August 27, 2008

Purdue sanctions professor for research misconduct

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University on Wednesday (Aug. 27) formally reprimanded and sanctioned a faculty member after a university appeal committee unanimously denied an appeal from two findings of research misconduct.

Professor Rusi Taleyarkhan, who researches sonofusion, will remain a member of the university's faculty but will no longer have a named professorship, and he will not be allowed to serve as a major professor for graduate students for at least the next three years, according to a letter outlining the sanctions from Purdue Provost Randy Woodson.

"In considering the sanctions to impose, I have been guided by the principle that the sanctions should address and be proportional to the specific findings of research misconduct," Woodson wrote in the letter.

"In my judgment as Purdue's chief academic officer, it is inappropriate for a faculty member who has been found guilty of research misconduct to hold a title of a named university professor. ... All rights and privileges associated with the distinction, including the allocation of discretionary resources, are hereby withdrawn."

In a report released to Purdue on July 18, a Purdue investigative committee found that Taleyarkhan falsified the research record on two occasions. Taleyarkhan arranged for one of his students to appear as co-author of a paper to create the appearance that the student had witnessed the experiment reported in the paper. Taleyarkhan then announced that the paper was an independent confirmation of Taleyarkhan's sonofusion experiments. The complete report of the July investigative committee's findings is available online at 

In addressing the involvement of the graduate student, the provost's letter stated: "I concur in the assessment of the Investigative Committee that 'the effects of this matter on the students and postdoctoral fellows are especially deplorable. Mentors of young scientists need to exhibit the highest standard of ethical behavior and collegiality.'

"For a minimum of three years from the date of this letter, your status as a member of the Purdue University Graduate Faculty will be limited to that of 'Special Graduate Faculty.' You will be permitted to serve on graduate committees, but will not be able to serve as a major professor or co-major professor for graduate students during this time."

At the end of that period, according to the letter, Taleyarkhan's conduct will be reviewed to determine whether he may apply to be reinstated to full faculty status with the Graduate School.

Contact: Purdue spokesperson Jeanne V. Norberg, (765) 494-2084,


Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096,

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