Alicia Rich in the lab wearing safety googles, gloves, and using a pipette. Photo provided by Alicia Rich
Alicia Rich in the lab wearing safety googles, gloves, and using a pipette. Photo provided by Alicia Rich

Alicia is a biologically and anthropologically trained primatologist working as a Visiting Researcher at Boston University. Her research contextualizes the varying primate adaptations and constraints that emerge in human-impacted landscapes. She focuses on a variety of primate species, including chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, and pottos. Alicia is also an avid trail and ultrarunner and an advocate for gender equality in sports and science. Her website:

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

One Catahoula Leopard Dog/Great Dane Mix named “Fiona”

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

My house is filled with photographs of primates and maps of primate habitats. My partner is a medical doctor, so we also have a lot of other biology-themed artwork, including a great water-color rendition of mitosis.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

I can manage a few phrases in Spanish, German, and Kiswahili.

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

Maybe a professional runner or novelist, but honestly I just love studying primates more than anything else.

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

Maybe geography… I love a good map.

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

Uganda! I miss my favorite field research site desperately.

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

Super speed

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

I am a TV junkie (mostly low-quality stuff by others’ standards). I’m obsessed with Outlander and This is Us right now. I’ve rewatched Grey’s Anatomy, Hart of Dixie, and Gilmore Girls countless times.

Some of my all-time favorite movies include Out of Africa, The Hunger Games, and Finding Traction.

If you want an entertaining book about field primatology, I recommend A Primate’s Memoire by Robert Sapolsky. When I’m in the mood for a novel to unwind to (especially in the field), I’m a big fan of Barbara Kingsolver’s books.

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

RUN ALL THE MILES. Preferably on trails, with my friends.

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

Primates, Running, Good Food

15 What beverage gives you life?


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

Gorillas in the Mist

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


18 What drives you and keeps you going?


19 What got you excited in science?

I read a book about primates as a kid and became obsessed. I started volunteering at a zoo when I was 14, and my world was consumed by primatology and wildlife biology.

20 What excites you about science now?

The world is changing faster than ever, and I want to know how primates are responding.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Soapy TV shows, wine, and pizza (usually together)

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Downhill, technical trail running

23 What is your favorite game?

I actually kind of hate most games.

24 What is the last book you read?

The Professor is In

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

If someone’s going to do it, why not you?

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

Write a book

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

Take your time. You deserve better opportunities than you realize, and slowing down will not stop you from achieving your goals.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Running, tv

29 What is the last thing you watched?

I’m rewatching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy while I type this.

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

Chimpanzee poop

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

Anne of Green Gables

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

I think this changes every year…

35 What is your favorite plant?

Fig trees, because they attract all of the primates.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

How can I pick one?

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

Rain on a tin roof

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My sense of adventure

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

The day my PhD was finally conferred. That was a long, treacherous battle.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Red mangrove (I had to find an online quiz to answer this)

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

Cleveland – The great, relaxed running community I discovered so quickly (especially all of the strong, inspirational women).

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

As of today I have run every day for 5 years, and that includes running a mile inside an airport terminal en-route to the field from Boston to South Africa.

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

Stephanie Poindexter @s_poindexterus