Taxonomy, Systematics, Comparative morphology, Natural history, Biogeography, Co-evolution, Paleoentomology.
My childhood was spent in rural areas of Taiwan. Unlike other kids at the same age, I have always been fascinated by the natural world and collecting and rearing insects. Although caterpillars and larvae of beetles really made my grandma scared, I was able to keep many insects at my house thanks to her tolerance. My interests in taxonomy might have started to develop when I began asking what this insect is. My aunt gave me an illustrated book of insects and my dad accompanied me to go to different places for collecting insects, read the books and identify the species, and prepare specimens. None of my family worked on biological sciences but I was very lucky that they continuously support my interests in the field, and I can maintain those interests after the stressful school days. Therefore, while my high school friends were still thinking what major to choose for their undergraduate program, I already knew I wanted to study biology.
The majority of my entomological journey has been due to luck and very good people and mentors. My academic interests in insect taxonomy and systematics commence growing up during my undergraduate studies in Entomology at the National Taiwan University, in Taiwan. During my first year I decided to study the beetle family Cantharidae (Soldier beetles) and I met professors Ping-Shih Yang, Chiun-Cheng Ko and Shiuh-Feng Shiao, who allowed me to use microscopes and other equipment in their labs. Apart from mentors from the university, I spent my school holidays visiting various museum collections and building connections with domestic and international entomologists by email or social media, who provided me a lot of instructions on insect dissections, literature survey and paper writing. Thus, I was able to publish some scientific papers on taxonomy and natural history during my undergraduate program.
Opportunities come whenever you are ready. In my third year of the undergraduate program, I met Prof. Hong Pang of the Sun-yet Sun University in China at a conference in Taiwan and was welcome to visit her lab as an exchange student. During my one-semester studying there, I extended my interests into fossil insects, and I built connection and collaboration with Dr. Adam Slipinski from the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO, who is my current supervisor. Therefore, after I finished my exchange study and undergraduate program, I applied for the PhD program in Australia and managed to get the offer and scholarship of The Australian National University, co-supervised by the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO.
Here in Australia, I started to study weevils with Dr. Rolf Oberprieler. Weevils are a superdiverse group and I never thought I will work on one day during my days in Taiwan. My PhD project focuses on systematics and evolution of weevils associated with cycads in Australia. Specifically, I look into the taxonomy of Australian cycad weevils using morphological and molecular evidence and explore their systematics and evolution using phylogenetic reconstructions based on mitogenomic data, molecular divergence dating, biogeographic analysis and co-evolutionary analysis. I also keep my eyes on other beetles including Cantharidae, Pyrochroidae, Mycteridae and Burmite beetles as side projects.
I am currently finalizing my thesis and plan to submit it later this year. I am wondering where the next opportunity will take me, but I definitely will keep studying weevil taxonomy.