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Postcard from Borneo: The Wallace Centennial Conference, Day 2

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Amidst the bustling town that Alfred Russel Wallace knew as Sarawak, the second day of the international conference that bears his name remembered the centennial of this great naturalist’s passing. It did so with an appropriate array of papers on biology, biodiversity, ecology, entomology — a host of topics that were all dear to his heart.

The conference has had three primary objectives: 1) promote local scholarship; 2) link the primary sponsor, the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), with other national and international scholars; and 3) provide a platform for Wallace enthusiasts to meet and talk. It is fair to say that the conference, thanks to the local organizers, ably fulfilled these goals. There were 24 papers contributed by UNIMAS students or faculty and 23 papers from overseas (8 from the United States).

This was a great place to meet people from all over the world, brightened by the hospitality of the Malaysian people in a city that is easy to love. Sharing knowledge and ideas with colleagues young and old, united by a common interest in Wallace, amidst such cultural diversity made all the more enjoyable by mountains of Southeast Asian cuisine is about as good as it gets in life.

Stay posted for more from Borneo — the land of Wallace — as I head up this massive island to Kota Kinabalu and on to the Kinabatangan River. Although Wallace didn’t travel to this region, it remains more pristine and less touched by urban expansion than other areas, gifted with flora and fauna that would have been immediately familiar to this intrepid explorer.