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Vasyl Tkach ascends to top spot in American Society of Parasitologists

UND Professor of Biology is honored as a very big deal in the world of very tiny things

Vasyl Tkach, UND Professor of Biology, will serve as president of the 700-member American Society of Parasitologists for one year. UND archival image.

Vasyl Tkach, UND Professor of Biology, is the newest president of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP) as of July 30.

In 2018 and 2019, Tkach served as vice president for the national organization under John Hawdon of George Washington University. Tkach was elected president that year.

The ASP comprises a diverse group of around 700 scientists from academia, industry and government involved in the study and teaching of parasitology.

Since 1924, the American Society of Parasitologists’ members have contributed to the development of parasitology as a discipline, as well as to primary research in behavior, biochemistry, ecology, immunology, medicine, molecular biology, physiology, systematics and other related fields of science, according to the society’s website.

The UND professor said being elected ASP president is among the most prestigious forms of recognition in the profession. The role – a single, one-year term – is also one that requires much time and attention. Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the Society’s annual meeting, a decision that last occurred during World War II.

“We need to invent new ways of communication between Society members and between the Society and public, and use a variety of digital platforms to continue fulfilling ASP’s mission ‘to constantly improve our understanding of parasites, parasitic diseases and parasitism on a global basis, and to disseminate this knowledge worldwide,’” Tkach said.

“It will be a very challenging year,” Tkach continued. “However, we have a lot of amazing scientists and educators in the ASP who are highly knowledgeable, motivated and helpful. I would like to particularly emphasize that we have a large group of younger colleagues, both students and faculty, who are very enthusiastic, creative and forward-looking, which makes the president’s job easier and allows me to look optimistically to the coming year and beyond.”

Through Tkach’s 30-plus-year career, the Ukraine native has described more than 100 new species of parasites, published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and been honored as one of the top parasitologists in the field.

In 2017, the ASP presented Tkach with the Ward Medal for his groundbreaking work and student mentoring, named for Henry Baldwin Ward, the society’s first president.

The professor has been at UND for 17 years, during which a majority of his work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. His research and education has spanned the globe in the pursuit of understanding parasites.

Peter Meberg, chair of the Department of Biology at UND, remarked that Tkach is among the most well-traveled faculty at UND, giving training sessions and collecting research specimens throughout the U.S. and across the continents.

“Dr. Tkach’s election to and service as president of ASP is not a surprise, based on his active involvement in the Society, his extensive collaborations around the world, and his research productivity,” Meberg said.

Brad Rundquist, dean of the UND College of Arts & Sciences, said Tkach’s latest honor further elevates the prestige of UND, the College of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Biology.

“Dr. Tkach’s service as president of ASP is a testament to his professional accomplishments and excellent reputation for scholarship nationally and internationally,” Rundquist said.

To learn more about Tkach’s work, visit his website.