Reflections on the ASP
Parasites first began to fascinate me in 1971 when I took a wildlife parasitology course in the Zoology Department at the University of Alberta in Canada, taught by Bill Samuel and John Holmes. They were inspirational teachers and I was hooked, so I was lucky to go on to a post-graduate degree with an ecological parasitology theme supervised by Bill Samuel.
At the end of that degree, jobs in parasitology were rather thin on the ground and I returned to Australia and found a position at the University of New England as the professional officer in Zoology. Although the job was not in parasitology, the brilliant ecological parasitologist Klaus Rohde was in the same department. Being involved with some aspects of his work, and in interactions with some of his students, my interest in parasitology remained high.
It was not until 1986 that I returned to parasitology when I became the technologist in parasitology at Murdoch University, and it was then that I joined the ASP. I soon discovered how supportive the members were to each other and how generous the society was to students.
In 1989 Andy Thompson encouraged me to become Secretary of the ASP. David Obendorf, the Tasmanian Representative at that time, suggested that the Society should produce a regular newsletter, since the only real chance that members had of catching up with the activities of the Society was once a year at the annual conference. So as Secretary, I put a proposal to Council for a quarterly newsletter, which I volunteered to edit. Council agreed and I became the inaugural newsletter editor, a position I held for 5 years. One of the major intentions of the proposal was to include a State News section, which detailed activities of individual members. ASP was a very friendly society, and those personal notes helped to keep people in touch. It is gratifying to see that 25 years on, the Newsletter is still going, and that the State News section is still a major part of it. The Society remains small enough to maintain its personal approach, and conferences are still the friendly affairs that they were years ago, always with an element of fun.
With several years on Council as WA Representative, and as Webmaster, I have seen from the inside what a supportive society the ASP is to young researchers and to the promotion of parasitology in Australia. We are very fortunate to have the income from IJP, but in my experience it is the selfless dedication to the advancement of parasitology, of a large number of our members, that really makes this the great society that it is. The ASP is well placed and in good hands to continue as a friendly and supportive society for many years to come.