Rob Chavez is a social neuroscientists and Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of Oregon. He studies the neural basis of self, identity, and how the brain processes social information. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, he is passionate about technology and inspiring interest in brain – from people of all backgrounds – to better understand who we are and how we interact with one another.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?

Pro-pun

3 Do you have any pets?

A Cat named Tesla.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Not really, but I’d like some.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Cooking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Savory

7 Do you speak any other languages?

Very poor Spanish my grandmother would be disappointed in.

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

Bass player in a funk band.

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

Data science

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

New Zealand

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

Telekinesis

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

While social distancing the last couple of months, me and the kids have been binging season 49 of Sesame Street. Trust me, it’s solid.

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

I’m playing and going on mini-adventures with my kids (6yo and 3yo).

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

Coffee, spicy food, and time to myself.

15 What beverage gives you life?

A solid IPA!

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

Not in high school, but early in college Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman was one of the first novels to really hit me on so many levels.

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

Video game designer

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

My kids, family, and friends. Cliché? Yes. The truth? Absolutely.

19 What got you excited in science?

In New Mexico where I grew up, iron deposits would collect in dried streams in the dessert. I used to collect the iron with refrigerator magnets and put in plastic bags just for fun. Now I use big magnets (MRI machines) to study the brain. Maybe it’s not a coincidence.

20 What excites you about science now?

I think it is fascinating that the 3 pound piece of meat between your ears is responsible for processing all of the information that makes up our world, including our sense of who we are, our emotions, and how we think of other people around us. There is so much we do not know about these areas, and I am excited to be able to contribute to this.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Karaoke

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can do some okay celebrity/politician impressions.

23 What is your favorite game?

Video game: Zelda.
Board game: Settlers of Catan.

24 What is the last book you read?

The War For Kindness by Jamil Zaki.

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

“Listen to everyone, but don’t really listen to anyone.” I always took this to mean that everyone has something important to contribute, but it is up to you to collect this information and put it together to decide what for what works best for you.

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

Skydiving or anything similar. I like the thrill, but I really don’t want to die!

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

Don’t look so far ahead that you miss what is passing by. Stop and savor the time and energy you have with the people you care about because everything eventually evolves.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

I like to listen to podcasts while I casually play bass or ukulele.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

My daughter asked if we could watch the episode of The Simpsons were Lisa becomes a vegetarian. She knows I can’t say no to watching a rerun of The Simpsons.

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

I have a magnetic ‘friendship key chain’ shaped like an avocado that my daughter gave me on my bag right now.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Hippo

32 What is your favorite book?

Goodnight Moon. It’s my son’s too.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

New Mexican green chile breakfast burrito.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Halloween

35 What is your favorite plant?

Saturn

36 What is your favorite science fact?

You are your brain in action.

37 What is your favorite season?

Fall

38 What is your favorite smell?

New Mexico rain

39 What is your favorite sound?

Feet running on small pebbles.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I’ve always been very introspective and strive to be honest with myself. This has helped me think through issues and give myself appropriate credit for the things I’ve accomplished. It has also helped take more responsibility in the places where I have inevitably faltered.

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

Oscuro.

42 What is your proudest moment?

I earned my undergraduate degree at University of New Mexico after transferring from the local community college and working full-time throughout all of my time college. Although I finished my PhD (at a “fancier” school) and was lucky enough to get hired as an assistant professor, neither of these top the sense of pride I felt completing my undergraduate degree.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Does a cactus count?

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

If I really wanted to, I could go skiing and hang out on the beach on the same day…. (though, that might be a little chilly).

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I don’t like cheese…. (with some exceptions like pizza and tacos).

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

João Guassi Moreira (@C_Shamballa)