“Teach America parasitology,” reads a small clipping on the bulletin board just outside the office of my mentor, Dr. Brent B. Nickol. When I first saw that lone clipping, I didn't think much about it, but in retrospect, that phrase speaks volumes.

I came to conduct my doctoral work under Brent's direction from a Master's program at a small school in Arkansas. In terms of career goals, I dreamed of becoming a parasitologist, and I knew that I wanted to study the Acanthocephala. I had applied to work under his direction because I wanted to learn from the best. I recall the excitement I felt upon being accepted to the graduate program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL). I had canonized the great parasitologists of the century: Ward, Van Cleave, Chandler, Manter, Mettrick, and Read, to name a few. My expectations were exceedingly great, and...

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