NSERC bars scientist from receiving grants

Star engineer accused of plagiarism and misusing research funding

A freedom of information request by Canwest has revealed that the federal Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) has “indefinitely” barred a University of Calgary engineer from receiving grants. The NSERC ban stems from allegations of a misuse of grant money and plagiarism. Although the documents obtained by Canwest were blacked out in places, and NSERC has not revealed who the researcher is, the news organization has discovered that the allegations pertain to University of Calgary engineering professor Daniel Kwok.

The allegations pertain to 2005 or before, when Kwok was working at the University of Alberta. The specialist in interfacial phenomenon has received more than $1.7 million in grant money from NSERC since 1998, with more than half being awarded after he moved to Calgary. According to Canwest, the documents they obtained from NSERC do not go into detail regarding the plagiarism allegation, but they do tell of grant money being spent on items “inconsistent” with Kwok’s research activities. Kwok says the allegations are “unfair.”

The federal government documents indicate that while Kwok was working at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, he spent close to $150,000 on purchases that seemed “inconsistent” with his research grant proposals, including computers, monitors, printers, a smartphone, an iPod, AMG aluminum wheels and chrome exhaust pipes for a car and home entertainment gear worth $17,624.63. His purchases include two televisions — a 50-inch and a 42-inch, complete with wall mount — and a stereo system with a digital receiver, speakers and a subwoofer.

Then, in 2005, Kwok walked away from the University of Alberta amid scientific and financial misconduct investigations and took a new job at the University of Calgary, which was not told of the controversy at his previous posting.

The University of Calgary hired Kwok as an associate professor and arranged for him to receive a $500,000 Canada Research Chair under a federal program meant for “exceptional emerging researchers.” The university set him up in a state-of-the-art lab, and Kwok resumed teaching — and receiving more research grants.

Then NSERC officials, four years after the investigations into Kwok’s conduct began, took the most drastic sanction at their disposal. In September 2009, they cut off all Kwok’s grants “indefinitely,” accusing him of “plagiarism” and “misuse of funds” in 2005 or before.




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NSERC bars scientist from receiving grants

  1. Why has Kwok not been FIRED? This is all we need, private abuse in addition to gov’t abuse of taxpayer money!

  2. ???? NOT QUITE THE STORY I THOUGHT MIGHT HIT GOOGLE NEWS, HOWEVER!
    FUNNY READ, ALMOST LIKE NSERC IS TARGETING KWOK.
    I ALWAYS LIKE THE SPIN ON “REVEALED” “FEDERAL” WORDS THAT CANWEST AND MCLEANS LIKE TO USE IN DEPICTING THE FED GOVT (READ CONSERVTIVE) GOVT SHOVING IT TO THE LITTLE GUY.
    I AM SURE IF YOU CHECK THERE ARE MORE THAN ONE OF THE ELITE WHO HAVE LOST TENURE AND HAD THEIR GRANTS CUT OFF.
    I AM KIND OF GLAD THAT THE CANWEST MONEY TAP HAS BEEN TURNED OFF, AND THAT THE FUNDS THEY RECEIVED OVER THE YEARS HAVE DRYED UP AND PERHAPS CANWEST WILL GO THE WAY OF A KWOK.

  3. This has nothing to do with the conservative government. NSERC is a vast bureaucracy that takes forever to do anything, let alone target anyone.

    He was misusing funds, and got caught. This isn’t political, no matter how you want to spin it.

  4. I find it fascinating that NSERC is always on about its “stars”. This guy was clearly one of their stars for the longest time. Would it not be more fiscally prudent to spread the wealth? This fellow has received tens of thousands of dollars when much fine research goes unfunded as NSERC continues to follow its misguided means of determining worthiness.

  5. only two tv’s? why steal in such a piddling way? corruption, like cutting edge research, should require a higher level of productivity.

  6. It seems that the University of Calgary wasn’t applying due diligence in their hiring. The University of Alberta is not that far away. Don’t they have any connecting they might ask?
    It’s significant that Kwok said nothing about the allegation at U of A to Calgary. if Kwok feels he is being wronged he had better speak up.

  7. Seems many of these so called Scientists are more into the Green movement than they are their Science and will actually abd have falsified Data to fit their Green Religion theory!

