Thursday, December 03, 2009

California soot researcher lied about his Ph.D.

AP has reported:

A member of the California Air Resources Board wants to suspend new diesel emissions rules for trucks and buses after learning that a researcher whose work contributed to the rules falsified his credentials.

The researcher, Hien Tran, compiled research on health effects of soot. Air regulators considered the report when adopting the landmark pollution standards in December 2008.

Tran had claimed to have a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

But board chairwoman Mary Nichols says Tran admitted a few days before the vote that his degree was from Thornhill University, an online, unaccredited institution.

There was no discussion in the AP report about "how" the California Board hired Tran without verifying his credentials.

An article in the Bakersfield Californian gets into an issue NOT raised in the AP report, that the some members of the Board knew about the issue and concealed it from others:

The problem started with Hien Tran, the lead author of the report on which the new diesel rules were based, who lied about having a Ph.D. degree in statistics from U.C. Davis.

Though the lie was brought to some CARB bureaucrats' attention well before the vote on the draconian rules last December, it was kept "in house" until I and an editorial writer for the San Diego Union Tribune got wind of it and started hammering on it early last spring.

Turns out, not all the board members, who voted on the rules based on Tran's report, were told of his lies.

But some were -- and kept mum.

The issue was brought to the full board's attention at its September meeting in Diamond Bar by regular citizens.

At the time, board member John Telles, a medical doctor, was quite upset, saying, "This is the first time I've actually been apprised that there was fraud in the organization here.

"In my world, if an article was published by somebody who didn't have a Ph.D. and said he had a Ph.D., the whole thing would be nixed...I just find it incredible."

Well, he did some of his own digging and at this week's meeting he asked that CARB's legal counsel issue an opinion on what more should be done.

Telles also laid out a stunning chronology that revealed many CARB muckey-mucks, including chair Mary Nichols, knew about the lie before the vote and never said anything.

IPBiz notes that UC/Berkeley and UC/Davis are different places. So is Thornhill. We will have to wait to get some of these details straightened out. It looks like some on the Board omitted material facts which may have altered the vote. In patent law, omission of such things is deemed inequitable conduct and the patent is tossed.

Michael Gardner in the San Diego Union Times suggests that the false degree assertion was as to UC/Davis and also confirms the failure to let all the Board members know about the falsity. As noted above, the degree business was a material fact which would have impacted how the Board voted. Inequitable conduct.

Board members Ron Roberts, a San Diego County supervisor, and Dr. John Telles, a Fresno physician, have urged the agency to reconsider its unanimous December 2008 directive or risk a backlash of cynicism toward future clean-air initiatives.

“I don’t think there’s another option,” Roberts said.


The researcher at the center of the controversy, Hien Tran, has been demoted for fabricating his doctoral degree from UC Davis. But that hasn’t calmed critics, and some members of the air board are angry that several of the agency’s executives and at least one board member knew of Tran’s falsified résumé but kept quiet.

“Failure to reveal this information to the board prior to the vote not only casts doubt on the legitimacy of the truck rule but the legitimacy of the (agency) itself,” Telles said.

Under this cloud, the board will meet Wednesday [9 Dec 09] to receive an update on the diesel regulation.

**Of relevance to the above discussion is a notice of adverse action against Tran, especially paragraph 6, which indicates information about Tran's falsities had been placed into the regulation record on 3 Dec 08.


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