Research misconduct and breach of ethics

How Luis Serrano, CRG's (Barcelona) Director, lied to the Catalan/Spanish Court

Below is how His Excellency Luis Serrano, CRG Director (Spanish/Catalan research institute of Excellence™), did his best to protect reputat...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How Luis Serrano, CRG's (Barcelona) Director, lied to the Catalan/Spanish Court

Below is how His Excellency Luis Serrano, CRG Director (Spanish/Catalan research institute of Excellence™), did his best to protect reputation of his realm by having serially lied about the reason of a former employee's dismissal virtually performed by his miss-stress, Maria Lluch-Senar — he was unable to procure a PI position for her, so now she's a «scientific» executive in a yet another bogus biomed company — those, which are spinning off Academia's casa nostra like the fleas off a well cared pet…

«What a tangled web they weave when first they practice to deceive…»

[DropBox archive to the story]
  1. A year ago (Feb'17) CRG in Barcelona had ignored the conciliation officer`s proposal to accept that the dismissal was illegal and make things simple: i.e. to pay out a small fine (about one month wage) to me and to issue a document confirming that dismissal was illegal, their representative also told then that they needed the Court decision to make that small payment and they'd bring additional evidence. Below is this evidence.

    They've started with their style of menaces again, urging me to accept the following proposal: before the Court they admit that the dismissal was illegal and pay out that money, but in turn© I have to purge all materials on them I put online. They pay that symbolic fine, I clean, they go scot-free, as if nothing happened, as if they did nothing wrong and as if I am doing here even something criminal. If I do not accept this — they're to carry out their threats.
    I don't.
    I said no lies.

    What did kinda surprise me — that Catalan (Spanish) Court did not find anything abnormal in their menaces*) neither noticed any contradiction in their proposal with its own decision.
    The judge had a look rather petulant by me declining their menaces — thus he had to proceed with hearing, get himself busy.
    All that looked quite really medieval to me…

  2. On the Court hearing Luis Serrano, CRG Director, came to witness me «constantly refusing» to talk to his favorite, Maria Lluch-Senar.
    That was yet another sheer lie (unless just comical):
    I've updated the DropBox with the copies of correspondence which happened a month before my dismissal when I had to explain to M Lluch-Senar, biochemist, (© L. Serrano) how mass-spec really works (she tries to show up herself as if she understands it but pretty dumb to get a simple point). Finally, from the 3rd attempt, she gets it and even thanks me, reminding me one more time again that I'd be fired anyway. She's been obsessed repeating that in near every second her email with cc to Luis Serrano. I bet that seemed so sexy to her patron and sweet-heart.
    Chat between me and her is mentioned in the beginning of that correspondence. So the meeting was with me and her alone, at my initiative because in that case that did make sense.
    Luis Serrano was well aware of the meeting, he was in cc.
    In fact, I refused no meeting with his favorite. I've been just asking for assistance as she used to be damn blind, aggressive and incompetent, sabotaging any communication with the lab people and the colleagues involved in the project.
    Only once I refused her manipulations «if you want to talk… we can discuss» — I said I don't: she lied as if she looked at the app (all I was doing for them she kept calling «webpage» :)), there were nothing to discuss, she was unable to set a task for months and was reiterating what was already done (they both got hysterical after I said «I don't» then, although I could wait weeks for them just to look on what was going on with the project… — «ha-ha, Katerina wants to work!»).
    Another time it was «if you don't understand — come and ask» (another shiny feature of their culture is how they talk to people in general and to professionals in particular, this you can spot in their emails, see Dropbox — is it the EMBL's school too?… quite consistent with the EMBL…) 
    I said I have nothing to ask, I refused to recognize such scientific authority of the made-up biochemist, scientific authority, which they've started to claim after I complained to their set-up of Conflict Resolution Committee (I called for it, then they basely lied that this was them who called for it and I didn't obey it) — I was fired.
    You fill complaint about the incompetence and harassing from some person and they force you to recognize scientific \m/ authority of the very same person.
    This is how they make up their so called Conflict Resolution Committee...
    Nice, isn't it?

  3. That wasn't the only lie he told the Court, also he lied about me unrelated to his starring in «I think what maria proposed does not make any sense» (see there also their vile intrigue and slandering to make up that 3 month term) — that was in fact said after me trying to explain Maria the same, but not that way directly. I just did not discarded her suggestion completely (that'd be too risky! but minding now Serrano's confession to the Court — see in DropBox Court's decision: his favorite reported on me unsuitable for her right around the same time!)
    The related email is now in the DropBox too, my actual boss was in cc and Luis Serrano was surely reacting on this correspondence.

