Ed Rivera-Valentín. Photo provided by Ed Rivera-Valentín
Ed Rivera-Valentín. Photo provided by Ed Rivera-Valentín

Ed Rivera-Valentín is a planetary scientist and NASA Early Career Fellow at the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Via systems science approaches, Ed investigates physical processes and the interactions between them using numerical models, spacecraft and ground-based observations, as well as experimental results. Ed’s research has broadly focused on habitability, with applications for planetary protection policy, planetary radar astronomy, with applications for planetary defense, and impact cratering, with applications on Solar System formation. A planet trekker, Ed’s work has spanned the solar system from Mercury out to the icy moons of Saturn. On Earth, Ed helps the community through equity, diversity, and inclusion activities, such as through the Professional Climate and Culture Subcommittee of the DPS, and the Boricua Planeteers, a visibility and mentorship group for Puerto Ricans in the space sciences. Ed can be found on Twitter (@PlanetTreky) and at http://planettreky.com.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?

Pro-pun

3 Do you have any pets?

I have two dogs! Auti and Bear!

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Yes

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Cooking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Savory

7 Do you speak any other languages?

Spanish is my first language, followed by English. I learned conversational French in high school.

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

Programmer

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

Medical physics

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

Assuming we’re out of the current pandemic, I’d go home to Puerto Rico.

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

Photokinesis

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

Brené Brown: The call to courage. It’s on Netflix. It’ll make yourself reflect.

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

Go shopping during the day, then at night go dancing at the club.

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

My puppers, my partner, and work (boredom is my kryptonite).

15 What beverage gives you life?

Coffee in the morning, and a good martini at night!

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

Most of the books assigned in school weren’t impactful, but in the later high school years we did get a section on books by Maya Angelou, and they were all amazing!

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

A teacher

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Two things:
(1) I’m innately curious and passionate about my work. I honestly have fun doing science.
(2) I want to make the field an easier place to work in such that those that come after me don’t have to put up with breaking all the barriers that I had to break.

19 What got you excited in science?

I grew up near the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. It definitely inspired me to pursue science.

20 What excites you about science now?

The “Eureka” moment!

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

World of Warcraft

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I am a pretty good mixologist.

23 What is your favorite game?

World of Warcraft

24 What is the last book you read?

Dare to lead, by Brené Brown

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

Since I was a child, my abuela would tell me that there is nothing I can’t do, only things I don’t want to do. That empowered me because it not only inspired me to see that if I set my mind to something that I could do it, but it also taught me that I could choose what I wanted to be.

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

I want to travel the world, but long flights (>5 hours) are my nightmare anxiety.

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

Well, this one is tough. This was a bad year for me. I was facing a lot of depression since I had just started to accept that I was gay. I would first give 18 year old me a hug then I would say it’s ok, it’s going to be ok. Those fears that are holding me back, that’s all they are, weights holding me back from being me.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Dancing at the club all night.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Season Finale of Will & Grace

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

When I go home to Puerto Rico, my bags come back filled with frozen pasteles.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Owls

32 What is your favorite book?

Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Puerto Rican Cheese dog (google it, it’s amazing!)

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

“I would have to say April 25th, because it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold. All you need is a light jacket” – Miss Congeniality

35 What is your favorite plant?

Hydrangea

36 What is your favorite science fact?

We are made of star stuff!

37 What is your favorite season?

Spring

38 What is your favorite smell?

Coffee

39 What is your favorite sound?

Coqui after a rain storm

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My friends

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

WEPA!

42 What is your proudest moment?

I haven’t let myself be proud of many moments in my life, but the one time I did was when I was named and awarded a NASA Early Career Fellowship.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Palm tree

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

Although I live in the “midtown” of a major city, it doesn’t feel like it because of all the trees and nature surrounding where I live, but I get all the perks (e.g., quick walk to anywhere) of living in a major city.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Bacardi uses ex-bourbon barrels for the aging of their rums.

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

Abel Mendez (@ProfAbelMendez on Twitter)