Max Ross
Senior Undergraduate Research Student
University of Vermont
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Max received his Biology degree in May 2014, with a History minor, He was a student in the Ecological Parasitology course in his Junior year and more-or-less moved into the research lab to help with research on Monocystis. He then wrote a proposal for a summer research fellowship from the university and was one of only a very few awarded! Max just about lived in the lab all summer, and moved on to his Senior research project in the fall. Max is one of those researchers with the magic touch: everything he works on in the lab yields great results. For his Senior research project, Max worked closely with Allison Neal on the genetic diversity of the sandfly vector of Plasmodium mexicanum using microsatellite markers. Allison and Max developed a panel of markers that give very clean data (at least, they are always clean for Max). The project asks if there is geographic variation in the sandfly over small spatial scales, and seeks to give some information on the population size of the insect. A puzzle at the California research site is the very patchy distribution of the malaria parasite in lizards; Sites only a few hundred meters apart may have infected lizards, and the others with no malaria -- and this pattern has been seen for over 30 years. This suggested the vector may move very little, and thus opens the door for local genetic differentiation. A paper from that study is now in review at a major journal.

Besides making himself invaluable in the lab, and getting great data, Max was also on the university gymnastics team, and traveled the country to compete in major competitions. So, when he was not deftly handling tiny drops of fluid in the lab, he was flying through the air on the high rings. Max will continue with gymnastics after graduation, and also plans to attend graduate school in biology. But, he is now taking time off to work in a major biology research laboratory as a master technician.

Leslie Barnard
Senior Undergraduate Research Student
University of Vermont
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Leslie, Max, and Dr. Schall all first connected when Leslie and Max were in the honors section of Schall's introductory biology course in their first semester at UVM. Leslie went on to work in Dr. Sara Helms Cahan's lab (ant ecology and evolution), but decided to try something different for her Senior year, and so came to the malaria lab. Leslie already had outstanding lab skills from her time in the ant lab, and so very quickly became an important member of the lab, and stepped up to help Max with his sandfly work. Leslie ended up pretty much living in the lab to help push the work along at an even faster pace. For her final semester, Leslie worked on her own project, a look at the variation in the flanking regions for the microsatellite markers.

Leslie was a Biology major with minors in Chemistry and Nutrition. Outside of research and academics, Leslie is a competitive shooter! She shoots skeet and trap (trap involves two targets in the air at once, one of the toughest challenges in shooting). During her senior year, Leslie traveled to the East Coast College Championships at George Mason University where almost 200 students competed over a two day period (100 shots each for trap and skeet each day). Leslie placed first among women, and fourth overall! Then, Leslie went for broke competing in the major US College competition and placed first again among women and second only to a shooter from West Point!

Leslie's plans a career in public health and now is in the gradaute program in Public Health at Tulane University.

Megan Lind
Undergraduate Honors Student
University of Vermont
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Megan graduated in May, 2013 and was in the Honors College and one of our outstanding majorst. Megan joined us in her Sophomore year, and completed her Senior Honors project in the lab. From her first days in the lab, Megan proved to be a Jill-of-all-trades, working on a wide variety of studies, including a survey of the white blood cell classes of lizards, the genetic diversity of Plasmodium mexicanum, and developing variable genetic markers for a sand fly species, including RAPDs and microsatellites. In addition to being a skilled laboratory researcher, Megan spent two summers at the California field site working with Dr. Anne Vardo-Zalik of Penn State University on the sand fly vector of P. mexicanum. Megan's work was honored with a summer APLE fellowship, one of only only a few awarded each year by College of Arts and Sciences.

For her Honors project, Megan chose an ambitious research program. She sought to understand the genetic diversity of the malaria parasite, and asked if specific clones of the parasite are more or less likely to occur in mixed-clone infections than others, the first time this has been done for any malaria parasite. Gathering the data involved extensive field work and then a huge number of hours in the lab getting the data on clones within infected lizards. The next big problem was how to analyze the data. Megan chose to use new statistical methods worked on by our Dr. Nick Gotelli to understand how species occur in communities in positive, negative, or neutral associations. The software proved powerful, and gave beautiful insights into how parasite clones may interact. This was the first time the new statistical method was used to examine genetic data. Her result is now in preparation for submission to a major journal.

