Valentina Díaz Grisales
Genus Heilipus, host plants of Neotropical weevils, scientific collections, taxonomy and systematics of Neotropical weevils, tribe Hylobiini.
My first encounter with weevils and with the genus Heilipus (Molytinae: Hylobiini) began in 2014, when I did an internship in the entomology area of the Colombian Agricultural Research Corporation (AGROSAVIA) under the direction of Dr. Arturo Carabalí-Muñoz. During this internship I studied the biology of Heilipus lauri Boheman, the avocado seed borer, and a species of quarantine importance in Colombia. The study of the external anatomy of the adult and immature stages of H. lauri allowed me to discover my passion for the habits, taxonomy, and morphology of weevils.
With a growing interest in the genus Heilipus, given the economic importance of some of its species, I entered the Colegio de Postgraduados in 2017, a Mexican institution dedicated to teaching and research in agricultural sciences, and where they had produced the latest research on pest species of the genus Heilipus. In my master's thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Armando Equihua-Martínez, I studied the diversity of Heilipus in Colombia by revising specimens in national museums and scientific collections. The results found in Colombia exceeded my expectations and those of my advisory committee, since we are faced with a scarcely studied genus, with an enormous diversity and many unresolved taxonomic problems.
With many questions and aware of all the pending work in Heilipus, in 2021 I entered the Ph.D. in Entomology and Acarology, again at the Colegio de Postgraduados. Currently, I am part of the Insect Taxonomy and Systematics Lab under the guidance of Dr. Jesús Romero-Nápoles, and I am developing my dissertation conducting a systematic revision of the genus Heilipus based on morphological characters, including a taxonomic and a phylogenetic component.
Heilipus is a very big challenge, but I hope to advance in the definition of this interesting group of weevils and their relationship with the plant family Lauraceae (Laurales). I am broadly interested in continuing with the line of research in taxonomy and systematics of weevils, specifically in the study of the tribe Hylobiini and the subfamily Molytinae. In addition, I am interested in the taxonomy and natural history of Neotropical weevils that are considered crop pests.