Field Parasitology and Museums: A Day in the Life of a Parasite

This event explores the diverse ecosystems of land, water, plants and animals and exposes students to the unseen diversity of parasites. Parasites have evolved independently in numerous animal (and plant) lineages, and now make up a considerable proportion of the biodiversity of life. Students will gain field and laboratory experience by collecting snails at the Rio Grande Nature Center and examining, processing and cataloging the sample parasites into the Museum of Southwestern Biology’s Division of Parasites for preservation and for future work. Students will be provided a field book for note-taking.

Through this event, students will learn about one group of parasites, their hosts, their environment and how they persist over time. They will also learn how to collect them in the field, find them in the lab, identify them and process them for future study as a museum specimen. The laboratory experience will broaden students’ knowledge and understanding about the ecosystem from which the snails were collected – what arthropods, mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and frogs are present even if they are not seen.

Hidden in the beautiful ecosystem around you are diverse ecosystems, remember that when you see a bird, you will see its parasites, its food, and other animals that live with the bird.

Rio Grande Nature Center:
UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology’s Division of Parasites:

Monday, June 13, 2016

SCHEDULE – Lunch and Transportation Provided
Friday, June 24, 2016 from 8:00 to 4:30 pm

  • 7:50 am: Sign in at STCC
  • 8:00 to 9:00 am:  Introduction to Ecosystems, the Role of Snails for Parasitology Research; and Field Work protocol
  • 9:15 am:  Depart for Rio Grande Nature Center
  • 9:40 to 11:00 am:  Collect Snails
  • 11:00 – 12 noon:  Lunch, Review of Activities and Laboratory Protocol
  • 12 noon to 3:00 pm:  Laboratory Work:  Sort, examine, identify and select snails to process for Museum specimen
  • 3:00 to 4:30 pm:  Process samples for Museum, enter data for Museum Collection and review the significance of these processes

At 7:50 am, meet in the STEM Collaborative Classroom (STCC), EDUC 212 (bldg. 67 on the UNM main campus map). For directions, see

For the morning prep session, students need to bring –

  • Pen for note-taking - students will be provided a field book for note-taking
  • Students will need rubber boots for wading in shallow water to collect snails

Because of the field work at the Rio Grande Nature Center where the weather may be sunny and hot, students are --

  • to preferably wear rubber boots as shoes will get muddy or closed-toe shoes (no open-toe shoes or sandals)
  • to wear comfortable clothing – long-sleeved shirts help to prevent mosquito bites
  • to bring a reusable water bottle
  • advised to bring sunscreen, a sunhat and sunglasses
  • required to be in compliance with all UNM travel and field work protocols     which will be provided prior to the field trip.

In accordance with University Policy 2310 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), academic accommodations may be made for any student who notifies the STEM Collaborative of the need for an accommodation. It is imperative that you take the initiative to bring such needs to our attention, as we are not legally permitted to inquire. Contact Accessibility Resource Center at 505-277-3506 for additional information. The STEM Collaborative can be reached at 505-277-0878 or


By participating in this project, students will learn

  • some key foundation concepts of science and research
  • the role that field work plays in research
  • laboratory protocol

Students will strengthen the following skills by participating in this event:

  • Critical Thinking (Exploration; Application: Analyzation; Integration; and Evaluation)
  • Research & Assessment (Foundation Concepts and Ethics of Research & Assessment)

Dr. Sara Brant, Assistant Professor, UNM Department of Biology, and Collections Manager, Museum of Southwestern Biology’s Division of Parasites   


Registration Deadline: Jun 13, 2016

Event Details

STEM stock image

Instructor: Dr. Sara Brant, Assistant Professor and Collections Manager, UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology's Division of Parasites and Ben Hanelt, Parasitologist and Lecturer III, UNM Dept of Biology and Emily Sarvis, Research Assistant
Who can attend: Currently Enrolled UNM Undergraduate Students
Meet at: STEM Collaborative Center Classroom, EDUC 212 (Bldg. 67 on the main campus map).
Location: Rio Grande Nature Center
What to bring: Rubber Boots and Pen for Note-taking!
Days: Friday, June 24, 2016 from 8 am - 4:30 pm
Type: Project + Trip

 This Event is no
longer available