Many media outlets (such as NPR
) recently ran a feel-good story about how a sixth-grader made an important scientific discovery. The discovery was that lionfish can survive in nearly fresh water, such as that found in estuaries. This is important to know since lionfish are highly invasive. The young scientist made this discovery as part of a science-fair project on lionfish.
But it now looks like there's a seamier side to this story. It turns out that this information had been discovered before, as far back as 2010, by a marine biology grad student, Zach Jud
. And Jud had worked with the sixth-grader's father, who's also a marine biologist.
So the father seems to be the villain here. He told his kid to investigate the salinity tolerance of lionfish, knowing exactly what she would find because he was aware of Jud's research. And then the father plays it up to the media as if his kid has made a great, independent discovery.
It's a case of "my kid is a genius" syndrome. We've seen this before, such as in the case of Marla Olmstead
, the child genius painter who (most suspect) was getting a lot of help from her dad.