Featured Researcher

Samanta Orellana

Doctoral Student (Evolutionary Biology), Arizona State University, Arizona, USA - 2019 to present

Master of Science (Entomology), Universidad de Panamá, Panama City, Panama - 2018

Biology Degree, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Guatemala - 2014

Research interests

Diversity and Systematics of Neotropical Anthribidae.

As for many entomologists, my interest in insects started early in my life. Exploring forests in my country, Guatemala, had a great impact on my appreciation of the incredible diversity of insects and I chose to become a biologist. My first encounter with entomological research was in 2009, as an undergraduate in San Carlos University, during the Guatemalan expedition of the Leaf Litter Arthropods of Mesoamerica Project, organized by the Evergreen State College and The Canadian Museum of Nature. My participation as a field crew member was crucial to acquire skills in collecting and processing insect samples, as well as to start networking with professional entomologists. After this experience, I began volunteering with the curation of specimens in the main entomological collections in Guatemala, which allowed me to keep participating in entomological research. My undergraduate thesis was focused on the ecology of fungivorous beetles and, after graduating, I participated in the edition of the field guide of Insects of Guatemala, published in 2015.

Shortly after, in 2016, I was awarded a scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to pursue a MSc degree in Entomology, in Panama. At this point, I was presented with the opportunity to work with a “neglected” group of fungivorous beetles in the collections, the family Anthribidae. Having a huge interest in working with collection specimens, I gladly agreed and started my journey studying weevils. Surprisingly, as I developed my research with this family, which included curating, identifying and imaging specimens, I realized it wasn’t just a neglected group in this particular collection, but it was an understudied group in the whole Neotropical region, if not worldwide, so I became even more engaged with this family.

In 2019, I started my PhD studies in Arizona State University, where I continue my research on this family of weevils, under the supervision of Dr. Nico Franz. With access to the O’Brien Collection, acquired by ASU that year, and the Valentine Collection, currently at the Smithsonian NMNH, I was able to complete the catalogue of Anthribidae of Panama, published earlier this year. This catalogue included 43 new species records for the country, and the first illustrated key for the genera in the region. For my PhD, I am focusing on the systematics of Neotropical Anthribidae, including a revision of the Central American species of Gymnognathus Schönherr (Anthribidae: Anthribinae: Gymnognathini). I am also interested in assessing the higher-level phylogenetic relationships in the family, using morphological and molecular approaches. Additionally, I am digitizing the Anthribidae specimens in the O’Brien Collection, and generating high-resolution images to create an online catalogue of the group.

Gymnognathus daguanus Jordan, 1897: 174

Panama, Colón.

Last updated October 10, 2021