Michi Tobler crouched down taking a picture of something on the ground. He is surrounded by bright green vegetation. Photo provided by Michi Tobler
Michi Tobler crouched down taking a picture of something on the ground. Photo provided by Michi Tobler

Michi is an evolutionary biologist that tries to understand how fish adapt to extreme environments. He grew up in Switzerland, but has lived in the US for 15 years. Michi is passionate about community engagement and helping scientists develop skills to connect to different audiences.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Too many… fish, reptiles, chickens, and a dog

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Some scientific illustrations and assorted pinned insects

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?

Farm-to-table chef, with the farm and the restaurant

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?

Machu Picchu

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

Understanding people’s true intentions

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

I never miss an episode of the Moth Radio Hour. Best storytelling! Also, Our Planet on Netflix for its breathtaking imagery.

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

Read, chase the kids around outside, and cook dinner. And nap. I definitely want to nap.

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

My family, my computer, and good food

15 What beverage gives you life?

AAppenzeller (and diet coke if I am really honest)

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

Candide, ou l’Optimisme, by Voltaire. It definitely shaped me, although I am not sure whether it was in a positive way.

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

A farmer

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Lots of things in different situations. Curiosity, my students, a sense of purpose and obligation…

19 What got you excited in science?

A love for nature

20 What excites you about science now?

The freedom to push frontiers, the intense satisfaction when you understand something new, and the ability to share that with others

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?


22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Making a cheap, under-appreciated cut of meat your next dream meal

23 What is your favorite game?

Tschau Sepp (a Swiss card game)

24 What is the last book you read?

The Feather Thief, by Kirk Wallace Johnson

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

Don’t be a dick

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

A career outside of academia

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

Don’t be such a dick!

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

This will sound weird… but I sit down and try to learn something new in R. Or photography.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Season 3 of Goliath

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

Pop bottles full of specimens

31 What is your favorite animal?

Other than fish? Elephants!

32 What is your favorite book?

The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

December 31; I have two daughters that were born that day, 10 years apart

35 What is your favorite plant?

Eriophorum (cotton grass)

36 What is your favorite science fact?

We make it unnecessarily hard for people to learn about science, but it doesn’t have to be that way

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

When you come home and somebody else is cooking but you don’t yet know what it is

39 What is your favorite sound?

The cacophony you hear when sitting next to a forest stream

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

That I am always eager to learn something new

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

Rhabarbergonfi (rhubarb jam in Swiss German)

42 What is your proudest moment?

When I learned to admit to myself that I struggle with depression and anxiety and started to take better care of myself, so I can become the person that my family, friends, and students deserve

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A ceiba

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

The sky

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

If you don’t have a sous-vide in your kitchen, you are missing out!

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