Bray Beltran standing next to a river. Photo provided by Bray Beltran
Bray Beltran standing next to a river. Photo provided by Bray Beltran

Bray is an ecologist by training, he enjoys working at the intersection of science and conservation action where he develops research projects relevant to his partners’ needs and gets to see the results quickly adopted and applied on the ground. He holds graduate degrees from the College of Charleston and Arizona State University, and hopes the collaborative approach he employs results in long lasting conservation solutions on the landscape. Bray was born and raised in Colombia but now lives in Pocatello, ID with his wife and two daughters where they revel in the outdoors during all seasons.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?

Pro-pun

3 Do you have any pets?

Mapache and Bandido, two adorable and neglected cats after the birth of my daughters.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Some people call me a landscape ecologist, so I guess some of the pictures on the walls fit the science-themed home decor.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Cooking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Both

7 Do you speak any other languages?

Native Spanish speaker, started learning English at 18 (well grade school if you count that, but really who learns a new language in grade/high school?). Since I did all my science training in English, I am almost illiterate in “science” Spanish, I am always having to look up words and then go off course, I should have remember that.

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

Can I be a professional hiker? On a more serious note, I would probably more directly on social issues, but lacking that training I am trying to use conservation as a tool to address social inequity.

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

I’d be a naturalist. Good old fashioned observations and recording of nature.

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

A warm beach, so my hometown in Colombia. Nothing better than warm/hot ocean water.

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

Knowing how to keep a basil plant alive but since that’s unattainable, flying so I could see my family more frequently.

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

Podcast: This Land

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

Before baby 2, put a pack on and go for a 10+ mile hike. After baby 2, napping (which I somehow can’t do) sounds very appealing!

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

Family, exercise, eating good food.

15 What beverage gives you life?

Depends on time of day and mood at the time. But currently, that morning coffee is pretty dam good!

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

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

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

A medical doctor specializing in spinal cord injury, but I got to a point where I couldn’t see myself indoors for the rest of my career.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Knowing that my actions can help improve the quality of life of the poor and disadvantaged communities I grew up or work in.

19 What got you excited in science?

Being able to contribute to the well-being of people.

20 What excites you about science now?

Using conservation to address social inequity and contribute to the well-being of the communities I work in.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Watching big sports events (world cups rugby/soccer, three week cycling races, Olympics). But since that’s only every so often, watching what we call junky TV; currently my wife and I are binge watching Gilmore Girls.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Dancing, but that isn’t much of a secret.

23 What is your favorite game?

I can get pretty distracted with a well played game of pretty much anything (rugby, volleyball, I know it’s not a game but watching cycling, etc)

24 What is the last book you read?

Born to Run. Super fun book couldn’t put it down.

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

You hear people say this all the time, and my grandma used to say it often as well. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. The more I do the work I do, the more important that piece of advise becomes.

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

BASE jumping from a mountain

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

Have as much fun, but be a bit more disciplined!

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Being outside (camping, hiking, backpacking, biking)

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Highlights of Stage 18 of La Vuelta Espana earlier today.

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

I carry a murse (mochila arhuaca) daily. So you name it, I’ve probably had it in it.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Wolverine

32 What is your favorite book?

The Perfume by Patrick Suskind, don’t know what keeps bringing me to this book but I’ve read it like five times already. Another marvelous book is the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Growing up my grandma used to make white rice, red beans, and ground beef. I would slather it with ketchup and mix it all together. Totally gross looking and not that great tasting if you have a taste for good food, but the best meal in the world at the same time! I can’t eat grandma’s anymore but I have made it a handful of times since I moved to the US, and I get a belly ache from eating so much every time.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

June 10 to July 10, my birthday month. Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you how to get one of those!

35 What is your favorite plant?

Frailejon (Espeletia genus)

36 What is your favorite science fact?

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, where my hometown is located, is the only only mountain system in the world where you could hike from a tropical beach to a glacier.

37 What is your favorite season?

Summer

38 What is your favorite smell?

First drops of rain hitting the ground

39 What is your favorite sound?

The sound of the waves in my hometown, Santa Marta, Colombia.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I recharge by being around and interacting with people.

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

Mariposa

42 What is your proudest moment?

Sharing college graduation with grandma.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

My grandma used to refer to long lived healthy people as oaks. So an oak tree.

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

I am not sure I should say this: Last non-crowded affordable place in the US northern Rockies with world class access to trails and the outdoors.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’m the child of a teenage single mom. Thank you mom and grandma for all the opportunities and privilege you afforded me to be where I am today!

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

Sergio Avila @Sergio_concolor