Brittany is a Master’s student at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, where she is studying how NRCS cover crops impact bird abundance and use during the wintering, migrating, and nesting periods. She has a particular fondness for sparrows and other grassland birds and is an advocate for grassland restoration and climate change research. She is a native from South Florida where her love for animals, especially birds, grew due to her nature-loving upbringing and her proximity to the Florida Everglades. When she’s not out birding, she enjoys any time she can with her family and friends and dog, Ollie, playing video games, and making art, digitally and traditionally.

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?

Yes

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Yes

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Baking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Sweet

7 Do you speak any other languages?

I used to speak fluent Spanish due to my Abuelos raising me alongside my parents, but my Spanish now is pretty lousy!

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

Environmental Law

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

Marine Biology

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

Costa Rica

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

Teleportation

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

Read – The Shades of Magic Series by V.E. Schwab; Listen to – the latest Rina Sawayama album “SAWAYAMA” and Hayley Williams’ solo debut “Petals for Armor I and II”

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

Either I’m waking up super early to go bird or I’m sleeping in until 11am, there is no in between

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

My binoculars, my phone, and my Nintendo Switch

15 What beverage gives you life?

Coffee (with oat milk!) and ice cold water

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

The Road – I had it read it before it became required reading my senior year and it’s still one of my favorite books today.

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

A veterinarian specifically at the Australia Zoo

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Honestly, my work and the works of others in my field. Seeing so many of us fight for climate justice, social justice, and global justice of all kinds makes me want to be a better version of myself every single day.

19 What got you excited in science?

My dad is a charter boat captain and has a degree in Marine Biology and Chemistry. He taught me to love science and to pursue it as a career. Seeing him do what he loves made me want to go forth and do what I love, and that was working with animals.

20 What excites you about science now?

All the new things we learn EVERY SINGLE DAY! Regardless of what field, we’re discovering so much about so many things on this planet and our universe and that’s so wild to me.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Spending hours playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons LOL

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I did color guard in high school so I can throw things in the air pretty high and catch them (usually).

23 What is your favorite game?

This is a loaded question with multiple answers so I’m just gonna say Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, because Johto is the best generation.

24 What is the last book you read?

The last book I read to completion was Vengeful by V.E. Schwab. Currently reading through 3 different books that I probably won’t finish for another year.

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

Never change who you are for anyone else. Accept that you are uniquely you and don’t apologize for it (unless you’re being a jerk, then you should probably reevaluate yourself).

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

Rock climbing, mostly because I know it takes a lot of core and I definitely lack that but also because I’m scared of falling.

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

Don’t get caught up in the petty drama and learn to love yourself. Also, try and talk to your parents more about your mental health because they’ll be more understanding and it’s better they hear about your struggles from you and not from your Tumblr.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Sitting on the couch with my dog while watching baking shows.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Night On Earth (it’s on Netflix and the cinematography is SICK)

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

A ziplock bag in case I find a dead bird

31 What is your favorite animal?

Another loaded question!!! My favorite animal has and always will be the grey wolf (I have one tattooed on my arm). I initially wanted to work with wolves in wildlife but realized that birds were my calling. My favorite bird right now is the Bee Hummingbird.

32 What is your favorite book?

Call of the Wild! I read it when I was ten and it’s shaped me into who I am, realistically.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Nachos loaded with queso

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

The first day of fall, as long as it’s not in South Florida because fall doesn’t exist there

35 What is your favorite plant?

I really love flowering dogwood trees!

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Woodpecker and hummingbird tongues are so long, they wrap around their skulls.

37 What is your favorite season?

Fall

38 What is your favorite smell?

Sage and Juniper. I have this one candle from Bath and Bodyworks called Winter Sage that is no longer in production, so I only light it on special occasions.

39 What is your favorite sound?

Grasshopper Sparrow songs, especially if they’re paired and are warbling. Nothing is more satisfying than hearing those little dudes sing their hearts out.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I have a pretty killer sense of humor

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

Schmegegge – it’s Yiddish for “dumb*ss” essentially

42 What is your proudest moment?

Getting into grad school with funding. I had been rejected by my dream school and had been accepted with no financial aid to other places, so when I finally found a project that I loved and got it, I felt on top of the world.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Probably a dwarf oak because I’m short

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

I’m gonna answer this for Knoxville and not SoFla. Knoxville has a great mix of urban and natural spaces. I love that I can drive only an hour and make it to the Smokies or even less than an hour and find other amazing parks to hike around. And then if I wanna hang around a more urban spot, Downtown is so much fun and full of life. It’s a great mix!

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’m a pretty open book so there’s not a lot I don’t share. But I guess for those who don’t know me, I’m a pretty proud advocate for mental health. I personally take anti-depressants for my anxiety and depression and have previously been ashamed to talk about it. Now I try my hardest to fight for people like me who feel like they can’t be open about their mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health and we need to start normalizing it and stop the stigma!

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

@ecologistash on twitter!