  4. The third lie:
    CRG attorney told the Court (and Luis Serrano repeated it) that I was given 3 months to follow discipline I allegedly violated.
    In fact, the next day after Serrano told me that his favorite M Lluch-Senar was my boss (yet another one, as I still had to ask my official boss for holidays and the like), less than 3 months before my dismissal, I've got a letter from her, that she had «talked with Luis and he said me that he has given you the opportunity to work for three months in the lab and to finish the project». That is I was told I'd be fired anyway. Serrano was in cc in that email (see in DropBox too).
    No way he didn't know, I was pointing on that assertion (that I'd be fired anyway) to the HR, Conflict resolution Committee.
    They didn't care, they served to M Lluch-Senar and her henpecked one like dogs, despite the law — «it'll be illegal and you can go to the Court then». Well, we'll kill you, what's the matter? — your relatives can go to our Court then (the Court won't find anything wrong in that).
    Luis Serrano, CRG Director, lied his face off to the Court.
    Their events fabrication was supported by no single legit document, proving their falsehood.

    Not to mention the repeated falsehood about Conflict Resolution Committee, implying that they called for it to make me obey them — yet another lie: who could think that my call for Conflict Resolution Committee they'd unscrupulously use for themselves….
    Not to mention the lies about the reason of my transfer to the Serrano lab:
    in order to mob and fire actually, as he explicitly confirmed himself — his favorite reports on me that she's unhappy to work with me, meanwhile, after her discussion with me he writes to several colleagues that her proposals, criticized by myself, make no sense — the best way of a corporate intrigant: he makes sure that she'd hate me, — and voilá: he transfers me to his lab and coerces me to talk to Sra. Lluch only alone.
    — Nice trick, isn't it?
    Later, on the Court hearing, he refers to this intrigue as if they had transferred me for the sake of discipline I allegedly violated. Before I even could have gotten to know who was my yet another boss whose scientific authority I had to obey or what could be that disobedience (apparently the logic isn't a Spanish/academic talent).
    Oh, yes, no word about corruption, let alone ignoble conduct of those who know no decency.
    True modern scientific leadership although with quite questionable practice, but who cares when it comes to money laundering so successfully sold out as that true research activity, right?
    Just givvus more money, we are saving humanity's health, kids from starvation, we are saving the Earth!! Preserve our strata whatever it takes (skip it now).
    Needless to say now that this Spanish Court did not give me the floor unless defendant party would have asked for it.
    Of course they were not interested to ask.
So this Spanish/Catalan Court has taken CRG Director's words as they are along with their dismissal notice (citing me «I have nothing to ask» as a reason to fire me) as a proof of my disobedience and made decision that my dismissal was legal.
You can enjoy reading on DropBox their decision: nothing from my part is even mentioned
— yet another achievement of Spanish science and Social Justice ⚖️ in Spain/Catalunya… But thank Providence and post medieval (just neo-fascist?) world: otherwise I'd have been put on fire literally, in the Auto-da-fé / or shot dead by these franquists pokemons under the new brand of la nueva Alianza de Excelencia SOMM (Severo Ochoa y María de Maeztu — WTH is this clownacy?) and Whole-Cell Modelling. The latter is quite a fancy way to make friends and money with their US peers like Jonathan Karr and whoever else is so happy to support Spanish research misconduct to have grant money for their trips in EU from US… — sure they assure you that those Spanish scientists were just defamed. But look at the DropBox docs — they show up themselves: their style of doing science speaks for itself.

alike Maria Lluch-Senar and Luis Serrano in CRG use-case

Story archive in Dropbox
Docs, story: CRG, Barcelona on Github

And the cherry on the cake:

I had to make waiting the reverend scientist and the Court for about an hour as I insisted on the interpreter being assisting me on the hearing (my Spanish isn't fluent):
that was my right they had failed to lock in on their own — thus that utterly corrupt fascist Spanish/Catalan Court did not give a damn whether I could even understand them.
At the end the Judge had rudely interrupted my attorney: no use to get into the subject, really. Everything was so clear in advance.
Otherwise it was just yet another routine Spanish way of showing their respect and culture, no worries.

Summarizing all this shame CRG/Barcelona Excellence™ in the anecdote:
Luis Serrano:
    — what maria proposed does not make any sense.
    — she does not obey to do what I propose!
Luis Serrano & Maria Lluch-Senar:
(both very «con tensiones en la empresa por ello»):
    — you are fired!

