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Roger Liu, who worked in Hayes’s lab for a decade, both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student, said, “In the beginning, I was really worried for his safety.But then I couldn’t tell where the reality ended and the exaggeration crept in.”Liu and several other former students said that they had remained skeptical of Hayes’s accusations until last summer, when an article appeared in )* that drew on Syngenta’s internal records.“The secret to a happy, successful life of paranoia,” he liked to say, “is to keep careful track of your persecutors.”Three years earlier, Syngenta, one of the largest agribusinesses in the world, had asked Hayes to conduct experiments on the herbicide atrazine, which is applied to more than half the corn in the United States.Hayes was thirty-one, and he had already published twenty papers on the endocrinology of amphibians.David Wake, a professor in Hayes’s department, said that Hayes “may have had the greatest potential of anyone in the field.” But, when Hayes discovered that atrazine might impede the sexual development of frogs, his dealings with Syngenta became strained, and, in November, 2000, he ended his relationship with the company.Hayes continued studying atrazine on his own, and soon he became convinced that Syngenta representatives were following him to conferences around the world.Hundreds of Syngenta’s memos, notes, and e-mails have been unsealed following the settlement, in 2012, of two class-action suits brought by twenty-three Midwestern cities and towns that accused Syngenta of “concealing atrazine’s true dangerous nature” and contaminating their drinking water.

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Other scientists seemed to remember events differently, he noticed, so he started carrying an audio recorder to meetings.The company documents show that, while Hayes was studying atrazine, Syngenta was studying him, as he had long suspected.Syngenta’s public-relations team had drafted a list of four goals.Hayes assured them that his fee, a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, would make their lab more rigorous.He could employ more students, buy new equipment, and raise more frogs.

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