Steph Borrelle holding a petrel recently banded for ornithological research. Photo provided by Steph Borrelle
Steph Borrelle holding a petrel recently banded for ornithological research. Photo provided by Steph Borrelle

Steph is a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow. Her expertise is in seabird conservation and she is currently researching the impact of plastic pollution on seabirds, and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies for reducing the leakage of plastic into the environment.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

I have plants, and a pet rock, called gravel.

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?

I’m learning Te Reo Māori (not fluent yet)

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

Plant trees

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

Geology – I’m fascinated by earthquakes and induction zones

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

Aotearoa New Zealand (home)

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

Flying (seabird style)

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

So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo

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

Find and be in the nature!

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

The ocean, forests, friends (including my binos)

15 What beverage gives you life?

Kombucha & coffee (definitely coffee)

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

To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee

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

A National Geographic photographer

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Determination to preserve those special wild places, to make the world a better place, now more than ever for my niece Billie.

19 What got you excited in science?

The curiousness of nature, the weird and wonderful things that animals and plants are and what they do, it still surprises and captivates me to this day.

20 What excites you about science now?

The fantastical lives of seabirds, and birds in general. I think what also excites me is the unknowns, there are so many curiosities left – the more you learn, the more you realize there is to know.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Stinky soft cheese

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Packing, admittedly I have had a lot of practice, and I’ve lived out of a suitcase for the last 6 months!

23 What is your favorite game?

Texas hold ’em

24 What is the last book you read?

Decolonising methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith

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

No ones going to die if [insert any reference to work here]

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

Ice diving

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

Calm down, embrace the chaos, listen, laugh and be kind.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Swimming in the ocean

29 What is the last thing you watched?

ah nerd over here….I just watched lecture 4 of Richard McElreath’s Statistical Rethinking course on YouTube

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

A grey-faced petrel skull

31 What is your favorite animal?

Seabirds (all the procellariiformes), obviously.

32 What is your favorite book?

The secret lives of trees

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

January 21st

35 What is your favorite plant?

Hymenophyllum ferns

36 What is your favorite science fact?

When a wandering albatross fledges from it’s nest, it will spend a decade or more exploring the vast Southern Oceans before returning to it’s birth place to find a mate and breed (…Ditto @AlexBond)

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

The west coast of the South Island New Zealand, followed closely by a seabird (including penguins) colony

39 What is your favorite sound?

The morning chorus on Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier Island)

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My ability to learn and admit when I’m wrong

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

Kaitiakitanga – it means guardian in te reo Māori

42 What is your proudest moment?

The day I got accepted into my Bachelor of Science degree, all of the amazing things I have had the opportunity to do since stemmed from that moment.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Silver beech (Lophozonia menziesii) – a stunning tree that dominates the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, one of my most favourite places in the world

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

I live in Toronto currently, and it is super cycling friendly!

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I have misophonia, which means I get an uncontrollable and overwhelming violent urges from the sound of eating (slurping in particular), typing, heavy breathing, and sometimes other random repetitive noises. It’s a condition, I can’t help it.

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