Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Western NSW Branch Meeting 2024-1

Professor Shookoofeh Shamsi “Parasites, Australia's silent threat:
coincidence, nature's hand, or policy complacency”

Professor Shokoofeh Shamsi
Professor of Veterinary Parasitology
Gulbali Institute for Agriculture, Water, and Environment
Charles Sturt University

Date: Wednesday, 28 February 2024, 6.00 — 7.00 pm (AEDT)
Venue: Wagga Wagga campus (Riverina Playhouse), Charles Sturt University and live-streaming
Video presentation: YouTube video
All are welcome

This meeting is a joint presentation of Charles Sturt University and the Western NSW Branch of the Royal Society of NSW

Summary: Australia is facing a surge in parasitic incidents that have increasingly captured news headlines: Australia gives up the fight against eradication of bee mites; Oyster farms are under siege from deadly parasites; Native fish fall victim to gut-burrowing invaders, and the country's unique native wildlife faces the deadly threat of cat-borne parasites. Most shockingly, a python worm was recently extracted from a human brain. Despite this growing wave of parasitic challenges, Australia's tendency to downplay their significance is surprising.

This public lecture explores the heart of this enigma, exploring the origins, implications, and possible human factors contributing to Australia's parasitic predicaments. Are these occurrences mere coincidences, driven by the forces of Mother Nature, or do they serve as stark reminders of complacency within the policymaking domain?

Professor Shokoofeh Shamsi has qualifications in veterinary and medical sciences (parasitology) and skills in conventional morphological and molecular parasite identification methods. She is a taxonomist with a huge interest in identifying species, who goes beyond taxonomy to understand parasitism, ecology, evolution, ecosystems, and how parasites population changes in response to anthropological and environmental factors. She is currently leading and collaborating on various research projects focussing on the health, welfare, behaviour, biosecurity, and biology of both wild and farmed, as well as a range of terrestrial and aquatic animals. Recently, her research focus has broadened to include the culture of indigenous Australians in the lessons on sustainability.

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