Prof. Robert Poulin – Zoology Department, University of Otago, New Zealand

Originally from Montreal, Canada, Robert obtained a BSc from McGill University and a PhD from Laval University, before eventually joining the University of Otago in 1992. Since arriving there, he has established a research programme in parasite ecology and evolution that focuses on broad questions but not on any particular taxa. Currently, his research group has four main research directions. First, his lab investigates the forces shaping the evolution of parasites, in particular the evolution of life history traits such as body size, host specificity, the ability to manipulate host behaviour, and the complexity of the transmission pathways. Second, they are studying the role of parasites in aquatic ecosystems, i.e. how they affect community diversity and food web stability, and how parasitism may interact with climate change to influence the properties of ecosystems. Third, Robert has long been exploring large-scale patterns of parasite biodiversity and biogeography, searching for the processes behind the diversification and distribution of parasites and diseases. Finally, Robert and his team are now turning toward the role of parasite microbiomes in shaping the host-parasite interaction. Robert was awarded Otago University’s Distinguished Research Medal in 2013, the Hutton Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2011 for outstanding contribution to animal sciences, the Wardle Medal from the Canadian Society of Zoologists in 2007 for outstanding contribution to parasitology, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2001.

Dr Sandra Telfer – School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Sandra Telfer is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research fellow based at the University of Aberdeen in the UK. Sandra obtained her BSc from the University of Edinburgh, and her MSc and PhD from the University of Aberdeen. Her research addresses both fundamental and applied questions related to host-parasite dynamics in wild populations and the threat posed by wildlife diseases to human and livestock health. Her research is interdisciplinary, combining field studies and genetic analyses, as well as social science methodologies. Sandra works in Madagascar, collaborating closely with the Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, and the UK, researching a range of rodent microparasites, including Leptospira, Yersinia, Rickettsia and Bartonella. Her group explores how spatial and temporal variation in rodent infection rates and the diversity of pathogens depend on climate, habitat, and the abundance and diversity of host and vector populations. In Madagascar, they also investigate how exposure rates in humans depend on environmental and socio-economic factors, and the development of strategies to reduce risk, such as more effective management of rodent populations.

Prof. Maxwell Barson – Department of Biological Sciences, University of Botswana, Botswana

Maxwell Barson was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1976, where he grew up, was educated and eventually entered the University of Zimbabwe in 1996. He is married to Caroline and they are blessed with 5 children. Within a decade between 1999 and 2009, he obtained four academic degrees with 3 institutions: BSc Honours in Biological Sciences (University of Zimbabwe, 1999); MPhil in Fish Parasitology (University of Zimbabwe, 2002); MSc in Aquatic Health (University of Johannesburg, RSA, 2004); PhD in Biology (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 2009)

Maxwell worked as a junior lecturer at UZ from 2004, then was progressively promoted to senior lecturer (2010) and associate professor in 2016. He is the first fish parasitologist in post-independent Zimbabwe and his research has spanned several aspects of fish parasitology (systematics, ecology, histopathology, ecotoxicology), as well as fish disease diagnostics and other aspects of aquatic parasitology (e.g. snail-trematode interactions, ectoparasitology, waterborne protozoans). His interest in platyhelminths of fish led to the discovery of a new cestode genus and species, Barsonella lafoni, patronymised in his honour, as well as descriptions of several monogenean and cestode species.

Prof Barson has successfully guided 4 PhD students, 14 masters and many honours students from universities in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Belgium. He also an alumnus of the US Fulbright Research Scholar fellowship and has presented papers at many parasitological symposia in Africa and Europe. Prof Barson also served for three years as a member of the World Animal Health Organisation’s (OIE) Aquatic Animal Health Standards Committee. He has also consulted for the FAO, OIE and the AU-IBAR on matters relating to fish health in Africa. To date, he has authored 40 articles in peer-reviewed publications, inclusive of journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings.

Prof Barson has recently joined the University of Botswana as a zoology professor.


The provisional programme for the Congress is as follow:

Arrival at conference venue. Accommodation will be available from 14h00.
16h00 – Registration for congress opens
18h00 – Welcome Reception at Congress Venue

07h30 – Registration
08h00 – Welcome
08h15 –  Keynote Speaker
09h00 – Parallel Session 1
10h30 –  Coffee/Tea & Poster Viewing
11h00 – Parallel Session 2
12h30 – Lunch
13h30 – Parallel Session 3
15h00 – End of Day 1
18h00 – Catered Boma-braai @ Cattle Baron Lapa – only for non-students & accompanying persons (free evening for students and post-docs)

07h30 – Registration
08h00 – Announcements
08h15 –  Keynote Speaker
09h00 – Parallel Session 4
10h30 – Coffee/Tea & Poster Viewing
11h00 – Parallel Session 5
12h30 – Lunch
13h30 – Parallel Session 6
15h00 – End of Day 2
18h00 – Catered Boma-braai @ Cattle Baron Lapa – only for students and post-docs (free evening for non-students)

07h30 – Registration
08h00 – Announcements
08h15 – Keynote Speaker
09h00 – Parallel Session 7
10h30 – Coffee/Tea & Poster Viewing
11h00 – Parallel Session 8
12h30 – Lunch
13h30 –  Parallel Session 9
15h00 –  End of Congress
15h30 – PARSA AGM
19h00 – Gala Dinner at Congress Venue

Accommodation check out time is 10h00.

  • Post-congress Scientific writing workshop*: 08:00-12:00 (for postgraduate students, include writing a scientific publication, information on Predatory Journals and how to write response letters (i.e. addressing reviewers’ comments)).
  • Post-congress African Parasite Network Meeting – Embracing and advancing interdisciplinary research in parasitology on the African continent: 08:00-12:00 (for established researchers onl) (click here for more information)

*subject to minimum of 10 participants

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