Trouble at the alma mater

I’m coming into this story a little late, (I’m catching up on my reading after being out of commission for over a month) but this story hit me especially hard as it takes place in a graduate dept just a few buildings from where I got my MS.

Everyone knows that science graduate students have it hard, but imagine the added pressure that comes with knowing your advisor is falsifying data.

Last winter six graduate students in a biology program at UW-Madison turned in their advisor for concerns about data falsification (eventually found to be true). As a result their advisor resigned, the lab shut down, and 5 of the students were told that much of their previous work was not useable and that they’d have to start over with new projects if they still wanted Ph.D.s.

From a recent article in Science:
“…the graduate students caught in the middle have found that for all the talk about honesty’s place in science, little good has come to them. Three of the students, who had invested a combined 16 years in obtaining their Ph.D.s, have quit school. Two others are starting over, one moving to a lab at the University of Colorado, extending the amount of time it will take them to get their doctorates by years. The five graduate students who spoke with Science also described discouraging encounters with other faculty members, whom they say sided with Goodwin [the advisor] before all the facts became available.”

Yikes…I raise my glass to those students. And hope I’d be courageous enough to do what they did.

To read more:

Science Magazine (subscription required)
Wisconsin State Journal

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