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Robert was born in 1967 in Winchester, southern England. His father Ian is a keen amateur entomologist who made beautiful collections of butterflies and beetles; Robert first took an interest in Lepidoptera at the age of 6, when he remembers counting Tyria jacobaeae larvae on ragwort in Cornwall. After a classical education at Eton (1980-84) and Oxford (1985-89), he decided to pursue entomology more seriously, switching to biology and studying at Exeter University, where Robin Wootton was a lecturer. By this time his major focus of interest was Microlepidoptera.


Attracted by realms with greater diversity and scope for discovery than post-Ice Age Britain, he moved to Australia in 1995 to pursue a PhD under Penny Gullan and Ebbe Nielsen, working on the tiny leaf-mining Nepticulidae. He took his current position in Auckland, New Zealand, at the New Zealand Arthropod Collection in 1998, after the retirement of John Dugdale, and since then has worked mainly on New Zealand Xyloryctidae and Noctuidae, but has now turned his attention to Tineoidea, especially the poorly known and bizarre Dryadaulidae. He retains a broad interest in all Lepidoptera families, though chiefly Microlepidoptera, and likes to rear through the early stages as much as possible. The strange and highly endemic New Zealand fauna is a source of constant fascination.

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