A bit about me
I came to the Nymphalidae Systematics Group (NSG), Department of Biology, University of Turku in the spring of 2008 to begin my Ph.D. project. My thesis project, titled "Molecular phylogenetics of the quadrifine Noctuoidea (Insecta: Lepidoptera)", is supervised by Dr. Niklas Wahlberg (the head of NSG) and co-advised by Dr. Donald Lafontaine and Dr Ian J. Kitching . I was indeed introduced to Dr. Wahlberg by Prof. Dr. Andrew Van Zandt Brower at the Middle Tennessee State University. My Ph.D. project is, in part, an international collaboration between LepTree project at the University of Maryland, USA (Prof. Charles Mitter) and the NSG, since a large number of specimens for the molecular study have been provided by LepTree project. LepTree project is a community-based Tree of Life project are conducted by lepidopterists around the world. It should be noted that many other scientists around the world are collaborating with us in this project: Prof. Daniel H. Janzen (University of Pennsylvania, USA), Dr. Marko Mutanen (University of Oulo, Finland), Dr. Hans Löbel (Germany), Dr. R.C. Kendrick (Hong Kong), Mr Anssi Teräs ( Zoological Museum, University of Turku, Finland), M.Sc. Szabolcs Safian (Hungary), Dr. Laszlo Ronkay (Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest) and Michael Fibiger (Denmark).
During the last four years I have been a faculty member (research entomologist) at the Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection (formerly Plant Pests & Diseases Research Institute, PPDRI). During my employment in the Insect Taxonomy Research Department (one of the Departments at PPDRI), I have published 14 papers in refereed journals, including discovering 17 new lepidopteran taxa (new species/subspecies of Noctuidae, Arctiidae and Lasiocampidae) to science and several new genus/species records for Iran. To be perfectly honest, I should confess that my first and indeed the most influential teacher was Cand. Psych. et Phil. Michael Fibiger, a Danish scientist (psychologist) and definitly one of the well known Noctuidae specialists, who came to Iran on 2005, and we spent two weeks together. I learned both lepidopterlogy and morality from Michael. Indeed I was teached the basic knowledge of lepidopterology. In the winter of 2006, I was invited to Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum (Innsbruck, Austria) by Prof. Dr. Gerhard Tarmann (the former director of Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, head of the Department of Natural History and the new President of Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica (SEL)) for attending two month training workshop on the biodiversity data programme BIOOFFICE 2.0 and data exchange. Prof. Tarmann was the one who introduced me to the more scientific questions concerning the taxonomy and systematics of Lepidoptera.
Before that I spent close to 3 years working on my Master's thesis at the University of Guilan (and Insect Taxonomy Research Department at PPDRI as a joint project), in the field of Entomology. My master´s thesis dealt with the study of population variation of the most important paddy field´s pest in Iran, the Stripped Rice Borer, SRB (Chilo suppressalis, Lepidoptera: Crambidae s.s.). In this study, for the first time in Iran in a graduate programme, I used a new biosystematics technique is called Geometric Morphometrics to comparing local populations. The results were analyzed by different multivariate analyses such as Principle Components Analysis, Cluster Analysis, Canonical Variate Analysis, Relative Warp Analysis and MANOVA. In other word, we studied the intra-specific variation in a single species, using the matrix of partial warp scores, what is called in geometric morphometrics shape variables (or weight matrix). The results of such analysis gave us the morphological variability between different geographical populations. For instance, the results of SRB populations showed significant differences both in fore- and hindwings (since I used wings in my study as morphological structure). surprisingly, the variations increased by increasing distances. The results of my research indicated that SRB has different geographic populations in northern parts of Iran, after 31 years since it has been introduced and distributed in vast areas of Iran. The variation confirms rapid adaptation of the pest in the different geographic area. It should be noted here, I have to be very grateful for some of the best well known morphometricians in particular, Prof. Joseph Kunkel (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Prof. F. James Rohlf (Stony Brook, State University of New York), Dr. Dennis Slice (Florida State University), Dr. Dean Adams (Iowa State University) and Dr. Christian Peter Klingenberg, for their supportive attitude concerning my Master thesis.
My bachelor degree was also in the field of Plant Protection (Entomology and Phytopathology), and I had been there for 5 years.
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