In translation: scientific manuscripts | Keenan Guillas

Thuan Vo via Pexels

Sponges (phylum Porifera) are important members
of benthic ecosystems worldwide

We have spent our entire lives studying these creatures because
we find them fascinating Hopefully we can convince you
to feel the same

The environmental factors driving expression of
heat-shock protein genes under constant temperature
have yet to be investigated

In fact we have investigated them
for seventeen years now
Here, at last, is our breakthrough

We hypothesized that

We believed more in this than
in any higher power,
act of kindness,
mother’s cooking

For the first time, we present

We have cracked the code
to the “what if?”
that is finished lurking
in corners of our dreams
is no longer tattooed
on the undersides of our eyelids

Due to experimental limitations

Day forty-six
in the field and the typhoon
just passed through
Fixing the exclusion cages and
a great white gets too curious
return to the boat, wait it out
a storm rolls in
six cages left
two days until departure
we called it
Packed up the gear
back to the lodging
takeout pizza, banal television,
staring blankly at the ceiling above the cots
conjuring the graph without those six data points

Due to suboptimal sampling conditions

Second field season, colder
day than usual, mesophotic
dive, Ben
lost his weight pouches the day before, replaces
from the save-a-dive kit, they slide around
as he dives, it’s a quick dive, down and up,
it’ll be okay,
tangled in kelp,
weights come off,
Ben shoots up
never dives again.
& what data point is worth the boat ride back
with his body on board
& the Zoom call home to report it
& the visitation by his family
& the knowledge of
all that could have been done
Bump him up the authors list?
to honour him?
I’d rather never publish again
if it would undo that day
what is the point of any of this

Future work should investigate

We are tired
and of finite time
here is our wish list
things we’d love to know
but have no time for
help yourself
we are here
to talk, spitball, scheme
really there is no greater joy
than collaboration

Andrews et al. (2001) showed that

Brian Andrews is a gift
to sponge science
and I would die for him
Remember, Brian
when we met at the conference in Dublin
post-talk beers but our rental bikes got stolen
running in the downpour
back to the hotel in the middle
of the night but got lost and
ended up on this crazy
middle-ages Stonehenge-looking outcrop?
Felt like a teenager again
stupid shit with the kids down the street
& anyways Brian’s work
is unparalleled
innovative, cutting-edge
& the work he puts in
for his students and colleagues
selfless, kind, too good for academia
papers works of art
he deserves the world
I will cite him until
the day I die

The authors declare no conflicts of interest

Only that we are so deeply
enamored by this phylum that sometimes
it is hard to think straight about other matters
but thankfully
our colleagues & loved ones ground us


the funding agencies, sure, but also
the undergrads (menial work)
the significant others (driving, cooking, networking, flight-booking, carpentry, company)
the co-PIs (last-minute emails with far too much feedback to act on in time)
the facilities and IT people (keeping everything running)
the safety officers (safety, & a million other non-safety-related tasks)
the collaborators, inspirers, science communicators, long-dead storied naturalists of old,
Aristotle (they weren’t plants, dude!),
& there is only one lead author but really, this is the
serendipitous aligning of hundreds of stories
stories that came before &
stories that are sure to follow

Keenan Guillas studies sea sponge behaviour in California and writes in his free time. He is on Twitter and Instagram as @keenanguillas.

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