Sarah Davis wearing a red coat and hat outside in a green field. Photo provided by Sarah Davis
Sarah Davis wearing a red coat and hat outside in a green field. Photo provided by Sarah Davis

Sarah is a vertebrate paleontologist and evolutionary biologist specializing in theropod dinosaurs (including birds!). She is a PhD Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is working in two main research areas: studying the evolution of pigment coloration in birds and describing Cretaceous-age dinosaur fossils from Patagonia.

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?

I’m a pet mom to my cat, Midnight, and pet aunt to my roommate’s pup, Basil

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Lots! Mostly illustrations of dinosaurs and birds.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Both

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Both

7 Do you speak any other languages?

I speak French and am learning Spanish

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

I’d maybe be an artist, but I’ve always wanted to be a paleontologist

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

Biochemistry

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

Chile! I’ve only been to Santiago and Patagonia for research, so I’d love to visit the northern regions.

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

Probably being able to apparate, instantaneous travel abilities would be so convenient!

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

I think everyone should watch “Good Omens” and “Tuca and Bertie”. Both amazing and funny shows, but for very different reasons!

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

I’d start by brunching with friends, then relaxing at home or going for a hike.

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

My family, my friends, and of course dinosaurs

15 What beverage gives you life?

Tea, in any variety

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

“Night” by Elie Wiesel

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

A paleontologist!

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Each new discovery in paleontology is so exciting and has the potential to change the way we think about life on earth. These kinds of advances keep me motivated for my own research.

19 What got you excited in science?

Visiting museums as a kid. Seeing fossils in person was a huge motivator from the beginning.

20 What excites you about science now?

How interdisciplinary and integrative it is! It can be difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what kind of science I do because my work includes so many different disciplines and collaborators from various research areas.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Ice cream (I will eat it even in the coldest weather) and binge-watching TV shows.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I play the piano and violin.

23 What is your favorite game?

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

24 What is the last book you read?

The Dinosaur Artist, by Paige Williams

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

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Everything is a learning process, so surround yourself with people that are supportive and will help you when things get tough.

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

Outdoor bouldering. I climb at a gym, but am still terrified of heights.

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

Keep trying. You don’t know something will turn out until you try.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Hiking! Really anything outdoors.

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?

A dead Indigo Bunting. I found it on the university campus and brought it to our osteology collection.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Barn Owl and Southern Cassowary

32 What is your favorite book?

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Ice cream

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Halloween, when my skeleton themed decorations are more acceptable

35 What is your favorite plant?

Saguaro Cactus

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Birds are living dinosaurs! They’re the only group of dinosaurs that survived the K/Pg extinction event.

37 What is your favorite season?

Fall

38 What is your favorite smell?

The desert after a rainstorm

39 What is your favorite sound?

Water, like waves at the beach or a fast flowing river

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My creativity

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

Remiges

42 What is your proudest moment?

When I got the NSF GRFP for my PhD project! I proposed a research topic that I had been wanting to pursue for a while and it was a validating moment to have the project funded, especially towards the beginning of my PhD when I was so unsure of myself and my abilities.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Palo verde

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

The food! The variety of food options in Austin is incredible, and I never get tired of trying new local restaurants.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Many birds get their bright coloration from pigments they obtain from their diet. Flamingos are the classic example of this, but this kind of coloration can be found in nearly every bird group!

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

Lauren Hewitt (@ScienceHew)