For a first real report from the Stireman lab, I thought I might say a few words about my recent trip to South Korea to attend the XXIV International Congress of Entomology. This meeting, my first ICE actually, was held at the EXCO convention center in the city of Daegu, which is located in Southwest S. Korea. I cannot begin to describe the diversity of interesting talks and posters. There were many concurrent sessions covering everything from genomics to biogeography. A few of the general oral sessions were eclectic assemblages such as, my favorite title, “Ecology: Genetics, pollution, symbionts & prey-predator interaction.”
I spoke about our recently funded NSF proposal to study the phylogeny and evolution of tachinid flies in a symposium on the evolution and phylogeny of Diptera (flies) organized by Brian Wiegmann and David Yeates (thanks guys!). Of course, tachinids are awesome, diverse, and understudied parasitoids that are the focus of much work in the lab. At some point, I should write about them here, but for now, you can check out Jim O’Hara’s great introduction. As we are just getting underway on this project (with collaborators Jim O’Hara, Pierfilippo Cerretti, Kevin Moulton, and Isaac Winkler), my talk was a little light on results, but I hope I convinced the audience that tachinids are a group that sorely needs modern systematic work and that there are many interesting evolutionary questions that we can explore with them.
This was my first trip to any Asian country, so of course I found it very interesting; the language, the food, the culture, all pretty novel. The Korean people were very friendly and helpful, which is good, because even after spending over a week there, I was still working on “hello” (안녕하세요, annyeonghaseyo) and “Thank you” (감사합니다, kamsahamnida).
Although there were many great talks, the highlight of the meeting for me was a brief trip up to Palgongsan Natural Park where we walked through the forest up to a giant stone Buddha and saw amazing temples. Although it was mostly rainy, The fog covered peaks and echoing buddhist chanting lent the experience a mystical quality (and there were tachinids too!).