Section Manager, Medical Entomology
Medical Entomology, Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Laboratory Services (CIDMLS), Westmead Laboratory (ICPMR)
What is your science superpower?
My science superpower is medical entomology and photographing insects. The global bedbug resurgence has cost billions and caused terrible suffering. I produced the first standard on bedbug control, the first help guide (multiple translations), and the first bedbug textbook for 50 years. Australia is now the only country to see a bedbug decline, saving the economy hundreds of millions of dollars.
The year is 2030. How has life changed as a result of your research?
In 2030, I’d like to see bedbugs a thing of the past again. No longer are people attacked by these insects in their bed, or wherever they might choose to sit or sleep. The billions of dollars saved is being put towards more fruitful uses. Parents will no longer say, ‘Night, night, don’t let the bedbugs bite’!
Any amusing moments when you’ve been at work?
On a field trip collecting ticks, a colleague asked me to remove a tick that had attached to him in a very embarrassing location. Sadly, he refused to let me take photos!
What drew you to science in the first place?
Even as a child I wanted to work in science. From an early age I had a love of natural history and had a collection of books on dinosaurs, snakes and other animals.
When you’re not wearing your science superhero cape, what do you get up to?
I have two passions. One is photography (especially of insects) and I have turned this hobby into a practical value for work whereby I am cataloguing the mosquitoes of Australia. Many images will be used in my new book that I am working on called World’s Weirdest Mosquitoes. The other hobby is even more esoteric and that is bedbug deltiology – yes I am collecting bedbug postcards and writing a paper on the implications of why they were so popular from about 1900 to World War II.