Dr. Ana Maria Porras is a Colombian biomedical engineer and Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University in New York. Ana currently studies the gut microbiome and its relationship to human health. She is also an artist and spends lots of time crocheting and teaching about microbes on social media (find her on Instagram and twitter @AnaMaPorras).

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early Bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?


4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Yes, all the crocheted microbes I’ve made!

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Spanish, French, German, a little bit of Italian and Portuguese

8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

Own a craft/baking shop and if I had more talent, dance professionally!

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?

Marine biology – like I wanted to do when I was 9

10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?

Back to Colombia to see my family

11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?


12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

Watch One Day at a Time and Jane the Virgin to better understand Latin culture, Listen to Chocquibtown for a true blend of traditional and more modern Colombian sounds

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Go to brunch with friends or family, go swimming if it’s summer or hiking, eat some ice cream, watch a movie and read before bed.

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

Ice cream, music you can dance to, my phone

15 What beverage gives you life?

Milkshakes for sure

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

The Harry Potter series

17 What did you want to be be when you grew up?

First a dentist, then a marine biologist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

The desire to make a difference, even if it’s a small one, in my community and the world

19 What got you excited in science?

Honestly, I can’t even remember. Probably had a lot to do with both my parents being engineering professors.

20 What excites you about science now?

Learning something new every single day about how the universe works

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Eating large quantities of ice cream (notice a trend yet?)

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I am pretty good at decorating cakes on the inside

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

Circe – I VERY strongly recommend reading it!

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

Make sure everything you do is done with love – from my mom

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

Jump into a frozen lake! (safely of course, like at a Polar Plunge)

27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

Open up and don’t be scared to put yourself out there and meet new people.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Laughing with friends

29 What is the last thing you watched?

World of Dance

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

Eyes, noses, and stuffing for my crocheted animals

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

All the Harry Potter books for sure

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Colombian arroz con pollo (rice with chicken)

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Going to cheat here… the entire month of December!

35 What is your favorite plant?

Orchids – they remind me of home

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Over 1000 different species of bacteria and 100 species of fungi have been identified living on human skin!

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Cake as it’s about to leave the oven

39 What is your favorite sound?

The drums and gaita in a traditional Colombian cumbia

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My hair

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?

The word ‘butterfly’ is so different, yet so pretty in every language. Spanish = mariposa, French = papillon, German = Schmetterling

42 What is your proudest moment?

The day I defended my Ph.D.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

I know so little about trees… maybe a palm tree

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

The close proximity to the lake! I love just jumping in after work for a swim

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I am a very avid reader, read 38 books last year. Going for 40 books this year!

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?

Azul Pinoba (@azulpinoba_photography)

Ana Maria Porras standing next to some handmade, crocheted microbes.
Ana Maria Porras standing next to some handmade, crocheted microbes. Photo provided by Ana Maria Porras .