Recalling Maricruz (Jaramillo)’s defense in February, Fidy (Rasambainarivo)’s defense last week and Samoa (Asigau)’s presentation today, this has been a huge semester for the Parker lab at UMSL. In just one month, Patty Parker has led 3 new PhDs to graduation with projects spanning from the spillover of Avian hemoparasites and the biology of mosquitoes in Galapagos to the epidemiology and dynamics of pathogen transmission among carnivores in Madagascar. It is unusual that one lab has so many defenses in such a short time, but it is also difficult to imagine that these three individuals would not graduate at the same time, because they were a team.
Although they worked on three completely different systems and with animal species that could not have been more disparate, Mari, Samoa and Fidy contributed immensely to each others’ projects. For example, thanks to her ingenuity and extensive field experience, Mari was never short of advice to make fieldwork more successful, Samoa would lead and manage the lab, making sure that each DNA extraction, PCR or sequencing would run smoothly, while Fidy would talk for hours about various statistical models and analyses that each could apply to their studies. Sitting together in one of the small offices of the biology department, they would also collectively tackle the administrative hurdles imposed by the Graduate School, the University or the Biology Department, review the many forms needed to form a committee, defend a proposal, submit a thesis and finally defend their work. In short, Mari, Samoa and Fidy have formed a great scientific team.
On a more personal level, going through the doctoral experience together has forged a life-long friendship between the three new doctors. Affectionately known as the Parker Gang, Mari, Samoa and Fidy would meet almost daily in R232 (Samoa and Fidy’s office) to share a cup of a delicious dark roast Ecuadorian coffee that Mari brought from her last expedition and talk about anything from their experience as international students in the United States or the politics in their respective countries to the latest trick that Ketchup (Mari’s dog) performed.
Now, Mari has returned to Colombia with ambitions to continue her work on avian health and conservation in Latin America, Fidy wants to pursue his passion for conservation medicine in Madagascar, while Samoa will undoubtedly lead groundbreaking scientific initiatives in her native Papua New Guinea. Although they will now be separated by more than a hallway or a flight of stairs, the Parker Gang will certainly remain as close as they were during the previous 5 years.
We wish them the best of luck on their future endeavors, and stand ready to help however we can.
the parkerlab at UMSL