As an undergraduate, Megan blended interests she inherited from her parents: a planned career in medicine (her father is a cardiologist) and fencing (her mother was a varsity fencer as an undergraduate). Megan has competed in fencing at the national level, third one year, and in her Senior year she placed first in the nation in her event. We had a national champ in the lab! We tried not to make jokes about the a medical professional who can stab 'em and then treat 'em (OK, that was a joke). Megan is now completing her program to become a Physician's Assistant.

Annika Nilsson
Undergraduate Research Student
University of Vermont
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Annika was an Anthropology major and completed her Honors research program, with a thesis that took an anthropologist's perspective on birthing "treatment" in medical facilities. Her interests began early in life because Annika comes from a family involved in public health research and she has lots of world travel experience. Annika wisely sought us out to learn something about research methods in infectious disease, and was in the lab for two years. Annika worked closely with graduate student Allison Neal, helping both with the molecular studies and extracting lots of data from the microscope blood smears (old-fashioned counting of parasites), and became a very valuable member of the lab group. Annika's genotyping results proved so reliable that she became the lab's research assistant for two years, in 2012 and 2013, producing excellent data for the ongoing studies of P. mexicanum genetic diversity. For Annika's Junior project she looked at the Plasmodium mexicanum gametocyte sex ratio at sites where the parasite is common vs. rare to test one prediction from sex ratio theory (that high prevalence means high clonal diversity and thus a less female-biased sex ratio). Annika also worked in training another undergrad in the lab. The study is now in preparation for submission to a journal in parasitology. Annika's career has taken an unusual turn: she is in training to be a tattoo artist!

Krystina Kattermann
Undergraduate Research Apprenticet
University of Vermont
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Krystina was "discovered" when she was a student in the introductory biology course for the top entering life science students taught by Schall. She did so well, that we lured her into the lab. Krystina is a Microbiology and Molecular Genetics major with a medical career in her future. During her first semester as a Research Apprentice, Krystina helped in a variety of lab duties, and in her second semester she worked with graduate student Alli Neal's study of gametocyte sex ratio at sites where the malaria parasite is common vs. rare. Krystina is an avid athlete, competing in downhill skiing in high school, and now swimming here at UVM. But, she has moved now into a lab in our Micorbiology and Molecular Genetics Department where she did her Senior Honors research.

Leah Rogstad
Undergraduate Honors Student
University of Vermont
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Leah joined the lab in the spring 2013 semester. She was a student in our introductory biology course offered for the top entering life science majors taught by Dr. Schall. She did so well that we threw out bread crumbs to lead her into the lab. Leah is interested in a career in public health and international development (and thus is a Global Studies major), and seemed a perfect match for the lab (infectious disease!). She is working with our other public health fan, Annika Nilsson. Leah has now moved into the laboratory of Dr. Lori Stevens to work on tropical parasitology and medical entomology Leah is fluent in Spanish and has spent long periods in Latin America.

Alice Ford
Undergraduate Honors Student
University of Vermont
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Alice joined the lab during her first semester, and graduated with a degree in Mathematics, with a Biology minor. Alice completed her undergraduate studies with highest distinction. She was a member of the Math-Bio program organized by Dr. Lori Stevens of the Biology Department and funded by NSF. The goal of this project was to encourage students who are interested in both mathematics and life science to merge their two interests.

Alice planned a career in medicine and so wanted to gain experience working in a life-sciences research lab. Her entire four years were spent in the malaria lab (except for an exciting summer in the laboratory of Dr. Jane Carlton at NYU, one of the most important researchers active today in malaria studies). Alice also did her Senior Honors project in our lab. In the summer of 2009, Alice worked in our lab on a fellowship offered by the Math/Biology program, and the next summer was honored with our university's URECA! fellowship. Alice's research examined the change in relative clonal abundance of mixed-genotype infections of the malaria parasite Plasmodium mexicanum over the course of an infection. During her four year in the lab, Alice worked up the methods to monitor changes in clonal abundance, using microsatellite genetic markers; this was one of the few times this has been accomplished. She used this work to produce three papers in major journals, Parasitological Research, Journal of Parasitology , and was first author for a paper in International Journal for Parasitology, not bad for an undergraduate researcher. Alice's research showed that the relative proportions of coexisting clones of a malaria parasite often remained remarkably constant over time, especially when only two clones were present.

