Most adults have little knowledge of what Entomology is and how it serves a purpose in modern science, but one Milfordian has made a living discovering the affects insects have on their surrounding environments. Dr. Brian Bahder, now living on the west coast, has followed these tiny creatures through the jungles of South America as his research has evolved to include pathogens and viruses.
For longer than he can remember, Brian has always been interested in insects. In fact, when asked as a child what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would simply say “an Entomologist.” Always encouraging his love of insects ,Brian’s father and mother always bought him books on the subject and took him on walks in the woods to make discoveries of local insects in their natural habitat.
“I was always into science fiction as a child and to me insects were so varied and interesting, it was an alien life form that was everywhere,” commented Bahder. “It was when an insect collector came into one of my classes in middle school that I learned that I could make this a living and get paid for it.”
Dr. Bahder earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Entomology from the University of Delaware in 2006, Master’s Degree in Entomology and Nematology from the University of Florida in 2009 and his Doctorate from Washington State University in 2013. Brian’s childlike interest of insects has not changed as he uses that fascination and curiosity as motivation when he is tired of studying the statistics and more mundane parts of his field of study.
In addition to research in the laboratory, Dr. Bahder has collected specimens on the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon jungles in Ecuador and Guatemala. Facilitating a biodiversity program in the field, he states that his favorite experience was climbing the trees in the Amazon as he searched for termites that created colonies among the taller trees in that ecosystem.
Dr. Bahder is currently in the process of being accepted to the University of California at Davis, where his responsibilities will consist of laboratory research and publishing papers on his findings. His research interests have evolved over the years as he is now focusing on genetics and how they can shape the world, including studying genetically modified foods. He states that there are so many fascinating possibilities in the field of biotechnology.
“Scientists are growing body parts in the laboratory that can be used to assist people inflicted with birth defects, a disease or a horrific accident,” commented Dr. Bahder. “Biotechnology has also seen the growth of the first fully synthetic bacteria that has never been seen on planet Earth before.” Dr. Bahder stresses that there are many ethical responsibilities that these scientists must observe to advance modern science properly.
Thinking about long-term goals for himself and his wife Luz, a biologist that has studied crocodiles in the jungles of Costa Rica, Dr. Bahder would like to develop a private company that will serve students in the field. The dream is to set up a research station in Costa Rica to serve the purpose of agricultural research to better the students’ understanding of their field while improving the agriculture management practices of locals.
“I want to work with locals to create and improve better agricultural management practices while helping them to minimize damage to their environment,” stated Dr, Bahder. “This will done with the help of students.”
Brian, his wife and new baby are excited to be moving near the University of California Davis as he continues to advance in his career.