COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Chong Chin Heo’s research has been recognized at the higher level as he recently received the Vice President for Research’s Excellence Award and the Sigma Xi Interdisciplinary Award for his outstanding research efforts.
Heo is a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Jeffery Tomberlin’s FLIES lab and received his Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences and Masters in Parasitology from the National University of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Heo’s interest in research started when he learned about the devastating impacts of parasites and insects to human and animal health globally. Heo is wanting to focus mainly on the application of insects in helping criminal investigations.
With his research, Heo is studying the ability of ecosystem recovery, called resilience following disturbance. Heo is using carrion, or decaying animal flesh, as his model system to determine the resiliency in nutrient cycling where blow fly colonization is delayed for an extended period of time, similar to events in nature, such as weather or concealment.
Heo is specifically studying the impact that events in nature on associated microbial metabolism, insect composition and succession, soil nutrient shifts and soil mite population dynamics. His ultimate goal is to understand how ecosystems respond to disturbances and how fast they recover as the ability to recover is the most fundamental process in food production and resource sustainability. Heo’s findings can be used to develop novel techniques or indicators for forensic investigations, such as determining the time and location of death.
Heo also received first place in the Oral Presentation section of the Plant Sciences, Animal Sciences, Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Entomology, Agriculture and Ecological Restoration category during the Student Research Week competition in March. Heo tied with Carl Hjelmen for first place in the same category.
“I felt very happy for receiving this award and I think it is an encouragement for me to excel in academic and research in my future career,” Heo said. “My advisor, Dr. Jeff Tomberlin and lab members are the key supporters and I would like to thank all of them for creating a conducive research environment for everyone’s success.”
Tomberlin was very proud of Heo for his hard work and dedication to the lab and his research.
“I am very proud of Chin and his accomplishments,” Tomberlin said. “He has done a tremendous job bridging multiple disciplines to explain the nature of decomposition and nutrient recycling. Chin has a very bright future in academia!”