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Student to have parasite research published

Tuesday 2 July 2019

AN UNDERGRADUATE is set to have research published that she carried out during her placement year in New Zealand.

Eleanor Wainwright, who is studying BSc (Hons) Human Biology and Infectious Diseases, at the University of Salford has just completed a placement year at the University of Otago working as a research assistant with renowned parasitologist Professor Robert Poulin. It is incredibly rare for undergraduates to have work accepted for publication. 

During her placement, Eleanor carried out research on a parasite called Philophthalmus attenuatus which causes bleeding from the eyes and discomfort in a variety of birds, mainly the endangered Black-billed Gull. 

The parasite also infects small sea snails which are only found in New Zealand. 

Eleanor collected tissue samples from the snails and identified different parasites that harboured the snail, alongside dissecting fish and gulls to answer questions on genetic diversity and statistical differences. 

Eleanor explained: “I have always had a fascination with tropical health and diseases. My end goal is to be able to share my knowledge with those from less fortunate backgrounds, especially within developing countries. 

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my placement in New Zealand, I gained a once in a life time opportunity and I am hoping to return some time soon, for either further research or to explore the beautiful country more.” 

The research is part of a three-year project funded by the Marsden Fund which is provided by the Royal Society of New Zealand, the project is now in its final year.  

During her placement she also carried out research that was published in May in a paper about Parasitological research in the molecular age.  

Dr Sarah Withers, Lecturer in Biomedicine, said: “Eleanor has taken her placement year by storm – cramming in an extra placement so she didn’t get bored over the summer!  

“Her dedication, commitment and motivation to learn has shone through and she has experienced some fantastic research opportunities both in New Zealand and Berlin.  

“Eleanor has excelled and flourished in the research environment and now has a wealth of skills which will mean she stands out after graduation. I am really proud of what she has achieved and look forward to having her back on campus.” 

Eleanor is now on a three-month placement at the Freie Universität Berlin researching the DNA of a potentially new Dracunculus species before returning to Salford to complete her final year in September.  

Eleanor added: “I have a thirst for knowledge, so I am looking forward to my final modules as well as conducting my final research project. 
“I have learnt many new skills and I feel a lot more confident in myself too, which I believe will benefit me in the future.” 

Find out more

Chloe Deakin

0161 295 2237