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A Scientists' Group Rescinded An Award To A Turtle Researcher After He Showed Photos Of Nearly Nude Women During A Presentation

Richard "Dick" Vogt showed the photos during a talk at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Rochester, New York.

Posted on July 15, 2018, at 1:58 a.m. ET

This Professor Dick Vogt. Today he got an award at for 'distinguished' scholarship at #JMIH18. He celebrated by giving a talk including near naked pictures of students the organizers had to cover with blue dots. He was talking about turtles. h/t @ThatPARCPriya #MeTooSTEM https://t.co/CgvT56ni4f

A scientists' group has rescinded an award given to a turtle researcher after he showed pictures of nearly nude women during a presentation at a conference in New York.

Attendees of the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists said on Twitter that Richard "Dick" Vogt, a longtime Brazilian turtle researcher, showed the racy slides during a talk he gave Thursday after receiving the distinguished herpetologist award.

Some of the slides were so revealing, attendees said, that organizers added blue dots to cover up the women's bodies.

So...Herp League decided the most distinguished herpetologist they could find was Dick Vogt. His talk included scantily clad female students. Blue box cover ups were added without Vogt’s knowledge. WTF #jmih18??? WTF?

Blue spot or not, I will not stay in a talk when sexist, exploitative images are used #JMIH18

Henry Mushinsky, chair of the conference committee, told the Democrat and Chronicle that it's common for biologists working near water to wear bikinis and bathing suits but that organizers thought some of Vogt's slides "might have been offensive."

"Some of the photos people thought were a little too revealing, so we decided to sort of block them out a bit," Mushinsky said. "The whole idea was to try to minimize anyone feeling uncomfortable."

In response to growing outrage from attendees of the conference, the Herpetologists' League, which gave Vogt the award, rescinded the honor Friday and vowed in a statement to take "concrete steps to assure that all individuals are welcomed, included, and valued."

"HL regrets and apologizes for offensive content presented in the 2018 Distinguished Herpetologist lecture," the statement said.

Here is the statement presented at the business meeting yesterday from Herpetologists League Board of Trustees on the Distinguished Herpetologists Award, diversity, and inclusivity. #JMIH18 https://t.co/LdntKrMMSd

Vogt did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment. He declined to talk to the Democrat and Chronicle.

The Turtle Conservancy, where Vogt serves on the advisory board, did not immediately respond to a phone call from BuzzFeed News.

Several attendees and others in the herpetologist community said Vogt has exhibited inappropriate behavior at previous events and presented the same slides at other conferences.

Sam Dean wrote on Twitter that Vogt is a known "person to avoid" for women herpetologists.

I'm not even at #JMIH18 rn and I know she's talking about Vogt. It's no secret to female herpetologists that he is a person to avoid. Before my 1st conference, my female PI talked to her female students for AN HOUR about his notoriously sketchy behavior & how to avoid him. https://t.co/iO6VsQsBTS

Christopher Dick, a professor at the University of Michigan, accused Vogt on Twitter of asking a woman student at a conference years ago if she had ever slept with a herpetologist.

Vogt was talking with 2 colleagues at a herp conference in PA years ago. A Latina student approached & remarked how exciting it was to meet such famous biologists. Vogt looked her over and asked “have you ever f*cked a herpetologist”. 1/ https://t.co/zvOGVnogqJ

Emily Taylor, a herpetologist from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, told the Democrat and Chronicle that Vogt has been showing risqué slides for 20 years.

"There's a big difference between what he does and just (pictures of) students in normal field garb," Taylor said.

At the same gathering in 2014, Vogt auctioned off his Speedo thong, attendees said on Twitter.

The scientist, Dick Vogt, who showed near naked photos of students at his award ceremony talk today? Yeah, he thinks this is a cool thing to do at a science meeting too. Circa 2014 #MeTooSTEM https://t.co/USVQ8xQpqb

Several people said the incident at this year's conference has been another reminder of the sexism and harassment that women in science have dealt with for years.

Anat Belasen, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, applauded the league's decision to rescind Vogt's award but said more should be done to address sexual harassment in the industry.

"Sexual harassment is an issue of safety and should be treated as one, instead of a gray area," Belasen wrote on Twitter. "Dick Vogt should be banned from all future meetings."

Rescinding the award, making official statements, and forming a diversity and inclusion committee are important first steps. Sexual harassment is an issue of safety and should be treated as one, instead of a gray area. Dick Vogt should be banned from all future meetings. 4/n

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