Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Visiting Scientist Feature – Dr. Michael Gates

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Visiting Scientist Feature – Dr. Michael Gates

Earlier this week, we hosted Dr. Michael Gates, research entomologist with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); he is also an adjunct scientist at the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Gates is an expert in the study of parasitoid wasps from the order Hymenoptera, having 23 years of research experience under his belt.

Before his visit here, Dr. Gates was in Taichung, Taiwan as an instructor at the Hymenoptera Course, of which our curator of Hymenoptera—Dr. Wendy Wang—also participated in.

During his 4-day visit, Dr. Gates sorted and identified thousands of small parasitoid wasp specimens, which were collected from local mangroves as part of the Biodiversity Discovery Project (BDP), led by Prof. Rudolf Meier. He also borrowed ca. 1,000++ specimens back to the Smithsonian for further studies, one of which involves building a comprehensive and updated phylogeny of the order Hymenoptera.

According to Dr. Gates, researchers studying parasitoid wasps do not typically go to mangroves for fieldwork, as conditions there can be dangerous and muddy. Thus, upon hearing about the BDP and the giant treasure trove of specimens gathered from our local mangroves, he decided to pay us a visit to examine the parasitoid wasps collected.

“This is the only place in the world (that I know of) with so many wasps collected from mangroves,” he said.

We wish Dr. Gates all the best in his research, and hope to see him again!