Conner Philson with clouds and a mountain landscape behind him. Photo provided by Conner Philson
Conner Philson with clouds and a mountain landscape behind him. Photo provided by Conner Philson

Conner is interested in the evolution of animal behavior, especially social behavior, and how the environment influences animals. He currently studies these questions as a Ph.D. Student at UCLA and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory ( in Colorado. Find him @ConnerPhilson on Twitter and on the web.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?


4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I don’t have any home decor come to think of it.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Hablo un poco de espanol

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

Something in politics or government

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?

London, UK or New Zealand

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

Flying would be convenient

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

Watch: The West Wing
Read: The news! Read the news
Listen: The Daily (podcast by New York Times)

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

Climb a mountain or play golf

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

Coffee, coffee, and coffee

15 What beverage gives you life?

Coffee (have I said coffee enough yet?)

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

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

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

I wanted to be a police officer (but what kid doesn’t)

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

The fact that I still get excited while doing my research and learning new things

19 What got you excited in science?

The adventure

20 What excites you about science now?

The accessibility of science knowledge and resources for people around the world

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Flavor-blasted goldfish

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

My inability to think of secret talents

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

An evolutionary behavioral ecology textbook (and it was a good one too)

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

Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity

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?

Keep on keepin’ on

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A hike/time in nature

29 What is the last thing you watched?

The Report on Amazon

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

Well I’m a field biologist, so I don’t know where to start with the weirdest thing in my bag, so let’s just go with animal poop

31 What is your favorite animal?

The belted kingfisher (if I had to just pick one)

32 What is your favorite book?

Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Election day!

35 What is your favorite plant?

Pinus jeffreyi (Jeffrey pine) or Juniperus communis (common juniper)

36 What is your favorite science fact?

That more than 99% of all species to ever live on earth are extinct. The biodiversity is earth’s history is amazing.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Bath and Body works candles

39 What is your favorite sound?

Songbird calls

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I can work through terrible conditions in the field with a smile

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

Getting into graduate school

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Populus tremuloides (Quaking aspen)

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

Well I spend half my year in Los Angeles. Anything and everything you could ever want to do happens in and around L.A. You can do an alpine climb in the morning, hit the beach in the afternoon, and see a movie premier in the evening.
The other half of my year is in the field high in the Rocky Mountains, and my favorite thing about the Rockies is, well, the Rockies.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’m really bad at these types of questions

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