Happenings at the Helminthological Society of Washington

By Kelly Weinersmith


The Helminthological Society of Washington held its 726th meeting virtually on November 20, 2021.

The virtual format allowed us to welcome talks by members with affiliations in Sweden and Australia, as well as more “local” talks from speakers in Texas, North Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. We also did something a little different this time around, and invited HelmSoc member Dr. Julia Buck to give a longer talk. Dr. Buck gave a talk entitled “Applying predator-prey theory to parasite-host interactions: Direct and indirect effects”.


During our Business Meeting we had a moment of silence for two parasitologists who recently passed away. Dr. Richard A Heckman passed away on March 21, 2021, and will be well remembered by HelmSoc members for his acanthocephalan descriptions found in Comparative Parasitology. We also mourned the loss of Dr. Larry S. Roberts. Many of us learned parasitology from textbooks he authored or co-authored. Dr. Roberts was active in HelmSoc, including serving as our president from 2012-2013 and receiving our 2013 Anniversary Award. For more information on Dr. Roberts, and his involvement in HelmSoc, visit Comparative Parasitology 81(2): 289-290 from 2014.


We sincerely thank our outgoing Executive Committee Officers! Thanks to Dr. John Hawdon (President), Dr. Anne Vardo-Zalik (Vice President), Dr. Shermin Hendrix (Immediate Past President), and Dr. Anna Phillips (Recording Secretary) for their service! And congrats to our new officers! Our incoming officers are: Dr. Kelly Weinersmith (President), Dr. Michael Zimmermann (Vice President), Dr. John Hawdon (Immediate Past President), and Dr. Katrina Lohan (Recording Secretary).


HelmSoc is also holding a hybrid meeting on April 30, 2022 at Shenandoah University. For more information, head over to our website.


In other HelmSoc news, we're thrilled to announce the recipient of the HelmSoc 2022 Underrepresented Minority Student Research Grant! This year we're awarding $4,000 to Patricia Torres, a PhD student at the University of Georgia. Here is more information about Ms. Torres and her research interests:


Bio: I am a first-year Ph.D. student advised by Dr. Michael Yabsley in the Integrative Conservation program at the University of Georgia. I obtained my bachelor's degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation from California Polytechnic University, Humboldt. I have previously worked as a project manager for a community health nonprofit organization and as a technician for the Wiyot Tribe, where my interest in parasitology began. I am a mom of two and when I'm not at the university I'm home spending time with my family.


Research interests: I'm interested in working alongside community members to further our understanding of the factors that influence tick densities and pathogen prevalence. Tick-borne diseases pose increasing threats to human health, and it's important to understand the dynamics that drive their populations to make informed public health and land management decisions.


Congratulations to Ms. Torres! We're excited to have the opportunity to support her work, and look forward to hearing more about it at a future meeting. We anticipate offering this grant again next year, and more information is available here.


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