Elke Wenting in the woods. Photo provided by Elke Wenting
Elke Wenting in the woods. Photo provided by Elke Wenting

Elke Wenting is an ecologist and currently a second-year PhD candidate at Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands. She studies the decomposing of dead animals in nature, more specifically how the scavengers (i.e. animals that eat from carcasses) above-ground determine the processes going on below-ground. Read here more about Elke’s research: https://www.wur.nl/en/project/The-importance-of-carcasses-in-nature.htm

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’ve horses, ducks, chicken and pigeon – no animals indoors.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Yes, some skulls of animals I dissected. And once I found 2 fallow deer embryos that I’ve preserved and got a nice place in the cupboard. I love such items with a story!

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

My native language is Dutch.

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

Journalism or forensic science.

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

I don’t really know because I love my work! But maybe something in chemistry or – more related to my field – soil biology.

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

South Africa, to visit a friend.

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 Hidden Life of Wolves of Jim Dutcher – the first thing that comes to mind.

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

I love hiking, so I’d definitely go for a walk and afterwards spending time with my animals and loved ones.

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

My animals, laptop, and camera. And so much more!

15 What beverage gives you life?

Water and all kind of herb tea.

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

Honestly, I don’t know…

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

Zoo keeper.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

I’m highly dedicated to getting the best out of my work. All the complex interactions between animals fascinate me tremendously and I’m very passionate by everything I do.

19 What got you excited in science?

I’ve always loved animals.

20 What excites you about science now?

My curiosity to understand the world (or at least a part of it).

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?


22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can see very well in the dark.

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

I usually read more books at the same time, hard to say which one was last..

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

Never deny yourself, stand for what you believe in. In the end, everything will be fine; If it is not good yet, it is not the end.

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

Basically everything related to water, I’m pretty scared to water and don’t like to swim.

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

Life only gets more fun when you get older.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Spending time in nature, with animals, watching TV, or puzzling.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Probably a nature documentary or something related.

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

I have been walking around with a hammer for a long time…

31 What is your favorite animal?

I don’t have one favorite animal, I basically love all animals – I can’t choose!

32 What is your favorite book?

There are lots of books that I like, impossible to choose!

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Sweet potato crisps.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

I don’t have one favorite day, try to enjoy every day!

35 What is your favorite plant?

I like all plants, but if I’ve have to choose now I’d say Zamioculcas.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Ravens comfort each other, e.g. when they lose a fight.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Everything in nature

39 What is your favorite sound?

Rustling leaves

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My dedication and perseverance.

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

I’ve never thought of having a favorite word to be honest…

42 What is your proudest moment?

Getting the funding for my PhD!

43 What kind of tree would you be?


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

The good facilities

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’m vegetarian and have some food allergies (e.g. sugar).

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