Published: May 17, 2018
three panel photo of Dylan working and displaying fish parasites

The undergraduate honors thesis is an incredible opportunity that allows students to collaborate with experts on campus and engage in data collection/field work outside of the classroom setting. Completing my thesis in the Johnson Laboratory was a stimulating and engaging process that provided me with the necessary tools to move forward in ecological research after graduation. My research questions brought me to the beautiful salt marshes of South Carolina to study a crustacean parasite in the family Cymothoidae. There over 380 species of cymothoid parasites that infect fish, skates, and rays in freshwater and saltwater habitats all over the world. Pictured above is an Atlantic menhaden infected with obligate parasite Olencira praegustator. I spent the summer of 2017 collecting data on these species' interactions, contributing to the growing pool of cymothiod data. Understanding more about this pervasive parasite's effect on its hosts fitness could inform future management decisions of the Atlantic Menhaden fish stock--the most important fishery in the American Atlantic.