Brian O'Toole surrounded by various types of antlers. Photo provided by Brian O'Toole
Brian O’Toole surrounded by various types of antlers. Photo provided by Brian O’Toole

Brian is a biologist concentrating in evolutionary biology and conservation genomics. More specifically he is a mammalogist who studies African fauna using museum collections to understand how populations have changed or evolved over a short time frame of evolutionary history and how they may be at risk from a conservation perspective.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?


4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Natural History art and old photographs of mammal skulls

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

a little bit of French

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

Park Ranger

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


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


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?

Watch: Will & Grace (old and new)
Read: The Species Seekers
Listen to: My Favorite Murder Podcast

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

Get outside if at all possible (park, beach, forest) OR go to a museum

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

Long runs, books, and ice cream

15 What beverage gives you life?

Black Coffee

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

The Call of the Wild

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

An Expeditionist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

All of the unanswered questions

19 What got you excited in science?

My teachers in high school and the passion they exuded from teaching biology and earth science

20 What excites you about science now?

The rapid development of technologies (especially in genetics)

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Binge watching Mysteries at the Museum

22 What is a secret talent of yours?


23 What is your favorite game?

Pay Day

24 What is the last book you read?

The Reckoning by John Grisham

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

Comparison is the thief of joy

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

Move to a foreign country

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

Perseverance is your greatest strength

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Tea + Couch + Acoustic Music

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Alone (on the history channel)

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

Fragments of bat skin from archival samples acquired from natural history museums.

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

Brave New World

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Ice cream

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Oct 15th

35 What is your favorite plant?

Pine trees

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Crabeater seals have sieve like teeth to filter out krill (google this immediately)

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

Spring peepers

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My perseverance

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

Graduating from undergrad

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A juniper tree

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

NYC has anything and everything you could want or need

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I have driven past the Manicouagan Reservoir in Quebec which is a very strange annular lake created by a meteor.

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

Amy Wray (@amykwray)