Carol A. Behm was President of the ASP in 1992 and 1993, the first woman to hold the position. Below, Carol reflects on her experiences as long-standing member of the society.

Reflections on the ASP

I joined ASP in 1973 while a PhD student in the Zoology Department at the Australian National University, supervised by Chris Bryant, and presented my first conference paper at the 1973 Adelaide meeting of the ASP. A frightening experience, but fortunately the paper was well-received by an enthusiastic and supportive audience. As a student from ANU I had had little exposure to veterinary parasitology, or to veterinary parasitologists, an interesting species. Some of my most enduring memories of the early ASP meetings are the numerous papers on sheep helminths – drug or vaccine trials, much discussion of ‘scouring’ and ‘eggs per gram’ – and the social behaviour of veterinary parasitologists. I didn’t know then that I, too, would spend much of my career working on parasites of sheep.

I have attended and presented papers at most of the ASP meetings since 1973. Probably the most memorable, though not for parasitological reasons, was the meeting on Magnetic Island, Townsville, in 1989, held during the devastating nationwide strike of airline pilots. Many who attended this meeting had used considerable ingenuity to get to Townsville, though I was fortunate to get a flight from Sydney to Townsville on an international airline. The return flight to Brisbane was in an RAAF Hercules; a highlight was being invited into the cockpit, meeting the crew and discussing parasites with them, and the magnificent views of Queensland through the low windows in the nose of the plane.

As Secretary of the ASP in 1983 I received the first royalties cheque from Pergamon Press, the (then) publisher of the International Journal for Parasitology. A very pleasant surprise – at the time nobody had expected that the Journal would ever earn any money for the ASP. This important milestone for the Society initially led to many lively debates about how to use the funds and eventually provided a sound financial base to support many of the Society’s awards and activities.

At the end of my tenure as Secretary of the ASP I was asked if I would consider an appointment as inaugural Archivist for the Society. The ASP Archives were to be stored at the Basser Library of the Australian Academy of Science; the Archivist was to be a non-voting member of Council, would collect official Council and general ASP documents, plus appropriate material from retiring ASP members. I was also advised that the Archivist should expect to hold the position for many years. I accepted the appointment and managed the collection of documents and their transfer to the Basser Library for 25 years. I would like to note that I am still waiting for some promised ‘notorious’ photographs of early members of the Society….

In 1992 I became President of the ASP, the first woman to hold this position. My term, which was extended to two years, was dominated by complex and sensitive negotiations and arrangements for the evolution of the International Journal for Parasitology occasioned by the impending retirement of Professor John Sprent as Editor-in-Chief and the change of publisher to Elsevier Science. I spent most of this time either on the telephone or attending or travelling to meetings, and I wish to thank my family and my students for their considerable patience during those years.

I thank my ASP colleagues for their friendship, collaboration, inspiration, entertainment, and for providing a highly supportive community for parasitologists.