To regular readers of this blog, the name Chris Brown should be familiar. As a frequent companion on many of my field trips over the past decade, I’ve had numerous opportunities to mention his name in the posts that I’ve written about those trips. Chris, however, is not just a field companion—he is also an Entomologist (capital “E”) in his own right. Like me, he makes a living in the field of agricultural biotechnology, his particular focus being risk assessment of genetically modified crops. Also like me, he has a passionate avocational interest in insect biosystematics and conservation, and together we share our obsession with tiger beetles as co-investigators in the Missouri tiger beetle project. Unlike me, Chris also has fluent command of the avian fauna, giving him some additional ecological insights that I lack. In addition, whatever modest ability I’ve demonstrated as an insect macrophotographer over the past few years has been due in large part to the encouragement and advise of Chris, who was already an adept insect macrophotographer long before I became interested in adding a camera pack to my field outfit. Chris’ influence on me has already had an impact on BitB, and it is with great pleasure that I announce Chris will now have additional impact as its newest contributing author.
I first met Chris when he came to my lab as a summer intern more than a decade ago (not long after I myself had taken my position here). It didn’t take long before Chris’ interest in joining me on my field exploits became apparent, and I was happy to have his company. During those early trips, I was immediately impressed not only by his skill as a photographer, but also his interest in understanding broader ecological context (too many young collectors want to know only the bug’s name and where they can find it). The Missouri tiger beetle project was in its earliest stages at that time—I thought his photographic capabilities would compliment my field experience in surveying for these insects and invited him to join me in the effort. In the years since, we have traveled together to all corners of Missouri, made two trips to the neighboring Great Plains, and explored the length of the Rio Grande River from Boca Chica to Big Bend. Chris’ travels, with me and separately, give him unique perspective and breadth of knowledge, and as much as he may claim to have learned from me during our joint travels, I have learned from him equally as much. Perhaps the most valuable lesson learned is to use photography as a means not to capture just images of insects, but moments in their natural history—features not easily appreciated when looking at preserved insect specimens in a cabinet. Please join me in welcoming Chris to BitB, and look for his first post to appear in the next day or so—I think you will find it a delightful read.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012