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Fly On The Wall

Posted on February 2, 2016 by in The OFI Blog

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NMNH pre-doctorial fellow Robert Pivar sorting through lower diptera during his time at the Smithsonian.

National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), pre-doctorial fellow Robert Pivar started his 10-week graduate student fellowship with NMNH Research Entomologist Dr. Torsten Dikow in June. Robert is starting his Ph.D at the University of Tennessee, where he also completed his Master’s. His research deals with insect systematics, in particular Thaumaleidae, or madicolous midges. He started his fellowship curating the thaumaleid collection; both dry, pinned material, and material stored in alcohol. During this research, Pivar discovered a new species that had been in the collection since 1972.

When Pivar finished curating the Thaumaleidae, he began looking closer at undetermined Diptera, or true flies. This research consists of pulling out all of the lower diptera (crane flies, mosquitos, midges, and related families). Once identified, the species was placed in their correct collection. Finishing this project, Pivar removed, identified , and sorted over 10,000 lower diptera.

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Some of the 10,000 diptera Pivar worked on sorting.

Robert Pivar said, “This fellowship has been a great experience and success. Not only did I obtain valuable information for my research, but I was also able to experience what it is like to work in a large collection, meet new people, learn a lot and see a bunch of cool flies! Torsten has been a great adviser to work with and has made my time at the Smithsonian both enjoyable and rewarding. I look forward to visiting in the future!”