As a quick reminder, these SAAS guest blog posts will feature a Q&A format that will hopefully allow you to learn about who these scientists are as people. I'll also be sure to incorporate plenty of links for you to have quick and easy access to social media pro les, websites, articles, and other means of finding out more about each guest's research. Please leave some comments and let me know if there are other questions you'd like answered, or scientists you'd be keen on reading about. Enjoy!
I do not currently have pets, but I did once have a toad that I loved very much, but then my dad tricked me into releasing it into the wild and getting a goldfish instead. In the future, I would however very much like to have something large and fluffy, like a giant rabbit.
I like to run and I’ve recently started doing yoga. I would say that traveling is my hobby, but I have no time for that in grad school, so instead I live vicariously through Instagram’s #travel.
My partner, Pierre-Clément. He listens, then makes me laugh, then laughs at my snorting.
And I’m also infinitely grateful to have my bestie Talia [below] in the program with me, because her office is only 2 feet away from mine if I ever need to bother her (which is often). Diego & Maggie are two of my closest friends and I’m so happy they’re there for me whenever I need them.
Oh boy, you are gonna regret asking me that question. I WANT TO LEARN ALL OF THE LANGUAGES! I want to learn Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Hindi and Tamil and… Ugh, I really want to learn so many languages! But, if I HAVE to be realistic, I’d really like to learn Spanish (I’m trying to, at the moment). I’d also like to become fluent in Bulgarian again (my mother’s language), and I’d like to learn Yoruba (my father’s language).
I would like to go back to India. I spent 6 months living in Chennai (South India) and it was honestly the most amazing place I’ve ever been - there’s so much to see in terms of nature and culture.
Easy, I would have the ability to stop time. I am constantly running out of time, haha. I would hit the pause button to take naps and write my dissertation - it would be amazing!
I listen to a wide range of music. From my teen years, I’ve held on to my love of Evanescence, Nightwish, Rammstein and Korn. But, I also love pop music, French rap, chalga (Bulgarian pop folk) and random things like the Red Army Choir (in hindsight, I realize everything in this list may seem random).
Honestly, I had no intention of getting into science until the 2nd year of my bachelor’s degree. I got into Archaeology & Anthropology thinking I would study cultural anthropology, but then I was introduced to Nina Jablonski (my current advisor) and her work on the evolution of skin color and I became fascinated by understanding human phenotypic variation from a scientific perspective.
Strength: I can get excited about anything.
Weakness: I can get excited about anything. This means I frequently try to do too much and get off track, so I always have to reel it in.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what ‘work-life balance’ really means, but I try to get enough sleep, exercise every day and watch/read fun stuff at least an hour a day. Google calendar helps a lot and I try to convince myself that it’s better to schedule in ‘non-work’ time than to burn out and do nothing for weeks, but it’s hard when you always feel like you should be doing more.
Like: It’s a really interesting question that no one has managed to answer before, so it’s exciting to find new methods and bits of evidence to understand a feature as fundamentally human as scalp hair.
Dislike: Since I’m doing a lot of things that haven’t been attempted before, there are no established methods/protocols I can use. It can be fun, but it’s a bit scary to be the one ‘inventing’ things sometimes.
Like: There’s a lot of flexibility in your schedule and you always have new opportunities to learn something.
Dislike: There is some truth to the stereotype of the ‘ivory tower’ [below]. Academics can be detached from the ‘real world’ and consider themselves more important/influential than they really are. You can really see this in the way that some faculty look down on outreach and science communication.
I’ve always been fascinated by history. I’m particularly interested by historical accounts of encounters between different populations. A friend I went to Cambridge with, Kendra Evans, is doing her graduate work on historical documents detailing Japanese encounters with Africans (pre-colonialism) - how amazing is that???
Every person who has ever taken the time to explain any bit of science/academia to someone! So that includes you, Alexis! [Aww thanks Tina <3.] And Katie, and Maggie (god, she’s taught me so much about reptile reproduction, lol)! Helping people learn is an undervalued but crucial aspect of science and academia. I’m so grateful to people who take the time to teach me something; it genuinely inspires me to do my best and pay it forward.
I need absolute isolation and quiet (or white noise). I have the shortest attention span in the world, so it really puts me off track when I’m interrupted by scheduled or unscheduled distractions. That’s why I like to work in the early mornings or the weekends, when there’s no one in the department.
I have no clue what five-year-old me was doing, haha, so I’m drawing a blank for advice. But, I would tell fifteen-year-old me to spend less time on politics and more time science - it will be (slightly) less frustrating.
I really hope I can do work in science communication, whether it’s a full-time thing, or something that I do as an academic. I love telling stories, and science has too many fascinating tales not to share them with the world!