Alyson Brokaw standing in front of a bat mural. Photo provided by Alyson Brokaw
Alyson Brokaw standing in front of a bat mural. Photo provided by Alyson Brokaw

Alyson is a Ph.D candidate at Texas A&M University studying olfactory foraging behavior in Neotropical fruit bats. When she is not hiking around the jungle looking for bats, she can be found playing ultimate frisbee, running or making wildlife inspired jewelry.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

A very clingy chocolate lab mix named Gonzo, and a chinchilla named Priscilla

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

So many bat prints!

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?

Personal trainer or photographer

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

Archaeology or science journalism (does that count?)

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

Ecuador or Peru! I really want to visit the Amazon

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

Speak to animals or be able to speak any human language

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

Superstore (TV): For funny and sometimes surprisingly insightful commentary on today’s society
Merlin (TV): I just recently watched this series – fun and cheesy fantasy, British accents and amazing costumes

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

Honestly – sleep-in way past a socially acceptable hour, take the dog to the dog park and then curl up with a new fantasy book

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

Chapstick, my glasses/contact, and chocolate

15 What beverage gives you life?

Hot mulled apple cider

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

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle.

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

A wildlife biologist!

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Field work! Really, the privilege of getting to see and interact with this amazing group of animals (bats) that most people never see up close.

19 What got you excited in science?

Realizing that there is still so much we just don’t know about things, especially nature. Even in systems where we think we have things figured out, there always ends up being something that throws us for a loop.

20 What excites you about science now?

Really learning the behavior and personalities of individual animals, and getting to learn new ways of communicating science

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Those silly “match-3” style phone games.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Not really secret, but I guess playing ultimate frisbee?

23 What is your favorite game?

I am ruthless when it comes to Settlers of Catan

24 What is the last book you read?

The Wee Free Men by Terry Prachett

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

It is easy to recognize when doors or opportunities open, but it can be harder to understand why/when doors close. Sometimes you need to recognize that a particular opportunity wasn’t meant to be, and instead put your time and effort towards things that will move you forward in life.

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

I would like to get into adventure sports like rock climbing or mountain biking, but I’m too scared of heights

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

Be unapologetic about who you are

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Curling up on the couch with my dog and some Disney movies

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Aladdin (new live-action version)

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

I imagine some sort of bat sample – I’ve probably carried around bat poo and bat fur in vials before.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Bat (obviously). Second favorite are hummingbirds

32 What is your favorite book?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Butternut squash soup

34 What is your favorite day of the year?


35 What is your favorite plant?

Sassafrass tree. I love that they have tree different types of leaves, and smell great.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Bats are the only mammals in which male lactation has been observed in the wild.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

That musty, earthy smell of the jungle

39 What is your favorite sound?

Rain through the leaves

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

When I commit to something, I do it with 100% effort

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

Murciélago (Spanish for bat). I love the accent in the middle of the word.

42 What is your proudest moment?

Passing my candidacy exams for my PhD

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Maybe some kind of pine tree? I’m stubborn and sometimes a little prickly.

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

Affordable cost of living, proximity to Austin (largest urban bat colony in the US!)

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

When I was younger, I used to collect unicorn figurines

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

Melissa Ingala (@bat_biomes)