Part X. Conclusion of First LARA Investigation into Dr. McElmurry

An investigative science reporting series by Flintwaterstudy.org


NOTE FOR THE QUEASY:

This blog series involves heart-wrenching whistleblowing—the sort that comes from alleging misconduct of your own professional colleagues for actions harming the public and others. We cannot imagine that any reader is more sickened than we are, by having to air “dirty laundry” that includes sharing personal emails and discussing unethical behavior. But given the continued damage that would arise from remaining silent, we feel morally obligated to present evidence against FACHEP leadership in relation to:

– falsifying qualifications to win a multi-million dollar sole source grant during a federal emergency

– literally making a felony criminal case, out of legitimate criticism directed at their unprofessional work, which is best characterized as narcissistic victimization (a.k.a. “crybullying”)

– spreading malicious rumors, to ingratiate themselves with Flint residents at the expense of others

– violating the ASCE second canon, harming others through their incompetence

– wrongly taking credit for research ideas and data, belonging to others (e.g., Dr. Faust and Dr. Masten)

Please also be aware that FACHEP supporters have been FOIAing Flintwaterstudy, Dr. Edwards, Dr. Masten (MSU) and Dr. Maya Trotz (President AEESP) since Fall 2017. In fact, proving that no good deed goes unpunished, emails of 40+ members of our Flintwaterstudy team have been subpoenaed, for dozens of Michigan lawsuits and criminal cases that we are not even party to. Emails from the FOIA have been misrepresented by FACHEP supporters on social media to denigrate Virginia Tech undergraduate students, Dr. Sid Roy, Dr. Masten and Dr. Edwards. FACHEP faculty have even smeared Dr. Trotz as “unethical.” Dr. Edwards has filed a defamation lawsuit, which is partly related to actions of FACHEP faculty and their supporters as described herein. The facts presented in this series shed light on how such an unthinkable tragedy could unfold.

Cast of Key Characters Parts 1-9

Name Institution Role
Dr. Shawn McElmurryWSU – Civil Engineering FACHEP’s Founder, Witness in Felony Trials
Dr. Marcus ZervosWSU – Infectious DiseaseFACHEP co-PI, Witness in Felony Trials
Dr. Paul KilgoreWSU – PharmacyFACHEP co-PI, Witness in Felony Trials
Dr. Nancy LoveUM – Civil EngineeringDr. McElmurry’s Enabler/Defender; Water Filter Research, Engineering Ethics Pontificator
Dr. Yanna LambrinidouParents for Non-Toxic AlternativesFriend of FACHEP, Adversary of Flintwaterstudy
Dr. Eden WellsMI Chief Medical OfficerAccused of obstructing FACHEP/justice
Mr. Nick LyonMI Health Chief Accused of obstructing FACHEP/justice
 
Marc EdwardsVT – Civil EngineeringFlintwaterstudy leader – Author of this blog Series; Potable Water Legionella, Lead, Ethics Expertise
Dr. Amy Pruden VT – Civil EngineeringVT Flint research co-PI; Potable Water Legionella and Microbiology Expertise
Dr. Kasey FaustUT – Civil EngineeringPhD work in Flint 2013-2015 on Shrinking Cities; Dr. McElmurry was on her PhD Committee
Dr. Sue MastenMSU – Civil EngineeringFACHEP Member and Whistleblower; Drinking Water Treatment Expertise

PART 1: Dr. SHAWN McELMURRY

CONSIDERING THE UNIMAGINABLE-DID McELMURRY COMPLETELY FABRICATE HIS STORY OF WORK IN FLINT?

