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The BIG Questions

Richard E. Clopton septate at tamsun.tamu.edu
Mon Aug 29 22:29:42 EST 1994

At the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists I was
once again struck by the breadth of the field we call parasitology.  As a 
scientist, I am limited to a rather small sector of the field, and I'll be
the first to admit--I don't get a lot of chances to sit down and talk with
a wide cross-section of the field.  I suspect that the field is really 
driven by a series of Big Questions--and that each of us spends our days
working on proximal facets of only one, or at most only a very few, of the
ultimate parasitological questions.  I suspect that in many ways the questions
that drive parasitology aren't that much different than the questions that 
drive other fields.  But I thought I'd ask.  What are the ultimate
questions that drive parasitology?  My work is primarily concerned with host
specificity and the evolution of complex life cycles.  The proximal questions
end up being "Animal X infects host Z, but can it infect Z's congenerics?"
"If not, what ecological, physiological etc. events/conditions prevent
such an association?"  The ultimate questions are a little broader.  
"What is the fundamental 
nature of host specificity, and has it arisen as a result of a series of
common costraining themes or as a series of independent interactions?"

What are the ultimate questions for the rest of the field?  Reply by post 
e-mail--if the e-mail's are juicy thought toys--I'll translate them back into
new threads on the group.


Rich Clopton           |"Any segment of land can be interesting of 
SEPTATE at TAMSUN.TAMU.EDU| itself, but its greater significance must
Texas A&M University   | always exist in the life it sustains."
Parasitologist & Proud |   -_Centennial_,  James Michener

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