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Question for the Parasite Lady

 As I walked into the National Museum of the Philippines,    entering the area where the Crocodile Specialist’s Groups’ meetings were to be held, I hear in the distance, “Hey Turd Lady.”  I look down the hall and there is Tom Dacey, one of the pioneers of crocodile conservation and research, as well as part of the executive committee of the CSG.  Yep, that was my nickname.  But coming from Tom, it’s endearing.  But I was quite shock at how well known I was as “the Parasite Lady.”  Throughout the week I had conversations with people all over the world about the implications of studying crocodilian parasites for conservation purposes of crocodilians and their habitat, as well as how parasites can be utilized in other fields of science, such as phylogeny and immunology, to better understand these archaic animals.  Through my talk and participation with the Veterinary sub-committee, I have now been given the opportunity to start up some research in Sri Lanka next year at the regional CSG meeting, as well as work in Brasil.  As I told everyone, I love what I do and I’m sticking to it- so it looks like I better get use to the name as “The Parasite Lady.”

Now not only are the CSG meetings intellectually stimulating, they are socially stimulating, and very memorable!!!  How am I to forget the first night a table of us croc people trying balut.  I swore I was not going to eat it, but after the peer pressure of multiple guys, I tried it.  Never again, and the whole time I kept telling myself it was tofu to make it go down easier.  My undergrad student who came with me said it best, “croc people are crazy, but I guess you have to be a little crazy to work with that animal.”  Yes, we definitely know how to party and have a good time.  Every day after the conferences we headed to this one bar known as the G-point.  Gathered with new and old friends, the nights were filled with drinks, laughs, and dancing, and sometimes even involving party tricks that reminded me of my college days living with a bunch of frat boys (such as trying to stop a moving fan with your head!).  What kept cracking me up is the girls at this bar (90% of customers at this bar were women, the other being older men) kept asking me who I was.  They found it bizarre that I was the only girl hanging out with 5-15 guys at a time (each night varied), aka they thought I was a pimp!  Super hilarious and they were all nice to me as they wanted me to hook them up “with my boys.”  I can’t help it if 98% of my profession is dominated by boys.

So time to un-wind and get my head back into the game of my research and finishing up my side projects to make room for what’s lying ahead in my world of crocodilian parasites.  I have to say, I absolutely love what I do, and part of it is the people I work with, and the opportunities to travel around the world.  And of course the random excursions such as having a fun-filled karaoke night at the Hobbit House in Manila…

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