Featured Researcher

Photo by Dalin Brown

Dr. Samuel Brown

Scientist at Plant and Food Research, Auckland, New Zealand, 2017 to present

PhD (Entomology), Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand, 2016

MSc (Entomology), Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand, 2010

BSc(Tech) (Biological Sciences and Chemistry), University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, 2007

Research interests

Curculionoidea of New Zealand and the South Pacific, Entiminae.

Having been interested in the natural world since before I could talk, it was only natural that I would one day become a biologist. My research directions started in dinosaurs (at age 5), lingered on their modern descendants (age 8), then attained to the greater sophistication of insects (age 13), before being refined to the delights of the Curculionoidea (age 21).

I started my undergraduate degree at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand with an intent to study insects ultimately. As I progressed, I realised that I needed to start specialising in something. I had somehow come into possession of a large number of papers on the taxonomy and systematics of the Ichneumonidae and so I strategically decided that they were going to be my focal taxon. However, whenever I went out collecting, ostensibly to capture ichneumon wasps, I found that I was secretly hoping to find beetles and, more specifically, weevils. This was not helped by finding a specimen of the bizarre Stephanorhynchus lawsoni early in these efforts. Around this time, a summer work placement working on the biological control of Sitona obsoletus proved to be significant, as during this time I realised how much remained to be learned about the weevils of New Zealand, particularly within the Entiminae. That was it. The poor Ichneumonidae were cast aside and from that point on weevils became my driving passion.

A move to Lincoln University (LU) to do my MSc on nitidulid beetles gave me access to the LU Entomology Research Museum and I spent many long, happy evenings working through the weevil collection, thereby gaining a strong grounding on the New Zealand weevil fauna. My MSc research also gave me opportunities to collect in the islands of the South Pacific. I continued on at Lincoln University with a PhD funded by the Miss E.L. Hellaby Indigenous Grassland Research Trust to work on the entimine weevils I had first encountered during that auspicious summer work placement. This research allowed me to do extensive collecting in the mountains of southern New Zealand, as well as spend two months in the Natural History Museum in London examining the type specimens described by Thomas Broun, Francis Pascoe, and David Sharp. It has thus far resulted in the description of two genera and 13 species and my being able to correctly apply the available names for New Zealand Entiminae.

After my PhD, I gained employment at Plant and Food Research in Auckland, New Zealand in an applied entomology role. This has, unfortunately, limited my ability to focus on taxonomic work, though I try to keep some projects progressing as and when time allows. These are primarily focused on Entiminae, but I also have ongoing projects on the Eugnomini and the weevils of the Cook Islands. Since 2020 I have become active identifying weevils on iNaturalist, which I find to be immensely educational and motivating. It is very satisfying to identify poorly-known species from the literature or by comparison with specimens and then see more and more observations submitted.

I am continually amazed by the diversity and beauty of weevils, and find their morphology and biology endlessly fascinating. They are such a wonderful group of organisms, and it is such privilege to be able to study them.

Last updated March 9, 2023