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Texas A&M biologist Charles Criscione
Texas A&M biologist Dr. Charles D. Criscione is an expert in the fundamental ecology and evolution of parasite systems, including flatworms and roundworms. | Image: Arts & Sciences Marketing & Communications

Dr. Charles D. Criscione, professor of biology and an associate dean in the Graduate and Professional School at Texas A&M University, has been selected to receive the 2023 Henry Baldwin Ward Medal from the American Society of Parasitologists in recognition of his research contributions and mid-career accomplishments in parasitology.

The award, which consists of a specially designed bronze medal and a $1,000 honorarium, is conferred on mid-career members of the society “who, by self-directed investigations, shall have attained a position of leadership in some aspect of parasitological research.” It is considered one of the highest honors bestowed within the field of parasitology,

Criscione will be presented with the medal during a ceremony at the Society’s 98th Annual Meeting, set for July 13-16 in Kansas City, Missouri, where he also will deliver an invited acceptance speech.

Criscione’s research at the interface of ecology, evolution and genetics examines fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions in parasite systems, chiefly flatworms and roundworms. His work, primarily funded by the National Science Foundation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, is diverse in its types of science, from taxonomy and distributional data, to empirical tests of evolutionary theory, to applied molecular epidemiology. He has helped pioneer the use of population genetics to better understand the evolutionary ecology of parasitism.

"Parasites, by the very nature of their lifestyle, get a lot of negative attention," Criscione said. "But, in themselves, parasites are ecologically and evolutionarily fascinating. The American Society of Parasitologists is a leading and historic international academic society that is not only devoted to improving human and animal health in relation to parasites, but also to the elucidation and appreciation of the biological diversity parasites represent. Having the basic parasite ecology and evolution that we study recognized by ASP is a testament to the importance of foundational scientific inquiry.”

Front and back views of the Henry Balwin Ward Medal presented by the American Society of Parasitologists
Front (left) and back (right) views of the Henry Baldwin Ward Medal, designed by parasitologist Dr. Justus F. Mueller. | Image: Courtesy photo

Criscione joined the Department of Biology in 2008 as an assistant professor after earning his Ph.D. in biology at Oregon State University in 2005 and completing a three-year postdoctoral appointment in the Department of Genetics at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute. At Texas A&M, he is a member of the Faculty of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology as well as the Faculty of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics and Genomics. From 2021 to 2023, he also served as associate head for academic affairs in Texas A&M Biology.

The medal, which was first presented in 1959, is named in honor of H.B. Ward, founder and first president of the American Society of Parasitologists and the founding editor of The Journal of Parasitology.

“Henry Baldwin Ward was one of the founding figures of American parasitology,” Criscione said. “I am proud to say I am a direct academic descendant of Ward, who is my great-great-great academic grandfather via my graduate advisor at Southeastern Louisiana University, the late Dr. William Font. Receiving the Ward Medal is the highest honor for me in my academic career, and much credit goes to the hard work and curiosities of my former and current lab members.”

The American Society of Parasitologists is a diverse group of more than 800 scientists from industry, government and academia who are interested in the study and teaching of parasitology. Founded in 1924, ASP members have contributed not only to the development of parasitology as a discipline, but also to primary research in systematics, medicine, molecular biology, immunology, physiology, ecology, biochemistry, behavior and more.

Learn more about the Ward Medal or Criscione’s research at Texas A&M.

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As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including in science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M generated annual expenditures of more than $1.148 billion in fiscal year 2021. Texas A&M ranked 14th in the most recent National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development Survey based on expenditures of more than $1.131 billion in fiscal year 2020. Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit Research@Texas A&M.