PART 2: FACHEP’S TROUBLED BIRTH

PART 3: FACHEP MAKES A MOCKERY OF ETHICAL CODES—THE WHISTLEBLOWER FROM MSU

PART 4: LOVE THE ALARMIST:  THE REAL STORY ON SHIGELLA AND WATER FILTERS (Pre-FWC to August 12, 2016)

PART 5: TRIAL BY ORDEAL WITHIN AN ACADEMIC BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES

PART 6:  UNFAIR COMPETITION: WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY AND VEGANS DO IT BETTER

Part 7: LOVE THE ALARMIST:  THE REAL STORY ON SHIGELLA AND WATER FILTERS (August 12 TO December 2, 2016)

Part 8: WHEN LOVE TURNED TO HATE

THE SAGA OF THE SLIDES: HIGHLIGHTS OF WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

Part 9: ONE DAY OF UNFILTERED LOVE


Part X. Conclusion of First LARA Investigation into Dr. McElmurry

The findings from our LARA complaint regarding Dr. Shawn McElmurry have finally been released. We are very impressed by the professionalism of the investigation. While we wish that the process were quicker, the stakes are high, and we are pleased that there is due process and a presumption of innocence.

A few points to consider before we provide our readers with the summary report. For starters, by breaking FOIA law, Wayne State successfully delayed release of many key documents so that they could not be presented to LARA as evidence. Moreover, given that the date of the LARA report was October 2018, no documents or analysis that we have presented in Parts II-IX of this investigative science series were considered by LARA.

The conclusions of the report validate all key allegations expressed in our LARA complaint and first blog of this series. First and foremost, in relation to McElmurry’s claim of 5 years experience in Flint, he could not provide a shred of evidence to support it. The investigator concluded:

In summary, I believe that in at least two instances (e-mail to Edwards and NIH grant proposal cited above) Dr. McElmurry overstated his prior involvement in City of Flint’s drinking water system and contamination issues. These overstatements were intended to both solicit/attract external contributions by other experts (e.g., Edwards) to his research team and to substantiate large research awards/funds for Wayne State University and other contributors. In an additional two instances, two respected members involved in drinking water research (Faust and Masten) and McElmurry’s work have both cited improprieties of similar nature. Apparently under oath and in response to the LARA Complaint, McElmurry has been unable to substantiate prior City of Flint experience.  As a result, these overstatements regarding City of Flint experience are deemed to be “misrepresentations” in a professional setting based on my review work.

The LARA investigator acknowledged that McElmurry’s numerous sworn statements under oath regarding his unsubstantiated work in Flint, was beyond the scope of his review. Nor was it LARA’s place, to comment on McElmurry and Love’s public duets about years of Flint work, as exemplified by a claim made on the radio May 9, 2017 thatI actually have to admit, that I had before this, been working in Flint about 7 years earlier…..and so I think once you come to Flint you never leave.” Original audio file may be obtained from the City of Flint’s website (excerpt starts after 26:30)

Second, in relation to allegations McElmurry appropriated of the work of Dr. Faust to win grants, the investigator concluded:

My conclusion is that Faust’s dissertation and body of knowledge were used by McElmurry to assist in securing research funding without proper reference/credit and that Dr. Faust was not a part of ensuing research work.

The investigation also cited a potential “pattern of professional misconduct” and dishonesty that LARA considered deserving of follow-up scrutiny.

Based on the evidence available to LARA as of October 2018, there was a suggestion that this embellishment of experience truly was misrepresentation and a violation of the Occupational Code, Section 339.604 Items (c) and (d) on occupational conduct and moral character.  Yet, back in October 2018, there was inadequate evidence to determine there was a violation of the current standards of practice and professional conduct/or professional engineers. LARA noted they are considering additional evidence submitted by Dr. Susan Masten in further evaluating this case. We will also be submitting additional information and LARA has agreed to consider it.

The “Very Confusing” Saga of McElmurry’s Complete Flint Hydraulic Model

We can now add to the timeline of self-serving and inconsistent statements, McElmurry has made about his Flint hydraulic model (Table). Recall McElmurry asserted in writing, that he had 5 years work in Flint” and a “complete hydraulic model of Flint’s drinking water system, and used that to obtain the following items from Edwards: NSF RAPID proposal, IRB/sampling protocols, introduction to Howard Croft, Flint distribution system sampling locations and a letter of commitment for McElmurry’s NIH grant. Moreover, according to Dr. Reynold’s testimony, it was McElmurry’s hydraulic modeling work in Flint that justified giving him the sole source leadership of FACHEP.

