Nerd Nite East Bay talk

Nerd nite posterI was recently invited to give a talk at Nerd Nite East Bay! Before the show and during intermissions I hung out at a table with some fantastic folks and talked to attendees about parasites. Jennifer Janes brought over some parasitized fish loaned to us for the evening by the Ichthyology Department at the California Academy of Sciences. Bart Bernhardt and I talked to people about the samples, and it was awesome seeing people transform from disgusted to fascinated as they learned about the parasites.

Frankie and Clay from CellScope tabled with us as well, and brought their iPadScope. They let me use one of their scopes to view live Euhaplorchis californiensis cercariae. (Huge thanks to Alejandra Jaramillo for sending me E. californiensis-infected snails!) Folks really got a kick out of watching a brain-infecting parasite swim around! The CellScope guys also brought zebrafish eggs, and zoomed in on the fish’s heart. The CellScope images are really good, and you could see blood flowing through the fish’s heart. Really, really cool.

I also gave a ~20 minute talk and answered some questions about brain-infecting parasites. The YouTube video for the entire show is below, and is cued up to where my talk starts. The talk before mine was about picture books and the Caldecott Medal, and the talk after mine was about a proposal for a new way of treating snake bites. The snake bite talk was by Dr. Matthew Lewin, who allowed himself to be paralyzed so he could show that his proposed cure for paralyzing snake-bites was effective. He talks about the experience in his talk, and talks about how hard it has been to find money to follow up on this line of research. I’m pretty sure my mouth was agape the entire time Matthew was giving his talk. It was mind blowing. Both talks were super cool.

Huge thanks to Nerd Nite East Bay organizers Rick Karnesky and Rebecca Cohen for having me, to Kishore Hari for putting me in touch with the Nerd Nite folks, and to everyone who tabled with me.


My interview on The Pseudoscientists Podcast

Jack Scanlan interviewed me for the latest episode of The Pseudoscientists Podcast! I was really excited to do this podcast. I’ve been following Jack on Twitter since he was an undergraduate student, and now he is wrapping up his Master’s degree. In those few years he has done more outreach than most people do in a lifetime, while clearly also spending a ton of time in the lab. The guy is a force of nature. He chatted with me about parasites for an hour, which is pretty much the best way to spend a Friday night.


ICB special issue on parasite manipulation

Dr. Zen Faulkes and I organized a symposium entitled “Parasitic manipulation of host phenotype-or how to make a zombie” at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology conference this year. The manuscripts are now all available by advanced online access, and will be included in the next issue of Integrative and Comparative Biology! I’m really humbled by how many amazing scientists participated in the symposium, and am thrilled with the content in the special  issue. Links to the manuscripts can be found below. Enjoy!

Also, many, many thanks to Zen for being such an amazing collaborator. Go team Clone-Zombie!


Weinersmith K, Faulkes Z. Parasitic manipulation of hosts’ phenotype, or how to make a zombie—an introduction to the symposium. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

Joseph M, Faulkes Z. Nematodes infect but do not manipulate digging by, sand crabs, Lepidopa benedictiIntegrative & Comparative Biology: in press. Open access

ant_lowresParanjpe DA, Medina D, Nielsen E, Cooper RD, Paranjpe SA, Sinervo B. Spatio-temporal dynamics of side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) and their micro-parasites. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press. 

Kaushik M, Knowles SCL, Webster JP. What makes a feline fatal in Toxoplasma gondii’s fatal feline attraction? Infected rats choose wild cats. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

Libersat F, Gal R. Wasp voodoo rituals, venom-cocktails, and the zombification of cockroach hosts. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

Carreon N, Faulkes Z. Position of larval tapeworms, Polypocephalus sp., in the ganglia of shrimp, Litopenaeus setiferusIntegrative & Comparative Biology: in press. Open access

Fredensborg BL. Predictors of host specificity among behavior-manipulating parasites. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

Adamo SA. Parasitic aphrodisiacs: manipulation of the hosts’ behavioral defenses by sexually transmitted parasites. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

de Bekker C, Merrow M, Hughes DP. From behavior to mechanisms: an. Integrative approach to the manipulation by a parasitic fungus (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis s.l.) of its host ants (Camponotus spp.). Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

Boze BGV, Moore J. The effect of a nematode parasite on feeding and dung-burying behavior of an ecosystem engineer. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

Weinersmith K, Warinner C, Tan V, Harris D, Mora A, Kuris A, Lafferty K, Hechinger R. A lack of crowding? Body size does not decrease with density for two behavior-manipulating parasites. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

Mauck KE, De Moraes CM, Mescher MC. Evidence of local adaptation in plant virus effects on host–vector interactions. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.

Hughes, DP. On the origins of parasite extended phenotypes. Integrative & Comparative Biology: in press.


Thanks to NSF for funding the symposium!

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