“Outlier, outlaw, outcast: The improbable scientific career of Tamer Elsayed”

“Over the next 7 years he pursued a strategy — misguided, he now admits — aimed at leveling a playing field he believes is unfairly tilted against illegal immigrants such as him. In 2000, his behavior finally caught up with him: He was arrested for student loan fraud, for which he pled guilty and served 15 months in a federal prison… Six years after being released from California’s Lompoc Federal Correctional Facility in 2002, he received a Ph.D. in computational mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The next year he was hired as a founding faculty member at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology… In March 2013, KAUST officials confronted him about his past, and a few months later he was booted out of the country…
Elsayed has just self-published an autobiography, Inadmissible. It is not your usual story of a life in science. In frank and poignant prose, Elsayed recounts his tightrope walk through the U.S. immigration system and his improbable ascent into the academic stratosphere before crashing and burning. He describes how his criminal conviction makes it unlikely he’ll ever work again as an academic researcher.”

On the one hand, science is like ‘merit merit merit’, all that matters, if you have that you are golden — and then… There are obvious counterexamples on all sides. And it’s easy to say here ‘well, he’s a criminal’ (which, well, sort of), but then you still have to admit that science isn’t a meritocratic utopia and it is deeply in the context of wider social and political realities that just happen to not impact the predominantly white, male, middle/upper-class people who are held up as most meritorious.

#BanTheBox So much– “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, and the University of Southern California also wanted him. “The only school that said no was Stanford, and it’s the only school that asked about my criminal history,” he tells ScienceInsider. “I think it’s pretty clear why they rejected me.””