Photo courtesy of Siora Photography.

Graduate Student Achieves Enlightenment After Paper Scoop

Contributor
Graduate Division

Her palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy; was that vomit on her sweater already? Mom’s spaghetti?

The first time she saw that PubMed search, Aries Mandy could not believe her eyes.

The paper she had dreamt of to drop bombs in the scientific world a few months ago was now published by another group.

The project had initially started out of interest during shelter in place, but with great encouragement from her PI, had developed into a serious project on elucidating the sourdough microbiome.

Sadly, another group had published the exact same paper on what makes a perfect loaf, four months into her project.

Mandy was devastated.

“I took it really personally at first, and scrutinized every single figure in their paper, hoping to find a study flaw to refute. Unfortunately, I could find none.” Mandy mused.

Thankfully, with the help of student health counselling and OCPD, Mandy finally came to acceptance that all was going to be alright.

Afterall, this was merely her side project. Her real thesis had not been scooped.

“Getting my project scooped was truly a learning journey for me. It was painful, but I have also come to acceptance that science is a brutal world.

“In the end, I did learn many things too and have gained invaluable skills about scientific inquiry.

“I have come to appreciate the fact that science is also about the process and not only the publishing. Just like how making sourdough is an art.

“You can characterize the microbiome, but who is to say everyone has mastered the feel for kneading, the right hydration and right temperature to bake the bread?

“While I have lost some, I have also learnt a lot in the process.” Mandy says on reflection.

When we interviewed her PI Pita T however, he merely gave a quizzical look and asked, “Can someone remind me what this project is about?

“I’m sorry but I don’t quite remember having ever asked Aries to start on this project. It is interesting, but I think she should focus on her actual thesis for now.”

The paper in question, is an actual publication titled, “The diversity and function of sourdough starter microbiomes” by E.Landis et al. on Jan. 26, 2021.

You can read more about it here.