Microbiology Club guest speaker Dr. Glen McGugan discusses parasitology


Image Courtesy of Dr. Glen McGugan

A slide from guest speaker Dr. Glen McGugan’s presentation about parasitology. This slide shows a visualization of the life cycle of a parasitic eukaryote called Toxoplasma gondii.

Rhea Premanand, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, March 3, TJ’s Microbiology Club hosted a guest speaker lecture about Parasitology. The guest, Dr. Glen McGugan, is a Program Officer for Parasite Biology in the Parasitology and International Programs Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). 

“Parasitology is a super interesting field, but it’s not very mainstream and it isn’t taught in high school classes, so I was hoping it would help students see how vast the field of microbiology is and maybe find a new interest in a field that they might have overlooked,” club president and Jefferson senior Neha Sripathi said.

This was the fourth out of five planned guest lectures by speakers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) hosted by the Microbiology Club this year. The purpose of these presentations is to expose club members to all of the possibilities the field of microbiology holds, as well as to teach them something new.

“Because club presentations are based on the officers’ knowledge and experience, and because parasitology isn’t really discussed in high school classes, we haven’t really covered the topic. That’s why I was so excited to have an expert discuss it with us!” Sripathi said.

In his presentation about parasites, Dr. McGugan discussed their elaborate life cycles, how they are a huge public health problem, and delved into specific parasitic organisms and categories.

When depicting organisms such as Entamoeba histolytica and Dracunculiasis medinensis, Dr. McGugan provided many real-time videos, charts, and diagrams.

“I liked that he primarily used diagrams and figures to help us visualize the lecture. He also used very easy-to-understand yet scientific terminology to describe theories about parasites,” senior Trung Phi, who attended the lecture, said.

With intriguing anecdotes and immersive details, Dr. McGugan’s presentation was full of insight on and expert’s dealings with parasites.

“[I found it interesting] the way certain parasites feed off host human cells might not be phagocytosis but instead by essentially ‘nibbling’ away at it over time,” Phi said.

The Microbiology Club will be hosting one final guest lecture on March 24, about vaccine policy, so students are encouraged to attend and learn something new!