Stephen Heard
Stephen Heard. Photo provided by Stephen Heard

Steve Heard is an evolutionary ecologist and entomologist at the University of New Brunswick, in Canada. My students and I mostly work on insect-plant interactions. I also blog at Scientist Sees Squirrel (

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Do stick insects count?

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

The majority of it, I’d say.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Mediocre French, bare-bones Spanish

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


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

Science studies (the study of the culture and practice of science, more or less)

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


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

If I can choose, healing. But if it’s assigned, I’d probably end up with a supervocabulary

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

NK Jemesin’s “Broken Earth” trilogy (and then all the rest of her books)

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

Go to an art gallery with my wife, play cards with my son, read, and probably write a blog post!

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

My kitchen, my Boggle board, my library card.

15 What beverage gives you life?

No beverage can do that… but guava juice and diet Dr. Pepper are delicious. Separately.

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

“In” school, none; but “during” school, Walden, which sounds pretentious, but it’s true.

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

I had no clue. Thank goodness I drifted into something I love.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?


19 What got you excited in science?

The idea that your job could be finding out new things about how the world works. How cool is that?

20 What excites you about science now?

Seeing my students experience the thrill of learning something about how the world works that nobody else has even known.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Reruns of Friends

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I know an utterly ridiculous number of obscure English words.

23 What is your favorite game?

Boggle (see previous question…)

24 What is the last book you read?

Peter S. Beagle’s The Overneath.

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

Not offered to me personally – but in Walden, Thoreau writes “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” It’s the last part that makes this such good advice.

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

As a rule, if I’m scared or it, I don’t actually want to do it.

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

When you’re older, you won’t be any cooler – but neither you nor your friends will care.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Go for a long walk alone.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

An old episode of Big Bang Theory. Yes, I know.

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

Roadkilled squirrels, picked up to bait carrion beetles for a field course.

31 What is your favorite animal?

This shouldn’t be possible to answer. But it’s the peanut-headed bug (Fulgora laternaria).

32 What is your favorite book?

Oh come on… who has just one? A Wizard of Earthsea, any of Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks mysteries, NK Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, Prince Caspian, Sherri Tepper’s Raising the Stones…

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Spaghetti with meat sauce.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

The first day of frost in the fall.

35 What is your favorite plant?

The pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea).

36 What is your favorite science fact?

That evolution by natural selection has produced millions of different species – and they’re so different.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Frying garlic

39 What is your favorite sound?


40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

That I’d have an easier time with this question if it had “least” in it.

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

Either my PhD defence, or the publication of my first book (The Scientist’s Guide to Writing)

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Eastern hemlock. I hope.

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

Fall – crisp, colourful, glorious.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I curl – but not well.

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

Meg Duffy (@duffy_ma)