Sandya Narayanswami in front of a plane.
Sandya Narayanswami in front of a plane. Photo provided by Sandya Narayanswami.

Sandya Narayanswami was trained as a molecular biologist and did research to the faculty level. I then switched careers to fundraising, my focus being foundation fundraising for research. I currently run my own consultancy in this area:

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Not currently, but I have lived with cats.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I collect mezzotints, both art and the technology of reproduction before photography.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

French, German, Tamil, Malayalam, some Hindi.

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

I would like to be able to write full-time.

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

Physics or astronomy, my first loves.

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


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

Time travel.

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

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë.

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

Read a really good book.

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

Books, art, intelligent people.

15 What beverage gives you life?


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

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

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

An astronaut or a scientist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

A desire to know more and more about the world.

19 What got you excited in science?

Its power, through relatively simple experiments, to reveal facts about what are otherwise utterly mysterious black boxes. Its esthetic qualities-it has great beauty.

20 What excites you about science now?

Its progress: what we have already accomplished, and the exciting new things being revealed.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Buying more art.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

My knowledge of heraldry.

23 What is your favorite game?

I have no favorites, but I play to win.

24 What is the last book you read?

“In Byron’s Wake” by Miranda Seymour

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

Sadly, I have never received any particularly useful advice.

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

I should have applied for the last NASA astronaut call (2016).

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

Find good mentors at every stage of your career.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Exercise, go outdoors, walk in a fine garden, look at nature.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

“Mary Shelley”.

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

Cell cultures

31 What is your favorite animal?

The Cat

32 What is your favorite book?

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Indian food.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

My birthdays, solar and lunar.

35 What is your favorite plant?

All trees

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu observed smallpox inoculation in Turkey in the early 18th century and brought it to England.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Good perfume

39 What is your favorite sound?

Anything by G.F. Handel.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My strength to overcome obstacles.

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

Serendipity-invented by Horace Walpole..

42 What is your proudest moment?

I am a student pilot, so it was my first solo. It was simply amazing to be up there alone flying a plane!

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A birch tree

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

Its diversity and tolerance for differences, rich cultural resources, and climate.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Marie-Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake”. This remark was attributed to Louis XIV’s wife in the previous century by the Duc de St. Simon in his memoirs. Always check “facts”…..

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

Dr. Anita Sengupta.