Incredibly, on April 30, 2018, McElmurry provided yet another version of the story in writing:

“..it was very confusing what information was available. I had initially thought the City of Flint provided Dr. Abraham, Kasey Faust and me with a fully functioning <complete hydraulic> model of the Flint water distribution system.  ..This understanding turned out to be incorrect.”

Really? Read McElmurry’s emails to Dr. Faust on October 7th and 8th, to judge for yourself, whether McElmurry could have believed that the fully functioning hydraulic model came from the City of Flint.

Then, by August 2018, Wayne State claimed in writing that “McElmurry had no hydraulic…model” back in 2015.  This is indeed “very confusing” to say the least.

Conflicting McElmurry and WSU Statements on Flint Hydraulic Model.

Date Statement
10/7/2015 Email from McElmurry to Edwards: “I have done a fair amount of work on Pb exposure and have worked in Flint in the past. As a result of this past work, I have a working hydraulic model of the Flint drinking water system.”
10/8/2015 Email from McElmurry to Faust: “Kasey, I took a look at the epanet <hydraulic> model of Flint you used for your dissertation. It doesn’t look like it was complete, at least the one you sent me. Do you have a complete model of the system?”
10/8/2015 Email Faust to McElmurry: “Yes I do- I’ll have to find it on my hard drive when I get home…….Is GIs okay with you?”   <FAUST FORWARDS MCELMURRY COMPLETE HYDRAULIC MODEL>
10/10/2015 McElmurry written statement to NIH, forwarded to Edwards by email on 10/12/2015. Bold emphasis in original.  “Over the last 5 years the PI (McElmurry) has conducted research focused on how to best adapt Flint’s existing water infrastructure to changes in population and industrial demand.  As a result of this work, the team already possesses a complete hydraulic model of Flint’s drinking water system. We will utilize this model….”
10/6/2017 Sworn Testimony of Dr. Larry Reynolds in Lyon, on why he recommended McElmurry to lead FACHEP: “ I recommended Doctor Shawn McElmurry, an environmental engineer at Wayne State because he had done hydraulic modeling for the city of Flint I think within the past year <2015>..”
4/30/2018 McElmurry’s written response to LARA: “..it was very confusing what information was available. I had initially thought the City of Flint provided Dr. Abraham, Kasey Faust and me with a fully functioning model of the Flint water distribution system.  ..This understanding turned out to be incorrect.”
8/16/2018 Wayne State University to Edwards:  “McElmurry had no hydraulic …model” in 2015

Dr. Love’s Unqualified Support for Dr. McElmurry

We take issue with certain statements made in the documentation provided by Drs. McElmurry, Love and Sullivan on the case (see documents below). We will allow Flintwaterstudy readers to dissect these for themselves, and address these concerns in future blogs, including Dr. Love’s concluding statement that “Dr. Shawn McElmurry is one of the most ethically-bound individuals I have had the honor to work with.”

In her letter, Love cites McElmurry as an ethical exemplar for NSPE Canon 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. According to themselves, Dr. Love and McElmurry are true icons of ethical integrity and action. We provide a montage tribute to their professional relationship and high opinion of each other (and themselves) below.

But we do believe that it is important to point out four misleading statements made by Dr. Love in her letter, which will later be revealed, to be part of a multi-year campaign to portray Dr. Edwards as unethical. 

1) “<Edwards> noted one reason for leaving <the University of Colorado> was because of a conflict he had with another faculty member.”

As detailed in the attached e-mail from Dr. Mark Hernandez, Dr. Edwards indeed had conflicts with a Department Chair at the University of Colorado, who would not honor start-up packages promised to junior faculty during recruitment. Hernandez has frequently and publicly recounted this conflict as an example of Edwards high ethical standards and integrity (read email confirmation here). This is part of a pattern, in which Love interprets actions that most would consider ethical (e.g., Edwards helping Dr. Hernandez receive his startup package or paying for humanitarian research out of his own pocket in the D.C. Lead Crisis) through her own unique lens to malign Dr. Edwards.