Don't you ask yourself now:
why the hell the CRG in Barcelona, Luis Serrano Pubul, his mistress or work-wife, whatever) Maria Lluch-Senar — why did they feel necessity in all that execution-style spectacle?

Why were they unable to make things at least as civilized people would do when they didn't like each other: to dismiss me a decent way, by mutual agreement? — I didn't even ask for their money, I suggested that Luis Serrano the very next moment when his Maria promised me that I'd be fired anyway after he told me that I had to get along with her and the lab folk (they slandered I can work with no one, no one confirmed that to my knowledge), especially that the condition to get along with the lab folk was yet another fabrication: you can see it from the Court decision — Serrano claimed I had to obey to his favorite only.
— So, why this spectacle? why their Juan Valcarcel lied me, that I can go to the Court and their Court would decide that my dismissal was illegal?

*) artículo 169 del Código Penal of Spain: «Amenazas son un delito o una falta… el anuncio de un mal futuro ilícito que es posible… con la finalidad de causar inquietud o miedo…»
«Threats are a crime or a fault... the announcement of a bad illicit future that is possible ... with the purpose of causing concern or fear ...»

Friday, February 23, 2018

Letting a chance to decide

To explanations, or justifying, whatever… — why I didn't quit CRG on my own.
There was another event, very small but kinda romantic for me — why I was rather passive to leave straight away when it became clear they were up to rather lies and bullying*) than just doing calm and honest research.
First let me reiterate why I couldn't do it, objective reasons:

Once I had realized that the workplace wasn't of my type and it's useless to hope that they were capable of honest and fair conduct, I wrote to their Director Luis Serrano that I would quit on my own in the end of that year — later they've just haven't allowed that. They were craving for execution.
There was also the misempathy of a kind «they are mobbing you, I'll talk to Luis and will oppose to that» (yet another pathetic liar) or «this is illegal what they are doing — you'll go to the Court and you'll win» (ha-ha-ha) or «you have nothing to worry about, you have your Contract».

However my own belief was not based on those speechifying, I had my deep, though irrational, subjective reason to wait for what they'd do.

Last weekend of that September I visited Montserrat mountain, alone, just to think over my staying in the workplace and in Barcelona in general.

I was ascending up there by a narrow trail and a group of adults and kids was descending towards me.
I stepped aside to let them come by, they were coming down and up calling for each other, making a lively mess.
Suddenly I felt that someone caught my thumb — a little boy, of 3 or 4, seemed to get lost, he stood by my side having held my thumb.
He was quiet and sure, like just waiting for someone to recall him from the crowd.

It was a nice and funny situation, I felt like designated just standing there with a silly smile and trying to call for someone — I only needed to get which language and words to choose.
In a moment a woman came back up to our spot laughing and telling the boy to look up at me — he did and they've descended on the laugh together.

I was a stranger in the country just pondering whether I'd fancy to stay there — all my under skin sensations were whispering: «go!»
But then I felt like I got a message «stay».

*) There is an exact translation into Russian (быкование), but we don't know this term in application to intelligent/scientific environment… its common usage is for low profile, low cultured behavioral type, say, in gangs, among criminals or near-criminal social circles.

P.S. Whoever watches this blog through content-checking bots: I don't change anything in particular, I don't change details or sense or statement of events.
There are only two reasons why I can edit some text here:
  1. I'm pointed to or I find some inaccuracy in my English; 
  2. I want to keep it up to date, i.e. I may append some links or relevant data.
Quite a while ago, long before their Court hearing, I wrote to a former colleague there who happened being not really upright person, that I'd be always happy to consider a respectful attitude. Now I doubt that it could even make any sense — it's like being of Black, Jew, Gypsy or Slavic origin (ha-ha… I don't have only Black one in this list) trying to suggest negotiating to the 3rd Reich executives. Pathetic.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Style of doing science: FAQ on CRG, Barcelona and EMBL-EBI connection

