Adelaide Tovar sitting in a garden. Photo provided by Adelaide Tovar.
Adelaide Tovar sitting in a garden. Photo provided by Adelaide Tovar.

Adelaide is a 5th year PhD candidate in genetics at UNC-Chapel Hill. I study how genetic diversity and environmental exposures individually and collectively influence variation in different traits and disease risk. I was a first-gen HS and college graduate, I’m a proud Latina from Texas, and I identify as queer.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early Bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Yes! An 8-month* old gray tabby kitten named Persephone (Percy for short).

*At time of interview submission

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?


5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Spanish, operationally

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

Test knitter or chef

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

Earth & atmospheric sciences

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


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

Invisible force field projection

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

Everyone should listen to the podcast Who Weekly?

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

Wake up early to eat a nice breakfast and go for a walk, then spend the day lounging around with nice music, food, and a knitting project

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

My glasses, a library card, and a nice pen

15 What beverage gives you life?


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

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (suggested by my mom, not any curricula)

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

Botanist, veterinarian, astronomer, chemical engineer

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Every answer to one question unlocks a whole new set of questions

19 What got you excited in science?

Doing kitchen chemistry with my mom when I was little, and dissecting insects I found outside

20 What excites you about science now?

I love the integration of big data analysis with experimental approaches

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Drinking copious amounts of Diet Coke while watching reality TV

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I was once a very good French horn player

23 What is your favorite game?

Super Smash Bros Melee

24 What is the last book you read?

Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner

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

Don’t wait for anyone to speak on your behalf

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

Submit writing to a major publication

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

The consequences of self-doubt are more severe than the consequences of failure

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Lie on my bed and let my cat walk all over me

29 What is the last thing you watched?


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

Many cans of baked beans

31 What is your favorite animal?

Cat or hedgehog

32 What is your favorite book?

Watership Down by Richard Adams

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Pancakes (including potato)

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

March Equinox

35 What is your favorite plant?

Lantana or dieffenbachia

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Tiny worms called C. elegans display a behavior called nictation where they stand up on their tails and wave their heads around. It’s suggested that they do this to get picked up by birds and other creatures to be dispersed in places with more food.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Bread baking

39 What is your favorite sound?

Scissors cutting through thick paper

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My curiosity…and my hair

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

I don’t have a favorite word!

42 What is your proudest moment?

When I was accepted into MIT for undergrad

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Live oak

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

Lots of trees and greenery

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Cats are far-sighted!

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