Jeffrey Epstein has been present in the scientific community for decades. For some of the foremost scientists around the world, Epstein was a generous benefactor, a strong proponent of their research and even a personal friend. He's also a convicted sex offender, who was recently arrested and charged reportedly sex trade young girls in New York. The edge contact with more than a dozen different scientists and institutions that are publicly connected to Epstein, with questions about their history with the multi-millionaire and their responses to his recent arrest. Some have themselves been accused of sexual harassment and abuse. Only a handful chose to respond. Epstein & # 39; s lawyers also did not respond to a request for comment.
Like other outlets, including BuzzFeed News and WBUR reported, Epstein and the charitable institutions that he controlled millions in research and institutions, and he often cited his friendships with research heavyweights. Epstein's history with the scientific community shows a man who wants to neatly incarnate himself in a scene dominated by white male thinkers from the most elite institutions around the world. He never had a scientific degree (his closest professional raid in science was as a physics teacher and high school calculus), but his interest and investment in science seems far from fleeting – you could easily get the impression that Epstein is a scientist wanted to be in a different life.
"Jeffrey has the spirit of a physicist," Harvard mathematician and biologist Martin Nowak told New York Magazine in 2002. "It's just like talking to a colleague in your field."
Judging by press releases, Nowak apparently had one of the closest relationships with everyone in Epstein claimed billionaireScientific job. Epstein had given Nowak about half a million dollars to fund his research in the early 2000s. According to a Vanity Fair function from 2003, Nowak and Epstein often traveled regularly to the private island of Epstein in the US Virgin Islands. When Harvard adopted Nowak in 2003, Nowak became the director of the University's Evolutionary Dynamics program (a laboratory focused primarily on the use of mathematics as a guide to understanding and addressing various issues in the life sciences). That program was started using a $ 6.5 million donation by Epstein and his foundation, the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, accompanied by a promise to donate a total of $ 30 million over time.
"(Epstein) has changed my life," Nowak said New York Magazine in 2002. "Because of his support, I feel that I can do everything I want."
Nowak did not respond to repeated calls and emails from The edge to answer questions about his relationship with Epstein or to comment on the latter's arrest. It is unclear how close the two have remained in recent years, especially following the conviction of Epstein in 2008 to request sex from prostitutes (Epstein cut a legally problematic and an extremely mild plea concerns prosecutors in South Florida, and are then led by former secretary of labor Alexander Acosta). The Epstein VI Foundation blog continued to promote Nowak's research as recent as 2015.
Harvard university made the headlines in 2006, shortly after Epstein's arrest, when it refused to return $ 6.5 million from Epstein & # 39; s promise of $ 30 million that had already been donated. Harvard's official response The edge was: "Harvard does not comment on individual gifts or their status."
Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, who recently resigned from his faculty job at Arizona State University while fighting a litany of allegations of sexual harassment, remained a steadfast supporter of Epstein, even after the Epstein conviction in 2008. Krauss told the Daily Beast in 2011: "As a scientist, I always judge things about empirical evidence and he always has women around 19 to 23, but I've never seen anything else, so as a scientist I suspect that regardless of the problems I had him about other people. "Krauss did not respond to requests for comment.
Krauss has long been an organizer of Epstein & # 39; s scientific conferences, help to collect many big names to collect under a single event. The largest is perhaps one 2006 conference dedicated to the concept of gravity, held in St. Thomas on the Virgin Islands, and bringing in scientists such as the late Stephen Hawking; Nobel Prize winners Gerard & # 39; t Hooft, David Gross, Frank Wilczek; physicists and cosmologists such as Jim Peebles, Alan Guth, Kip Thorne and Lisa Randall, and many more. Pictures & # 39; s of the event let many of those present hang out on the 78-acre private island of Epstein, reportedly where many of the victims have been sexually abused.
Some evidence suggests that Epstein and his foundation spent a lot of time exaggerating very thin associations with other researchers and institutions. Many media have referred to Epstein & # 39; s relationship with the New York Academy of Sciences, but one communication representative said The edge The academy has no evidence of Epstein ever joining or making any kind of financial contributions. Epstein has praised his time on the board of Rockefeller University, but a spokesperson says The edge this was only for a single three-year term in the & # 39; 90. The Daily Beast has previously reported that many of the organizations or institutions that Epstein and his charities claim to have donated to have refused to receive money.
Wiczek attended the 2006 conference on gravity, but says: "Epstein did not support my research in a significant way; in particular, I did not receive financial support from him. I met him and have had brief conversations over the years about a few basic social occasions. I just thought of him as a rich person with an interest in supporting science – there are such people! – and I was unaware of the serious accusations against him until much more later. " as Krauss, Wiczek says that while "he remarked that (Epstein) liked to have young women around him, I personally did not observe distant behavior from a distance.
The edge received the following statements from others associated with Epstein:
- Theoretical physicist Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute: "A grant from the Jesse Philips Foundation at Pennsylvania State University helped support my research group from 1997 to 2001. I haven't seen Mr. Epstein since a scientific conference in 2007, and I have had no contact with him since 2008. "
- The Santa Fe Institute, co-founded by the late Nobel Prize winner Murray Gell-Mann, reportedly a friend of Epstein: "An assessment of our funding shows that the Santa Fe Institute received $ 250,000 in donations from sources related to Jeffrey Epstein before 2007. In 2010, another $ 25,000 was received, which led our leadership to decide not to grant additional funds from Mr. Epstein or related sources. This decision was made above and beyond our existing policy that no donor will ever have control over the content or direction of SFI research. "
Others associated with Epstein who have not responded to requests for comment include Gross and & # 39; t Hooft; Harvard psychologist Stephen Kosslyn, who has previously recognized from Epstein funds; Harvard and MIT geneticist George Church; astrophysicist Gregory Benford; and A.I. engineer Ben Goertzel, a former recipient of a $ 100,000 research grant from the Epstein Foundationand of which the open source A.I. project OpenCog is already supported by Epstein in 2013.
It is hard to believe that so many men – who have declared society to be the most brilliant minds on the planet – could all take Epstein & # 39; s money, travel with him, hold long conversations with him, and not see that something was going on behind the scenes. Whatever the reason why they have committed themselves to him, the problem is that the proximity and connection of so many respected scientists to Epstein has given him an aura of legitimacy.
People in the United States still rely on scientists in general, but as we see from case to case of sexual harassment and assualt in science, predators can hide behind prestige, funding and the respectability of their lab coats. A studying last year discovered that half of all female teachers and staff in the sciences have experienced sexual harassment – a barrage that stands out as a reason (among many) that women are underrepresented at the highest level of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Many institutions, including the National Academy of Sciences, are slowly but surely taking steps to expel sex offenders from science, but it remains of the utmost importance for people in a dominant position in the community to prevent perpetrators from coming to the outside science peep.