Sarah Alewijnse looking up toward the ceiling in a museum exhibit. The picture is a selfie and taken from the reflection of a mirror on the ceiling. Photo provided by Sarah Alewijnse
Sarah Alewijnse looking up toward the ceiling in a museum exhibit. Photo provided by Sarah Alewijnse

Sarah is a PhD researcher at the University of Southampton and the Natural History Museum London. Her project uses fish ear stones to study metabolic rates across different species. She is most interested in ichthyology, the study of fishes, but she is also passionate about UK wildlife in general. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys SCUBA diving, cross-stitching and making art.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

My rescue cat called Marmite.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?


5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

I’ve been attempting to learn Dutch for the past couple of years.

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

Something creative, like designing book covers.

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

Geology. I loved doing geology A-Level.

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

Home to the UK, to see my fiance and cat (I’m on a placement in the USA right now).

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

Breathing underwater

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

Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini, especially if you’re thinking of taking one of those DNA tests.

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

SCUBA diving in the morning, pub lunch, walk in the woods and then spend the evening relaxing and cross-stitching.

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

Fish, food and friends.

15 What beverage gives you life?


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

Brother in the Land by Robert E. Swindells

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

A marine biologist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

A curiosity about the natural world, and a vague hope that my research will make a positive impact on the world.

19 What got you excited in science?

I got given a book (the DK Eyewitness book on sharks) for my birthday. That was my gateway into marine biology, and from there I got more excited by science in general.

20 What excites you about science now?

Working with people to increase the knowledge pool of humanity.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Coca Cola

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I grew up in Michigan, so I can ice skate.

23 What is your favorite game?

Stardew Valley

24 What is the last book you read?

The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair

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

At the beginning of my PhD another PhD student in our lab told us to never work weekends, unless we 100% absolutely had to. It was great to set up that weekend work wasn’t expected, and has helped to maintain my mental health throughout my PhD.

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

Bungee jumping

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

Stop putting it off and learn to drive.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?


29 What is the last thing you watched?

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

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

Fish eye lenses

31 What is your favorite animal?

Any deep-sea fish

32 What is your favorite book?

Any of the Harry Potter books

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Christmas Eve

35 What is your favorite plant?


36 What is your favorite science fact?

Whales have prehensile penises

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

Waves breaking

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My love for learning

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

Portemonnee (Dutch for purse)

42 What is your proudest moment?

Passing my driving test

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Silver birch

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

The New Forest

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

There are at least 21 species of shark which live in UK waters year round.

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

Evie Morris (@eviejmorris)