Katelyn Allers is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Bucknell University. She recently came forward and said Neil deGrasse Tyson had been guilty of inappropriate sexual conduct when they met back in 2009. Allers is one of at least three women to come forward with accusations about Tyson.
In November, a musician named Tchiya Amet told Patheos that Tyson had raped her when they were both graduate students. Another woman, Ashley Watson, said that she quit her job after Tyson’s sexual advances.
Both Fox and National Geographic say they are investigating the accusations against Tyson. On Saturday afternoon, Tyson put out a lengthy statement on his Facebook page, defending hi,self and denying the allegations. You can read that here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Allers Says Tyson Felt Her Up & Made Creepy Remarks About Her Tattoo at a Party
Allers said she met Tyson at a party thrown by the American Astronomical Society back in 2009. She and her friend spotted Tyson and walked over to ask if they could take a picture with him. Allers said that Tyson seemed fascinated by her tattoo, a portrayal of the solar system that stretches along her arms and wraps around her upper torso. Tyson allegedly used the tattoo as a pretext to feel Allers up. She told Patheos,
“After we had taken the picture, he noticed my tattoo and kind of grabbed me to look at it, and was really obsessed about whether I had Pluto on this tattoo or not… and then he looked for Pluto, and followed the tattoo into my dress.”
Allers said that she wouldn’t describe the incident an assault, but that it was definitely “creepy.”
2. Bucknell University Later Said Tyson Shouldn’t Be Left Alone With Female Students
Allers first met Tyson in 2009 — that’s when he allegedly tried to “find Pluto” under her dress. In 2013, he was scheduled to give a talk at Bucknell University, where she was already an assistant professor. Allers went to Dr. Michelle Thornley, another assistant professor of astrophysics at Bucknell, and described what had happened to her.
Thornley said that Allers didn’t want to make any trouble for. Tyson. But Thornley also said she took it upon herself to speak to the event organizer and make sure that Tyson wasn’t left alone with any female students while he was at Bucknell.
3. Allers Studies Dwarf Stars & Helped Discover a ‘Lonely Planet’
In 2013, Allers was part of a team that helped discover a “lonely planet” known as PSO J318.5-22. The team described their discovery as “a free-floating planet with six times the mass of Jupiter,” adding that it “wanders through space, approximately 80 light years from Earth, without a star to tether it to its orbit.”
Allers also studies brown dwarfs, which are larger than planets but smaller than stars. She teaches classes in astronomy to students at all levels, from general courses for beginners to advanced courses for physics majors.
4. Allers is a Native of Spokane Who Earned Her PhD at the University of Texas
Allers earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Whitworth University in Washington State. She went on to do a PhD in astronomy at the University of Texas in Austin. Allers then spent three years as a researcher with the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In 2009, she was hired by Bucknell University to be an assistant professor. She teaches classes in all levels of physics and astronomy.
5. Allers Says She Hopes Tyson Will Be Thoroughly Investigated Now
Allers says that Tyson never assaulted her — she describes his behavior towards her as “creepy” instead. But Allers says she wants Tyson to be thoroughly investigated for his behavior toward other women.
In 2014, Tchiya Amet first claimed that she had been raped by Tyson. Amet said that she and Tyson were both graduate students at the University of Texas when he drugged her and raped her. Patheos also wrote about the claim in November of 2018.
One of Tyson’s former assistants, Ashley Watson, says she quit her job after Tyson allegedly propositioned her.