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10 Reasons to Attend ASP's Annual Conference

By Kelly Weinersmith, Christina Anaya, John Hawdon, and Bobbi Pritt

ASP's Annual Conference will be held at The Double Tree by Hilton-Mayo Clinic Area in Rochester, MN from July 11-14, 2019!

Abstracts are due April 19th at midnight.

Looking for reasons to join us?

Here are 10 of the many reasons to attend ASP’s 94th Annual Conference:

Reason #1: Hand’s on Parasitology Experience!

Dr. Bobbi Pritt, creator of the popular Creepy Dreadful Wonderful Parasites blog, is offering two FREE Clinical Parasitology Workshops. The workshops will include hands-on opportunities for making thick and thin blood films, as well as interactive demonstrations of important human parasites. Expect to see malaria, lots of worms, arthropod ectoparasites, and live organisms as well!!

The workshops will be held on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 and Thursday, July 11 2019, and will accommodate 25 individuals. Priority will be given to students and postdocs. To sign up, please email Dr. Pritt at

Reason #2: The President’s Symposium on Entomopathogenic Nematodes

ASP’s current President is Dr. John Hawdon, and his President’s Symposium is entitled “Entomopathogenic Nematodes: Parasitism in Three Acts”.

Entomopathogenic nematodes kill their insect hosts, are sometimes used as biological control, and are generally awesome.

Dillman Lab logo ( Artwork by Jason Pruett.

The speakers at the symposium will be:

Dr. Heidi Goodrich-Blair, who studies how the symbiosis between Steinernema nematodes and Xenorhabdus bacteria allows the pair to infect, kill, and reproduce in their insect hosts.

Dr. Ioannis Eleftherianos, who studies the immune response of Drosophila following infection by entomopathogenic nematodes and their mutualistic bacteria.

Dr. Adler Dilman, who studies how entomopathogenic nematodes find and subsequently invade their hosts.

Reason #3: The Student’s Symposium!

ASP Student Representative Christina Anaya is organizing this year’s Student Symposium. The topic is “Preparing for and Navigating your Parasitology Future”. The Symposium will feature 15 minute talks by speakers on careers in parasitology, and a 20-30 minute panel for questions.

The speakers at the symposium will be:

Christina Anaya, who is a Ph.D. Candidate at Oklahoma State University and will be joining the faculty of Northern Michigan University as a Visiting Assistant Professor in August 2019.

Mr. Blaine Mathison, who previously worked with the Division of Parasitic Diseases at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Susan Perkins, who is a professor and curator at the American Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Bobbi Pritt, who is a professor and director of the Clinical Parasitology Lab in Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.

Dr. Kelly Weinersmith, who is an adjunct assistant professor at Rice University, a pop science writer, and a science comedy event planner.

Reason #4: The Vortex!

Students! Are you looking for a way to chat with lots of parasitologists, but are a bit shy about introducing yourself? Try the Vortex!

In this social event, we rotate students and faculty for short meetings. This gets you past the awkward “introducing yourself” phase, and gives you a chance to ask multiple parasitologists any questions you have about things like careers in parasitology.

Reason #5: The Chance To Organize Your Own Symposium!

Once the abstracts have been submitted, you can look for abstracts on a similar topic and join them together for a symposium! This will give you a chance to network with folks who study similar topics.

Reason #6: Our Awesome Auction!

This year we’ll hold the 29th Annual ASP Student Auction! The auction raises funds for student travel grants.

In past years the auction has featured parasite-themed artwork by Nobel Prize winning parasitologist Dr. William Campbell, ink and pen drawings by Dr. John Janovy Jr (many of us learned parasitology using the textbook on which he is a co-author!), mugs with tapeworm handles, crocheted afghans by Vickie Hennings (who you certainly know if you’ve submitted a manuscript to the Journal of Parasitology!), and gorgeous, colored SEM photographs by Dr. Kirsten Jensen.

Who knows what wonderful items you’ll be able to purchase while supporting ASP’s student members this year!

And keep your eyes open for a call for donations which will happen closer to the date of the conference!

Reason #7: ASP Marc Dresden Student Travel (MDST) Grants!

ASP loves its student members! To help make conference attendance more affordable, we offer Marc Dresden Student Travel Grants!

Applications and directions for MDST Grants are on the ASP Meeting web page (

Reason #8: ASP Student Paper Competition!

We also give awards for Best Student Presentation and Meritorious Student Presentations! Get a line on your CV for presenting at a conference, with the possibility of adding another line for a presentation award!

