Beck Strauss. Photo provided by Beck Strauss
Beck Strauss. Photo provided by Beck Strauss

Dr. Beck Strauss (they/them/theirs) is a planetary geophysicist who studies the magnetic fields of the Earth, the Moon, and other planets, and how they are recorded in rocks. Dr. Strauss holds a B.A. in geology from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Minnesota. For more information, follow them on Twitter at @BeckEStrauss or check out their website,

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Yes – two cats

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

My bathroom is themed around planetary impacts. (The shower curtain is dinosaurs!)

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 film score composer

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

Mechanical engineering

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

Burlington, VT

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?

The Core (2003) is a hilariously terrible geological apocalypse movie with a surprisingly good explanation of why the Earth’s magnetic field is important.

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

Go somewhere far away and see something new! Recent highlights include a telephone pole farm, the T. rex type specimen, curved icicles, and the Green Mountains.

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

Tea, my cat, and my other cat

15 What beverage gives you life?

Tea (I thanked Twinings in my Ph.D. thesis)

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

Twelfth Night

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

A children’s book illustrator

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

The need to earn enough money to feed my cats

19 What got you excited in science?

In college I took a geology class for non-majors, focused on coral reefs. At some point the professor described the collision of the Indian subcontinent with the Eurasian plate, and I thought it was the absolute coolest thing.

20 What excites you about science now?

I love problem-solving – fixing old broken instruments, finding ways to apply new techniques to difficult questions, sleuthing out solutions when things don’t quite go according to plan.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. It’s okay to just enjoy things!

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can identify a few dozen kinds of conifers.

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

Ancillary Sword (#2 in the Imperial Radch trilogy)

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

When you are presented with what looks like an opportunity, before saying yes, ask yourself, “Who benefits?”

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


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

Run toward the things you’re afraid to like.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?


29 What is the last thing you watched?

The most recent video from Simply Nailogical on YouTube

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

A diaphonized taxidermy snake

31 What is your favorite animal?

Snow leopards

32 What is your favorite book?

I don’t have one favorite, but Sabriel by Garth Nix is a strong contender.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Mint Tim Tams dipped straw-style in hot chocolate

34 What is your favorite day of the year?


35 What is your favorite plant?

The golden pothos I’ve been lugging around since I tried and failed to kill it in 8th grade

36 What is your favorite science fact?

The rate of plate movement along the San Andreas Fault is about the same as the rate at which your fingernails grow.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

The chirp of a cryogenic magnetometer cooling system

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I’m excitable!

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

Last month I participated in my first-ever strongman competition and I pulled a truck!

43 What kind of tree would you be?


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

It’s easy to get to other places from

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

The Moon used to have a magnetic field roughly twice as strong as the Earth does today!

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

Dr. Megan Butala (@meganbutala on twitter)