| 10.2°C Dublin

Notorious fruit bat research wins 'Ig Nobel' prize

AN ACADEMIC paper about oral sex among fruit bats -- which sparked a sexual harassment claim between two academics at an Irish university -- has won an alternative scientific award.

Earlier this year, British scientist Dr Dylan Evans was disciplined by University College Cork (UCC), which upheld an allegation of sexual harassment made by one of his colleagues in the School of Medicine.

Dr Rosanna Salerno Kennedy complained to UCC's authorities after Dr Evans (43) had shown her an article in an academic journal entitled 'Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time'.

UCC upheld one of her two complaints against Dr Evans and ordered him to undergo a two-year period of "monitoring and appraisal" and to complete special training.

The case provoked an international outcry as leading academics rallied to support Dr Evans, claiming that the sanctions were a "politically correct" assault on the freedom to debate.

Now the team at Bristol University that carried out the fruit bats research has been awarded the Ig Nobel award for biology by the 'Annals Of Improbable Research Journal'.

The Ig Nobels are a parody of the Nobel prizes and are awarded each year for achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think".

Professor Gareth Jones, who led the Bristol team that researched the fruit bats' sexual habits, received the award at a ceremony at Harvard University.

Dr Evans, a behavioural scientist, is pursuing a High Court case against UCC, seeking a judicial review of its findings against him.

Explaining his decision to take legal action, he said: "I can live with the sanctions, but I cannot live with a factual finding of sexual harassment against me -- it has serious career implications for me."

Irish Independent