    Governments who want “One World Government”, love this, as this so called carbon emissions tax gives the Criminal Parasite Globalists’ an income to use to dominate you!

    Take a look at these videos that tell you exactly where the world and you stand!

    Re: Did you know that you and your family are under surveillance? Watch: “Shadow Government” http://snardfarker.ning.com/profiles/blogs/videos-shadow-government-full?xg_source=msg_mes_network

    and

    Check out what Government is doing behind your back at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VebOTc-7shU

  8. my major concern, because the truth will eventually come out, is that the U of C, a premier institute doesn’t check references. knowing how gossip flies around, i’m surprised that none of the U of C faculty hadn’t heard anything or commented about their counterpart’s concerns in Edmonton.

  9. Due diligence on hiring? You would think so. There are all kinds of collaborations between UofC and UofA and there is a close working relationship between the VP research at both institutions, the deans of the engineering schools, and the institutions in general on many projects. But UofC’s ability to manage its own internal affairs around things like policy enforcement and grant compliance has been a challenge for the administration for a long time, so its really not that surprising this this got overlooked/ignored. Its all about getting another Canada Reseach Chair and pulling in the research dollars as that is how the Universities are ranked on their research efforts. There are likely several other instances of this type of innappropriate use of taxpayer dollars, but if no one is looking and no one is telling, then it never comes to light. You would think the public agencies such as the NSERC and the Universities would do more to ensure that our tax dollars are being used properly.

  10. I forgot to mention that at the time I was told to dump my girlfriend and go back out west I had been with her for 9 years, I am still with her 10 years on from that point. I had also been told by this “professor” to go on unemployment insurance in order to go full time desite it’s being illegal at the time and being angrily told that I should have stayed living with my parents. That last point was a sore one for me as I had been in foster care since birth and was on my own at 18 and returning to that family after 18 was totally out of the question. As well as being my physics professor he was my academic advisor so there was always a great deal of pressure and anxiety in dealing with this person. RH.

  11. I am an NSERC-funded researcher and would like to indicate my shame at having a colleague perpetuate fraud against NSERC. Most NSERC-funded researchers, like myself, are extremely grateful for the support that we receive for our work and endeavour to spend this money wisely. Despite how this story may read, the average researcher has a yearly grant of <$30K, most of which is used to create jobs to train highly qualified personnel. These jobs include undergraduate research assistance, technical assistants, graduate students, and the like. As you can imagine, this is a small budget when you have to use it to support salaries. Some researchers are able to receive support from other external agencies. Researchers like myself, however, manage to run a lab on this relatively small amount of money. We are frugal with these funds and we use them in ways that will get the "most bang for the buck" as it were. We don't perpetuate, model, or tolerate waste. We are taxpayers ourselves and sensitive to the fact that we are entrusted with monies to advance science with integrity. Our universities support world-class research on a shoe-string budget. Shame to anyone who receives more than his/her share and then proceeds to flaunt the system. It hurts all of us. How many $30K small labs could have been funded by this researcher's grant?? It seems to me far better to continue NSERC's past model of spreading the wealth with small grants to numerous labs than its more current shift to spending increasing amounts of money on larger and larger labs. When you have to run a lab on $30K, you can't afford to waste the way you can if you receive millions!

  12. The point I was trying to make is completely out of context obviously and that is because my prior statement was removed most likely because it was politically incorrect. The researcher just above sounds like a reasonable chap but what about entities like Corporations getting millions to do research that is often not pushing back any frontiers whatsoever as they frequently use that money to just buy off the shelf machinery and replicate what already exists elsewhere. I have seen first hand abuse of the research system. Regarding Concordia, Fabrikant (obviously unstable and of course his actions were insane) was proven to have certain aspects of his anger to be proven correct in regards to research grant mis-spending as NSERC cut the school off for 6 months in 1994 after they did an evaluation of Concordia’s research grant handling procedures until an audit had proven they could function according to NSERC guidelines. My above point that is visible is regarding a professor who managed to anger me enough to leave the school prior to my getting a degree because I questioned whether Concordia was in reality a university once it had signed the performance contracts with the Quebec gov’t thus increasing it’s graduation rate. I had been under the prior system and was angered that newer students were being marked much easier. The full story is available by looking me up on facebook: Robert Hennecke.

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