“The Science Femme” claimed to be a female academic. She claimed to have upended efforts by her social justice-obsessed department to draft a statement condemning racism.
And when Twitter users accused her of racism, she claimed to be a woman of color herself—and an immigrant to boot.
But The Science Femme, who tweeted from the handle @piney_the, wasn’t any of those things, digital sleuths began alleging late last month. Instead, they claimed, “she” was Craig Chapman, a white male assistant professor of chemistry at the University of New Hampshire. The allegations, bolstered by an internal chemistry department email, would make Chapman at least the fourth white academic revealed to have posed as a person of color in recent weeks.
In three of those cases, academics are accused of shamelessly trying to further their own careers. But in Chapman’s case, Twitter users who came into contact with @piney_the say the account harassed real women working in science.
The University of New Hampshire said the incident was under investigation.
“UNH was recently made aware of allegations on social media about a member of its faculty,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “We are deeply troubled by what we’ve learned so far and immediately launched an investigation. The employee at the center of allegations on social media is on leave and not in the classroom. In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation the university is unable to comment further.”
Chapman did not return repeated requests for comment for this story. Both his account and @piney_the were deleted last week.
Susanna Harris, a microbiology Ph.D. holder who currently works in science communications, first noticed the @piney_the Twitter account in July.
“They put out this huge long thread about how they, as a woman of color in science, a professor, made a