For many people who are interested in the science of turtles, the last thing they expect to see is a slideshow presentation filled with racy images of scantily clad women.
However, this is exactly what they got during Dick Vogt’s acceptance speech for his Distinguished Herpetologist award issued to him by the Herpetologists’ League in the U.S.
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle gave the following details on the racy presentation.
“According to several attendees, Vogt, a longtime researcher of Brazilian turtles, showed several pictures of “scantily clad female students” doing field research. The photographs were risqué enough that conference organizers added blue boxes to cover parts of the women’s bodies.”
According to Henry Mushinsky, the committee chairman of the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, there is no code of conduct in regard to attire requirements while doing fieldwork. As a result of this, it is common for students to wear swimming costumes while doing fieldwork near waterways. However, to use images of students in swimwear during the presentation was not what was considered “typical documentary photos.”
While the organizers of the event considered the images of such a nature that they had to cover some images with blue boxes, the award was still issued to Dick Vogt.
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 pic.twitter.com/CgvT56ni4f
— Not Mrs McLNeuro (@McLNeuro) July 12, 2018
However, it seems that once the public outcry began, they decided to strip Vogt of the title on Friday, according to the New York Times.
“Many members of all genders took strong offense to the images that were presented and to the awarding of this distinction to someone whose extremely inappropriate behavior toward other attendees has been long known,” the Herpetologists’ League said in a statement. “We acknowledge that scientific achievement does not excuse misconduct in the profession at any level.”
While the fact that Vogt was able to give what is considered by his peers as an unprofessional slideshow, to many of those around Dick Vogt, it was no surprise.
In fact, many people stepped forward after the event to say they weren’t surprised Vogt had given such a presentation.
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
— Sam H. Dean (@samdeanscience) July 12, 2018
For some, this also became a #MeToo moment within the herpetology field.
Dick came on to me at a #seaturtle meeting in New Orleans. I walked away. Afterwards everyone told me that he is known for sexual inappropiate behaviour. I can't believe that he received an AWARD @ #JMIH18…. WTF ???????????? #MeTooSTEM #MeToo @ASIHCopeia @HerpLeague #jmih2018 https://t.co/ggVBfbaV76
— Christine Figgener (@ChrisFiggener) July 13, 2018
Quartz gives examples of other times Dick Vogt has been allegedly inappropriate. One example included him showing images of turtles nestled near the breasts of a woman wearing a bikini.
As Lori Neuman-Lee, who leads the Herpetologists’ League’s new diversity and inclusion committee, pointed out, “It wasn’t explicit but it was not professional.”
Vogt has defended his presentation to the New York Times. He insisted that there was “nothing sexual or indecent about the photos,” and that he is “very sad that this has happened.”
As Gizmodo succinctly points out, “If you deliver near-nudity when the audience expects turtles, don’t be surprised when they react negatively.” They then follow up by reminding the organizers of the event that perhaps they should have listened to the concerns of those who worked around Dick Vogt before issuing the award.