds like some of that will be achieved. She won’t have as large a lab, and people who do work with her will go in informed.”PhDnet, a network of Ph.D. students within the Max Planck Society, also welcomed the decision. “It was necessary and appropriate,” they wrote in a statement. “In particular we welcome that Ms. Singer will not have any management functions anymore and that no more junior researchers will have to suffer under her misconduct.” But the statement also criticized the Max Planck Society for being slow to take the allegations seriously, and acting only after media reports. “We would wish future cases to be handled faster, more transparently and more skillfully.”Singer’s case and a similar case at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany, have sparked a wider debate on whether the administrative structure of the Max Planck Society, which operates dozens of research centers across Germany, is contributing to misbehavior. Stratmann has announced a task force to investigate whether “the events that have taken place at a few institutes are isolated cases or if we are dealing with structural problems.”center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Empathy expert resigns as head of Max Planck institute after report confirms bullying allegations Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Empathy expert Tania Singer will resign as director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, after a commission confirmed allegations of bullying made by several members of the institute.“[S]ignificant failures in leadership had occurred” at the institute, the Max Planck Society said in a statement released yesterday. “In order to avoid a further escalation of the situation and to enable all parties involved to return to focused scientific work, the Max Planck Society and Ms. Singer have agreed that she will step down from her position as Director on her own initiative.” The neuroscientist “will continue her work as a scientific researcher, on a smaller scale, without a management function outside the Leipzig Institute,” the statement noted.Singer apologized “for the mistakes I made as a young director of a big Max Planck Department” in a letter to her former lab members. “My psychological and physical resources are exhausted and my reputation and my scientific career are severely damaged,” she wrote.last_img read more