Victoria’s entomology community loses cherished colleague
3 April 2017
Victoria's entomology community has suffered the loss of highly respected and valued colleague, Associate Professor Alan Louey Yen.
Associate Professor Alan Yen was research leader in Invertebrate Sciences for Agriculture Victoria, a joint appointee of Agriculture Victoria and Latrobe University, and associate professor at the university.
Alan worked at the National Museum of Victoria (now Museums Victoria) from 1981-2001 as a curator in the Invertebrate Survey Department. For over 20 years he participated in numerous research expeditions and coordinated several exhibitions.
After leaving the Museum, Alan led important research projects to improve biosecurity and reduce the impact of pests in agriculture industries, particularly horticulture.
Close colleague, friend and Plant Biosecurity CRC Research Director Jo Luck said Alan brought with him many interesting research projects when he started working for the department.
"One in particular that comes to my mind was the relocation of a giant Gippsland earthworm colony, due to the construction of a new highway right near the worm's home," Dr Luck said.
"We had to dig for the worms and then carry them in wet bandages up the hill to their new home. I remember thinking this is not a stock standard government researcher I'm working with today."
"This project became very famous when Sir David Attenborough spent a week with Alan filming his series 'Life in the Undergrowth'."
Alan was also known especially for his backing for the addition of edible insects to global cuisine to fulfil current and future demands for protein intake.
Alan was a supervisor on Conrad Bilney's PhD project, to locate and identify edible grubs (widely known as witchetty grubs) known to Indigenous Australians. With the help of traditional owners, more than 200 larvae were collected from across Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Alan's recent projects for Agriculture Victoria included a study that identified wind as the most likely natural dispersal pathway to Australia for the destructive tomato potato psyllid (Bacticera cockerelli), helping to improve surveillance and response capacity.
Alan also led research to improve detection, surveillance and management of the native red-headed cockchafer beetle, a major pest of dairy pastures, beef pastures and turf industries in Victoria.
The Royal Society of Victoria has remembered Alan as an energetic, enquiring and gentle man with a keen sense of humour, who has left a lasting scientific legacy in the field of native and exotic insects.
Our deepest condolences go out to Alan's family, friends and colleagues.
Categorised under: Biosecurity,Agriculture