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Logotyp för Naturhistoriska riksmuseet
Logotyp för Naturhistoriska riksmuseet

Hege Vårdal



Hege Vårdal: Charting the Elusive World of Wasps

Stubborn, persistent, positive. These words don't just describe Hege Vårdal; they encapsulate her spirit. With a journey that began amid the towering trees and cascading waterfalls of Ghana's primary rainforest, Hege's career as a scientist and curator is as stimulating and varied as the ecosystems she studies.

As a budding scientist pondering her Master’s thesis, Hege was presented with a chance to delve deep into the tropical rainforests of Ghana. Her task? To collect non-biting mosquitoes. The experience, however, provided more than just specimens. Immersed among the ancient trees of the Ankasa Conservation Area, she found her calling. And even today, nearly three decades later, the untouched beauty of that region remains fresh in her memory.

Behind every researcher lies a wealth of guidance and inspiration. For Hege, this came in the form of her PhD supervisor, Fredrik Ronquist. Hailing him as not just a brilliant researcher but also a true visionary, she credits Fredrik for his knack to instill commitment and fervor in those around him.

From Global Expeditions to Museum Corridors

The world of scientific research, as Hege sees it, thrives on variability. Splitting her time between curating collections at the Swedish Museum of Natural History and jetting off to remote corners of the globe to gather fresh specimens, Hege's role is multifaceted. It was her dream position as a curator in the insect collection that brought her to the museum, a role that integrates research, teaching, and public outreach.

The Intricate World of Hymenoptera

Hege's primary research revolves around a fascinating group of insects: wasps from the Hymenoptera group. Delving deep into the world of parasitic wasps and sawflies, especially those native to Sweden, her studies draw heavily from curated collections, enriched by fresh specimens collected from the field. The goal? To paint a comprehensive picture of Hymenoptera diversity, understand the intricate relationships between species, and unveil the mysteries of their habitats.

Amidst her research endeavors, one memory stands out for Hege: an arduous 8-hour search in a petri dish. The mission? To locate the jaw of a minuscule insect larva she'd lost during dissection. Given it was the sole specimen of a specific species she had, she was determined to find it. This painstaking endeavor underscored the patience and persistence intrinsic to her profession.

A Journey of Constant Discovery

Even after 16 years at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Hege's passion remains unwavering. And the reason is simple. The job's inherent variability ensures that every day is a learning experience, a journey of discovery that never gets monotonous.

With her research, Hege hopes to do more than just add to the scientific community's understanding. She aims to inspire and inform the public about the wondrous world of wasps, highlighting their intricate lives and ecological importance.

Beyond the Lab

Outside the confines of her research, Hege finds solace in nature and movement and enjoys hiking serene trails, cycling, skiing through snowy landscapes, dancing or delving into the world of books.

In Hege Vårdal, we see curiosity, passion and persistence, a researcher dedicated not just to understanding the natural world but also to sharing its wonders with the world.

Contact details

Hege Vårdal



Hege Vå

Hege Vårdal is involved in the following projects:

Biodiversity of Hymenoptera

Lectotype of Diadegma velox (Holmgren, 1860). Photo: Hege Vårdal During more than a decade hymenopterists at the department of Zoology have collected