Matson's message

Debbie Bronk dbronk at
Tue Sep 1 07:00:14 EDT 1998

Dear Coral-List,

     I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Matson=92s diatribe against a new
student in my laboratory.  Jason See has been working on an exhaustive
literature search since arriving several weeks ago at the University of
Georgia.  His interest is the intracellular assimilation of nitrogen by
corals.  Though there appears to be an abundant literature prior to
1983, he found that it gets pretty sparse after that for some reason.
Why?  Though I do study nitrogen cycling in marine and aquatic systems,
I am not familiar with the literature on coral physiology so I couldn=92t
advise him on reasons for the apparent lack of interest in the topic.
As part of his research, he found the coral list server and thought that
might be a way to get more information.  I encouraged him to do it,
thinking that it would be a good way to meet people in the field
informally.  I further encouraged him to keep the message short which
may have resulted in the negative view of his request.  Jason was in no
way suggesting that someone do a literature search for him.  He was
trying to find references that he may have missed but more importantly
to see what people were working on now.  Did anyone have a paper in
press or submitted that they would be willing to share?  Who is working
on intracellular nitrogen uptake in corals at the moment?  Collecting
this type of information is necessary and prudent before choosing a
thesis topic - you don=92t want to spend years working on a project just
to find that someone is already well on the well to publishing a similar

    Jason is a hard-working enthusiastic new student and his e-mail
message on the coral list serve was his first foray into contacting a
broader scientific community.  Mr. Matson=92s response was rude and highly
inappropriate.  The fact that he made the announcement public is
unconscionable.  If you are busy, ignore the message.  If you have
pertinent information you would care to share, please do so.  Students
should be encouraged every step of the way.  They are our future
colleagues and collaborators and we should help them become the best
scientists they can be.  In closing, I thank the many researchers who
took the time to pen a note or make a phone call to apologize for Mr.
Matson=92s behavior - you were the silver lining on a very bad experience.

With regards,
Debbie Bronk
Assistant Professor

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