Sabah Ul-Hasan. Photo provided by Sabah Ul-Hasan
Sabah Ul-Hasan. Photo provided by Sabah Ul-Hasan

Sabah Ul-Hasan (@sabahzero) is a recent alumni of UC Merced, completing a Quantitative & Systems Biology PhD focused on venom microbiomes in neogastropod Californiconus californicus, at Scripps Research as an applied bioinformatics joint Postdoc-Lecturer under Dr. Andrew Su and Dr. Dawn Eastmond.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Seven fish, four snails, one frog, and one shrimp in a freshwater tank that I love dearly — long live charismatic pets!

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?

English, Urdu, Hindi, Spanish, and a handful of programming languages (badly)

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


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

Biophysics or Theoretical Mathematics

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


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

Does, “the ability to ensure everyone receives from the world based on the good they give to it” count?

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

This clip featuring George Washington Carver:

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

Sleep-in, watch some cartoons, go for a walk or hike outside, cook with friends and family to then enjoy together, maybe bungee jumping.

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

C, N, O… and H

15 What beverage gives you life?

All of the gross green juices. And bubble tea.

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

Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’

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

A doctor/ballerina/artist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

That my suffering is still so much less than the suffering of most in this world, and to keep working until that becomes more balanced.

19 What got you excited in science?

The idea that people would appreciate me for my thoughts over what I looked like, because I never cared much about appearances or making face. That turned out be an overly optimistic assumption… but I suppose at least it’s nice I can be a scientist in today’s world versus not really having that as an option for someone like me 200 years ago.

20 What excites you about science now?

There are so many interesting things about the universe, and I’m happy to do a job where I can constantly ask questions about that universe alongside other very curious people.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

McDonald’s Happy Meals. I know, it’s bad.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I’m great at giving haircuts.

23 What is your favorite game?

Sushi Go

24 What is the last book you read?

Interface Culture, by Steven Johnson

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

Two pieces:

“Just because someone is doing what you think is best, doesn’t mean they’re not trying their best.” – A Mentor

“The more success you gain, the more ‘haters’ you will gain as well, and how you respond to them will shape how you grow as a scientist and person.” – Another Mentor

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?

Everyone is living in their own version of reality.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Go for a walk

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Paranoia Agent

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

Define ‘weird’…

31 What is your favorite animal?

Spiny Lumpsucker

32 What is your favorite book?

Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’.
Fun fact: I initially selected that book to read as a kid because I thought it was about tropical jungles.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

McDonald’s Happy Meals.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

October 31st

35 What is your favorite plant?

Pitcher Plant

36 What is your favorite science fact?

We use 100% of our brain

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Tiger lillies

39 What is your favorite sound?

Rain on a quiet day.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I listen. I used to be very bad at listening to others when they speak, waiting until I could be heard. I think a lot of us are bad at listening, and would benefit a great deal from improving on this skill.

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

Moist. Just kidding.

42 What is your proudest moment?

Finishing my PhD. It symbolized a lot of what people would critique me on in my life or tell me I couldn’t be. It’s not so much about the degree as it’s about all the experiences had through the process. Proving my focus and resilience to myself was a proud moment, and to be able to share that moment with people who believe in me and to my family who has sacrificed so much was everything.

43 What kind of tree would you be?


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

I would say the only bad thing about where I live is the constant covert racism. Please stop being a “woke person” with fake dreads doing bikram yoga and catching the surf as if it all entitled to you. Thanks for coming to my TED talk. Everything is else is amazing.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I almost religiously follow the work of various animators. Animation is a wonderful way to be expressive and creative, especially on the topic of the human condition. At present, I’ve really been into Vewn (Victoria Vincent):

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

@hao_and_y, @paua_biologist, @sebastesinblue, @krishuponastar, @gserratomarks