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Ashleigh Whiffin

Ashleigh Whiffin
Curator of Entomology
Specific responsibility: Development of the insect collection, ensuring suitability for molecular research, including the curation of the voucher collections from national and international genomic projects.
Research interests/expertise: British insects; Coleoptera (especially Silphidae – carrion beetles); collections care; science communication.

Ashleigh Whiffin is Curator of Entomology.

Ashleigh studied Forensic Science at the University of Derby, followed by an MSc in Entomology at Harper Adams University. Prior to joining National Museums Scotland she worked for the University of Edinburgh as a research technician, studying beetles. She first worked with NMS in 2014 as a collections assistant, helping to facilitate a large scale collections move. She then gained a fixed-term position as Curatorial Assistant for Entomology in 2015, followed by a permanent position in 2016, as Assistant Curator of Entomology. She is now working as Curator of Entomology. 

She is responsible for the care, curation and development of the insect collection, containing approximately 2.5 million specimens, as well as dealing with research loans, enquiries and hosting visitors to the collection. Her research interest is focused around carrion ecology and her specialism is Silphidae (Carrion Beetles): a fascinating group which help to facilitate the decomposition of vertebrate remains.

Ashleigh is a keen science communicator and is passionate about disseminating entomology and the value of collections, to the wider public. She employs social media as one of the tools to do this (see The Power of Social Media for more), and co-manages the @NatSciNMS Twitter account.

She works closely with several entomological groups, to promote her subject. Within the UK, she is an active member of the Royal Entomological Society, and sits on their Outreach & Development committee; she is a council member for the British Entomological and Natural History Society; she is also a member of the Malloch Society; and is the current Chair of Edinburgh Entomological Club. Ashleigh also works with the Biological Records Centre to co-organise a National Recording Scheme for Carrion Beetles; and internationally, she is co-communications officer for the Entomological Collections Network.

In 2021, Ashleigh was awarded the Marsh Award for Entomology, for her outstanding contribution to the study of invertebrates.

Above: A Banded Burying beetle - Nicrophorous investigator

Mullin, V.E., Stephen, W., Arce, A.N., Nash, W., Raine, C., Notton, D.G., Whiffin, A., Blagoderov, V., Gharbi, K., Hogan, J., Hunter, T., Irish, N., Jackson, S., Judd, S., Watkins, C., Haerty, W., Ollerton, J., Brace, S., Gill, R.G., Barnes. I. 2022. First large-scale quantification study of DNA preservation in insects from natural history collections using genome-wide sequencing. Methods in Ecology and Evolution:

Arce, A.N., Cantwell-Jones, A., Tansley, M., Barnes, I., Brace, S., Mullin, V.E., Notton, D., Ollerton, J., Eatough, E., Rhodes, M.W., Bian, X., Hogan, J., Hunter, T., Jackson, S., Whiffin, A., Blagoderov, V., Broad, G., Judd, S., Kokkini, P., Livermore, L., Dixit, M.K., Pearse, W.D., Gill, R.J. 2022. Signatures of increasing environmental stress in bumblebee wings over the past century: Insights from museum specimens. Journal of Animal Ecology:

Whiffin, A.L. 2022. Life in death. Antenna 46 (2): 83-86.

Robinson, J., Jackson, J.C. & Whiffin, A.L. 2022. Battling booklice in Scottish galleries, libraries, archives and museums. In: Ryder, S. & Crossman, A. (ed.) Integrated Pest Management for Collections: Pest Odyssey 2021- The Next Generation. Archetype Books, pp. 210-213. ISBN 9781909492837.

Dutton, A. & Whiffin, A.L. 2021. Belated records of Silpha tyrolensis Laicharting (Silphidae) from Cumbria. The Coleopterist 30 (1): 40-41.

LaneS.A. Lucas, C.B.H. & Whiffin, A.L. 2020. The Histeridae, Sphaeritidae and Silphidae of Britain and Ireland. Field Studies Publications, Telford.

Akite, P., Ngumbi, E., Sconce, F., Sumner, S., Whiffin, A. & Roy, H. 2020. Sharing stories in Entomology. Antenna 44 (3): 101-105.

Barnes, K.M., Whiffin, A.L., Bulling, M.T. 2019. A preliminary study on the antibacterial activity and insect repellent properties of embalming fluids from the 18th Dynasty (1550–1292 BCE) in ancient Egypt. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 25: 600-609.

Lessard, B., Whiffin, A.L. & Wild, A.L. 2017. A guide to public engagement for entomological collections and natural history museums in the age of social media. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 110 (5): 467–479.

Shaw, M. R., Horstman, K. & Whiffin, A. L. 2016. Two hundred and twenty-five species of reared western Palaearctic Campopleginae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) in the National Museums of Scotland, with descriptions of new species of Campoplex and Diadegma, and records of fifty-five species new to Britain. Entomologist’s Gazette 67: 177-222.

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Investigate insects with our Assistant Curator of Entomology, Ashleigh Whiffin.

Blog posts by Ashleigh Whiffin
Carrion Beetle AW


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