Patricia Brennan received $384,949 from the U.S. government to study duck genitalia. Last month, that made her a national joke. Now, it’s made her a little bit of a folk hero.

“Genitalia, dear readers, are where the rubber meets the road, evolutionarily,” Brennan wrote last week at Slate.com, defending her work against conservative critics. She argued that, if the government wants to support science, it must support all kinds of science.

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