2) “Dr. Kasey Faust is an assistant professor who found herself being FOIAed by a full professor <Edwards>…she is one of three untenured assistant professors across three different states that I know of who have been FOIAed, pressured or harassed by the complainant <Edwards> over the last two years. In academic circles, this type of behavior is absolutely inappropriate and can be grounds for removal.”

Wow.  Dr. Edwards is a truly evil person who should be investigated and probably fired for such unethical behavior. Future blogs will reveal the extraordinary efforts that Dr. Love made in order to make that happen from 2016 to present. In the meantime, we only point out that Dr. Edwards never FOIAed Dr. Faust. Moreover, Dr. Faust will be meeting with both Pruden and Edwards at Virginia Tech in a few weeks, and their relationship has been collegial ever since Edwards first phoned Faust in early 2018.

3) “I have had multiple experiences with <Edwards> aggressive tactics and efforts to silence me <Love>, even from the time when I was a faculty member at Virginia Tech. I have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he has moved on and chosen to behave more appropriately and professionally, but several of his actions over the last two years indicate that he has not. He has taken multiple steps that are, in my view, unacceptable and inconsistent with the ASCE ethics codes he likes to quote.


Fascinating. So Love’s sugary sweet email to Edwards, feigning concern for his health and extolling his professional ethics, was all a cynical ploy to get funding. Edwards knew that, yet he naïvely helped Love get funding for a University of Michigan Flint filter study team to be led by Dr. Raskin anyway. It is unfortunate for Flint residents that Dr. Raskin was cut out of the filter research, because she is not the  type to fearmonger about Shigella or strategically malign others. And when thanking Edwards for the WSU/UM NSF filter funding and apologizing for academics just trying to get a piece of the pie,” McElmurry correctly noted that  “the concept of a “public good” seems to be lost in many areas of our society.”

4) “When Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast September 2017, a senior faculty member at the University of Texas (UT) contacted me <Love> about helping them to gear up for the emergency response needs…. I included Shawn in the discussions,.. …this gracious act was quite typical of Shawn’s manner – in service to the community….”

FOIA documents tell a different story. FACEBOOK messages prove that Dr. McElmurry first contacted Dr. Faust on Hurricane Harvey work on 8-30-2017. McElmurry wrote Faust:I’ve been approach from nih program manager asking if we can take flint experience to Houston…We need to talk. I need someone local and you are perfect given your work….I would love to work e <sic> with your again. Felt bad Flint thing never panned out…so fucking political.” On this basis, it would appear, that McElmurry was once again coming to Dr. Faust to seek help in getting NIH funding. Note that this was before Dr. Faust realized what McElmurry had done on the 2015 NIH grant, using her work without permission and then cutting her out of the resulting funding.

Complete LARA Summary Report

We below provide complete text from the LARA summary report (emphasis in red was added, all other emphasis is original). Dr. Edwards filed the complaint and Dr. McElmurry is the “Licensee.” This text comes from converting a pdf file, so there could be minor typos. The original pdf file is provided. We will allow Flintwaterstudy readers to read all of these documents for themselves, without further comment from us at this time.


LARA REPORT

  1. Did the Licensee falsify or misrepresent his professional qualifications if he incorrectly stated that his experience included working in Flint for 5 years?

In an e-mail dated October 12, 2015 from McElmurry to Dr. Marc Edwards, a summary of his NIH Rapid Response proposal was offered with a note that such would be changing. This e-mail appeared to be written as part McElmurry’s efforts to solicit Edwards to join his planned research team but ultimately this did not happen. Statements therein read “our team (part of the NSF funded Water@ Wayne Group) is currently working together and able to respond with this rapid assessment based on our intimate understanding of the Flint regional water system and social infrastructure.  Over the last 5 years the PI (McElmurry) has conducted research focused on how to best adapt Flint’s existing water infrastructure to changes in population and industrial demand.  As a result of this work, the team already possesses a complete hydraulic model of Flint’s drinking water system.”   

