Official: Columbia Has Revoked Bengu Sezen’s Ph.D.

July 19th, 2011

Following an inquiry from ChemBark whether Columbia had formally stripped Bengu Sezen of her Ph.D. degree, a spokesman from the university responded:

I can confirm that the University did complete the process and revoked Sezen’s degrees.  The revocation was approved by the Trustees in March 2011.

It is believed that Dr. Sezen still has a Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg.

29 Responses to “Official: Columbia Has Revoked Bengu Sezen’s Ph.D.”

  1. Curious Wavefunction Says:

    “Good riddance” is all I can say

  2. Special Guest Lecturer Says:

    Yawn. Who cares if a google search would prove that it is worth less than toilet paper anyway?

  3. Ed Says:

    wow…i can’t say that i am surprised that it happened, but i am a bit surprised that they are publicly announcing it.

  4. RB Woodweird Says:

    In my mind, I see the revocation ceremony like the one at the beginning of Branded, where Sezen has her mortar board snatched from her head, her robe is ripped off her body, and her diploma is broken over the knee of the CU president. Then she has to march off campus to the strains of the CU marching band playing The World Turned Upside Down.

  5. Pig Farmer Says:

    Or perhaps they might sing “Bye bye Bengu, Bengu bye bye” to the tune of Bay City Rollers’ “Bye Bye Baby”.
    In any case, as CW says, good riddance. Cutting and pasting DCM peaks to get the desired NMR? Beggars belief.

  6. CR Says:

    And yet, Sames still has tenure…

  7. Hap Says:

    We could always sing “Friends in High Places” (to the tune of Garth Brooks’s “Friends in Low Places”) for Professor Sames. (“Oh, I’ve got friends in high places/Where the department buries and the NIH chases my students away/But it’ll be OK…”)

    RBW’s ceremony would be nice if the researchers who depended on her research got to throw spitballs at her as she leaves, and if her ex-advisor had a starring role. It would be even better if it were mandatory attendance for Columbia’s incoming graduate students. (“Um, no, we would never treat any of you like that. We pride ourselves on our fairness to our cattle, I mean graduate students.”)

  8. Pig Farmer Says:

    Sorry, couldn’t resist another song idea:
    “Blame it on the Bengu”.
    As others have already mentioned, I can’t believe anyone would still want to work for this POS. Definitely a sign of the desperate economic times.

  9. Hap Says:

    Lest anyone think that Columbia is singularly evil – Wisconsin, I think, also hosed grad students for calling out an advisor’s actual misconduct – see this post by Dr. Free-Ride (slow-loader, since it’s four years old and she’s not there, anymore).

  10. Paul Says:

    While some of you may “yawn” at this piece of news, I think it is important. If Columbia had not revoked her degree by now, many people would (correctly) be outraged. It is important that someone is checking up on Columbia to ensure that it is meeting its most obvious obligations with respect to this scandal, and this report is the first public acknowledgment that Sezen’s degree has indeed been revoked. Despite the magnitude of Sezen’s misconduct, the process took six years to complete.

  11. bad wolf Says:

    It is funny that it takes even longer to revoke a PhD than to earn one in the first place.

  12. Hap Says:

    It took at least eight years to pull Guido Zadel’s PhD after faking enantioselective reactions in a magnetic field, and that was pretty cut-and-dried (no professorial misconduct, supposedly the impurities in the NMR spectra were the same ones in the commercial samples of the ennatioenriced products). Six years isn’t that surprising, then – I guess the message is “don’t mess with government funding”.

  13. Dr. Free-Ride Says:

    Here’s a faster loading version of the post Hap mentions (plus the follow-up). What’s heartbreaking about the whistleblowing Wisconsin grad students is that the administration there really worked hard to protect them and their interests, yet they still got screwed.

    And yeah, it’s a huge problem that revoking Sezen’s degree does bupkis to make things right for the three graduate students Sames dismissed for, basically, exercising the organized skepticism that’s supposed to be a part of science. (Odd how their graduate advisor, who was supposed to be teaching them how to be good scientists, missed this crucial point.)

    It’s almost as if Columbia (and other research-focused universities, which is where Ph.D. scientists are trained) are only interested in the cheap labor they provide in generating results, and high impact papers, and grants, and patents, and the occasional Nobel Prize.

  14. wolfie Says:

    bad wolf : it took Columbia even longer to revoke the title than Bengu to earn a second one elsewhere

    The University of Heidelberg has just revoked the Ph.D. title of Silvana Koch-Mehrin, a Member of the European Parliament, because of heavy plagiarism. It took them about 2 months to complete the process. So if anyone has well-founded doubts on the validity of Bengu’s second Ph.D., please direct them to the University of Heidelberg, and they may be quick to confirm that Science in Europe has not yet become the ugly business it is in the USA.