Alice was offered positions at a half dozen first-rate MD/PhD programs, and chose to enter the program at the University of Pennsylvania, beginning the fall of 2010 where she is now well along in both her medical training and research. She plans a career in neurology.

Katie St. Denis
Undergraduate Honors Student
University of Vermont
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Katie joined the lab in the summer of 2009 on a Fellowship from the McNair Scholars Program. In the previous spring she was a student in the advanced course in Ecological Parasitology and became interested in the ecology and evolution of parasites. For her summer McNair project, Katie examined the genetic variation in the cytochrome b gene of Plasmodium mexicanum, by designing primers to amplify most of this important mitochondrial gene, and then sequencing more than a hundred infections from the Hopland site and several other sites from a few km to hundreds of km away (thanks to collecting effort by graduate student Alli Neal). This issue is important because some research teams propose that even a single base substitution (SNP) in the cytochrome b gene represents a separate evolutionary lineage of parasite worthy of being declared a species. Very few data have been published in the variation of this gene within species, so Katie's work will be sure to garner considerable interest. This project was published in Journal of Parasitology.

For her Senior Honors research project in the lab Katie continued studies on the genetic diversity of P. mexicanum. The goal of this research was to follow genetic changes in the parasite over many years using stored blood samples taken every year since 1978 at the study site. Katie genotyped infections at five microsatellite markers, and gathered data for hundreds of infections from 1978 to 2010. She worked out the methods to genotype infections from DNA recovered from stained microscope blood smears, and this allowed her to take the results back to 1978. This work resulted in another nice publication in Paraitology. For the summer of 2010, Katie was awarded the College of Arts and Science summer APLE fellowship, a high honor awarded to a research student in the College. Katie is now a veterinary medical technician in a clinic near Washington DC.

Nathan Hicks
Undergraduate Student
University of Vermont
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Nathan joined the malaria lab in his Junior year, and quickly became and important member of the lab group. A member of the university's Honors College, Nathan conducted his Senior Honors Project in the lab. Nathan quickly became proficient in all the laboratory duties, both identification of parasites under the microscope and the molecular methods. His creative thinking lead to several very nice ideas for his Honors Project, and he wrote a successful application to the the university Undergraduate Research program for a summer fellowship. He spent the summer of 2010 at the Hopland research site with Alli Neal, both helping her with her project and working on his Honors research. Nathan was intrigued with the interactions among clones of the parasite in genetically complex infections, and studied how clones interact by following relative proportions of clones using five microsatellite markers. Nathan completed three projects (!), the first examined relative proportions of clones over time in replicate experimental infections, the second looked at clonal proportions in natural infections of lizard from a mark-recapture project over two full years, and a third examined the relative establishment efficiency of genetic clones as they entered the vertebrate host. His work thus included substantial field duties, so "dirty fingernails" ecology joined molecular genetics! His research appeared as two papers, one in Journal of Parasitology and one in Parasitological Research . Upon graduation in May, 2011, Nathan was awarded the Hannah Howard Prize for the outstanding student for the entire College of Arts and Sciences (more than half of the entire university's graduating Seniors are in the College!).

Nathan then took a position in a major private genomics laboratory doing research on pathogens, and is now a graduate student in biology at Harvard University.

Pedro Teixeira
Undergraduate Honors Student
University of Vermont
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Pedro was very active working with graduate student Alli Neal on a study of life history traits of Plasmodium mexicanum, which involved lots of time counting parasites under the microscope. This kind of work is helped if the researcher has a Zen perspective, so it was good that Pedro was both a Zoology and Japanese major. We have testimony from an international student from Japan that Pedro sounds like a native Japanese when he speaks the language. Pedro says it was easier learning Japanese because he is a native of Brazil and so is already bilingual, speaking both Portuguese and English. After his second year at UVM, Pedro traveled to the California field site to assist in the ongoing research there, working with Dr. Anne Vardo-Zalik of Penn State University. He then spent his Junior year in Japan, and when he returned we learned he planned to leave biology (gasp) for a career in psychology. He has since moved to Japan to take a position as a teacher there.

