Sam Sharpe in a green house. Photo provided by Sam Sharpe
Sam Sharpe in a green house. Photo provided by Sam Sharpe

Sam Sharpe is a PhD candidate and graduate teaching assistant in the Division of Biology at K-State. They received a BA in Biology from Carleton College, and their current research focuses on local adaptation to environmental stress in a wild grass species. Sam believes strongly in the importance of scientific literacy, science communication, and the capacity of biology to empower self-understanding of diverse identities.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

I have orchids and succulents

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I have a great “Queer Science” poster I got at the oSTEM national meeting and a photograph of Konza Prairie.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

I studied Spanish in high school and college, but I’m definitely not fluent.

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

I would be an artist or a journalist.

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

If I could switch science fields, I would want to study sex determination systems.

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

I would go to the Galapagos Islands.

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

I would love to be able to locate lost objects.

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

Yes! Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Also the podcast series “Seeing White” from Scene On Radio.

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

In my time off, I like running races, spending time with friends, and performing as a drag king.

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

My Klean Kanteen water bottle and thermos, my hiking boots, and my bicycle.

15 What beverage gives you life?

Coffee, as bitter as possible

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

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I read it in AP Literature in 12th grade, and I think it was the first queer novel I’d read in school, which was a revelation.

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

A paleontologist, a park ranger, a writer, an artist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Queer rage and insatiable curiosity

19 What got you excited in science?

Going to the Behind the Scenes night at the California Academy of Sciences and finding salamanders under rocks.

20 What excites you about science now?

I love working with plants so much!

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Lurking on the subreddit for my favorite YouTuber

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can do the worm.

23 What is your favorite game?

I have a really beautiful board game called Photosynthesis where the objective is to grow plants as fast as possible.

24 What is the last book you read?

Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings

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

My 4th grade teacher told me that you can’t ever be perfect.

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

Circus acrobatics

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

Allow people to like you. Assuming everyone hates you is a great way to push people away.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Exercising and/or watching the Great British Bake Off.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

I watched a gymnastics meet between the University of Alabama and University of Oklahoma.

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

Mini CO2 capsules for the Li Cor 6400

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Thai style eggplant

34 What is your favorite day of the year?


35 What is your favorite plant?

Epiphytic bromeliads

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Biological sex is not a binary!

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

Ice cubes squeezing and cracking right after putting them in a drink.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My synesthesia (I have grapheme synesthesia and so perceive numbers and letters as colored)

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

My last race as a college varsity swimmer. It was the 200 yard butterfly, and I got a personal best time and placed 4th overall in my conference.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A cedar tree

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

I don’t need a car to get around the city I live in.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Caffeine blocks absorption of non-heme iron (the kind that is found in plants). I learned this the hard way.

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