Postdoctoral Research Fellow, CSIRO
Dr Bryan Lessard was first introduced to the curious world of flies during his undergraduate studies at the University of Wollongong, learning about the behaviour, classification and applications of the winged insects to forensic entomology. With his interest peaked, he enrolled in a PhD at the Australian National University in Canberra to continue his research on flies, this time describing over 18 species new to science and using DNA to solve the mystery behind the evolution of gondwanan horse flies. In the hopes of generating buzz in taxonomy, the science of naming and classifying organisms, he described a horse fly with a golden abdomen after the performer Beyoncé, 'Plinthina beyonceae'. This “bootylicious” ambassador for biodiversity became a viral sensation and sparked a global conversation on the importance of flies. Dr Lessard now works as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National Insect Collection at CSIRO in Canberra. Here he continues to research the evolution of soldier flies, most famous for the black soldier fly 'Hermetia illucens' that powers compost bins and could become the next superfood of the 21st century.