Peru, Nebraska – Five students and three faculty and staff from Peru State College attended the 55th Southwestern Association of Parasitologists Conference April 21-23 at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station on Lake Texoma.

There were 25 presentations given by undergraduate and graduate students and four faculty presentations from representatives of 13 colleges and universities.

MaKayla Nagengast, a junior from Falls City mentored by Dr. Gul Ahmad, presented a poster “Prevalence of Giardia intestinalis in dogs in the Tri-States of Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri.”  Melody Sly, a sophomore from Omaha mentored by Dr. Rich Clopton and Deb Clopton, gave an oral presentation “A new gregarine infecting the dune beetle, Edrotes ventricosus, (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) in the Mojave Desert of California.” 

Bryanna Woodard, a senior from Homer mentored by Dr. Rich Clopton and Deb Clopton, won the Mark Dresden Award for her oral presentation “New species of Gregarines infecting the Guyana Orange-spotted Cockroach, Blaptica dubia.”  The Mark Dresden Award is for the second place overall oral presentation among undergraduate and graduate students. Woodard will graduate in May and begin her graduate work at Wichita State University in August.

Dr. Rich Clopton presented “The emerging molecular view of gregarine phylogeny.” Also in attendance were students Regan Hoover from Nebraska City and Alexx Uecker from Hastings.

In addition to presenting their work and interacting with other student and faculty researchers socially, the students attend the society business meeting. This year, on behalf of the undergraduate and graduate students, Woodard proposed the idea of an award for the best student poster, beginning in 2023, which was met with enthusiastic discussion and approved with unanimous consent.

Dr. Ahmad was elected President of the Southwestern Association of Parasitologists. Deb Clopton continues in her three-year term as Council Representative to the American Society of Parasitologists and Dr. Rich Clopton serves as Editor for the American Society of Parasitologists.