Parasitology Students Bring Home Conference Presentation Awards

Story by Courtney Price, VMBS Communications

Dr. Verocai and Hannah Danks with her research poster
Verocai and Danks

Three Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) students were recognized at the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists’ (AAVP) annual conference for their outstanding research presentations.

Hannah Danks, a fourth-year veterinary student, won Second Place Best Poster Presentation by a Student for her research distinguishing types of Dictyocaulus lungworms in white-tailed deer.

Maureen Kelly, a graduate student, won Second Place Best Oral Presentation by a Student for her research on improving the detection of Dirofilaria immitis (a type of heartworm) in dogs at animal shelters.

Danks and Kelly are both students in the Verocai Parasitology Lab run by VMBS faculty member Dr. Guilherme Verocai. The lab specializes in studying helminth parasites, including roundworms and flatworms, two common types of parasites in vertebrates.

Maureen Kelly and Verocai with her award certificate
Kelly and Verocai

Cora Garcia, a third-year veterinary student, placed third in the Best Student Oral Presentation category for her research on Ornithodoros ticks and their role in spreading African swine fever virus (ASF).

Garcia conducted her research in partnership with Dr. Meriam Saleh’s lab, tracking tick populations that are known to carry ASF. There is no cure for ASF, making prevention the best strategy for protecting the United States’ swine populations.

“Being recognized at a major conference is a testament to the hard work these students have put in, as well as their ability to communicate scientific findings,” said Saleh, a clinical assistant professor in the VMBS Department of Veterinary Pathobiology. “Both graduate and veterinary students gain valuable research experience by competing for these awards. Plus, they’re contributing to the field of parasitology — that’s a huge component of veterinary medicine and public health.”

Cora Garcia with her award certificate and Dr. Saleh
Garcia and Saleh

During the scientific conference, held in Lexington, Kentucky, the group of Texas A&M students and faculty presented on and learned about the latest findings and updates on a variety of animal parasites and the diseases they cause.

The AAVP is a North American organization with approximately 450 members. While most members are from the U.S. and Canada, about 10% of members join the organization from countries outside of North America. This year’s international research presentations included discoveries from Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,, 979-862-4216

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