The biographical sketch of Dr. Shawn McElmurry included in this revised NIH SF 424 Submission dated November 2, 2015 contains very little detail of McElmurry’s professional experience prior to and from 2010 (year he was awarded a PhD) through 2015. In particular, there is no mention of any prior experience associated with the City of Flint water system in either experience summaries or in published works (as lead or contributor). No significant research works or other professional qualifications were offered in McElmurry’s response to the Complaint dated April 30, 2018 wherein he should have identified any prior experience gained in addressing the City of Flint drinking water system. In fact, there was little information presented defending his ability to lead and conduct the NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) grant research and Flint Area Community Health and Environment Partnership research specific to the City of Flint (FACHEP; as commissioned by a grant from the State of Michigan, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)). It is not believed that Dr. McElmurry was ever contracted by the City of Flint for any service nor did he have any stated, direct experience with the City’s drinking water system.

I did access a website containing dialog posted by Dr. Marc Edwards (Reference G) concerning McElmurry’s credentials, wherein there is dialog apparently extracted out of State of Michigan court proceedings where a third party questioned McElmurry on his Flint experience. It is uncertain whether this dialog is factual; certainly there is conflict between Edwards and McElmurry at this time. However, it does identify a trend wherein McElmurry was unable to define any specific projects, research, consulting, precise timeline, or correspondence defending any prior Flint experience.

The Investigation Report produced by Stephanie Murphy (State of Michigan, LARA) dated June 20, 2018 contains a witness statement from Dr. Kasey Faust, for whom Dr. McElmurry provided external review of her Ph.D thesis from 2013 to 2015. Faust identifies that McElmurry gained access to a significant amount of City of Flint data and a hydraulic model which she developed in her thesis preparation. While McElmurry may have commented on thesis works as a reviewer, he was certainly not a part of a “research team” preparing such. Rather than indicating this relationship and source of Flint knowledge base, the NIH grant proposal incorrectly references loosely related “external works”. Faust also states that she did not provide permission to McElmurry to use this research/dissertation nor was she included in any defined team to contribute this knowledge/research/expertise where such could have benefitted society and public safety.

A letter from Dr. Nancy Love (University of Michigan, College of Engineering) to Ms. Stephanie Murphy Michigan, Bureau of Professional Licensing) dated June 1, 2018 in Reference A alternately offered strong support for Dr. McElmurry’s character and high ethical/professional standards. Drs. Love and McElmurry served together in research conducted under the FACHEP beginning in late 2015 with no prior collaboration found in my literature search.

However, notes from interviews with Dr. Susan Masten of Michigan State University conducted by Mr. Jon Campbell (State of Michigan, LARA; Reference E) on July 26 and August 6, 2018 regarding Dr. McElrnurry’s conduct on the FACHEP research work concluded that repeated incidents of  “ghost” authorship (where authors who contributed substantially to McElmurry’s work were omitted), misappropriation of intellectual property (plagiarism), denial of earned authorship, and falsification of his actual experience record all occurred. A second complaint to LARA regarding these concerns and providing evidence to such is expected to be filed by Dr. Masten.

McElmurry’s provided listing of his publications and prior research in the NIH grant proposal contains a diverse list of topics beyond drinking water research, including energy and stormwater topics. There are no citations associated with the City of Flint, or other similar research.

In summary, I believe that in at least two instances (e-mail to Edwards and NIH grant proposal cited above) Dr. McElmurry overstated his prior involvement in City of Flint’s drinking water system and contamination issues. These overstatements were intended to both solicit/attract external contributions by other experts (e.g., Edwards) to his research team and to substantiate large research awards/funds for Wayne State University and other contributors. In an additional two instances, two respected members involved in drinking water research (Faust and Masten) and McElmurry’s work have both cited improprieties of similar nature. Apparently under oath and in response to the LARA Complaint, McElmurry has been unable to substantiate prior City of Flint experience.  As a result, these overstatements regarding City of Flint experience are deemed to be “misrepresentations” in a professional setting based on my review work. 

