Biosystematics, informatics and genomics of the big 4 insect groups: training tomorrow's researchers and entrepreneurs

My secondment to Australia - By Josh Jenkins Shaw

Late January saw me switch the Danish winter for Sydney’s warm climate of around 38C. As part of my BIG4 PhD, I spent several months at the Australian Museum for a ‘change of environment’ and my research stay abroad. I was based next to the museums insect collection and supervised by Dr Chris Reid, a research scientist working mostly on leaf beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). The main aim of my stay was to join Chris and the Australian Museum on a field trip to Lord Howe Island which was very successful and important for my project and resulted in other exciting finds (see here). We spent two weeks on the island collecting beetles, including finding all targets for my PhD project. A particular highlight was finding two species my supervisor (Alexey Solodovnikov) and I had described as new to science just a few months earlier: Quediopsis howensis and Cheilocolpus olliffi (paper here). These and other specimens will be vital in phylogenetic reconstruction and understanding the biogeography of Lord Howe Island. During my time at the museum, I also studied the insect collection and alcohol collection, finding important specimens for my project that had been collected on earlier expeditions to LHI. At the end of March a small team from Copenhagen flew out and we convened in Cairns for more fieldwork, this time in the rainforests of Queensland. This was another great field trip, experiencing the sights and sounds of Australia’s rainforests and finding many beetles crucial for my project. After a couple of weeks three of us headed to the Queensland Museum (Brisbane) for several days to study their important collections. We were helped along by great hospitality from Geoff Monteith whom we are very grateful to. After Brisbane I went back to Sydney to continue working in the Australian Museum with a couple of days hiatus at the Australian National Insect Collection (CSIRO, Canberra) to study the DNA-grade beetles and insect collection. Overall it was a very successful trip which enabled me to gather important beetle specimens, experience fieldwork in a new place, meet new friends and colleagues working in systematics and visit new institutions and see how they work.  
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