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February  07, 2008

A fitting tribute for a favorite prof

Parasite Acanthabothrium larsoni named in honor of Dr. Ingemar Larson, professor of biology emeritus

Dr. Florian Reyda, a parasitologist who graduated from Augustana in 1995, has identified several parasites that are new to the scientific record while conducting research for his Ph.D. in Zoology. He has entered one such tapeworm into the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature as Acanthobothrium larsoni, a name chosen to honor Dr. Ingemar Larson, the now retired Augustana biology professor who introduced Dr. Reyda to parasitology.

A pre-med major who sang in the Augustana Choir and had numerous roles in Augustana College Theatre productions, Dr. Reyda recalls being so captivated by Dr. Larson's teaching on parasites that he abandoned plans to enroll in medical school and pursued graduate study in parasitology instead.

Field research in the Amazon

Dr. Reyda's field research has taken him on numerous occasions to South America, the continent he first encountered while on Augustana's Latin American Term. His participation in Augustana's 10-week term in Latin America fueled a wanderlust which led to his first job after graduating from Augustana with a degree in biology in 1995. The Nebraska native served as a guide for adventure tourists in the Manu Biosphere - a Peruvian rainforest - before enrolling in the University of Connecticut's zoology program and earning his Ph.D. in 2006.

Dr. Reyda's field research has taken him repeatedly to the rivers of South America, where he contracts with local fisherman to collect freshwater stingrays from the area's rivers. Working with portable lab equipment, Reyda inspects the rays inside and out for parasites, which, when found, are collected and preserved for taxonomic study back in the lab. Such data advance knowledge of species diversity, and may shed light on the evolutionary history of both the parasite and the stingray.

Keri Rursch
Director of Public Relations
(309) 794-7721
kerirursch@augustana.edu