Erica McAlister
Erica McAlister
Year of Honorary Fellowship, 2019

I studied Applied Environmental Biology for my undergraduate at the University of Manchester in the early 90’s. Whilst there I was able to undertake two placements; the first at the then Institute of Terrestrial Biology, where I ran around catching heather beetles on the Dorset Heaths and worked on their Dipteran parasites, followed by a placement at the University of Adelaide where I worked on ant communities in the South Australian Outback. My Doctorate was in wetland ecological entomology at the University of Roehampton. During my time researching this topic I turned to the taxonomic expertise that was housed in The Natural History Museum, London, and volunteered with them after I had completed my thesis.

After a period of lecturing in Ecology, Entomology and Biostatistics, mostly at Roehampton but also guest lecturing at various other Universities, I secured some contract work at the NHM. This turned into a maternity cover position, which in term led to a full time job in the Diptera Section in 2006, where I am now a Senior Curator. At the Museum, I am responsible for the Lower Brachycera, the Mycetophilidae, the Culicidae, as well as the Siphonaptera (flea) collection.

My research work is broad and varied and has included Mosquito projects both in the UK and abroad, Asilidae in South Australia and Bat flies (and other Diptera) from Dominica. As well as working on flies I am an avid promoting of museum collections in research and the development of novel methods for utilising old specimens for new research. I am a guest lecturer on 2 different Masters Courses and hosts numerous students in the department.

Very much involved with public outreach, I have also appeared on TV, Radio (including presenting the series ‘Who’s the Pest’ on Radio 4), numerous podcasts, as well giving talks at Science Festivals, International Nature Fairs and Wildlife Organisations, promoting flies and the research undertaken at the Museum. I am the President of the Amateur Entomology Society (UK), and sit on the committee for the Dipterists Forum (UK) and the International Congress of Dipterology. In 2016, my first book ‘The Secret Life of Flies’ was published, a popular science book introducing flies to a new age which has received international acclaim across the globe, and this has been followed up by ‘The Inside Out of Flies’ published in 2020

portrait of Dr Erica McAlister Hon.FRES