Time to meet another ESC Blog Admin, but first an update.
The ESC Blog has been going strong all summer, and is quickly becoming established within the “Bug-o-Sphere”; sometime today we’ll hit a total of 5,000 visits from 85 different countries, just 2.5 months after launching! For comparison, that’s about half the number of athletes and the same number of nations that took home at least one medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics! None of this would be possible without the support of the entomologists and insect enthusiasts from across the country who have taken the time to share a story, advice, or a snapshot of their research with us.
As the insect season starts to wind down and the entomology conference season approaches, we encourage you to share your favourite photos, stories from the field, or even introduce yourself, your work or your lab to the world. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas and stories because we can’t wait to hear from you!
As the ESC Blog Admins, we figured we’d break the ice and tell you a little bit about ourselves before we start bugging each of you to do the same. You met Crystal last month, so I guess it’s time you got to know me, Morgan.
Growing up in a semi-rural, mid-sized city with a strong interest in zoology, I went to the University of Guelph with the intention of becoming a veterinarian, which, other than farming, was the only career I was exposed to in which I’d get to work with animals. By my second year at university I realized there were way more options for an animal geek like myself, so I took as many zoology courses as I could fit into my schedule.
In my third year I signed up for an insect diversity & natural history course on a whim, and the rest, as they say, is history. Of course I had known about insects before this course, but I hadn’t taken the time to look at them closely, to realize the many ways in which they had evolved to survive, the morphological differences that revealed whether a species was the diner or the dinner, or even realized the shear number of species that had literally been around me my entire life! It was like I had stumbled into a secret world that hardly anyone else knew about, but which was filled with so much to discover that I knew I could never look away again.
This first entomology course also taught me how many insects were out there waiting to be discovered, named, and placed onto the tree of life. The prospect of travelling and exploring the world, catching flies, and then being the one to give them names captured my imagination, and when I realized I could actually get paid to do all this, I joined Dr. Stephen Marshall’s lab and started my career as an insect taxonomist.
Working with Steve at the University of Guelph Insect Collection, I completed my Masters of Science last year studying the taxonomy and phylogenetics of stilt-legged flies (family Micropezidae), and I’ll soon be starting my PhD to continue my work on this group.
When I’m not working with flies, I spend my time promoting entomology and trying to make the world’s insect fauna more accessible to the public. I’m the technical editor for the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, an ESC journal developed to publish illustrated keys for insects and other arthropods, and am a co-author on a soon-to-be-released field guide to Northeastern Jewel beetles (family Buprestidae). I developed an interest in macro photography in 2007 (working with Steve I suspect this was probably inevitable) so I could show my friends and family why I thought insects were so cool, and in 2010 I started my blog, Biodiversity in Focus, to share my passion for entomology even further afield. Like Crystal, I feel that social media has the potential to revolutionize not only the way in which scientists go about their day-to-day research, but also their interactions with each other and the public.
And this is why I think the ESC Blog is such a great resource for entomology in Canada. With the support of the Entomological Society of Canada and researchers from across the country, we can raise awareness about insect-related issues, share exciting research being done in Canadian labs, and expose students to the many opportunities and careers in entomology. The Entomological Society of Canada is breaking new ground with its ESC Blog, and I’m proud to be associated with it.
Who knows, if the ESC Blog was around while I was growing up, I may have gotten a head start on my fly collecting!
If you’re interested in learning more about my work, you can follow along on a variety of social media websites: Twitter, Google+, Mendeley, YouTube, FourSquare, Pinterest, Project Noah, and iNaturalist.