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Where have all the parasitologists gone?

Peter W Pappas ppappas at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu
Thu Dec 15 14:51:25 EST 1994

In response to K. Prestwood's and T. Ruhnke's contributions, I have a few more 
comments.  Tim's correct --- make sure every student can teach introductory 
anatomy/physiology.  This is a "bread and butter" course in our department, 
enrolling over 1000 students per year (over 4 quarters) from at least 7 
different departments across campus ---- our majors do not take it.  We have a 
difficult time finding people who are (1) willing and (2) qualified to teach 
it.  Like Tim, we too have seen dramatic increases in undergraduate biology 
enrollments in the past few years.  Some of this increase can be attributed to 
students' increased interests in such "gee-whiz" stuff like genetic 
engineering, biotechnology, etc., or changes in undergraduate curricula (in 
which there is an increased emphasis on biological and physical sciences), but 
it's also due to many more students interested in professional school.  Like 
Tim, I too get paid with taxpayers' dollars to educate taxpayers' kids (many of
whom are just killing time at mom and dad's expense), and it's a great job.  
I even get an opportunity (I like to call it that) to teach the second quarter 
of introductory non-majors biology course --- indeed, a unique experience even 
if one disregards the large class size >450.  Tim seems to be in a unique 
situation at ESU, since he has two other colleagues with similar interests.  
Hell, in the College of Biological Sciences at OSU (which consists of six 
departments and about 80 faculty), I think I'm the only person who calls 
him/herself a parasitologist.  The other parasitologists are all in the Vet. 
School.  And that brings me to one final comment regarding K. Prestwood's 
message.  I understand and appreciate her concern who's going to identify all 
the parasites, and there's no doubt that this will be a problem.  Her example 
of Cryptosporidium is an excellent example; the Ohio EPA has been looking for 
people to look for this parasite.  But who's going to do it?  To cut to the 
quick, it's not going to be faculty at large universities, since identifying 
parasites will never get you tenure.  We may not like this situation, but it's 
a fact of life.

And finally, thanks to John Janovy for stirring things up.  This is almost more
fun that working in the lab!
Peter W. Pappas, Professor/Chairperson, Department of Zoology,
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH  43210  USA
E-mail: pappas.3 at osu.edu; FAX (614)-292-2030,
PHONE (614)-292-8088

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