Sarah McAnulty standing on a beach with a gull flying over. Photo provided by Sarah McAnulty.
Sarah McAnulty standing on a beach with a gull flying over. Photo provided by Sarah McAnulty.

Sarah McAnulty is an assistant research professor at the University of Connecticut and the founder and executive director of  the science communication platform Skype a Scientist! In her lab-work Sarah studies the relationship between the Hawaiian Bobtail squid and the bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Sarah is active in the science communication community. In addition to running Skype a Scientist, she also runs workshops with scientists to improve their communication skills and participates in “science theater” shows in NYC.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?

Pro-pun

3 Do you have any pets?

Two cats (Kharjo and Rupert), a ball python (Harvey), and a crested gecko (WoodChip)

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

LOTS of squid paintings

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Cooking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Savory

7 Do you speak any other languages?

German

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

Aquarist

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

Social Science

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

Australia because it’s about to be Giant Australian cuttlefish mating season*!

*At time of interview submission

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

Talk to animals

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

I really really like the book Squid Empire by Danna Staaf. It’s funny and engaging and I just loved it. Also I wrote and illustrated a cephalopod coloring book so you could check that out! It’s called The Ink-Credible Cephalopod Coloring Book.

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

Sleep all the way in, play in a pool with my friends while sipping cold drinks with brightly colored biodegradable straws (I don’t have a pool, this is a wild fantasy), then throw a raging theme party at my house at night.

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

1) Animals
2) The Internet
3) My best friend Jenkins

15 What beverage gives you life?

Fresh strawberry juice

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

Honestly, probably Raising Cane. It’s a book about how sexism negatively affects men, especially boys as they’re growing up. I think I may have also read Iron John for the same project. I wrote this paper for AP English and at the time I hadn’t even considered how our culture’s sexism affects men so I think it was a good exercise in empathy. The mens movement is a total disaster rife with misogyny, so these are kinda controversial picks here, BUT I can’t think of any other books I read in school that taught me to consider every situation from other’s perspectives, even those perceived to be in power, more than those books.

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

Marine biologist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Anxiety, wanting to help others and make the world better

19 What got you excited in science?

I saw cuttlefish doing what’s called “Passing cloud” which is a color changing technique they use to confuse prey by moving a black band along their bodies that kinda looks like a hypnotists’ wheel. I thought it was totally stunning and have been hooked on cephalopods ever since.

20 What excites you about science now?

I really love how much more of the deep sea we’ve been able to see with ROVs. We find new stuff all the time and it’s so cool!!

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

The Vampire Diaries

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can usually smell who has been in a room even if I can’t see them. I usually keep this secret because it freaks people out but uhhh…. it’s true?!

23 What is your favorite game?

Slap Cup, lol

24 What is the last book you read?

OK the last book I read was Throne of Glass which was a pretty silly but very enjoyable book in a fantasy world with a strong female protagonist who is an assassin and ends up having to compete in this physical competition in a King’s court. I’m on a strict no-serious-book diet until I hand in my dissertation. The last serious book I read was The Devil In The White City, which I heard was great, but I just… don’t want to read books about white dudes doing great and/or terrible things?

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

Let your freak flag fly.

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

Scuba diving at night

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

Just buy You’ve Got Mail, you’re going to rent it so many times, it’s worth it.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Swimming for me 🙂

29 What is the last thing you watched?

The office, for easily the 15th time. I’ve been going home and working on the couch so I want something familiar and the office does it. The last thing I watched that was new to me was Our Planet.

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

Literally right now* I have an anglerfish in a jam jar in my backpack. That’s pretty unusual!

*At time of interview submission

31 What is your favorite animal?

Giant Australian Cuttlefish

32 What is your favorite book?

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Mac and Cheese and Pizza but not at the same time

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Halloween

35 What is your favorite plant?

Gerber Daisy or Tulip or Hyacinth

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Cephalopods have been on earth longer than trees!

37 What is your favorite season?

Fall

38 What is your favorite smell?

Outdoor pool, Lavender, Lilacs, fresh cut grass

39 What is your favorite sound?

Torrential rain when I’m falling asleep

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I can usually get a crowd to laugh, whether the presentation format is serious or not.

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

Schadenfreude

42 What is your proudest moment?

I was in a science communication show called VERSUS with my friends Zak and Dustin and the jist of the show is that you debate which of two things is better. Zak and Dustin are in the show every month, and they bring on experts to help them debate. The month I was on the show the theme was Squid Versus Whales, and I was the squid expert. It was a SUPER fun show and squid ended up winning. I am basically the biggest cheerleader for squid I’ve ever met, and I was SO afraid I was going to lose, but squid won.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A climbable one.

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

No traffic, lots of green in the summer.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Snakes are one of the nicest, snuggliest pets ever.

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

Corina Newsome, @Hood_Naturalist

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