At Researchfest 2018, Maureen Williams urged the crowd to recognise the ecological importance of parasites.

Maureen Williams began her Researchfest pitch at Inspirefest 2018 with a Disney reference, citing the song Colours of the Wind to explain the importance of parasites.

The Trinity College Dublin PhD student of parasite ecology is examining the importance of these organisms in keeping their ecosystems healthy and balanced.

Parasites make a huge impact on their environments, host behaviour, metabolism and survival, and there is an urgent need to tackle the threats posed to the parasitic world. According to Williams, the impact of climate change could be catastrophic unless we take action.

Her impassioned presentation called for climate action, habitat protection and the help of people who understand complex systems, to understand why parasites are bolstering their ecosystems.

A simple plea concluded her presentation: “Protect our parasites.”

Words by Ellen Tannam