  1. Did the Licensee seek professional employment based on his qualifications, competence, and ability to properly accomplish the employment sought when applying for the NIH and FACHEP proposals/grants?

 Dr. McElmurry was professionally employed by Wayne State University (WSU) at the time that the complaint was filed. Consideration was given as to whether “seeking professional employment” applies to a situation where a professionally employed person uses such stature and credentials to secure research funding. Brief review of external literature sources did not identify any cases where external research activities constitute “professional employment”. In fact, McElmurry’s employment by WSU likely was based completion of both academic service (teaching) and completion of research work. There was no suggestion that he was seeking alternate employment from WSU through pursuit of NIH/FACHEP research awards and subsequent work involved WSU and other university staff and students.  It is common for university researchers to pursue research funding from multiple and various sources, as part of substantiating their own career path, providing benefits to the general public, and yielding credentials to the university’s related educational programs.  This process can lead to “embellishment” or misrepresentation of credentials given that many research awards heavily weight technical expertise, demonstrated track record of participants, credentials of the principal investigator (Pl), and commitment to achieve desired results.

In both NIH and FACHEP proposals and research efforts, multi-disciplined teams of Wayne State and external experts were assembled with McElmurry as PI. Certainly universities attempt to internalize much of the research funding but in complicated research such as that posed by the City of Flint water crisis and human impacts from lead and Legionnaires bacteria exposure require external expertise.

For research conducted with public consequences, it is common to have results peer-reviewed. External peer review of the FACHEP reporting by KWR Watercycle Research Institute (” Assessment of the study on Enhanced Disease Surveillance and Environmental Monitoring in Flint, MI” dated October, 2017) identified a number of concerns with FACHEP project management and outcomes and apparently the sponsor of the FACHEP research (State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as directed by the State) cancelled further research with the FACHEP team.

However, McElmurry was purely the PI for this research effort and this was not considered to be “professional employment”. No concerns relative to performance or research conclusions were voiced by the NIH. It was concluded that the licensee did not seek “professional employment” in his course of work. See the response to Question #5 also.

  1. Was the Licensee competent to lead the FACHEP research project?

 The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/competent) defines “competent” to be: “having requisite or adequate ability or qualities” and being “legally qualified or adequate”.

Competency to lead a multi-million dollar research project involving multiple professional researchers and a complicated, public health issue with schedule-driven pressure requires skills gained through other large research investigations. The Investigation Report contains several third­ party experts in the water contamination field of study, many of whom participated in research with Dr. McElmurry. This is countered by statements in the Complaint questioning competency and noting concerns expressed by Dr Faust about possible mis-use of her research/dissertation materials.

There is insufficient evidence to conclude on whether the Licensee was competent to lead the FACHEP research project. Given that the research had further connotations related to the decisions made, actions/inactions taken, and job performance of state, county, and city government employees, as well as responses/non-responses to critical FOIA requests and third-party (KWR) concerns, some controversy on research results was inevitable.  The criticisms cited in the KWR report do point to poor project leadership, organization, communication but further analysis of the KWR report and analysis of the State of Michigan’s criticism of the FACHEP research is needed before competency or lack thereof can be established. I have personally served as principal investigator (PI) on large research projects and metrics/criteria used to establish whether the PI leadership was successful included: budget and schedule adherence, research alignment with mission statement/goals, quality and validity of the results and interpretation thereof, and satisfaction of third-party peer review/audit. Many of these metrics/criteria could not be located in the documentation furnished via the Investigative Report or through brief records recovery. That client (MDHHS/State) satisfaction was not achieved after consultant (FACHEP) spending over $3.3 million of state funds without credible PI defense and that other FACHEP participants cite very negative performance by McElmurry is definitely concerning as to whether competency existed. In conclusion, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that Dr. McElmurry was incompetent to lead the FACHEP research project. 

  1. Was the dissertation work of Dr. Kasey Faust used by the Licensee to secure funding for the NIH and/or FACHEP projects?