After having known/read my experience in working for science (not real one, but so to say, science), my friends and colleagues keep asking me mainly these two questions: 
I. What happened at EMBL-EBI and why are these cases connected?
— Serrano lab used to be a part of EMBL System Biology Unit, apparently they foster phenotypes like that.
II. Why didn't you quit on your own once you realized that the environment in CRG, Barcelona, was so toxic?
— I did want to, my mistake was that I relied too much on a snitch, was mislead by a «good cop» (Luis Serrano's left hand, whereas his work-wife was a «bad cop») — they all were just a perfect match for each other.
I just could not believe I saw it all real and not in my sleep.
I could not accept the idea that the guy was just a cad.
Also, there was a tiny subjective reason… which kinda shadowed my objective assessment of the situation.
Here are the answers elaborated.
  1. In April of 2013 my boss at EBI-EMBL reported on me to HR after I had used capital letters in one word of the working correspondence: that was the exclamation-like «WHAT?», — he said then that I was rude and impossible to collaborate with (indeed I wasn’t much collaborative in some sense, see below p.13).
    HR explains me that writing one word in email using capital letters is equal to shouting. But on the other hand she looks confused and keeps asking me whether I have something more to tell her. I don’t want to tell more.
    However, the project coordinator, who was the addressee of that my email, says in the presence of HR that she hasn't considered me rude and inconvenient to collaborate.
    Meanwhile I'm excluded from acknowledgement in inner EBI meetings concerning the project: up to the extent that they later say «all right, they took your results and presented them as their own, but they’ve had you acknowledged as they thanked Systems Microscopy consortium and you are a member of it» (nice, isn’t it?).

  2. In June of 2013 all of the sudden my Dad falls down in a swoon and cannot walk well after getting back, I urgently come back home from the UK. My bosses are apprised.

  3. On 25/06/13 my Dad passes away on my arms in a hospital after having tremendously suffered from the acute AAA rupture.
  4. Staying home on my vacations (they were approved) that summer and busy with documentations following the funeral I’m getting a quite boorish email from the project coordinator at EBI that I have to correct something in the code ASAP as she's preparing a paper (in fact the project wasn't ready then for the paper yet and that paper was later written by myself with the help of my boss of the later time).
    Also she writes me that my talk on the ISMB conference was prepared badly — it was very soon after the funeral, though she lied, almost the same talk was also given for the SM consortium spring meeting, later I could bring several references from both conferences proving her falsehood.
    She doesn't forget to note that she understands that I'm in a hard life situation.

  5. I tell her to fuck off: not that words directly, of course, just that she's misbehaving and I won't read her emails until I’ll come back to work from my legit vacations.

  6. When I come back I'm told that my contract is suspended for insubordination and unauthorized leave. The custom was that folks at EBI, including bosses, didn’t care much of vacation paperwork, spoken agreement was usually enough. I’m advised to leave the campus ASAP.

  7. Being in the state of a catatonic stupor I do nothing for about a week, but a colleague meets me and brings EMBL-EBI’s docs and proves me that their actions against me were in contradictions with their own legislative papers. He urges me «Catherine, don’t stay like that, do something, go to a lawyer».

  8. I go to the Cambridge Citizen Advice Bureau, they ask me questions like «Did you hack them? Did you steal something from them? Who is this employer?» and advise me to write and to call to the EMBL-EBI Head Office in Heidelberg, they also give me a list of lawyer addresses to visit.
    I follow their advice.

  9. Next day after my contact with EMBL-EBI HO the Head of Administration at EBI calls me, apologizes for the suspension of the contract and invites me back to work.

  10. All my email/servers etc credentials are withdrawn, I spend some time to get some of that back, but not everything. I’m implicitly hinted that they are prepared to give me an EOC agreement (End of Contract).
    I write to EMBL-EBI Head Office again.

  11. Administrative Director of EMBL, Keith Williamson at that time, comes to the UK to talk to me. It turns out that he’s mislead about the project which they declare as accomplished (it was just a stupid lie, I wonder how further they’d report about it).
    After my talk with him I’m fully restored in my rights.
    They recognize that everything is fine with my holidays, I was wrongly accused in insubordination and unauthorized leave, though no apologies now, except spoken ones from Keith (he was the one who at least seemed a gentleman in all that story).

  12. I’m invited for a chat in the EBI Director office (Ewan Birney) along with my boss and his proxy on R&D tasks. I’m told that I have «questionable personal qualities» (btw, ad hominem is the most beloved fallacy and trick of rogue scientists — Birney repeats the same after my boss) and this is me, who had a lesson now and must comply with their way of doing R&D.

  13. I write another email to the EMBL Head Office with cc to my boss and Birney where I ask (at last) why is that me who has «questionable personal qualities», why was I bullied, why did all this happen after my boss didn’t have me responsive to his invitation to private bike rides (and to have a look together on concert posters, — but I don't mention that), I claim for fair employment practice — that was completely ignored, I also ask to change the person who authorizes my leaves — that was accepted after the investigation, see below.

  14. I get a response from Director General of EMBL, Iain Mattaj, where he implies that the bullying was alleged but that I dared to accuse my boss in sexual harassment and that all needs to be investigated.

