Yasmeen Erritouni with a natural landscape that includes water, a mountain, trees, and rocks behind them. Photo provided by Yasmeen Erritouni
Yasmeen Erritouni with a natural landscape that includes water, a mountain, trees, and rocks behind them. Photo provided by Yasmeen Erritouni

Yasmeen is a genderqueer evolutionary biologist whose scientific passions are coloration and pigmentation. They’re currently working as a research assistant in a neurogenetics lab in Florida and will start a PhD program in the fall of 2020. As the child of two immigrants from different continents, they’ve always thrived on the integration of perspectives, approaches, and ideas. They’re especially driven to magnify queer voices and experiences in science and science communication.

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 have two cats named Calla and Ivan. They’re perfect because they love each other.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I like to display my field tools and tote bags from conferences. Also fossils that I find in the field!

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?

I’d open a sex-positive adult toy store.

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

I’d want to become a medical researcher to improve gender therapy for Trans folks.

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

This is cliche, but Paris

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

Time travel. Like, deep time travel. I want to see extinct organisms!

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

I recently watched Tuca and Bertie. It got cancelled but hopefully enough people yell about it to get it back on.

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

Go to a local museum or nature center

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

My family (not a thing), my partner (also not a thing), and ear plugs (for sleeping)

15 What beverage gives you life?

Mango smoothies

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

Esperanza Rising

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

A painter/the president/an author

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Finding excuses to use high tech microscopes

19 What got you excited in science?

Popsci shows for kids like zaboomafoo and the Zoobooks series

20 What excites you about science now?

Uncovering the extraordinary evolutionary history behind everyday organisms and their traits. But secretly, using high tech microscopes.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Magic the Gathering. Don’t tell anyone.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I’m a SCUBA diver!

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

Overthrow by Stephen Kinzer

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

You don’t have to stay in a toxic situation. It’s not more courageous to tough it out.

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

I think I’d do most things at least once. If I haven’t done it it’s because I haven’t gotten around to it.

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

Your plans don’t have to be perfect before you start a new project. The best way to learn is by making mistakes. But really, how much wiser am I at 23 than 18?

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Talking to the people who love you!

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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

A live corn snake

31 What is your favorite animal?

It’s a tie between giraffes and nautiluses

32 What is your favorite book?

Bird Coloration, Volumes 1 and 2

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Hummus and pita chips

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Any day I travel to a new place!

35 What is your favorite plant?

Brassica oleracea

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Oh man, there are so many. One that I use at parties is that citrus fruits are just hybrids of three plants.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

The open ocean

39 What is your favorite sound?

The call of an angry gull as it intimidates you into giving up your fries

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My confidence!

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

double entendre

42 What is your proudest moment?

Whenever I help someone grow or feel better about themselves

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A pomegranate tree

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

Florida? Alligators

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I named my dog Bernie Sanders the Senator from Vermont Erritouni

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