Pocatello, Idaho — Jeffrey Meldrum holds a Ph.D. in anatomical sciences and is a tenured professor of anatomy at Idaho State University.
He is also one of the world's foremost authorities on Bigfoot, the mythical smelly ape-man of the Northwest woods. And Meldrum firmly believes the lumbering, shaggy brute exists.
That makes him an outcast on the 12,700-student campus, where many scientists are embarrassed by what they call Meldrum's "pseudo-academic" pursuits and have called on the university to review his work with an eye toward revoking his tenure. One physics professor, D.P. Wells, wonders whether Meldrum plans to research Santa Claus, too.
Meldrum, 48, spends most of his days in his laboratory in the Life Sciences Building, analyzing more than 200 jumbo plaster casts of what he contends are Bigfoot footprints.
For the past 10 years, he has added his scholarly sounding research to a field full of sham videos and supermarket tabloid exposes. And he is convinced he has produced a body of evidence that proves there is a Bigfoot.
Martin Hackworth, a senior lecturer in the physics department, called Meldrum's research a "joke."
"Do I cringe when I see the Discovery Channel and I see Idaho State University, Jeff Meldrum? Yes, I do," Hackworth said. "He believes he's taken up the cause of people who have been shut out by the scientific community. He's lionized there. He's worshipped. He walks on water. It's embarrassing."
On campus, Meldrum gets funny looks and the silent treatment from other scientists, and is not invited to share coffee with the other science professors.
More than 30 professors signed a petition criticizing the university for hosting a Bigfoot symposium where Meldrum was the keynote speaker.
He pays for his research with a $30,000 donation from a Bigfoot believer.
Still, Meldrum has a distinguished supporter in Jane Goodall, the world-famous authority on African chimpanzees. Her blurb on the jacket of Meldrum's new book, "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science," lauds him for bringing "a much-needed level of scientific analysis" to the Bigfoot debate.