Mark K. L. Wong
Ecologist, Myrmecologist, National Geographic Explorer, Oxford Clarendon Scholar
2017-Pres. DPhil (Zoology), University of Oxford
2015-2017 Manager, National Parks Board Singapore
2011-2014 BSc (Forest Sciences) Hons (Biology), Australian National University
I am currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford, supported by a Clarendon Fund Scholarship. My research on the community ecology of ants is supervised by Prof Owen Lewis (Oxon) and Asst Prof Benoit Guénard (HKU), and funded by the National Geographic Society.
Previously, my Honours research under Prof Dave Rowell (ANU), funded by the National Geographic Society, the Australian Wildlife Society, and the Australasian Wildlife Management Society showed that parapatric populations of Australian funnel-web spiders displayed patterns of intraspecific variation in morphological traits – but not physiological traits – which responded to underlying phylogeographic structure (Ecology and Evolution 7: 5094–5102). From 2015 to 2017, I served as a Manager at Singapore’s National Parks Board, where I oversaw arboriculture contracts and also managed science outreach programmes. Concurrently, under Asst Prof Guénard's long-distance mentorship, I began to explore the taxonomy and ecology of ants in my free time, where I described 3 new ant species from Singapore and documented the natural history of rare genera (Publications 2016;2017), and also reviewed the diversity, ecology and sampling methods for the world's subterranean ants – a surprisingly diverse yet enigmatic and understudied community (Myrmecological News 25: 1–16).
I am passionate about science communication, particularly concerning uncharismatic fauna such as the arthropods. As a National Geographic Explorer, my research and observations have contributed to National Geographic News pieces about funnel-web spiders, ants, and trilobite beetles. My first attempt at science writing was an award-winning essay based on my research on the fascinating world of subterranean ants; I hope to improve upon my writing still, and discuss broader topics soon. I've found Instagram to be a surprisingly good tool for bringing science to a younger audience, and on my account @ants_of_singapore you'll find brief write-ups on ants as well as myrmecology: the study of ants. Finally, as a Founding Member of the Entomological Network of Singapore (ENSING), the country's only society dedicated to promoting entomology, I have led outreach activities such as public talks and guided walks, and occasionally blog about Southeast Asian insects and their kin.
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