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An Interview with Kayla King

Describe your work in a Twitter post (140 characters)king_kc

“#sex #infection #coevo are cool”

How did you get to where you are now?

“I’ve always been interested in parasites and evolution since my 1st year as an Ecology undergraduate at the University of British Colombia in Vancouver, where part of the course was taught by a parasitologist. Since then I worked hard to keep learning about ecology and evolution of parasites. After my undergraduate degree, I then did a Masters in Ecological Parasitology in Montreal and then a PhD in the US in Evolutionary Biology studying the selective effects of host diversity. I am interested in the selection effects on the host of infection and how parasites have diversity of phenotypes.”

What is your proudest work-related moment to date?

“Can I have two? The first is being awarded the American Naturalist Young Investigator award in 2013. Second is the pride I feel when my project students have that light-bulb moment when they realise how cool parasites are and they want to study them!”

What’s the worst job you have ever had?

“I worked in retail for two summers and a Christmas holiday to support myself through undergrad. I never enjoyed that much!”

If you had left academia in a parallel universe, what job would you be doing instead?

“I’d love to be a travel writer.”

Apart from Cardiff (or Wales), where is the best place you have ever travelled for work?

“It has to be New Zealand where I did my field work every year for 4 years collecting snails for my PhD. I was studying the link between parasites and host sex.”

What’s your favourite parasite?

Microphallus (genus of trematode) because it makes me giggle!”

If you had to be infected with a parasite what would you pick?

“Toxoplasma as it would help me to be more risky and stroppy!”

What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind be?

“Parasites of course! The first time I ever watched a few years ago it that was actually someone’s specialist subject”

What’s your favourite type of cheese?

“Wendsleydale as it reminds me of first time I came to England, with no money as a backpacker and I grabbed some bread and Wendsleydale to keep me going!”

 To find about more about Kayla King’s research at the Department for Zoology, Oxford University have a look at her website: http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/people/view/king_kc.htm

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