College Students Meet Renowned Entomologist

March 07, 2014 at 1:31 PM

This week, Year 11 Biology, Year 12 IB students and students from the College BioClub were introduced to the world of entomology by Dr Mark Hoddle, Director of the Centre for Invasive Species Research at the University of California.  (He is also the son of Les Hoddle, a Numeracy support teacher at the College.)

Mark works on the biological control of invasive pests. He travels the world searching for parasites to control imported pests that destroy crops, prey on native plants and compete with native species for food and shelter. He shared many stories of his travels and research in countries such as Peru, Pakistan, India and the Galapagos islands.

Mark discussed his many projects such as his work controlling the Red Palm Weevil, which is widely considered to be the most damaging insect pest of date palms in the world, both environmentally and economically. Through the introduction of natural enemies, including parasites and small predators that attack weevil eggs, the weevil has been largely eradicated.

Mark shared his journey from being a Science student at Pakuranga College to his current role as Biological Control Specialist. Mark completed a BSc and MSc in Zoology at the University of Auckland and then was invited to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, USA to work on his PhD.  After 10 years of studying, he is now top of his field. Students were able to see how studying biology at secondary school could lead to a highly specialised and international career.

Mark highlighted how working as an entomologist takes him all around the globe. He lives in other cultures for long periods of time and one advantage of the job is that learns as much about the cultures as he does about the pests he is researching.

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