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Jasper Rine

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The job's not over till the paperwork is done

Jul 09, 2013
[Below are two exchanges between Professors Jasper Rine and Fred Winston, regarding the 1987 Rine & Herskowitz paper.]


From: Fred Winston
Subject: Rine and Herskowitz 1987
Date: February 16, 2004

Hi Jasper,

Tomorrow we are teaching Rine and Herskowitz 1987 in the seminar course that Bob Kingston and I teach, "Topics in Gene Expression." In past years, students have asked why 8 years passed between your thesis and this paper. This year, I thought I'd ask you, rather than make something up. Any information is appreciated. We discussed Loo and Rine last week and we are also doing Rusche et al. tomorrow.

Best wishes,


From: Jasper Rine
Subject: Re: Rine and Herskowitz 1987

Dear Fred,

Wow! Judging from reprint requests I had assumed that the only people to have read those papers were two Lithuanians, a Cuban and my mother. Thanks for the interest.

Now about those 8's like this. I wasn't actually competing to have the greatest interval of time between the completion of work and its just sort of worked out that way. There were several influences each of which offers a lesson.

1. Ira said I should write it up before leaving for my postdoc position. Lesson 1: Listen to your advisor.

2. There were no word processors then and creating those tables on a typewriter was a major pain in the ass, so redoing them in response to comments from Ira and others was not the most pleasurable thing in the world. Lesson 2: These kids don't know how lucky they've got it. (Did I mention that I had to walk to and from the lab in snow, up hill in both directions?)

3. I thought it would make the paper a little better if I could clone all four genes and use the clones to complement the mutants, clarifying the few cases of funny complementation behavior. After all, how long could it take to clone four genes in 1979? Lesson 3: I have never been able to realistically estimate how long any task will take. Lesson 3': Don't let perfection be the enemy of good.

4. Here I am baring my soul, so be sure to keep this to yourself and your closest friends. I have a remarkable lack of interest in anything I did in the past, and reserve most of my passion and interest for what is going on now or will be going on in the future. Hence, once the work was done and the mutants sent to anyone who wanted them, I just lacked the juice to get the damn thing written. Lesson 4: I am reminded of a wonderful poster that someone gave to Jim Hicks at a party celebrating the completion of his thesis. This poster is a side view of an army recruit, squatting over a latrine, with his pants down around his ankles. The caption was "The job's not over till the paper work is done". Someone should have given me that poster!

5. I was swamped trying to keep up with the literature on SPT genes of yeast [These are the genes that Fred Winston identified]. Lesson 5: Your friends' work is often more interesting than your either don't read it or get your work published sooner (see lesson 1).

As you can see, none of these reasons is particularly good or insightful. Which leads me to lesson 6: Enough bad reasons combined can lead to remarkably stupid behavior. I fear I have been scooped by the Bush administration and this lesson is no longer publishable. All I can say in my own defense is that at least everything that I would have published in 1979 was still true in 1987.

Abashed in Berkeley,



[Professor Winston asked how Professor Rine managed to make the insane number of plates necessary for screening the 675,000 colonies described in the last paragraph of page 6 of the article.]

From: Jasper Rine
Subject: Rine and Herskowitz 1987
Date: February 5, 1997

Hi Fred,

Yup, in fact it was worse cause I screened for phenotypes at both high and low temps. I also had some hairbrain idea that caused me to screen for alpha factor halos on a bunch of colonies, which I gave up on about half way through. I did the screen in a little over a month and would love to have you believe me capable of herculean efforts in the saintly cause of yeast genetics and you should feel free to describe it that way to anyone who will listen.

Alas, the ugly complication in my candidacy for sainthood is that I didn't have to pour a single one of the plates I used. Eugene [University of Oregon] had a marvelous media kitchen from which I could order 15 liters of plates a day without them even batting an eye. So in fact, even a weanie could do a screen of that scale under those conditions, though you shouldn't feel obliged to point out that I could be a weanie.

Wow, you do read the exotic stuff.

Copyright: © 2013 Jasper Rine. The above content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.  
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