Mean accusation: Happy outcome

Friday 14th July 2017
Ms Britta Nesler awarded her Leibnitz Prize

Just before the March ceremony to bestow the coveted Leibniz Prize, the DFG, German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) received disturbing allegations. An anonymous tipster accused one of the 10 scientists slotted to receive the award, materials scientist Britta Nestler, of misconduct. The DFG held the ceremony on March 15, but suspended Nestler’s award.

Four months later, Nestler now has her Leibniz, along with the €2.5 million in prize money. This week, the DFG — which awards the Leibniz — announced that it had given Nestler her prize on July 4, during its annual meeting, after determining that the accusations were without merit.

Secretary General of the DFG and Chair of the Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct (right) Dorothee Dzwonnek said in a statement: The allegations against Ms. Nestler, which were made anonymously and at very short notice, had to be thoroughly investigated. So in the spring we had no other option than to suspend the presentation of the Leibniz Prize.

Although this was a very difficult decision, it was believed in the best interests of Ms. Nestler, the DFG and the Leibniz Prize. We then worked hard to investigate all aspects of the allegations, gave Ms. Nestler an ample hearing and also engaged an external reviewer, before finally the Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct addressed the matter.

This thorough investigation revealed no evidence of scientific misconduct on the part of Ms. Nestler. So the DFG is now able, with great pleasure, to present her with the Leibniz Prize.

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