Jennifer Grauer
Undergraduate Student
University of Vermont
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Jennifer spent two years in the lab, starting very early in her first year on campus. She is a Zoology major and found her interests center on animal behavior, and so we have sadly said goodbye now that Jenn has joined the ant laboratory of Dr. Sara Helms-Cahan. In our lab, Jenn was full of energy, and quickly learned all the techniques used in the research and then helped everyone with research projects. She became a master at genotyping infections using the microsatellite markers. For the summer of 2010, Jen received an NSF REU summer fellowship, rather uncommon for a First-Year student. She joined Senior Honors student Katie St. Denis and Schall in the lab for some very long days getting the summer project under way, and then traveled to the Hopland field site to join Alli and Nathan. Jen's enthusiasm, ambition, and work ethic led to several projects for the summer! Jenn may now be working with ants, but we are sure she will be coauthor on one or more papers on the malaria studies.

Jennifer Fricke
e-mail Jennifer
Jennifer graduated with a double major in Biological Science and Asian Studies. She spent a semester and summer in China working on her language skills and enjoying the culture. Graduate student Anne Vardo-Zalik invited Jen into the lab to spend some time, and very quickly we found another convert to ecological and evolutionary parasitology. One summer Jen worked with Dr. Kurt Pickett on the phylogeography of an introduced wasp species, learning the necessary molecular techniques, and traveled to the Hopland site to collect California representatives of the species. (And also worked with Anne to collect lizards!) Jen chose to do her senior Honors project in the lab and is worked on the geographical pattern in genetic diversity of Plasmodium mexicanum in northern California using microsatellite markers. She is also used microsatellites in the lizard's genome (that she discovered herself!) to do a mirror analysis of the geographic structure in the genetics of the vertebrate host. Thus, Jennifer compared parasite and host population structure. To increase the sample size of sites, Jen traveled with undergraduate helper Alli Neal to the Hopland area for a long field trip in summer of 2008. The results of Jen's research are striking; they show that the parasite is genetically differentiated among sites only a few km apart, but the lizard host is not differentiated even among sites much more distant. The paper is now in press in Journal of Parasitology. Jen graduated with high honors, and quickly found a position as a research technician in a laboratory working on HIV. Jennifer is now in the Ph.D. program at Cornell University.

Neil Thompson
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Neil was a Senior Biology major with an emphasis on environmental biology. He has had a life-long interest in the out-doors, especially wet places such as lakes and the sea, and wants to combine this passion with an academic program. He is now SCUBA certified and looks forward to spending as much time as possible under water. Neil spent a semester in Brazil, and enjoyed the diving, but even found happiness in the rain forest. Graduate student Ellen Martinsen connected with Neil when he inquired about a work-study position in the lab, and he worked with Ellen on her studies of avian malaria. Neil has become proficient at identifying parasites on blood smears. Neil did his senior research project in the lab, working with Ellen's collection of blood samples and stained smears from the Dominican Republic. For his senior research project, Neil looked at the phylogenetic relationship of Plasmodium from the endemic birds of the Dominican Republic (comparing results with the parasites of migratory birds with a broad distribution). This work will appear in an upcoming publication. Neil received competitive funding for his research from two university programs for undergraduate research, the Helix mini-grant and a large grant from the URECA program. He was so ambitious that he did TWO senior research project, the other on fish ecology with our Dr Ellen Marsden. After graduation, Neil returned to Vermont, first to take a position with Dr. Marsden working up microsatellite markers for a fish ecology project, and then to work on fish ecology with the state Fish and Game Department. Neil is now in the graduate program at the Oregon State University.

