New entomology laboratory, a tribute to two world-class researchers
Starting on January 30, 2015, CIAT’s new entomology laboratory has opened its doors. A scientific research space watched over by the portraits of Anthony Bellotti and César Cardona, entomologists, and highly recognized scientists of the Center, who, decades ago, started this dream, and to whom we pay sincere and heart-felt homage. “This is a tribute that we pay to Tony and César, not only for the scientists they were, but as mentors and friends that many of us remember,” emphasized Soroush Parsa, CIAT entomologist.
This new laboratory is an opportunity to bring together and take advantage of all the knowledge, experience, skill, and talents of CIAT’S formerly-separated cassava and bean research and entomology teams. Now they are consolidated as one team under Soroush’s leadership.
Tony and César, the founders
Even though both scientists died in 2013, the cherished memory of their work and personality accompanies a good part of those who stand today in front of the new entomology laboratory.
Tony arrived at CIAT as a Rockefeller Foundation postdoctoral fellow. He spent 40 years at the Center, during which he wrote more than 300 scientific publications. Thanks to the impact of his research in crucial topics such as the biological control of pests, Tony became a preeminent authority on the entomology of cassava, and his work resulted in agricultural advances across the world, where cassava is a subsistence crop. He was also a mentor to many students who are world-renowned entomologists today.
Beyond all these achievements as a scientist is the memory of his extroverted personality, his intense interest in entomology, and his affection for the Yankees, history, Italian cooking, wine, and art.
César, remembered for his exacting temperament and his untiring scientific rigor, also arrived at CIAT in the 1970s and from that time on was known for his constant desire and decision to generate and share knowledge. This is demonstrated by his connection to university teaching in the departments of agronomy and biology of the Nacional and Valle universities, respectively, as well as the more than 100 articles that he published in scientific journals and the 108 theses that he directed. Pursuing this same desire, and with a view to strengthening entomology in Colombia, he was one of the founders of the Colombian Entomology Society (SOCOLEN).
Everyone who had the opportunity to work with him and share his brilliant scientific vocation on a daily basis remembers him as someone who was in love with Colombian cuisine, passionate about history, and above all, a man who was devoted to his home and to his team.
What does the new laboratory offer?
The new laboratory is a space equipped with a photography studio for entomological samples, a complete room for mounting insects, and comfortable offices for research assistants and visiting researchers. Likewise, it is the new home of CIAT’s Arthropod Reference Collection (CIATARC), a world-class collection of pestilent and beneficial arthropods, specialized in the crops of CIAT’s mandate: cassava, beans, rice, and tropical forages. Likewise, it contains fruit trees and garden produce, among others. This collection was started in 1977 and has some 8,659 specimens preserved according to international standards of curatorship and entomological collections.
The doors are open
This is what Andrés Vásquez, CIAT researcher, says while he shows off the offices where young scientists and visiting researchers will work. They will come with new questions, knowledge, and desire to learn and share, to contribute to keeping the rigorous and restless spirits of Tony and César alive.