 The Investigation Report did not contain the FACHEP proposal, but only an undated “FACHEP” planning document apparently written to defined the planned work on a State of Michigan funding opportunity by Wayne State University (three), Kettering University (one), and Henry Ford Health System (one) key researchers. Other participants later cited in the Phase 1 Report included University of Michigan and Colorado State University representatives. There is no mention of Dr. Faust or her research in the FACHEP correspondence provided. However, the e-mail traffic recovered from FOIA probes clearly includes her dialog with Dr. McElmurry leading up to the FACHEP work. This work was predominantly focused on Legionnaires disease associated with Flint water supplies, whereas the NIH research was more broad-based and focused on multiple contaminants (e.g., lead, Legionnaires bacteria, other) and chloride levels in water as well as infrastructure and policy impacts on challenged cities. At face value, Dr. Faust’s data and research were judged by me to be more valuable to the NIH research work.

My detailed observations related to Dr. Faust’s research and the NIH grant proposal were identified in my response to Question #1 above. Based on information available in the Investigative Report, there was intent to demonstrate prior experience with City of Flint water system and infrastructure in the NIH proposal which none of the proposed participants including Dr. McElmurry actually possessed. A loose correlation to previous research and publication led by Faust that McElmurry participated in was used to show relevant experience and enhance the likelihood of securing the grant funding. This misrepresentation was also included in the proposed Rapid Response draft issued by McElmurry to Dr. Edwards. I was not able to locate the research reporting which was funded by the NIH grant, so it is difficult to know whether this misrepresentation cascaded into actual modelling and water contamination transport study of the Flint system because said experience wasn’t possessed by McElmurry. My conclusion is that Faust’s dissertation and body of knowledge were used by McElmurry to assist in securing research funding without proper reference/credit and that Dr. Faust was not a part of ensuing research work. 

  1. Did the Licensee violate any standards of practice and/or professional conduct as it relates to the Professional Engineering Occupation?

 References B through D were reviewed, alongside information provided with the Investigation Report and that collected through literature search, to assess whether any standards of practice or conduct were violated.

Prohibited conduct of a professional engineer is addressed in Sections 339.601, 606 and 1204 (Articles 6 and 20) of the Occupational Code. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dishonesty) defines “dishonesty” to be “lack of honesty or integrity: disposition to defraud or deceive”. Review of the content of these sections found that none of these conditions cited therein (e.g., fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in practicing professional engineering) were truly the subject of this Complaint nor did the Investigation Report contain evidence of misconduct per the Occupational Code.  However, McElmurry’ s overstated involvement in the City of Flint water system definitely bordered on being dishonest.

Standards of practice and professional conduct for professional engineers are contained in Sections R339.16031 to R339.16034 of the Administrative Code, and address solicitation of employment, conflicts of interest, competency required in engineering project participation, and work review/supervision. Each of these standards was reviewed relative to the Complaint filed. Several observations were made:

