Just before the March ceremony to bestow the coveted Leibniz Prize, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) received some disturbing allegations. An anonymous tipster accused one of the 10 scientists slotted to receive the award, materials scientist Britta Nestler, of misconduct. So 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 the accusations were without merit.
Secretary General of the DFG and Chair of the Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct 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 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.
We contacted Nestler, based at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and will update if she responds.
Here is a list of the other recipients of the 2017 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz prize, which the DFG calls Germany’s “most important research funding prize.”
This month, the DFG also announced that a first-time applicant for research funds had committed plagiarism. The announcement (in German) does not name the scientist, but says they are in the life sciences. According to our Google Translate of the announcement, the DFG committee that investigates misconduct issued a “written complaint” against the scientist.
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