This tale of academic success was posted on the groaners listserve. The author is Stan Kegel.

It had been a horrible week for Henry. An entomologist at the local university, he was up for a promotion this year. With the promotion would come tenure. But there was a problem. It was not that he couldn’t teach. His Biology 210 classes were always packed and two years ago he was honored by the undergraduates by being named their favorite teacher. No, his problem was with his research. He hadn’t had a successful research project in several years. The last paper that he’d published was three years ago. In an age of “Publish or Perish,” this was not a good situation, particularly for a non-tenured professor.

The week started with a shock. He received notice that his research grants would not be renewed for the coming year. And, if that was not enough, the Dean called him into his office to tell him his contract would not be renewed unless he had a paper accepted for publication by a major entomology journal before the end of the school year.

Depressed, he left the University as soon as his morning lecture was over so that he could work in his garden. In the past, this had always had been effective in relieving tension. But to his chagrin, he found most of his roses were dying. On closer examination found they were infested with a parasite.

But what were these insects? They appeared to belong to the order Anapleura. That was strange. Anapleura infected mammals not plants. He examined them more closely. Small. Wingless. Definitely a species of Pediculosis, but one he had never seen before. He gathered up several specimens, and rushed to his lab, full of new vigor. He examined the insects in detail and rapidly wrote an article describing this new species of insect.

Well, I’m sure you know the result. The article was immediately accepted by the American Journal of Entomology. His job was saved and he received his most coveted tenure. And, he received a new major grant to study this new species.

You could say he had discovered a new lice on leaf.

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