April 20, 2014  

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Renowned GCRL Parasitologist Overstreet in the Spotlight

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Dr. Robin Overstreet

Dr. Robin Overstreet, longtime scientist at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL), is being featured as part of a special series on influential researchers at the lab who are retiring or near retirement.

Overstreet, who has been part of the GCRL faculty for more than 40 years, is considered by many to be the premier aquatic parasitologist in the world. He is the third GCRL scientist to be featured in the series: “Pioneers in Marine and Fisheries Research at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.” Read the full piece here: http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/about_us/Robin.Overstreet.php.

The series seeks to chronicle the scientists’ professional careers documenting their accomplishments and focusing on some of the important issues they have encountered.  Especially crucial, was the desire to capture their thoughts and concerns over current issues in the marine and environmental sciences.

Overstreet, who was born in Eugene, Oregon, served in the Navy before attending the University of Oregon for his undergraduate degree and eventually ending up across the country at what is now the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) at the University of Miami.

South Florida was a fortunate place to be studying marine parasites with plentiful and diverse fishes, and at that time, a healthy marine environment. Overstreet’s development as a doctoral student would be considered extraordinary to many present-day students of the sciences. Being for the most part self-directed, Overstreet aggressively sought out expertise wherever he could find it, whether at his home university or elsewhere.

It was 1968 when Overstreet first visited GCRL and recognized an opportunity to set up a world class marine parasitology research lab. One of his more noteworthy contributions to GCRL was to establish a course on marine parasitology in the Summer Field Program. This course would attract undergraduate as well as graduate students from all over the country.

Overstreet’s impact on marine biology and parasitology has been considerable. He has identified and described various parasite species previously unknown to science. The level of commitment to his research is unparalleled, even once infecting himself on purpose with a fish tapeworm to study its biology.

This series of profiles will be expanded during 2012. Tom McIlwain and Jim Franks were the first two honorees; their articles can be viewed here: http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/about_us/research.pioneers.php