In Ohio, Yiheng Percival Zhang, a professor at Virginia Tech’s school’s department of biological systems engineering, is in a Roanoke jail waiting to appear in federal court after being arrested for conspiracy to commit or defraud the United States and the National Science Foundation. Zhang and two other associates are charged in court documents of having “conspired to and did in fact cause false statements and certifications to be submitted to NSF,” and “conspired to and engaged in a scheme to defraud NSF.” Zhang created a start-up in 2010 called GFI that developed microbial technology for the sustainable production of biofuels and biomaterials, but it dissolved and Zhang opened up a new company CFB with the same mission.
“Dr. Zhang denies any wrongdoing and disputes the allegations,” his attorney, E. Scott Austin, told The Washington Post. “He looks forward to a public disclosure of the facts so that he can maintain his hard-earned reputation and good name as an American professor and scientist.”