1. What is your name?
Answer: Kyhl Austin
2. Where did you grow up?
Answer: Chattanooga, TN
3. Previous education/schools/institutions?
Answer: Davidson College (Davidson, NC)
4. What got you interested in entomology?
Answer: I’d always been interested in natural history and just learning to identify plants and animals. I knew insects were megadiverse and I wanted to study something that were underappreciated and where I could find and name new species myself so I kind of made a conscious decision to start learning about them. This was right before I started college.
5. What are you working on now in the Cornell University Insect Collection?
Answer: For my thesis work, I’m doing a taxonomic revision of the Caribbean Archipini (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) with a few smaller papers dealing with miscellaneous tortricid systematics. I’m overseeing the digitization of the Franclemont genitalia slide collection and curation of the Noctuoidea holdings. I’m also producing DIY entomology videos about moth collecting, preparation, and dissection.
6. What is your favorite thing about working in the collections?
Answer: I really enjoy the history behind the specimens. The who, when, and where are fascinating to me. I’ve seen specimens collected on expeditions to Greenland and others collected in the Pacific during the end of WWII. Also just seeing some absolutely bizarre critters that you wouldn’t even believe were real.
7. What is the most creative curatorial or field collecting technique you have used or invented?
Answer: When I was in high school I created a PVC pipe frame to hang my mothing sheet on because the best spot in my parents’ yard didn’t have any trees to hang a sheet between.
8. Where do you see yourself in 25 years?
Answer: I’d love to work in a curational position for a large natural history collection such as the Smithsonian. Anything that would let me work with specimens on a daily basis.
9. What is a random factoid about you that most people do not know?
Answer: I’m a pretty avid rock climber and would lead trips through an outdoors club in college.
10. If you could have a super power what would it be and what you do with it?
Answer: Is time travel a super power? If so I’d choose that. If not maybe invisibility.