  15. I reply that I didn’t say that the conduct of my boss was a sexual harassment per se, all I asked: the explanations of the bullying and I mentioned him hitting on me in that context.
    This my reply was ignored.

  16. I’ve never got any explanation. I was told off that I brought forward the accusation of sexual harassment with no reason. I was made guilty for the mention of the fact that my boss had hit on me and then bullied me.

  17. However, Iain Mattaj apologized for the bullying itself, he even used a word «harassment» in his apologies. After the investigation I’ve got the apology letter from him where he enlightens me that I took the suspension of my contract, accusation in unauthorized leave and removal of all my credentials at work etc for the bullying because my father passed away right before that.
    All the rest was just fine.
    Basically, he didn't apologize for the damage itself, he apologized that I felt damaged.
    Yet better that way, than nothing.
    He also generously spared me from a discipline sentence for my alleged accusation in sexual harassment™ of my boss.
    Nice, isn’t it?
    Although they’ve swapped my boss for his proxy and that was the second gentleman in all that story (minding top level).

  18. After getting that hysterical email from Maria Lluch-Senar — Luis Serrano tandem at CRG 
    (I was surprised, really: Luis himself never was that verbose with English that poor, didn't used ES layout, although this didn't matter: NB — they used ad hominem again, but that was just only Maria's personal way to communicate her problems: 
    «if I do not want to take even an effort to get into your app's functionality — this is your problem, that I have difficulties understanding you» in reply on my rebuttal to her manipulations and lies…)
    — I asked Luis Serrano to behave fairly and that I wouldn’t be just silent and shocked, I’d been prepared by this case at EMBL («you are guilty if I'm rude with you and even if I breach our own protocols and rules» — their MO). 
    Maria used to imitate work activity while getting disrespectful and aggressive without any attempt to follow the elementary guidance, like — how to load heavy data (she couldn't use even corporate FTP properly instead of corporate emails, when it was absolutely necessary due to the type of data being transferred… and every time you were guilty with any her problems below any professional qualification!)  
    Although, Serrano lab used to be a part of System Biology unit of EMBL, they had to follow their rules:
    «maintaining a culture based on the principles of good scientific practice, throughout the Laboratory and in their respective Units».

    I believed that they had to follow that at least to the degree that EMBL was able to (appologizing a bit afterwords as «ah, we'are sorry you've feeled that way» — not for the damage itself, of course).
    But Luis Serrano, once the Head of EMBL systems biology Unit and CRG Director, president of SOMMa (some local Spanish Network of Excellence™) said me that he didn't care. Literally:
    «I don't care, we are at CRG here, we have nothing to do with EMBL».
    All right.
    Those were their good scientific practice.

  19. Shortly after this email exchange (where I was trying to get free from the creepy situation) and direct threats to be fired (but with «a lot of money» — yet another dishonesty from the CRG's Director) I apprised Luis Serrano that under the conditions he put on me I’d better quit on my own at the end of the year. Naturally!

    They ignored that, apparently that was not a way to bring them satisfaction (however they did try to fire me first as if following my wish: they prepared papers for that by the end of October to fire me in a couple of weeks after that, see below their lies about 3-months term to make me obeying to the Director's favorite).

  20. But then, in the end of September'2016, they were just about to go to their lab retreat, Serrano wrote me that my presence there would be «awkward» and it’s up to me to go or not, I did not want to go to their retreat, I was preparing to quit anyway.
    But a colleague asked me to come, she also assured me in her support (instead, she started to coercing me to hypocrisy and simulations, allegedly she was suffering from Maria domination and manipulations but turned out to be just a snitch for Serrano).
    Better I’d never seen that part of their specific culture at that retreat (so freaking lowbrow level even ignoring complains of other guests of the resort).
    That was awkward.
    Indeed, shortly before the retreat Luis Serrano accused me that I can work with no one, whereas I had no communications and collaborations with his people by that time — his Maria just cut communications with Serrano lab's folks by any means.
    No one in my lab confirmed the falsehood of me unable to collaborate: I was working in another lab and Serrano—Lluch-Senar were about to move me to their lab, allegedly for better collaboration.
    In fact I was alienated from any collaboration in Serrano lab: instead Serrano had been forcing me to talk to his favorite only alone.
    Later Luis Serrano lied to the Court that they had transferred me to make me follow the discipline I have allegedly violated.

    If they feel better on the way they have chosen: lying, threatening, making their research labs the places of so toxic ambiance with no respect, no open discussion, licking asses, making folks lick asses, humiliating them, snitching on each other, where even their own written code of good scientific practice is violated,
    it's up to them.

    are the other parts of the story.