Reinhard Hüttl had risen to the very top of German science. The soil scientist was head of the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), where he commanded a staff of more than 1200 and a €95 million budget. He was vice president of acatech, Germany’s engineering-focused national academy, and vice president of the nation’s most prestigious state academy, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW). His advice even reached Chancellor Angela Merkel—for example as a government adviser with the Council on Bioeconomy.
This is an interesting story, but it is important to note that at this stage it is just an allegation and investigation.
Hüttl denies the allegations and has said he would sue BMBF for unlawful dismissal, although labor courts in Berlin and Potsdam said on 16 February that no lawsuits have been filed. Meanwhile, the high-profile case is turning heads in science policy circles across the nation. “Science is damaged severely if it is perceived to be led by interests and to be corrupt,” says Klaus Gärditz, who specializes in science law at the University of Bonn.