- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Some Indiana University students are questioning a $210,000 research grant a professor has accepted from a foundation tied to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.

The dean of IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs said the grant funds continuing environmental policy research of professor Doug Noonan and two visiting scholars at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Brett Wiley told The (Bloomington) Herald-Times (https://bit.ly/1QzVKTe ) that he and fellow graduate students at the school are concerned about the Charles Koch Foundation grant.

Industrialists Charles and David Koch are known for backing conservatives and libertarian causes, building a network of political and social groups that have funneled tens of millions of dollars into groups such as Americans for Prosperity.

Graduate student Ben Weise said acceptance of the grant is “ruining my school’s reputation.”

School of Public and Environmental Affairs Dean John Graham said he didn’t make the decision to accept the grant. He said the money Noonan received came in the form of a sponsored research agreement, and that decisions about such agreements are made by individual faculty members and are subject to campus research officer oversight.

Graham said the school only accepts unconditional research sponsorship and that all research results are subject to a rigorous peer-review process that can weed out any attempt at bias.

“Thoughtful students and faculty know that professor Noonan should be judged by the quality of his work, not the popularity of his funding source,” Graham said.

Weise is skeptical.

“No money comes with no strings attached,” he said.

Marc Lame, a professor at the school who has advocated for limiting pesticide use, said researchers could be unwittingly influenced by a funder. He said there’s a history of researchers at agricultural schools getting too invested in pesticide companies’ interests.

“They buy trips and trucks and they become your friends, and then you start giving talks for them and your research starts to look like they want it to look,” he said.

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