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MSU museum director on suspension following misconduct allegations

Posted at 3:35 PM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 15:35:32-05

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University Museum Director Mark Auslander has been placed on a four-week suspension, according to University Spokesperson Emily Guerrant.

Auslander apologized for research misconduct and plagiarism for a newsletter that was released last year.

Auslander said he and the museum published the work of his colleague, Dr. William Lovis, without giving him credit.

In the same newsletter, Auslander printed the wrong information.

"There was an MRI that was used to look at the ancestral remains of the mummified girl. We were asked to call Nusta but in fact, it was a CT imaging," Auslander said.

Lovis said he had been working on this project for two years prior to Auslander coming to the team, but when he did join the project, Lovis said Auslander took control.

"He took over my project, he named the mummy without telling anyone at MSU he was going to do that, and he paid $10,000 to have her sent to Washington D.C. where he took credit in the ceremony for everything that had been done."

Auslander said he wasn't trying to take credit for Lovis' work.

When they went to Washington D.C., Auslander claims he was chosen to be credited and didn't ask to be given all the credit.

In regards to naming the mummy, Auslander had named her a Quechua word "Nusta" meaning princess.

Auslander said he heard from Bolivians to "stop calling her the mummy." So they agreed on Nusta.

However, Lovis said he received permission from the Bolivian Embassy, which he said was not enough.

Auslander has since apologized for taking credit and misprinting information.

"Whenever someone doesn't get full credit for their work it's taken very seriously," Auslander said.

Auslander said he is hoping this issue will be put to an end in the next couple of weeks.

As for the mummy, she has been taken back to her home country, Bolivia.

Joe Salem, head of the MSU Library, is stepping in to help lead the MSU Museum during Auslander's suspension.

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