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Was tweet part of research?

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico professor in a kerfuffle over a controversial tweet he sent last week is under investigation by UNM and New York University, where he’s currently lecturing, for potentially violating research protocol.

Geoffrey Miller, a tenured UNM professor who has spent the last year at the NYU Stern School of Business, told UNM his tweet was part of a research project.

“Dear obese PhD (sic) applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation,” Miller wrote on Twitter on June 2. Miller later apologized for his tweets and said they did not reflect his views.

Miller never sought approval from the Institutional Review Board at either UNM or NYU to conduct the research, both schools confirmed Tuesday. All research universities have such boards and require faculty and students to seek approval from them before conducting human-related research, even just surveys.

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It’s not clear whether Miller, who has not responded to repeated requests for comment, would have been required to seek approval, NYU spokesman Philip Lentz said.

But Miller told NYU that he did not need it “because it did not involve research on human subjects,” according to a statement.

Lentz said the investigation centers on whether Miller should have sought approval from NYU’s review board.

UNM spokeswoman Karen Wentworth also said Miller never sought approval here.

“The IRB is looking at whether or not it was (a violation),” Wentworth said.

UNM has said it was deeply concerned about Miller’s tweet.

“The University of New Mexico administration and faculty were surprised by Dr. Geoffrey Miller’s tweet,” according to a statement from UNM. “We are deeply concerned about the impact of the statement, which in no way reflects the policies or admission standards of UNM. We are investigating every aspect of this incident and will take appropriate action.”

In a statement, NYU said the school had no verification that the tweet was in fact part of an experiment.

Miller’s tenure at NYU ends on Aug. 31, Lentz said. Wentworth said she did not know whether Miller, who had requested to extend his time at NYU, would return to UNM.

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