Reason #9: We’re Proactive About Discouraging Harassment and Discrimination!

ASP is an inaugural member of the “Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in Science, Technology, Education, Mathematics, and Medicine”. We also have an established Discrimination Policy (see bottom of blog post for our policy). It’s important to us that you feel safe and respected at our conference.

Reason #10: Our Conference is Fun!

I mean, what other conference has a hookworm mascot?

Abstracts are due April 19th at midnight.


American Society of Parasitologist’s Discrimination Policy

Statement of Policy: In accordance with the bylaws of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP), the Society will afford an environment free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The ASP will not tolerate actions, statements, or contacts that discourage the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. This includes unequal treatment or harassment of any person based on their age, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, sexual orientation, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religious identifications, beliefs or practices, disabilities, veteran status, or any other reasons or expressions that are unrelated to their scientific merit. Harassment, sexual or otherwise, shall be considered as a form of misconduct and violators will be subject to disciplinary actions, including expulsion from a society function or from the society itself.

Definition of Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature. It refers to behavior that is not welcome, is personally offensive, debilitates morale, and therefore, interferes with a collegial atmosphere. The following are examples of behavior that, when unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment: sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; a display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; sexually explicit jokes; unnecessary touching. What is perceived as acceptable to one person may be unwelcome by another. Those who have positions of authority or higher rank should be aware that others may be reluctant to outwardly express objections or discomfort regarding unwelcome behavior or language.

Other Types of Harassment: Remarks and behaviors based on other protected characteristics are also unacceptable to the Society. These include stereotyping, slurs, derogatory jokes or statements, and any hostile or intimidating acts.

Policy Scope: This policy applies to all attendees and participants at ASP meetings and functions, including social functions, tours, or off-site activities during the course of meetings and functions, and includes all members, guests, staff, contractors, and exhibitors.

Reporting an Incident: If any individual covered by this policy believes that they have experienced or witnessed harassment or bullying they should contact the society’s designated individual [Dr. Sara Brant,]. No complainant will be required to discuss any incident with a respondent; no respondent will be required to discuss any incident with a complainant. All individuals (complainant or respondent) may bring an accompanying individual of their choice with them for support at any point when they discuss the matter with the society’s designated individual, or during any course of an ensuing investigation.

Because allegations of discrimination, harassment and misconduct are sensitive matters with the potential to negatively impact the reputation of individuals, institutions, and/or our Society, confidentiality and discretion throughout the process is expected from all parties involved and is assured from the ASP's designated individual and all involved in the investigation.

Regardless, a complainant may speak in confidence with the society’s designated individual without involving an official report, an investigation or a respondent. All complaints that are received will be treated seriously, and will be addressed promptly if that is the wish of a complainant. Any incidents of sexual assault should be immediately reported to the police. Note that many local and regional governments also consider a variety of behaviors to be reportable crimes regardless of the wishes of the complainant, respondent or of the society.

Investigation: Following the official report of an incident, the Society’s designated individual, in consultation with ASP Council, will name an impartial investigator, usually an elected officer or Council member, and the respondent will be promptly notified. No one who has a conflict of interest with respect to the complainant or respondent will serve in this role. A complainant will be asked to file a formal written complaint; the respondent will be notified immediately and prior to any discovery procedures. A respondent will be invited to respond to the complaint and allowed to bring evidence. The Council of ASP reserves the right to interview other individuals as witnesses at its own discretion. The investigator is allowed to seek counsel if they are in doubt as to how to proceed. When the investigation is complete, the findings will be communicated to the elected officers, as well as both to the complainant and respondent. Those officers without a conflict of interest will decide on appropriate disciplinary actions.

Retaliation: The Society will not tolerate any form of retaliation against individuals who report an incident, against those who are subject to a complaint, nor against those who participate in an investigation. Retaliation will be considered a form of discrimination in and of itself and offenders will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including ejection from the society.

Disciplinary Action: If an individual harasses, retaliates, or knowingly makes a false claim, they will be subject to disciplinary action. These actions might range from a verbal warning to a request to leave the meeting or function without refund of fees and a reporting of the incident to the person’s employer. Should repeated complaints, patterns of inappropriate behavior, or other events emerge, the society’s by-laws permit its Council to exclude and eject members through a process that has no appeal.

Appeal & Questions: Should any person be dissatisfied with the result of an investigation or disciplinary action, they may appeal to the President of the Society, or to the highest ranking officer without a conflict of interest. Questions concerning the policy can be directed to an ASP officer or the ASP designated individual.

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