After sifting through more than 1,000 e-mails, Penn State's inquiry panel has dismissed three of the four allegations against meteorology professor Michael Mann and called for further investigation into the fourth.
In a 10-page report, the panel concluded there is "no substance" to the first three allegations: falsifying or suppressing data, intending to delete or conceal information and misusing privileged or confidential information.
But the panel could not make a definitive finding on whether Mann undermined "public trust in science" in his research practices or deviated from accepted standards.
"I am very pleased that, after a thorough review, the independent Penn State committee found no evidence to support any of the allegations against me," Mann wrote in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "This is very much the vindication I expected since I am confident I have done nothing wrong."
The two-month inquiry regarding the ethics of Mann's research began after hundreds of illegally obtained e-mails were leaked last November from a private server in the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. Critics said these e-mails suggest Mann and his colleagues distorted climate change evidence.
Three Penn State employees, Henry C. "Hank" Foley, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school; William Brune, head of the meteorology department; and Candice Yekel, director of the Office of Research Protections, sat on the inquiry panel. Those on the panel reached for comment referred all questions to Penn State public information.
Five Penn State faculty members will sit on the investigation committee into the fourth allegation: Mary Jane Irwin, a computer science and electrical engineering professor; Alan Walker, an anthropology and biology professor; Albert Welford Castleman, a chemistry and physics professor; Nina Jablonski, an anthropology professor; and Sarah Assmann, a biology professor.
Yekel will provide administrative assistance to the committee, according to the report. The investigation will take 120 days from initiation to completion, university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said.
She said the investigation panel will not take the task lightly.
"We have full faith in their ability to undertake this task, knowing the enormous importance that scholarly activity and research play in their own lives, at Penn State and in the world," Powers said. "They understand the responsibilities of scientists, have impeccable credentials, have no conflict in this issue and are well respected."
Mann has faced similar allegations in the past. In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences completed an in-depth investigation of Mann's research, ultimately clearing him. They said his science "did fall well within the bounds of accepted practice," according to the report.
In his statement, Mann wrote that he will continue to cooperate with the "additional inquiry."
"I fully support the additional inquiry which may be the best way to remove any lingering doubts," he said.