Professor Alan Cowman of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research was President of the World Federation of Parasitology between 2010 and 2014. Below he reflects on the importance of the Australian Society of Parasitology to his own career and to the wider scientific community.

Alan Cowman Image courtesy of WEHI

Reflections on the ASP

I am proud to be a member of the Australian Society of Parasitology (ASP) and pleased to give some thoughts on its very successful 50 years history. The ASP has provided a forum to bring together the parasitologists of Australia and this has been an important and very positive force for the development of this broad field in Australia. There are a number of things I have been involved in for the ASP and I have greatly benefited from this association.

The first is the International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA), which was held in Melbourne, 2010. I was not part of the bid, in Glasgow 2008, to the World Federation of Parasitologists by ASP for this Congress; however, I was present and was very proud that Melbourne won and I certainly took part in the celebrations. Both David Piedrafita and Alan Johnston played important parts in successfully bringing this congress to Melbourne. Having won the bid the hard work of holding a successful ICOPA began and I was asked to Chair the organising committee and over the next four years and I accepted this task as I was keen to support the ASP as host. An organising committee was formed across the disciplines of parasitology and geography of Australia. This provides me with another opportunity to again thank the members of this committee for their work in bringing together a very successful ICOPA XII that attracted approximately 1,700 delegates. I had a huge amount of support in particular from Terry Spithill and David Piedrafita. ICOPA XII provided an excellent opportunity for ASP to show the quality, breadth and depth of parasitology in Australia and I believe we were very successful in that endeavour. We also developed a number of Outreach events to inform the general public about parasitology and the ASP and these were successful drawing in very large crowds. Overall, I believe ICOPA XII was a great success and is an important event in the history of the ASP.

Secondly, the Australian Research Network for Parasitology (ARNP), which the ASP played an important role in establishing and now sponsors, was a very positive influence on parasitology generally and provided much needed support for many younger scientists. This network was supported by the NHMRC and ARC and has been very successful in its aims and it is hoped that it can be supported in future to continue its important work.

Finally, the ASP has many reasons to be proud of its achievements in supporting parasitology and parasitologists in Australia. I am fortunate to have played a very small part in its history.