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what it takes to become a full professor

Deb Britt Deborah_Britt at brown.edu
Mon Nov 3 15:47:49 EST 1997

Very entertaining!  Thanks for sharing this.

Deb Britt

In article <10CD38E6AFB at bio.tamu.edu>, JFRUGOLI at BIO.TAMU.EDU ("Julia
Frugoli") wrote:

> Apologies to those of you who may have seen this before, but when this 
> humourous piece came to my in-box, I thought women-in-bio might enjoy 
> it, as it touches humorously on several topics we've covered recently.  
> I don't know its original source.
> Abstract:
> Success in academia is hypothesized to require specific phenotypes. In
> order to understand how such unusual traits arise, we used human clones 
> to
> identify the molecular events that occur during the transition from a
> graduate student to professor. A pool of graduate student clones was
> subjected to several rounds of random mutagenesis followed by selection 
> on
> minimal money media in the absence of dental insurance. Students 
> surviving
> this selection were further screened for the ability to work long hours
> with vending machine snacks as a sole carbon source; clones satisfying
> these requirements were dubbed "post-docs". In order to identify 
> assistant
> professors from amongst the post-docs, this pool was further 
> mutagenized,
> and screened for the ability to turn esoteric results into a 50 minute
> seminar. Finally, these assistant professors were evaluated for their
> potential to become full professors in two ways: first, they were 
> screened
> for overproduction and surface display of stress proteins such as Hsp70.
> Assistant professors that displayed such proteins (so-called 
> "stressed-out"
> mutants) were then fused to the M13 coat protein, displayed on phages 
> and
> passed over a friend and family members column, to identify those that 
> were
> incapable of functional interactions. These were called full professors.
> Although these mutants arose independently, they shared striking
> phenotypes.  These included the propensity to talk incessantly about 
> their
> own research, the inability to accurately judge the time required to
> complete bench work, and the belief that all their ideas constituted 
> good
> thesis projects. The linkage of all these traits suggests that these
> phenotypes are coordinately regulated.  Preliminary experiments have
> identified a putative global regulator.  Studies are currently being
> conducted to determine if overexpression of this gene product in 
> post-docs
> and grad students can speed up the grad student-full professor 
> evolutionary
> process.
> The present paper, titled "Direct Evolution of a Full Professor" is a
> fascinating document, well worth publication. However, the authors fail 
> to
> note several topics sure to be of interest to the Journal's readers. For
> example, it is a well-documented phenomenon that transition to industry 
> can
> occur at any point along the evolutionary pathway. The authors fail to
> comment on the possible mechanisms behind such versatility. 
> Plasmid-borne
> resistance genes encoding a tropism for rich media have been postulated 
> to
> fulfill this function. In support of this hypothesis, it may be noted 
> that
> previous researchers who attempted to isolate this plasmid quickly
> underwent transition and never published
> their findings.
> *****************************************************
> Julia Frugoli
> Dartmouth College
> visiting grad student at
> Texas A&M University
> Department of Biological Sciences
> College Station, TX 77843
> 409-845-0663
> FAX 409-847-8805
> "Evil is best defined as militant ignorance."        
Dr. M. Scott Peck*****************************************************

Deborah Britt, Ph.D.
Department of Medical Oncology
Rhode Island Hospital

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