Sergio Avila with a canyon landscape behind him. Photo provided by Sergio Avila
Sergio Avila with a canyon landscape behind him. Photo provided by Sergio Avila

Sergio is a Mexican-born, recent U.S. Citizen who is working on intersection of Social and Environmental Justice at Sierra Club. He is a conservation scientist with over 25 years’ experience working on both sides of Mexico-U.S borderlands. He has extensive field experience with jaguars, ocelots, pumas, rattlesnakes, pygmy-owls and monarch butterflies. M.S. degree in Arid Lands Ecosystem Management (University of Baja California); B.S. in Biology (University of Aguascalientes). “I fight stereotypes, patriarchy, colonization and racism.”

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Three cats and one Sonoran desert tortoise

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Lots of wildlife photos!

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Spanish, English and understand some Portuguese and Italian. I can say “hello” and “thank you” in over a dozen languages.

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

Soccer (futbol) player

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

Sports medicine

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

Tanzania or Kenya or South Africa

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

Just run, run, run

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

Watch: “Lorena light-footed woman” (Netflix).
Read: “Black Faces, White Spaces” by Carolyn Finney
Listen to: “All my relations” podcast

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

Just run, run, run

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

1. Running
2. My cats
3. People’s enthusiasm for nature

15 What beverage gives you life?


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

‘The Microbe Hunters’ by Paul de Kruif

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

1. Futbol (soccer) player
2. Wildlife Biologist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

My two nieces and Big cats existing in the world

19 What got you excited in science?

My parents as role models and working with big cats

20 What excites you about science now?

New records of wild cats in areas where they are repopulating and expanding (Ocelots, Jaguars, Snow Leopards)

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Women’s shoes

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Drawing and carving wood

23 What is your favorite game?

Futbol! (soccer)

24 What is the last book you read?

“We Rise” by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

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

“Work in what you love, so it doesn’t feel like work”

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

Competitive swimming

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

Be patient; have some discipline; shut up; read books.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?


29 What is the last thing you watched?

Schitt’s Creek

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

Skunk’s scent glands

31 What is your favorite animal?

Mountain lion

32 What is your favorite book?

“Lions Share: the Story of a Serengeti Pride” by Jeannette Hanby

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

The longest, sunniest, warm day

35 What is your favorite plant?

All cacti plants (saguaro, prickly pear, barrel cactus)

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Vaccines prevent diseases! Vaccines work!

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Fresh made corn tortillas

39 What is your favorite sound?

Cactus wren (a bird)

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

Being outspoken

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

Gooooooool! (goal)

42 What is your proudest moment?

Photographing jaguars and ocelots at a ranch in Mexico after years of searching, only 30 miles from the US border, and helping that ranch gain protection for wildlife conservation

43 What kind of tree would you be?

An ash tree

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

The weather

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

In 1996 I played a soccer game against a professional Mexican team (Chivas de Guadalajara) at a pack full stadium in Aguascalientes. It was a thrilling 11-0 loss! Between 1997-98 I lived among the Indigenous Tarahumara (Raramuri) of the Sierra Madre in Mexico. I lived in cabins and caves, and hiked mountains and canyons, learned traditional wildlife tracking, fishing, building. This transformed my vision of environmental stewardship and conservation, and gave me a new education and respect about Native communities in Turtle Island. In 2003 I had two live encounters with jaguars and five mountain lions in the mountains of Sonora that became life-changing experiences and shaped my personal and professional life.

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

@MirnaManteca; Jessica Moreno (@trackerjessica); Ashleigh Thompson (@ashanishinaabe); Lydia Jennings (@1NativeSoilNerd); Holy Barton