The student sampled 109 swabs of more than 30 tree species and 58 soil samples, grew and isolated the Cryptococcus fungus and then sent those specimens to Springer at Duke. Springer DNA-sequenced the samples from California and compared the sequences to those obtained from HIV/AIDS patients with C. gattii infections.
Oh look, the "hard scientists" actually did the science.
Dukeâ(TM)s chairman of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Joseph Heitman M.D., was contacted by longtime collaborator and UCLA infectious disease specialist Scott Filler, M.D., whose daughter Elan was looking for a project to work on during her summer break. They decided it would be fun to send her out in search of fungi living in the greater Los Angeles area.
The girl didn't figure out where the fungus was coming from, nor did she even come up with the idea to sample fungus herself. The scientists knew it was coming from somewhere in the environment and, since they had an offer of help collecting samples, allowed the student to assist them.
The girl did not do the science. She just assisted the scientists with the manual labor.