India is rich with both moths and people who love to study them. Each year,it has ranked second to the U.S. in the number of National Moth Week events registered on our website. NMW also has had a lot of assistance from our Indian collaborators in encouraging other experts to get involved and increase participation by the public.
So, we are very pleased to bring another Lepidopteran expert on board as the new country coordinator for India. Dr. Pritha Dey takes over this role from Dr. Vijay Barve, who remains on the NMW team and continues to contribute to NMW’s success.
“I have always been interested in insect ecology as a student of Zoology,”said Pritha.
In 2013, she joined the Wildlife Institute of India as a student for aproject to document the moth fauna in the most difficult terrains of the western Himalayas.
Pritha completed her Ph.D. through the Institute and Zoologische Staatssammlung in Munich, Germany. Her research focused on the diversity patterns and molecular characterization of Geometrid moths.
“Through these years, my challenging and memorable field experiences, and the fact that we know so little about moths in India, shaped my career goals,” Pritha said.
She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, and serves as a team member and reviewer for the Moths of India website, a citizen-science based database on moths in India.
Pritha also has done independent surveys and fieldwork in two biodiversity hotspots in India -the western Himalayaand the Western Ghats, where she currently works.
“During my doctoral work, I have been fortunate enough to take part in field visits in Europe and South America with expert lepidopterologists, which has boosted my understanding of moths,” Pritha said.
“Apart from science, I share my experiences extensively through popular articles in national and international magazines, public outreach, workshops aiming to improve the state of moth research in India. I always seek non-academic avenues, where my scientific background can help in decision-making and creating on-ground impact.”
Pritha has been a regular participant in National Moth Week and hosted an event at the Wildlife Institute three years ago.
“Moth-watching is steadily gaining momentum in India,” she said. “It is high time that we aim for engaging more and more people in National Moth Week, every year, where observations tied to date and location can make a huge difference to the existing patchy distribution data for moths in India.”