The Strange Case of the Mad Professor
by Kobel, Peter
It was one of the biggest scandals in New York University history. Professor John Buettner-Janusch, chair of the Anthropology Department, was convicted of manufacturing LSD and Quaaludes in his campus laboratory. He claimed the drugs were for an animal behavior experiment, but a jury found otherwise.
B-J, as he was known, served three years in prison before being paroled, emerging to find his life and career in shambles. Four years later, he sought revenge by trying to kill the sentencing judge with poisoned Valentine's Day chocolates. After pleading guilty to attempted murder, he was sentenced to twenty years in prison, where he died on a hunger strike.
But before he was infamous, B-J was a scientific luminary who taught at Yale and Duke as well as NYU. One of the world's foremost authorities on lemurs, our distant primate relatives on the remote island of Madagascar, he brought international attention to these endearing and endangered creatures. He had cofounded the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina and inspired a whole generation of scientists to study them and environmentalists to save them and their habitat. His trials captured national headlines, but the mad scientist's full story has never been told - until now.