By: Kelly Weinersmith
HelmSoc met for our annual Anniversary Award meeting (our 728th Meeting!) on November 19th, 2022 at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC).
The meeting starting with some mixing and mingling, and then we all sat down to enjoy Elise McKean’s (George Washington University) excellent talk, entitled “Evidence for linkage between mutated bet-tubulin gene and invermectin resistance in Ancyclostoma caninum.” As has become custom, we wrapped up an Ancyclostoma caninum talk with a lively discussion on how the heck you’re actually supposed to pronounce this scientific name. No consensus was achieved. If you’d like to weigh in, please consider joining us for our Spring 2023 meeting on April 29th.
After enjoying Elise’s talk spent an hour socializing and eating appetizers. Heated discussions could be heard across the hall about why more people don’t have the good sense to measure worms, which personally gave me a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that I’m surrounded by the right kind of people.
Next up was the Business Meeting, where we announced that, thanks to a generous donation made by Dr. Bernard Fried and his wife Grace following Bernie’s passing, we will be starting a new student research grant. The Bernard Fried Student Research Grant offers up to $5,000 in funding each year in support of student research, travel, and publications. More information can be found here, and we begin reviewing the first round of proposals this month! We’re honored that Bernie and Grace entrusted these funds to us, and proud to be able to support student-led parasitology research in Bernie’s memory.
Last year we split the Secretary/Treasurer position into two, and this year we held a vote on who would fill these positions. We’re extremely thankful to John Hawdon, who is stepping into the new position of Corresponding Secretary, and we continue to be immensely grateful to Ashleigh Smythe for remaining in the Treasurer position.
We wrapped up the Business Meeting with a report from the In Memoriam Committee, chaired by Sherman Hendrix and Ralph Eckerlin. Sherman shared memories of the incredible career and life of Robin Overstreet, who passed away in May 2022. We all shared a moment of silence in his memory.
After a break for a delicious Italian dinner, it was time for the Anniversary Award! This year’s recipient was "Lieutenant Colonel (Virginia Military Institute)" / Dr. Ashleigh Smythe. Here is what the Anniversary Award Committee (Tamara Cook – Chair, Vince Connors, and Janine Caira) had to say about their choice for this year’s awardee:
“The committee unanimously and enthusiastically recommends that Dr. Ashleigh Smythe be awarded the 2022 Helminthological Society of Washington’s Anniversary Award. Dr. Smythe is a long time, active member of the society. Among her many contributions to the society, she has: served as the Secretary Treasurer, managed the transition of HelmSoc membership management from Allen Press to Wild Apricot, and assisted the Comparative Parasitology editor in the transition of the Comparative Parasitology review process to Allen Press PeerTrack.”
John Hawdon introduced Ashleigh, noting that she has been an integral part of the society for nearly two decades now. Ashleigh’s talk, In and Out of Hosts: Smorgasbord of Parasitic and Free-living Worms, was both fascinating and hilarious. A highlight was hearing about an in-process description of a new species of Latronema, a cute and chubby marine free-living nematode with a beautiful stoma that moves by contracting. That’s right, contracting! Nematodes aren’t supposed to do that, right? But this one definitely seems to be doing it. Keep an eye out for Ashleigh’s future papers to learn more.
We wrapped up the meeting by presenting a Life Membership award to Dr. David Chitwood. Dr. Nancy Pacheco McDonald also received a Life Membership award, but was not present to receive the award in person. Both Nancy and David have served HelmSoc by holding multiple Executive Committee positions, hosting meetings, and were prior Anniversary Award recipients.
Thanks so much to Ashleigh, David, and Nancy for your service to HelmSoc, and congrats on your awards! Also, many, many thanks to Michael Zimmermann and Katrina Lohan for organizing this fantastic event. We hope to see everyone on April 29th for our Spring meeting, which will also be held at SERC. More details about this meeting will be available on our website soon.