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July 8, 2011
The Sames / Sezen Fraud Case: Holy Cow
C&E News has an extraordinary piece on the long-running Bengü Sezen case at Columbia U. They've obtained two detailed reports from the federal government on the matter, and, well, pretty much all ones worst suspicions are confirmed:
By the time Sezen received a Ph.D. degree in chemistry in 2005, under the supervision of Sames, her fraudulent activity had reached a crescendo, according to the reports. Specifically, the reports detail how Sezen logged into NMR spectrometry equipment under the name of at least one former Sames group member, then merged NMR data and used correction fluid to create fake spectra showing her desired reaction products.
The documents paint a picture of Sezen as a master of deception, a woman very much at ease with manipulating colleagues and supervisors alike to hide her fraudulent activity; a practiced liar who would defend the integrity of her research results in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Columbia has moved to revoke her Ph.D.
. . .the reports echo sources from inside the Sames lab who spoke with C&EN under conditions of anonymity when the case first became public in 2006. These sources described Sezen as Sames’ “golden child,” a brilliant student favored by a mentor who believed that her intellect and laboratory acumen provoked the envy of others in his research group. They said it was hard to avoid the conclusion that Sames retaliated when other members of his group questioned the validity of Sezen’s work.
For more on this, see ChemBark, where the same documents have been obtained (via FOIA requests). Here's Part One, and Part Two. The site has been on this case for a long time now, and that's the place to go for the details - and if you're a chemist, or are interested in what human beings are capable of getting up to, you'll want to read them. Years of faked NMR spectra, faked reaction products, faked logbooks - this is surely one of the longest-running and most thorough frauds in modern organic chemistry history. I await Part Three!
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