Australian Science Superheroes – Bryan Lessard
“Without flies, there would be no chocolate!”
Australian scientists work right across every inch of our sunburnt country, and across every field of discovery. Now, the Office of the Chief Scientist is shining a light on some of the Australian Science Superheroes with the#AusScienceHeroes campaign.
Dr Bryan Lessard
CSIRO Australian National
Insect Collection, Canberra
1) What is your science superpower?
The ability to discover new species of insects, especially medically important mosquitoes, and tell them apart using microscopic vision. I use DNA to study how species are related, and look at fossils to travel back in time to the ancient supercontinent Gondwana to see how flies populated the world.
2) The year is 2030. How has life changed as a result of your research?
My arch nemesis is extinction, which threatens our unique biodiversity through climate change, urbanisation and deforestation. Scientists have named only one quarter of life on Earth and it’s my duty to help describe and classify new species of flies so they are formally recognised for conservation, before it’s too late!
3) What drew you to science in the first place?
I’ve always loved exploring national parks and nature, but my science origin story didn’t truly start until university where I learnt how important insects are to our daily lives. Insects help clean our forests, pollinate our crops and put food on our plates. Without flies, there would be no chocolate!
4) When you’re not wearing your science superhero cape, what do you get up to?
When my cape’s out for dry cleaning, I love to hike with friends early in the morning so we can make it back in time for brunch, or drinking a cup of tea and appreciating the pollinators in the garden. I also love sharing my entomological adventures on social media.