  15. wolfie Says:

    Here is a really important (german) blog on plagiarized Ph.D. works of German politicians. It still continues to be extended.

    Another blog has led to the fall of the formerly most popular politician in Germany (a secretary of defense) and the revocation of his Ph.D. title within 4 weeks :

    How would you be, if you Americans could start such blogs on important persons of your public life ? No, you won’t, because you do not consider scientific seriosity as important. You only do it with sex affairs. How ugly and inhuman.

    (I am only Paul’s European alter ego here).

  16. Hap Says:

    When your politicians specialize in aggressive ignorance, plagiarism of academic work is not usually a problem – in our case, it would be an improvement, since the plagiarists would actually have imbibed the thoughts and logic of people who actually had some.

    In the land of the ignorant, the man (or woman) with two brain cells is king.

  17. R Says:

    Would be interested in your comments about an article published by Chemical & Engineering News (, which seems rather similar to your posts on this topic!

  18. bossman Says:

    How about a slow lowering into a vat of HF for both Bengu and Sames? Would be a nice visual for the incoming students?

  19. Paul Says:

    @R: Thanks for calling attention to that article. My first thought is that I’m glad C&EN is followed up on this story and ran a feature on it. Despite the fact that there is nothing “new” to readers of this blog, it is still good to have what we all know placed in the magazine “of record” for chemistry.

    That said, doesn’t it seem that Mr. Schulz went out of his way to avoid mentioning this blog? I know I’m biased , but:

    Last month, Columbia’s investigative report of Sezen’s fraud surfaced via multiple Freedom of Information Act requests, including one filed by C&EN.

    Who else besides C&EN and this blog requested the investigation materials??

    July 2011 ORI releases redacted copies of Columbia’s Sezen investigation and its oversight analysis.

    Actually, they released them in June. I posted the cover letter here.

    Somewhere on the Internet, though, there remains at least a trace of Sezen—the photos of a young woman with straight brown hair and dark, penetrating eyes looking up from her work in the Sames lab.

    “Somewhere on the Internet.” Somewhere on the Internet? Are you kidding me? You mean here? I had to go back and dig up that picture because not a single picture of Sezen showed up when you ran a GIS on her name.

    I have been very careful on this blog to give credit where credit is due. I regularly and extensively link to C&EN articles, including every one that Schulz has written on the Sames-Sezen scandal. I think he (or the magazine itself) is trying to send me a message, I’m just not sure which message that is (of the several possibilities).

  20. Doc Oc Says:

    Could just be laziness on their part, I wouldn’t take it personally (although I’m also not the one putting in all the time/effort to break these stories, so I might feel differently if I did).

  21. Chromatographer Says:

    Looks like they still have your name on the PDF you can download from their August 8th CENtral Science blog:

  22. alpinestarhero Says:

    Sounds like she put alot of hard work into making all that up. Mabe if she put the same effort into what she was trying to actually achieve…

    Far too keen. She had the blissfull distraction of stumbleupon

  23. alpinestarhero Says:

    never had*

  24. katolab Says:

    Alleged image fraud by Kato lab at the University of Tokyo in Japan
    Research misconduct? Fabrication? Falsification? Unintentional and inadvertent mistake? Coincidental similarity? Shigeaki Kato laboratory : Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan.

  25. katolab Says:

    Alleged image fraud at MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Research misconduct? Image duplication? Fabrication? Falsification? Unintentional and inadvertent mistake? Coincidental similarity? Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

  26. Chemistry Blog » Blog Archive » Chemical Magicians Says:

    […] repeat them. Some scientists still take shortcuts to fame – consider the hot water the Sezen saga landed everyonein just a few short years ago. So, how do you keep yourself honest? And how do you sift […]

  27. Türkiye Akademisinin Arka Sokaklarından Tez Manzaraları | Subjektif Says:

    […] neticesinde 167 sayfalık bir rapor yayınlar ve Dr. Sezen’in doktorasını 2011 yılında geri alır, fakat kendisi bu olaylar patlak vermeden önce Columbia Üniversitesi’ni terk etmiş […]

  28. Türkiye Akademisinin Arka Sokaklarından Tez Manzaraları - Aşağıdan! Says:

    […] neticesinde 167 sayfalık bir rapor yayınlar ve Dr. Sezen’in doktorasını 2011 yılında geri alır, fakat kendisi bu olaylar patlak vermeden önce Columbia Üniversitesi’ni terk etmiş […]

  29. Instituzion Says:

    Nice I agree with you all.

Leave a Reply