Think Tank Administrator
Howard is a decent person and a good physicist. That said, he was placed in charge of a think tank of disreputable scientists of questionable moral fiber. This was mostly to keep them out of respectable labs, to put all the bad eggs in one basket away where they couldn’t do too much harm, but there was an element of seeing what unbridled scientific ambition could produce.
Howard was the guy they put in charge of making sure there was no new big bang that created a second universe on top of the existing one, and distill out the good ideas from the ones that might end the Imperium. Or, you know, life and the Universe as we know it.
Because he was the obvious authority figure, he drew the animosity of most of the scientists in the think tank through no fault of his own. Through simply holding the top position in the administration, almost everyone who wanted it for themselves declared him their rival and/or enemy, and shared defamations of his character amongst each other until they all believed he was even worse than they were. He was blamed for every minor mishap, simple accident, and misplaced paper. Such incidents were deemed suspected sabotage and research theft, and Howard The Blight was behind them all.
When he saw how they all cheated and stole from one another, he wasn’t too personally affronted that they believed him capable of stooping so low, and eventually came to conclude it was actually a compliment that they thought he was so clever he could get past their safeguards to protect their own work from the rampant theft and sabotage actually going on.