Science writer uncovers the truth of humanity’s most unwelcomed guests: parasites

Rare is the person who can observe a foot-long intestinal worm without feeling compelled to swiftly and violently dispatch it. In the West in particular, parasites are regarded as loathsome, revolting creatures. This is not the perspective, however, of Rosemary Drisdelle, a science freelance writer and a specialist in clinical parasitology. Drisdelle will explore the social impact of parasites in the past, and what they might have in store for ourRosemary_crop future in a public talk entitled “We’re Not Alone: The Formidable Secret Lives of Parasites”.

This talk, the second of the season for the Science in Society Speaker Series, will be presented on Tuesday, November 19 at 7:30 pm at the Okanagan College’s Vernon campus main lecture theatre.

“From early hunter gatherers through medieval times and up until today, parasites have pulled our strings from behind the scenes while we have literally helped them to go forth and multiply”, explains Drisdelle. “They have taken many lives. They have changed the course of history, and not always for the worse.”

Drisdelle has academic training in clinical microbiology, clinical parasitology and sociology. This eclectic background provided the foundation and inspiration to author a book about the “natural and social history of parasites”, published by the University of California Press in 2010: Parasites: Tales of Humanity’s Most Unwelcome Guests. The book explores the many ways that parasites influence human cultures and events, both historically and in the present. In 2013, she produced the IDEAS documentary “Worthy Parasites: A Villain’s Silver Lining” with the CBC (radio). The documentary demonstrates that although parasites are objects of loathing, they actually can be beneficial. Rosemary is a part-time instructor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax (forensic parasitology), and teaches clinical parasitology to medical residents at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

The Science in Society Speaker Series (a joint project by Okanagan Science Centre and the Okanagan College) is sponsored by the Pacific Inn and Suites, Cooper’s Foods, Starbucks Coffee, and the Vernon Morning Star.

Admission is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644 or visit their website:  To subscribe to or obtain more information about the series go to the Science in Society Speaker Series’ website:

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