Studying insects gives him a buzz
Singaporean at Brisbane's University of Queensland lets his interest take wing
Zoology and entomology are unconventional educational pathways for Singaporeans, but Mr Gurion Ang's parents felt that as long as he studied what he was interested in, he would succeed.
He told The New Paper: "I find that insects represent a weird and whimsical facet of the natural world.
"They comprise more than 90 per cent of terrestrial life. Understanding the biology and ecology of insects, and in my case, their interactions with plants, will help us improve our lives."
Mr Ang, 29, has been at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane since enrolling in 2011 for his Bachelor of Science (Honours). He is about to complete his PhD.
"The main attraction of UQ for me was the substantial amount of advanced standing (transfer credits) I received. My field of study, zoology, is also well established at UQ," he said.
While at UQ, Mr Ang developed workshops such as Pokemon: Are They Biologically Possible?, where he challenged students to look at real animals' physiology and anatomy in relation to Pokemon characters.
It was so well received that the International Engagement team from UQ's science faculty asked him to represent the university to students overseas.
With a grant from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and a scholarship top-up from the Crawford Fund, Mr Ang had a chance to conduct research on the Polynesian island of Samoa.
It involved manipulating field situations to improve the use of naturally occurring control agents to alleviate pest pressure on crops, reducing or eliminating the reliance on pesticides.
Mr Ang said: "My research has implications for the way we grow our crops, as manipulating insect behaviour effectively will reduce our reliance on harmful pesticides. UQ provided me with the opportunity to conduct original research that has an impact on the broader community. Our contribution in Samoa has significantly influenced many agricultural authorities in the Pacific region to adopt a more organic approach to agriculture.
"It is satisfying knowing that people will have access to healthier food, and small farms are employing more cost-effective strategies to make a living through the science that we do."