Monica is a biologist and conservationist specializing in shorebirds and their habitats. She was a 2017 Wilburforce Fellow in Conservation Science and a 2014 American Express and Independent Sector Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders Fellow. Monica works to better understand how shorebirds use different habitats. She then collaborates with public agencies, private landowners, farmers, industries, academia, and other non-profits across the Americas to protect and improve the coasts, grasslands, and wetlands that these birds need. In addition to conservation science, Monica loves meeting new people, crocheting hats, sewing stuffed animals, backpacking, repairing broken things, gardening, and trying to teach her dog new tricks.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early Bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?


4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

There are a lot of bird themed decorations around

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Spanish and a tiny bit of German. I can say a few useful phrases in Hebrew and French too.

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

A radio show host

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


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


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

To conjur up the perfect song for the moment

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

Read: The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey by Deborah Cramer
Listen: Brett Dennen

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

Go to the beach, work in the garden, and lay in a hammock.

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

coffee, access to nature, family

15 What beverage gives you life?

bubbly water

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

Waiting for Godot

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

A world traveler

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Optimism and hope that my actions contribute to protecting and conserving species and the wonders of our planet.

19 What got you excited in science?

My grandparent’s collection of National Geographic. They were bound together and dusty, and they opened my eyes to the world.

20 What excites you about science now?

The thrill of peeling away the layers of our understanding about the natural world.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Scrolling through photos of A-frame cabins

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Baking treats that are gluten and dairy free

23 What is your favorite game?

Settlers of Catan and cribbage

24 What is the last book you read?

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

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

“It is easier to critique than to create” – this was told to me by a professor when I was anxious to share my thesis with anyone for review. Once I understood that it is more challenging to create something from nothing than it is to critique it, that gave me the courage to share what I had written. This statement continues to give me courage in my work.

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

Roller derby

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

Talk to more people doing work that seems interesting to you. Ask them lots of questions.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A bike, walk, run outside preferably to an interesting destination.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Disney Animation Studies Short Film: Puddles

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

My 50lb dog and a vial of ants. Separate occasions and for different reasons.

31 What is your favorite animal?

A Tapir

32 What is your favorite book?

The Macmillan Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

My birthday and my husband’s birthday. I like reasons to celebrate.

35 What is your favorite plant?

Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)

36 What is your favorite science fact?

The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles. That’s it, our little blue marble.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

Kind of cheating here, but I love silence.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I love being with people, but I am also very much at peace doing things on my own.

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

entschuldigung – it is such a sing song way to say ‘excuse me’

42 What is your proudest moment?

Finishing my Masters degree.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)

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

The produce at the farmers markets

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

One time I replaced an exploded tire on a big truck I was using for field surveys. I was far away from any help, had no cell service, and a very tiny jack for the size of the vehicle. Every part of the process was challenging, the tire was heavy, the bolts were really tight, it was over 100 degrees and there was no shade, nothing but angry Killdeer yelling at me, but I got it done. Not five minutes later, someone drove by.

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