I write to introduce myself as the new student representative for ASP for 2021-2022. My name is Kay Chalkowski, and I am a PhD candidate at Auburn University studying how invasive species spread parasites. As a student, it took some time for me to find my academic home -- I had far reaching interests ranging from conservation, disease ecology, invasion biology, to public health. But, after realizing how invested I was in the ecological roles of parasites, and learning about their strange world, I knew parasite ecology would be my home. Soon after this realization, I joined ASP and am thrilled to be a part of this welcoming society.
In addition to parasite ecology, I'm also passionate about scientific writing, writing pedagogy and sci-art, as forms of communicating science to our own community, and to share our work with other communities that we might not otherwise reach. As a sci-artist myself, I see a lot of value in using art (whether illustration, narrative, or otherwise) to connect people with subjects that might otherwise be overlooked. For this reason, I believe that science communication skills are especially important for parasitologists. After all, the complex life cycles and cryptic lifestyles of parasites often evade the untrained eye, unlike many of their free-living hosts. Yet, parasites play critical roles in ecosystems, and our world simply wouldn't be the same without them.
Thus, my primary focus as student representative this year will be to share resources to help our student members improve their science communication skills. Further, I plan to develop the student symposium with this goal in mind. I encourage all student members to reach out to me with any particular interests and needs in the realm of science communication, and I will also be reaching out to gauge interest in possible science communication subtopics for the symposium.
I'll continue to share any updates about next year's Council meeting with our student members over email, so students can expect to see periodic communications from me throughout the year. Please don't hesitate to email me with any questions. I'm looking forward to the next year as the 2021-2022 ASP student representative!