Julie Dao
Julie spent her senior year in the lab (just about every hour she was not in class!), working with graduate student Anne Vardo. Julie picked a very difficult project that combined many, many hours at the microscope counting parasite cells and working through some touchy PCR runs to genotype infections of Plasmodium mexicanum in the lizard host. She wanted to determine if clones of parasites, within individual infections, wax and wane in aboundance over time. This required genotyping parasites over several time periods, and counting parasite densities for those same samples. Her results were among the first documentation of changes in abundance of specific clones over time in an infection of any malaria parasite. Julie szx a research technician in in a Medical School laboratory for several years, and then moved on to a career in science writing.

Jessica Waite
Jessi is a true rural Vermonter, coming from the tiny town of East Snowflake near Rutland. She comes from a family of independent thinkers (her sister is on the West Point skydiving team!). Jessi was "discovered" in her first year at UVM by graduate student Ellen Martinsen who recruited Jessi as a summer field assistant on the bird malaria project. Jessi very quickly became a skilled field ornithologist, identifying scores of birds by sight and song, and becoming proficient at setting mist nets. Jessi returned the next summer to work with Ellen in the field and lab. During her Junior year, Jessi worked in the lab as a Research Apprentice, learning the molecular techniques. For her Senior Honors project, Jessi sought to determine if the described subgenera of avian Plasmodium parasites represent monophyletic groups. She scanned over 1000 blood smears, photographing all Plasmodium present, and obtaining sequences of the cytochrome b gene for the parasites. Jessi worked with Ellen to construct phylogenetic trees that revealed the current subgenera need revision. The work appeared in a paper in Parasitology. After graduating with highest honors, and being named one of our department's best students, Jessi traveled to Canada (within hours after graduation!) to begin a job in field ornithology. In Fall, 2006, Jessi joined the graduate program at the University of Utah to work with Dale Clayton, one of the leaders in the study of parasite-host ecology. Her work there resulted in a series of important publications on the ecology of Haemoproteus, an avian malaria parasite. She is now a postdoc at Penn State University working with Andrew Read, one of the top researchers in pathogen biology.

Thomas Collier Smith
Tom "joined" the malaria lab even while still a high school student! He contacted Schall to ask for help in identifying reptiles and amphibians while on a school trip to the Virgin Islands. Within days of arriving on campus as a first year Environmental Science student, Tom began working in the lab, serving as a Tom-of-all-trades, from slide scanning to molecular projects. Tom joined the field team for a trip to the El Verde site in Puerto Rico, and was paired with Andrew Wargo for field duties. Tom and Andrew became a minor sensation at the site for continuing to collect anole lizards on very rainy days, walking the trails in heavy rains, and still collecting good samples. For his senior project, Tom spent the summer at the Hopland site, working as a field assistant for Sarah Osgood, and collecting his own specimens and data. His senior project examined the lifespan of Plasmodium mexicanum in three blood-feeding arthropods to determine their possible role as vectors for the parasite. This work appeared as a paper in Journal of Parasitology. Since graduation, Tom has worked as a field and lab technician on a variety of projects, including the Hawaiian bird malaria project and a study of fungi that kill endangered amphibians in the American west. Tom entered the graduate program at the University of California.

Anja Pearson
Anja and her identical twin sister Alexa both pursued degrees at UVM, one in Environmental Science and the other in Biology. Although a few key field marks could distinguish them, the lab team could never be sure which Pearson twin was which. Anja (we think!) was the one who traveled with a field team to the Caribbean islands to collect anoles from the El Verde site (Anja is shown there in the photo catching a lizard), St. Martin, Saba, and Anguilla. Anja's senior project examined the long-term prevalence data for the El Verde site, a nine-year study (including her own sample). She scanned thousands of slides, finding parasites and identifying them to species. She found that the prevalence of the parasites was remarkably constant over the years despite major disruption by hurricanes. This work was published in The Journal of Parasitology. Anja also was coauthor of a paper on the effect of the parasites on lizard health. Anja was a teacher in the Boston area for several years, and then took a year of work (as a science museum teacher) and travel in New Zealand with her husband. Anja has now returned to Vermont and is a public school science teacher. With Anja's broad experience, her students are lucky kids!

