Berly McCoy on the water, holding a trout. There are mountains in the background. Photo provided by Berly McCoy
Berly McCoy on the water, holding a trout. There are mountains in the background. Photo provided by Berly McCoy

Berly McCoy is the NPR Scicommers program coordinator and a freelance science writer. She has a PhD in Biochemistry and was a 2019 AAAS Mass Media Fellow at PBS NewsHour. Find her work on her website ( and follow her on Twitter @travlinscientst.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

I have a black lab named Shooter. He is the best boy.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

A beaker mug and a NASA calendar. Now that you mention it, I need more science-themed decor.

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?

Professional singer/songwriter.

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

Something outside. Anything outside.

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


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

Compassion spreading (maybe something like the gun in the Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy)

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

If you are grappling with white privilege: White Fragility (book).
If you are anybody: Just Mercy (movie).
If you like science (who doesn’t?): Short Wave (podcast).

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

Go fishing or rock climbing.

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

In my everyday life: my husband and my dog. Everything else is replaceable.

15 What beverage gives you life?


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

Bird by bird

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

A writer!

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Some inner fire that I don’t understand, question or have the controls to.

19 What got you excited in science?

Following my interests in small steps. Religion studies led me to philosophy led me to psychology (neuro) led me to biology led me to chemistry. Having a woman science professor in college provided the light bulb moment I needed that convinced me I could study science.

20 What excites you about science now?

The problems it can address- hunger, disease, conflict and disconnect.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Ice cream!

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I’m a songwriter :). My genre might be considered Americana?

23 What is your favorite game?

Apples to Apples

24 What is the last book you read?

The Art and Craft of Feature Writing

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

Go by Berly McCoy as your writer name (my full name is Kimberly). Thanks Ben!

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

If it’s too scary, I don’t want to try it. If I want to try it, I do.

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

Trust your boldness.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Go outside and do anything: run, climb, garden, lay in the grass.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Star Trek Enterprise.

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

A maggot-covered baby squirrel that lost its mother. We were transporting it to a lady who rescued squirrels.

31 What is your favorite animal?

First fave: doggos.
Close second – platyhelminthes

32 What is your favorite book?

Any of the Harry Potters

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

My birthday!

35 What is your favorite plant?

Anything I can eat.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

If all the 1 × 10^31 viruses on Earth were laid end to end, they would stretch for 100 million light years.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Tomato leaves

39 What is your favorite sound?

Flowing water

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I attract the best kinds of friends.

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

Finishing my PhD

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Whitebark Pine

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

The great outdoors.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

We gather and chop our own wood for heat during the winter (and much of the spring and fall because Montana).

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