  1. As noted in my response to other Questions, I could not identify any evidence of qualifications or experience of Dr. McElmurry with respect to City of Flint’s water infrastructure and treatment prior to the NIH grant proposal and his related solicitation of possible research teammates (Edwards). Reference F did not shed any further evidence in to this Complaint’s focus.  There was definitely misrepresentation of his credentials observed relative to R339.I6031 although such was not initially viewed by me to be pure “falsification” but rather an embellishment of his own actual knowledge base/experience. The actual wording in the Complaint is that Dr. McElmurry “appropriated ideas that were not his for an NIH research proposal”. Based on the Investigation Report packet, it is difficult to know whether this misrepresentation extended into “appropriation of ideas”. Dr. Masten’s response to questions associated with McEimurry’s conduct on separate FACHEP work clearly point to appropriation of ideas and poor conduct by McElmurry; LARA should carefully look at any supporting evidence offered by Dr. Masten to validate this in her complaint.
  2. McElmurry did align himself with other experts and professional associates in areas in which he was not technically competent for the NIH grant proposal and FACHEP team, thus demonstrating compliance with the third standard of practice (R339.16033) of professional engineers. This standard does not address competency of principal investigators or project managers (individuals who assemble teams) for which part of the Complaint is focused on.
  3. It is unclear how important the misrepresentation of credentials/qualifications/experience cited in Item 1 above was to the actual awards of research funding from NIH and MDHHS. Several documents of interest (“Additional Data Needs”) are cited below, which could better shed some understanding of this point. However, these documents are likely range from difficult to impossible to retrieve at this
  4. Regarding the Complaint’s accusation that Dr. McElmurry’s “lack of competence and expertise, this project (“FACHEP”) has led to a high profile prosecution of State of MI employees … “, I was unable to link how FACHEP research performed directly led to said prosecution. Certainly some of the correspondence attached to the Investigation Report identified the challenges that FACHEP team had with recovery of data including that from interviews with State of Michigan employees, but such does not directly align with what little I have read on ensuing testimony by McElmurry and findings of the State court system. The State did employ a third party (KWR) to review the Ol).tcomes of the FACHEP work and, assuming such was truly an independent and educated viewpoint, KWR’s report does state:”basic conditions for project oversight are lacking, scientific output and quality of work does not match the time and budget spent, lack of trust between client and customer are barriers to responsible research”. These conclusions suggest that there was some mismanagement of the research, which clearly points to the PI’s expertise in leading such  However, it is difficult to state that such was due to a “lack of competence” which is at the heart of the matter and intent of the Complaint to identify.
  5. The ongoing State of Michigan prosecution of State employees involved in the “Flint Water Crisis” is a separate criminal proceeding, for which McElmurry is not under

In summary, the only element of the Complaint that was found to be present in the Investigation Report documentation was Dr. McElmurry’s misrepresentation of his prior City of Flint experience to Dr. Edwards and the NIH (and potentially into the MDHHS grant proposal, which has not been provided). As professional engineers, it is critical that we represent ourselves truthfully to any member of the public at all times and particularly when such has consequences such as gaining a publically-funded research award. The severity of this misrepresentation was not initially viewed to be falsification but rather embellishment. Insights raised by Dr. Masten and the pattern of professional misconduct suggest that this embellishment of experience truly was misrepresentation and a violation of the Occupational Code, Section 339.604 Items (c) and (d) on occupational conduct and moral character.  The subsequent complaint filed by Dr. Masten on related concerns is viewed to be highly relevant and it is suggested that the two separate complaints be merged together into a common response by the State of Michigan. However, and most important to this review, said misrepresentation was NOT found to be a violation of the current standards of practice and professional conduct/or professional engineers as contained in Sections R339.16031 to R339.16034 of the Administrative Code.


Supporting Documents:

LARA Report

Dr. McElmurry Response to LARA Complaint

Dr. Love Letter

Dr. Faust Interview Notes

Dr. Sullivan Interview NotesU

Dr. Faust and Dr. McElmurry Facebook Conversation

McElmurry’s Hydraulic Model Conflicting Statements

2 thoughts on “Part X. Conclusion of First LARA Investigation into Dr. McElmurry

  1. While LARA’s report denotes some progress it seems that they need more information on how a university faculty member’s salary, promotions, and direct employment Requires seeking and obtaining such contracts and funds. Without their understanding of that compensation mechanism they have completely missed the financial compensation and employment aspect of this. That is essential.

    It’s also mystifying to me why someone with an apparent national Ethics leadership role as Nancy Love reportedly holds would write such an unqualified letter of support for McElmurry in the face of LARA’s apparent determination of Dr. McElmurry’s making misleading statements and other acts in the FACHEP crisis. Also, why the unnecessary personal attack on someone (Edwards) for pointing out and reporting wrong-doing? That is highly incongruent with what I would expect of someone elevated to a national leadership role as an ethics lecturer and example!

    But it seems that LARA has much more work to do on this matter. It’s very positive for the State of Michigan that LARA takes their licensure seriously in enforcing possible sanctions against bad actors in the profession.

  2. We will submit some information to LARA on the issue of faculty salaries.
    We are indeed impressed that LARA takes this issue very seriously.

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