If the idea of parasites, like those in Ridley Scott’s Alien, gives you shivers — be warned that the reality of having to learn about the real things can be far worse.
Dr Constantin Constantinou, or ‘Con’, teaches Veterinary Parasitology at JCU. This is the study of parasites in animals, and the terrifying parasites he teaches about aren’t the only horrors in his class.
Veterinary Parasitology is a dense, complex and overwhelming topic that is difficult to learn. Fortunately for JCU Vet students, Con’s approach to teaching is filled with interesting, hands-on study and even props. This approach brings parasitology to life by making the individual parasites beautiful, interesting and relevant for students. It also helps them stand out from the crowd of ugly and boring creatures.
Con’s office is filled to the brim with his teaching tools, from morph suits with organs and parasites painted and pinned over them to 3D printed models of parasites like ticks and fleas. While it sounds like the average person’s nightmare, for students it’s a welcome approach to a challenging subject – although it can have unintended consequences.
“Thank you for making a potentially boring subject entertaining and interesting,” a student wrote to Con. “I love your jokes and pictures, but you have ruined my life in some ways; rice noodles look like tapeworms and I’m slightly traumatised by the mouthparts of several parasites.”