The Laboratory and Real World

Author: David Gaus for ND Magazine

In the fall of 1987, I was on my way to my first day of parasitology lab when I ran into a Zahm Hall freshman who asked where I was going. When I told him, he said, “Parasitology? Is that the study of how bugs think?” I thought about explaining that psychology was a whole different field, but just kept going.

Three years after graduating with an accounting degree in 1984, I was back at Notre Dame to take some pre-med science classes in hopes of getting into medical school. And here I was, walking into a lab with one of the great American parasitologists of the 20th century, Paul Weinstein. To this day, I have difficulty explaining the excitement I felt. I knew I was in the right place with the right man.

I had traveled to Ecuador, a small country on South America’s mountainous west coast, after my undergraduate studies to work in a family development project for two years. Parasitic infections were common among the kids there. Mesmerized by the details of head lice under a microscope and seeing kids with bellies full of worms or protozoa, I found a new passion in medicine, specifically the treatment of parasitic illness.

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Originally published by David Gaus for ND Magazine at globalhealth.nd.edu on February 19, 2021.