Charlotte Hacker at a lab bench using a pipette. Photo provided by Charlotte Hacker
Charlotte Hacker at a lab bench using a pipette. Photo provided by Charlotte Hacker

Charlotte Hacker is a PhD student using noninvasive genetic approaches to study snow leopard diet, phylogeography, and adaptations to high altitude. Her work is primarily focused in China but encompasses range-wide species initiatives. More information at

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Rescue is my favorite breed.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Mostly pictures and artwork of my favorite animals during my time working in zoological facilities.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Ugh. Mandarin Chinese I promise I am TRYING.

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

Interior design

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

Probably more towards an anthropology heavy field.

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

Somewhere in Africa with elephants.

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

Effortless multi-tasking.

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

Watch: I’ve been on an old school Twilight Zone kick. Eerily relevant in today’s times.
Read: Vanishing Tracks. Darla Hillard

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

Long morning run followed by multiple cups of coffee, meeting up with friends and food crawling through a new part of the city.

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

My contacts/glasses (so blind), people that make me laugh, spicy food.

15 What beverage gives you life?


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

Things Fall Apart. Chinua Achebe

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

A veterinarian.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

In my science its the never-ending pursuit. Sounds corny, but I love the continuity of finding answers that only prompt more questions.

19 What got you excited in science?

I had a middle school science teacher that first lit the spark, then seeing elephants in the wild for the first time ignited it.

20 What excites you about science now?

FIELD WORK. Its my favorite part.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Baozi. I consume a lot of it in China. I have no shame.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I assure you I am unfortunately talentless.

23 What is your favorite game?

Not really a game person.

24 What is the last book you read?

Not really a game person.

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

Do the thing now that future you will thank you for.

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

Anything height related (bungee jumping, sky diving, etc.).

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

STAY. IN. YOUR. LANE. Stop comparing on where you should be in life and what you should be doing.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Run. Just all the running.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Orange is the New Black.

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

Poop. Like a hundred samples of poop.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Elephant – even as a snow leopard biologist I will always have a soft spot for them.

32 What is your favorite book?

Is it bad I don’t think I have one?

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

That first day of spring where it actually feels like spring.

35 What is your favorite plant?

I love herbs in general, but succulents are more low maintenance so…

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Snow leopards can’t roar and this seems to shock a lot of people.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

The beach

39 What is your favorite sound?

Locusts – although in Ching they are LOUD.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My tenacity

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

Bananas. Everything is bananas. I say it way too often.

42 What is your proudest moment?

Anytime I figure out an R code. Seriously. The patience required…

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Palm tree? Is a palm tree a tree? Help me out here.

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

I live where I live for my science, and I love what I do, so the two are tied together in such a way that I love Beijing for the opportunities its been able to provide me. I am conquering new challenges on the daily in a city with rich culture and history. Its a pretty gnarly life to live and I’m so thankful for it.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I have an ungodly fear of mushrooms. I don’t know where it comes from, but I’m confident I must have died from ingesting one in a past life or something.

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

Michelle Valkanas (@m_valkanas)