by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Trump’s chief science adviser says one of his top priorities is to protect America’s research institutions from foreign exploitation.
The policy follows a string of high-profile cases of government-funded scientists being fired by universities for failing to disclose ties with China.
The issue has provoked fears among scientists that the Trump administration is treating foreign researchers unfairly, but Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the issue is one of integrity and scientific ethics.
Declaring sources of funding and professional relationships, he said, is a longstanding requirement.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from,” he said. “The individual researcher has to behave with integrity. If they know the rules and they break the rules, I don’t want them in the research enterprise.
“They don’t belong there. It’s just as if they plagiarized a paper or they fabricated a result.”
In May, Emory University in Georgia dismissed two Chinese American brain scientists who failed to disclose overseas funding and research ties in China.
At about the same time a former Energy Department scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory was charged with making false statements about his alleged involvement in a Chinese recruitment program. He pleaded not guilty.
Of particular concern is the Thousand Talents program, which exists to attract leading thinkers from Western universities to work in China, helping build its science capacity.