Disgraced Physicist Can Keep His Degree

Jan Hendrik Schön can keep his doctorate, a judge in Freiburg, Germany, decided on Monday. In 2002, the physicist was the center of one of the biggest scandals to rock physics when it became clear that he had fabricated data in at least 17 papers concerned with the electronic properties of organic materials. He was fired from his job at Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and disappeared from public view. A subsequent investigation by his alma mater, the University of Konstanz, found no evidence of misconduct during Schön's time as a graduate student there. Nevertheless, in 2004 the university's physics department doctoral committee asked Schön to return his doctorate certificate based on a state law that allows universities to rescind degrees when the recipient acts dishonorably, says university Rector Ulrich Rüdiger. Schön filed an objection to that request and last year filed a lawsuit against the university. The judge in the case ruled that misconduct unrelated to the degree is not sufficient legal reason to rescind a degree. Rüdiger says university officials will receive the judge's full decision in October and then will decide whether to appeal. Rüdiger adds that as far as he knows Schön is working as a process engineer for a company somewhere in Germany.