Adele Julier is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cape Town. Her work focuses on reconstructing vegetation and fire dynamics in North-East Namibia over the past 1000 years, using pollen and charcoal records. Adele previously did her PhD at The Open University, UK, on modern pollen-vegetation relationships in Ghana and before that trained in Natural Sciences and Botany. In between her PhD and postdoctoral position, Adele spent a year as a secondary school science teacher at state schools in London, where she honed her teacher voice. In her spare time she enjoys choral singing, gin, and taking pictures of under-appreciated plants.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

No animal pets, but lots of plant pets (I name them so they count as pets)

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I move too often to accumulate much decor, so no, sadly

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Only English fluently, but I can embarrass myself in about 5 languages

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

Academic precarity means I am constantly considering this and never have a good answer

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

Entomology, definitely. Insects are SO COOL.

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

Back to Cape Town (had to leave to look after family in the UK, thanks COVID)

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

Flight would be fun.

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

If you’re into UK politics, The Bunker is a great podcast. And Sophie Jamieson’s new EP ‘Hammer’, which is beautiful.

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

Get up late, go for a walk and look at some plants, maybe paint my nails, watch some Netflix.

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

Gin, Choir, Friends

15 What beverage gives you life?

White wine with ice in, at the moment, because it reminds me of South Africa

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

Nicholas Harberd’s ‘Seed to Seed’ as it gave me a tiny glimpse into the life of an academic

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

Pre-14, music teacher, post-14 ‘Botanist’ (not having the foggiest what that actually involved)

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

That there is so much to find out, so much to do, so much potential in the world.

19 What got you excited in science?

I think the sheer diversity of life, particularly plants, is what got me interested in the first place.

20 What excites you about science now?

Honestly more or less the same, only now more specifically focussed on palaeoecology and pollen. I think I am, at heart, really a natural historian.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Love Island

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I’m really good at ‘Where’s Wally’ and other activities that involve locating very tiny things in amongst other tiny things…

23 What is your favorite game?

I used to quite enjoy playing ‘Pandemic’ before it got a bit too close to home.

24 What is the last book you read?

Bits from ‘Palaeopalynology’ by Alfred Traverse

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

I can’t think of a specific piece of advice, but I always appreciate the opportunity to observe calm, diplomatic people going about their business, and I try to learn from them.

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

So many cooking things. I get worried I’ll mess up so I don’t try anything new, it’s got to change!

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

Be kind. To others and to yourself.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Being in a choir.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

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

I once travelled cross country on a train with some samples preserved in a chemical so nasty that, had it spilled, I would have had to evacuate the carriage and call the fire brigade.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Hippos! I had one grazing right outside my tent in Namibia, and have never been so simultaneously delighted and terrified in my life.

32 What is your favorite book?

Maurice Maeterlinck’s ‘The Life of the Bee’

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Risotto with a scandalously large amount of Parmesan

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Any long, dozy summer days you can sit outside way into the evening watching it go dark

35 What is your favorite plant?

Oh there are TOO MANY but my oldest favourite is Myosotis (forget-me-nots)

36 What is your favorite science fact?

That bananas are actually berries

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

Piano music

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

When I have something I’m aiming for, I’m pretty persistent in achieving it.

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

Gezillig (Dutch for ‘cosy’ but usable in so many situations)

42 What is your proudest moment?

Getting a 2:1 overall at undergrad in the end, despite miserable marks in my first 2 years.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Ceiba pentandra (although I think I might be overselling myself there, it’s much more exciting than I could ever dream of being)

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

Well I’m meant to be in Cape Town, and it’s breathtakingly beautiful.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’ve lived with > 40 different people in the past 10 years, in 12 different houses/flats, 6 cities and 4 countries.

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

Cherie Dirk (@CherieJDirk) and Boitumelo Marope (@BMmamarope)