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1. What inspired you to enter the field of entomology?I liked insects when I was a kid. My dad was an amateur butterfly collector, so I started collecting insects when I was young. It was in high school that I started to get serious about it.
2. What specific kind of work do you do?Mostly I do taxonomy and systematics. I do revisions of different taxa, especially at the species level. I identify the taxa and their characteristics. I also do phylogenetic work. This attempts to reconstruct evolutionary history of taxonomic groups.
3. What taxonomic groups of arthropods are your assignments?I work on Diptera (Flies), especially Stratiomyids and their relatives, which are the lower (= less evolutionarily derived) Brachycera. I also work on Oestroidea, which are parasitic tachinid flies, blow flies, flesh flies, etc.
4. What is the most exciting project you have worked on?One of the phylogenetic projects I have worked on was a chapter in a book called Manual of Nearctic Diptera . This was a discussion of the cladistics of all the families of lower Brachycera. This was fun because it dealt with a wide diversity of flies.
5. What keeps you excited about your profession?Well, with insects, I like finding new stuff all the time such as new species. I also like to collect insects. That keeps me motivated, getting out in the field and experiencing different habitats, especially in the tropics.
6. Would you like to work on any arthropod group that is currently outside your assignment? If yes, what is it? Why?Well, there are a few that I would like to work with at some point, such as buprestid beetles.
7. In retirement (if you ever feel like retiring), would you still continue work with arthropods ("bugs")?Yeah. I’d probably do some collecting and research.
8. How often do you see changes occurring in species due to environmental changes that occur in your specialty arthropods?Never.
9. Is biotic conservation important to you? If yes, why?Yeah, I think it’s important, because all of ecology depends interactions between a large cohort of species. The balance can be badly upset if some species populations are reduced or destroyed. I think that some developing countries can actually benefit by preserving their ecology like Costa Rica, where there is a substantial ecotourism industry. Also, its novel biodiversity institution, INBio, has made important strides in scientifically exploring Costa Rica’s biodiversity. INBio has brought numerous foreign scientists into interaction with Costa Rican biologists.
10. What’s your most remarkable bug encounter?Well I found an interesting new fly in the Dominican Republic once. It was an exciting discovery. It had never been collected before. Sometimes the new species we find, we know about because they have been in a museum somewhere for a long time, but nobody got around to describing them. But this one that I collected had not been collected by anyone before.
11. What was your most dangerous bug encounter?I’ve come close to stepping on Honey Bee nests a couple times. That’s probably about it. I’ve been stung by a lot of wasps.
13. If you had to choose between a vertebrate and arthropod for a pet, which would you choose. Why?I don’t really have a preference.