Marine biologist claims lionfish study by sixth grader was lifted from his research

July 24, 2014 by Bob Yirka report
Antennata Lionfish, picture taken in Zoo Schönbrunn, Vienna, Austria. Credit: Christian Mehlführer/Wikipedia

Zack Jud, a PhD graduate of Florida International University and current marine biologist, has caused a small ruckus in the marine biology community by posting comments on his Facebook Page, suggesting that the work done by thirteen year old Lauren Arrington was actually based on work he'd already done. Arrington, a sixth grade student in Jupiter Florida, and daughter of a professional biologist gained Internet notoriety this past week after news of experiments she conducted on lionfish went viral. Her experiments, which were used as a project in a science fair, demonstrated that lionfish can live in less saline water than had been previously thought. Jud contends that Arrington's experiments were based on his work, and that he should be getting the credit for the results.

Adding to the story was reporting by several news outlets that described Arrington's research as providing evidence of the invasive lionfish living in Florida estuaries. Both Arrington and her father have denied she ever made such a claim. Instead, they say, her research showed that could live farther upstream in an estuary than others had known about. Complicating things is news that prior to the project, Arrington, her father and Jud were all friends. The father, Albrey, was even listed as a writer on a paper that listed Jud as the lead. Albrey was also, according to Jud, the best friend of Jud's supervisor when he was still in grad school.

Jud's complaint appears to center around the attention Arrington has received by the press—the accolades heaped on Arrington, he claims, should have been shared with him and his name should have appeared alongside hers in news reports. It was his original research after all, he contends, that led to the research done by Arrington. Jud also insinuates that the omission of his name in news stories was intentional, a move by the Arrington's to focus the attention on Lauren. The Arrington's have denied any such attempts and insist that mentions of Jud by either of them to the press were ignored in favor of a more popular storyline.

Some in the science community have sided with Jud, apologizing for publishing stories about Arrington's work without mention of Jud's previous work—others have looked to discredit Jud, by suggesting that Arrington should have been credited on some of his earlier work as she helped him with some projects when he was still in grad school.

At this point it seems clear that the story became perhaps, a little bigger than it should have due to the age of Ms. Arrington and the cuteness of her school science project, leading to a lapse in editorial judgment by some members of the press, unfounded claims in some instances and hurt feelings by one marine biologist.

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6 comments

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drel
5 / 5 (8) Jul 24, 2014
In my personal experience the "news" never gets it 100% correct. Every single time my wife has been interviewed for an article in our local paper or local television there has been at least one "fact" reported incorrectly. Incompetence, intentional, or a bit of both? It just shows that nothing reported by the news media should ever be taken as "Fact". Odds are something reported in the story is 100% WRONG.
jalmy
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 24, 2014
Well your name is in the paper now Mr. dumb-ass who is mean to little girls. These fish can live further into freshwater streams than anyone realized before? WOW!!! I hope you get all the attention your deserve! Dick.
tekram
5 / 5 (6) Jul 24, 2014
Revenge is a dish best served cold. In this case, I suggest a lionfish ceviche to all the participants in this argument.

Ingredients

1 Pound Lionfish Filets – Cubed
1 White Onion – Diced
2 Medium Red Tomatoes – Seeded and Diced
Jalapeños – Seeded & Minced (to taste)
Cilantro – Chopped (to taste)
Salt & Pepper
2 Cups of Lime Juice

Prepare the lionfish ceviche as usual: Combine lionfish, onions, cilantro and jalapeño. Cover with lime juice and let it chill for 1/2 hour to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
ginnyb
5 / 5 (3) Jul 24, 2014
Actually Arrington and his daughter did say she made the original discovery in the rivers. Go back and read her NPR interview.
walkertlaw
5 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2014
This story illustrates the truth of what Wallace Sayre told The Wall Street Journal in 1973:

"Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low."
Jadxia
5 / 5 (4) Jul 25, 2014
To be fair, it would be kind of obnoxious if you'd been doing a bunch of work and all the credit was given to your best friend's kid. There is no real way to say, "hey wait a second, that's MY STUFF!" without looking like a giant a-hole, while at the same time, who wants their actual day-to-day hard work to be treated like the stuff a kid in a science fair does? If that isn't demeaning, I'm not sure what is.

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