The McGuire Center recently welcomed two staff members into new positions.

Yi-Ming Weng is a new postdoctoral research associate of the Kawahara Lab since August 2022. He obtained his bachelors and masters degrees in the department of Entomology of National Chung-Hsing University in Taiwan. In 2017, he started his PhD in the department of Entomology in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focused on the evolution of alpine species including phylogeography, adaptation, and speciation of alpine insects. After graduating in spring 2022, he joined the Kawahara Lab and started working on evolutionary genomics projects involving Lepidoptera. He is currently working on the phylogenomics of Lepidoptera and genome assemblies of three moth pests of the family Gelechiidae: Tuta absolutaKeiferia lycopersicella, and Scrobipalpa atriplicella. Yi-Ming enjoys backpacking and hiking, especially in high mountain regions to learn more about alpine insects.

Taylor Pierson is the new molecular lab manager for the McGuire Center. While completing her B.S. in Biology at the University of Florida, she volunteered in the Ichthyology Collection at the Florida Museum, where she worked to curate a vast array of fishes, from local Florida species to deep sea species. During her final year of undergraduate studies, she was hired to curate and digitize a collection of historical shark specimens, increasing her already strong interest in biodiversity and museum studies. After graduating, she was brought in as digitization assistant at the Kawahara Lab to work on cataloging various collections of Lepidoptera through digital imaging and databasing. She later started working on DNA barcoding with other lab members and students, and as her interest in genetic studies grew through her time in the lab, she transitioned from lab technician to lab manager. While she is excited to develop her lab management skills through working with staff, students, and volunteers, she is also looking forward to getting involved in the many projects going on in the lab. In her free time, Taylor enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with her cat, Nadine.