Meet CALS freshman Zhihong (Jason) Zhan. Jason calls himself an “ insect amateur.” His interest in insects started at five years old and since then he has been learning and collecting insects for more than 11 years. According to Jason, “I still remember, my father took me to the national forest and showed me how to catch the stag beetles. And he also told me some basic knowledge about their habitual nature. That impressed me a lot. And I decided to become an entomologist after that wonderful trip.” Jason particularly likes stag beetles because “they are mandibles and awesome.” He added that there are around 300 kinds of stag beetles in his home country China. He has collected around 120 kinds of stag beetles from some remote areas such as Yunnan, Tibet, and Guizhou before attending UW-Madison.
Currently, Jason is working with the Wisconsin Insect Research Collection (WIRC). His goal is to help WIRC build the Lucanidae classification. He believes that it is important to classify all kinds of species well and put them into the correct classify level. He also takes a particular interest in a special genus of the stag beetle–Genus Lucanus. Jason want to determine their classification and evolution orientation in Himalaya area.
As a first semester freshman, Jason has utilized advising and appreciates making connections with faculty. According to Jason, “Now I can plan everything well and follow the steps which can make my dream come true. I think it is my highlight experience at UW as far.”
For the remaining of his time at UW-Madison, Jason wants to learn as much as he can about insects and build the general and academic evolution tree for stag beetles of China and publish a paper before he finishes his undergraduate career. After completing a Ph.D. in Entomology, Jason wants to return to China and work in the university to teach and share his knowledge.