Dan Wheeler
Undergraduate Student
University of Vermont
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Dan was a Biology major who joined the lab only during his last semester. Along with an outstanding academic record (he was named one of our top five seniors), Dan was also captain of the varsity track team. Somehow he found time to spend long hours in the lab working on his senior project, during the regular week hours, but also in the evenings and weekends. Dan looked at the gametocyte sex ratio of Plasmodium mexicanum and the clonal diversity within each infection. He sought to test sex ratio theory which predicts there should be a female-biased sex ratio for single-clone infections, but a sex ratio closer to 1:1 for infections with multiple clones. His work required that he learn how to identify and count gametocytes in thin blood smears [and to identify male vs. female cells!], and to do the necessary molecular work to score microsatellite loci. Dan's work supported the predictions of sex ratio theory, and will lead to an important publication. Dan was been funded for this research with a grant from the Helix program. After graduation, Dan applied for five very fine positions in laboratories and field organizations, and received five offers! He has now completed the Doctoral degree in Physical Therapy.

Kim Kaufold
Undergraduate Student
University of Vermont
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Kim was a Biology major who began working in the lab during her Junior year as a work-study student. She quickly became an important part of lab group, and in summer 2005 was a Research Assistant in the lab. Kim became proficient at finding and identifying from blood smears a variety of species of malaria parasite, and quickly learned a broad range of molecular techniques. Her summer projectsincluded genotyping infections of Plasmodium mexicanum from fence lizards collected at the Hopland site and developing methods to multiplex 7 microsatellite markers for analysis. Kim has played an important role in perfecting methods to extract DNA from these two decade old blood smears in the lab collection for the microsatellite studies. For Kim's senior project, she worked closely with graduate student Anne Vardo and looked at the ability of new clones of parasites to enter an existing infection, and she asked if exiting single-clone infections are less able to exclude an entering new clone than existing multi-clone infections. This research led to a publication co-authored with Anne in Journal of Parasitology. Kim was funded by the Helix program for her research. Kim has now completed the program to become a Physicians' Assistant.

Ben Blumberg
Undergraduate Student
University of Vermont

Ben joined the lab during his first year at the University of Vermont, and soon developed a keen interest in research, especially in evolutionary ecology, wildlife biology, and parasitology. He worked with graduate student Ellen Martinsen on the avian malaria project, and is now coauthor on a paper in press at Journal of Wildlife Diseases. He wrote a successful proposal to the university's Helix program to fund his Junior year research. His research centered on the diversity of malaria parasites at the Hopland field site. Ben then joined graduate student Anne Vardo for the summer at Hopland where he assisted on Anne's project on the role of clonal diversity on the life history of Plasmodium mexicanum in the fence lizards. In Ben's senior year he worked with Dr. Bill Kilpatrick on an attempt to identify mammals from their scat via. field technques and sequencing of genes (DNA recovered from scat). Ben entered the the National Institutes of Health on a research fellowship, and is now in graduate school.

Andrew Wargo
Andrew joined the laboratory during his very first weeks on campus! He offered to be a volunteer lab assistant and was quickly put to work measuring parasite cells. His results played an early role in graduate student Susan Perkins's discovery of a cryptic species of Plasmodium in the anoles of the Caribbean islands. Andrew was "rewarded" for his efforts with an invitation to assist during a field trip to the El Verde forest in Puerto Rico where he collected Anolis from steep, muddy trials, often during day-long rains. Apparently Andrew did not have enough of this relaxing field work, and so came along for a second trip, this time adding the duty of preparing a duplicate set of blood smears for study of an enzyme in white blood cells. This required many extra hours each night in the lab. Andrew then did his Honors thesis project on the sex ratio of lizard malaria parasites. He is coauthor on two publications in the Journal of Parasitology, not a bad result for an undergraduate! Andrew's studies were supported by grants from highly competitive programs at the university, and he was named the department's outstanding senior. After a few years as a research technician in a medical school laboratory, Andrew decided to pursue a PhD program and was admitted to a series of the very best graduate schools in the USA. However, he eagerly accepted an offer to join the Andrew Read group at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, one of the leading labs in evolutionary and ecological parasitology. Within 18 months of joining the group, Andrew coauthored a paper in PNAS - USA! He is now back in the USA doing a postdoc at the University of Washington.