Dr. Erin Westgate is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida, where she studies boredom, interest, and why some thoughts are more engaging than others. ​She received her PhD in social psychology from the University of Virginia in 2018. Much of her research has been on the conditions under which people enjoy or do not enjoy their own thoughts. She has extended that work to the larger question of why people become bored, developing a new model of boredom that explains what boredom is, why we experience it, and what happens when we do. She spends her free time looking at fish in her many fresh and saltwater aquariums and — when lucky — in the ocean while scuba diving.
Website: erinwestgate.com

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

Abby the golden retriever, Rose & Darcy the orange tabbies, and approximately 27 mollies (fish)

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I have an octopus dress and a shark dress, do those count?

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

German (but poorly)

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

Marine bioogist

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?


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?

Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

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

Scuba diving! Manatees! I’m glad I live in Florida

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

Books, pillows, being warm

15 What beverage gives you life?

Coke Zero

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

The Poisonwood Bible

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

Naval historian

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

My favorite feeling is curiosity/intense interest

19 What got you excited in science?

I grew up with a middle school science teacher (mom & vertebrate paleontologist (dad) for parents – they absolutely had me excited about science from a very young age

20 What excites you about science now?

Getting to know things nobody else does – when we have a question about how the world works, we actually get to answer it. That’s our job, that’s amazing.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

The Sims

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Titanic Trivia Facts

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

The Leaning Tower and Other Stories by Katherine Anne Porter

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

There’s two ways to get famous in our field: having your own ideas or tearing down others. No one wants to be famous for the latter

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

Bullet coffee

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

Things will work out

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Bathtub, book, candles, bubble bath

29 What is the last thing you watched?

True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality

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

A jar of baby hammerhead sharks

31 What is your favorite animal?

Nurse shark

32 What is your favorite book?

Kindred by Octavia Butler

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Macaroni and cheese – why do you think the MAC model got its name?

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

‘September 26

35 What is your favorite plant?

Traveller’s Tree (Ravenala madagascariensis)

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Singular? I cannot pick a single favorite science fact.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

New rain

39 What is your favorite sound?

Waves on the beach

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I am curious about everything, and I love that

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

I think my proudest moments have all been the proud moments of the people I’ve taught or mentored – watching them succeed makes me want to cry (in a good way)

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Live oak

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

The nature and outdoors; we are close to freshwater springs and both oceans, and I love the wild vines and palm trees and the prairie

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I kept an octopus in my campus office during grad school

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