Biology Grad Student Assesses Reproductive Fitness of Recitation Section, Especially Heather


CHALEL HILL, NC—Surreptitiously studying their phenotypes from behind his notebook while they looked over the syllabus he had just handed out, graduate student Stephen Palmer began his semester long evaluation of the reproductive fitness of the undergraduates in his Biology 201 Ecology and Evolution recitation section, especially Heather, whom the researcher and teaching assistant described as “a total f’ing babe.”

Palmer, who focuses, in his lab, on traits conducive to sexual reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster and, in his classroom, on similar traits in undergraduates, began his study as students filed into recitation. Noting females with pelvic spans conducive to crowning many healthy offspring and breasts portending the capacity to produce nutrient-rich milk needed to ensure large, powerful progeny, he soon identified sophomore biology major Heather Brooks as an outlier in the 3:00 pm Tuesday population.

“I would fuck the shit out of her,” he noted mentally. 

While Palmer has not, with his undergraduates, undertaken numerical analysis as sophisticated as the Fisher’s linear discriminant function that he employs to distinguish Drosophila phenotypes, he has posited a simple 0-10 discriminant score or “hotness rating” that allows him to more easily communicate his findings to his peers, many of whom employ the metric in their own recitation sections. 

“I’ve got a few dimes this year,” he told fellow Ph.D. candidate Max Sherzer in the graduate student lounge.

Palmer also took note of Cooper Terman, the varsity lacrosse player and exercise & sports science major whose physiognomy–including his well-developed musculature, protruding Adam’s apple suggesting a dominant vocal call, and the wild-type appearance of his shaggy shoulder-length blonde hair–made him seem the recitation section’s most likely male to have his choice of mate, probably Heather.

However, he expressed his cautious optimism that under certain environmental pressures–such as “[needing] an A in Bio 201 to get into pharmacy school”–the population’s most fit female may instead choose to mate with a male typically seen as less fit, but whose position would be more advantageous to her than that of “some frat-boy meathead.” 

Palmer said that “only time will tell” if his hypothesis bears out, and he expressed hope that his detailed observational study would eventually give way to hands-on field work.

The graduate student concluded his recitation section by advising members of the class to “take advantage of [his] office hours,” which he announced would be from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday nights.

“My door is always open,” he said.