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Early Career Research Awards 2020

Romina S Petrigh

Romina S Petrigh

Dr. Romina Petrigh is currently associate researcher of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) and National University of Mar del Plata in Argentina. Her research focus is on the molecular identification of gastrointestinal parasites and their wild mammal hosts in a wide temporal range from the Final Pleistocene to the present. Both results are accompanied to establish relationships between hosts and their parasites from an ecological approach. Since 2011, Dr. Petrigh has been improving the ancient DNA analysis and producing genomic information of parasites and their hosts through the examination of faeces and coprolites. Dr Petrigh graduated from Buenos Aires University (UBA) with degree in Biology in 2004. She worked from 2005 to 2011 in the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) in the Antigens identification of the parasites of cattle Babesia bigemina. She gained a PhD in Biologic Chemistry from UBA with this research in 2011. During this research, she developed her expertise in molecular tools for DNA, RNA and protein analysis and bioinformatics analysis. In 2011 she started to work in the Parasitology of archaeological sites laboratory, directed by Dr. Martín Fugassa of the National University of Mar del Plata where she continues to develop her research today.

Dr. Petrigh has been awarded the Early Career Researcher Prize for submitting the paper entitled: 

Ancient parasitic DNA reveals Toxascaris leonina presence in Final Pleistocene of South America

Romina S. Petrigh, Jorge G. Martínez, Mariana Mondini and Martín H. Fugassa


Marcela Espinaze

Marcela Espinaze

Marcela Espinaze is a postdoctoral researcher at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, with a strong interest in disease ecology, wildlife parasitology and wildlife conservation. Her current research investigates the influence of nest types, and their associated microclimatic conditions, on ectoparasite populations in African penguins in South Africa. She obtained a PhD in Conservation Ecology at the same institution in 2019 where she explored the relationship between parasite (ecto-, haemo and helminth) diversity and abundance found on penguins and in their nests, the macroclimatic conditions of different penguin colonies, general penguin health parameters, and the microclimate within African penguin nests in five penguin colonies on the west coast of South Africa. She completed a Master’s in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town on the transmission of hard tick species between mammals across South Africa, and the role of domestic mammals as facilitators. She previously worked as a project coordinator on a large-scale project to assess the population status of the threatened and endemic huemul deer on the premises of a private forestry company in her home region of Patagonia in Chile. Marcela holds a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the Austral University of Chile.

Marcela Espinaze has been awarded the Early Career Researcher Prize for submitting the paper entitled: 

Parasite diversity associated with African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) and the effect of host and environmental factors 

Marcela P. A. Espinaze, Cang Hui, Lauren Waller, Francois Dreyer and Sonja Matthee