Jake Shurba holding a duckling. Photo provided by Jake Shurba
Jake Shurba holding a duckling. Photo provided by Jake Shurba

Jake Shurba is a grad student at Clemson University studying waterfowl population ecology and diseases. His background is in wildlife disease ecology. He writes a wildlife disease blog called The Art of Infection! https://artofinfection.blogspot.com/

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?


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?


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

I would be a high school science teacher!

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


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

New Zealand

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


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

Definitely please check out Ali Ward’s Ologies podcast–absolutely incredible!

For reading, I highly recommend Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Wisdom of Nature

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

Read things that aren’t about science, ducks, or parasites

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

My kindle, giant water bottle, and cell phone

15 What beverage gives you life?

La Croix

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

A Sand County Almanac

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

Marine Biologist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

The knowledge that continuing on with school and work will allow me to do my own research and study things that I am so excited about.

19 What got you excited in science?

Honestly the book and movie Jurassic Park. It made me so excited to think about the possibilities of this happening (even though it is silly and the science has more fiction in it).

20 What excites you about science now?

I absolutely adore diseases and ducks and the great thing about both is that they’re always around and easy to find! But regarding diseases, I love the mystery and the hunt that goes into diagnosing disease in critters.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

The tv show Riverdale

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can roll my tongue both ways in my mouth.

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

R for Dummies

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

When I was really struggling to figure out what I wanted to do with science, I had a professor pull me aside and tell me to read papers and get into the literature and when I find a paper, or papers, that make me so mad because I wasn’t involved in the study….that’s a good direction to look for future work. She was very right.

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

Oooh I would love to do a shark cage dive but it also scares me just a bit.

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

Don’t worry about how long it’ll take you to get things done. Everyone is on their own timeline and it’s okay if yours takes a little longer than the “norm”

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Glass of wine, good book, and a lawn chair.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Amazon’s Jack Ryan

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

Literally a bag of parasites in vials.

31 What is your favorite animal?

I love Red-Tailed Hawks. They’ve always been one of my favorites.

32 What is your favorite book?

Jurassic Park

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Spaghetti and meatballs

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Really any day in September–perfect temperature and time to be outside

35 What is your favorite plant?

I love orchids. They’re my favorite.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

That classic “pool smell” isn’t actually chlorine like a lot of people think….it’s way grosser. In fact, the smell comes from tricholorizine which is what you get when you mix urine and chlorine together! Gross.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

A campfire

39 What is your favorite sound?


40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My ability to work and collaborate with people. I do chalk this up to my advisor as an undergrad as she cultivated this in me. But I’ve always loved working with people as much as possible.

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

Iris—not sure why, I’ve always loved that word though.

42 What is your proudest moment?

Getting accepted into graduate school. Struggled through the GRE and through undergrad and was declined from a lot of cool positions because of it. However, I finally was offered my current position and I couldn’t be happier.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Weeping Willow

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

South Carolina is a gorgeous state with a ton of beautiful and sad history. I’m so lucky to get to live there. The addition of alligators is a huge plus as well.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I have had parasites on two occasions..both because I was being dumb. Giardia (awful) and Cryptosporidium (even worse).

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

I’d love to see Dr. Katie Wedemeyer-Strombel on here! @krwedemeyer