This July I had the privilege of attending the American Society for Parasitologists meeting, held in my very own backyard at the Westin, in the heart of Edmonton’s downtown. This was my first ASP, and I had high expectations, as my lab mate Michelle, ASP’s biggest fan, has been boasting about its greatness it for years.
Beyond the Eminent Parasitologist Lecture delivered by Nobel Laureate Bill Campbell, the wonderful and ornate appetizers at the Muttart, and beyond even presenting my own work, what really stood out to me about ASP was the focus on students.
The student talks were easily some of the best talks I’ve ever seen at any conference. They covered a wide variety of topics including Host-Parasite Interactions, Life Cycles and Epidemiology; Taxonomy, Systematics and Phylogeny; Evolutionary Ecology; Biochemistry, Physiology and Immunology; Chemotherapeutic and Drug/Vector; and Genomics and Molecular Biology. Truly, there was a session for everyone, and most of the talks were highly interdisciplinary. I even saw a number of excellent diagnostic parasitology talks in my own session, Genomics and Molecular Biology. I was so impressed by the breadth and knowledge of the students, but moreover, the willingness of the Professors to engage with students was remarkable and truly demonstrates the best parts of science, mentorship and learning from others.
There was also an incredibly exciting student auction, which raised money for student travel awards to the meeting, and four of Noble Laureate Bill Campbell’s raised a pretty penny to support student travel awards to the meeting. Once again, this event showcased ASP’s focus on students, and the Society’s desire to engage up and coming scientists, and mentor them in the broad and diverse field of parasitology.
In short, it was a pleasure to be treated as an equal amongst so many successful scientists. I felt genuinely encouraged in my pursuits by nearly everyone I spoke to at the conference. Furthermore, it was remarkable to see the breadth, diversity, and adaptability of the scientists present. ASP is an absolutely essential conference for any student who is interested in parasitological research to attend. Thank you to HPI for covering the cost of registration for this excellent event.