Priya Shukla scuba diving near coral and a clown fish. Photo provided by Priya Shukla
Priya Shukla scuba diving near coral and a clown fish. Photo provided by Priya Shukla

Priya Shukla is a 2nd-year PhD student at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory where she is studying how climate change is affecting shellfish aquaculture. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science & Management from UC Davis in 2011 and her M.S. in Ecology from San Diego State University in 2015. Inbetween advancing her education, Priya has worked as an environmental consultant, a high school environmental science teacher, a public educator, a policy specialist, and a lab manager. She is currently a National Science Foundation Sustainable Oceans Trainee and a California Sea Grant Graduate Fellow, working with the Hog Island Oyster Company to explore ways to help farmed oysters withstand the effects of temperature-associated diseases in a warmer ocean. Priya is also an avid science communicator — she is currently a Forbes Science contributor where she writes about ocean and climate science. Her website is

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

We always had goldfish, got a beagle (that I creatively named ‘Snoopy’) in the 3rd grade. My husband and I now have a cat that is as old as our relationship (almost 12 years old!)

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Yes, we have a clock that has various formulas in lieu of actual numbers (e.g., instead of the number 4, it says “# of bases in DNA”).

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Hindi somewhat fluently & Spanish somewhat poorly

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

Professional Television Show / Book Reviewer

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

neuroscience, virology

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

Bali, Indonesia

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


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

Watch: Wonderstruck from the BBC
Read: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Listen To: the Science Versus podcast by Gimlet

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

I want to read a book, go out and see nature & then grab a bite to eat / a nice frothy beverage at my local watering hole.

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

My phone, Capsaicin, Books

15 What beverage gives you life?

Hot coffee

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

Mama Day by Gloria Naylor & the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

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

A biologist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Climate Anxiety & Social Injustice

19 What got you excited in science?

I have a distinct memory of being in Ms. Brisken’s 7th grade Life Sciences class and learning about gymnosperms and falling in love, scientifically, with conifers.

20 What excites you about science now?

I am fascinated by the resilience of natural systems. Humans have had such a profound impact on them, and they continue to thrive.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies … and the Harry Potter Wizards Unite Niantic Game (a girl can dream she’s a witch, right?!)

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I like to think that I have a keen eye for design.

23 What is your favorite game?

Mario Party

24 What is the last book you read?

Spillover by David Quammen

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

Everything in moderation, even moderation.

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

Cliff diving

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

You don’t need to figure out who you are yet, you have a lot of road left ahead of you.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

To go on a walk.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

RuPaul’s Drag Race, All-Stars Season 4 #AllStars4

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

I once found a partially eaten cookie in my bag. I decided to finish eating it and it wasn’t stale!

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, but also Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Dried Mangoes & Baked Hot Cheetoes

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

The First Day of Summer!

35 What is your favorite plant?


36 What is your favorite science fact?

Tardigrades (water bears) are so hardy that they can survive after being exposed to the hostile environment that is outer space.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

My husband’s voice, and also his laugh.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

That I am unconditionally tenacious. (I had to ask my husband for help on this one!)

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

Hopefully this is true, but I learned that “Shemomedjamo” is a Georgian word for the experience of being full but continuing to eat something because it’s so tasty!

42 What is your proudest moment?

When I got into my PhD program & when I started writing for Forbes Science!

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A redwood — I mature slowly and require a lot of time to figure things out.

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

It’s incredibly foliose!

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Herpes virus is lethal for Pacific Oysters!!

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

Linh Anh Cat, aka @Microbe_Meows