Entomologist and Curator of Diptera

Torsten Dikow in his lab showing a box of flies. Photo by Jennifer Renteria, Smithsonian.
Dr. Torsten Dikow displaying a box of pinned flies in his lab. Photo by Jennifer Renteria, Smithsonian.

Dr. Torsten Dikow is a research entomologist and curator of flies in the Department of Entomology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Torsten grew up in northern Germany near the coast. He was always interested in the natural world, and saw many species of insects in the forests around his hometown. In high school, he started to make collections of beetles and other insects. During a course at the University of Rostock, when he was tasked with making a field collection, he encountered some robber flies and was intrigued. Earning his undergraduate degree in Biology, he was already on the path to study the group of flies Asilidae, know for their predatory lifestyles.

Torsten first got to know the Smithsonian through a Research Training Program, after which he completed a PhD at Cornell University, then came back to the Museum as a postdoctoral fellow. Today, as a staff scientist, Torsten remains fascinated by the biodiversity and classification of the robber flies. The third largest group of flies, Asilidae has more than 7,500 species, of which Torsten has described 47 new ones, and redescribed many others as he sorts out their classification. Broadly, he works with the collection of true flies - Diptera - at the Museum, including robber flies and their relatives, to understand fly diversity, biology, distribution, and systematics.