David was born and raised in South East Texas. After getting a PhD in neurobiology at Yale, he spent 15 years as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at UCLA, before moving to upstate New York, where he is currently a Professor at SUNY-Binghamton University. Outside of work, his interests include cultivating flowering plants, dogs and traveling.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early Bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

4 dogs, 2 parakeets, 2 canaries and 2 guinea pigs (do the ducks that live in our yard each spring count?)

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?


5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?


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

I’d start my own doggie day care center.

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


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


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

Lie detection

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

“Sonetos del amor oscuro” – Federico Garcia Lorca

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

Drive the rural back roads of upstate New York, catching glimpses of pheasants, Amish carriages, beautiful waterfalls and old stone walls.

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

My husband, my dogs and a colorful flower

15 What beverage gives you life?

Blanc de noirs champagne

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

“Gorillas in the Mist” – Dian Fossey

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

For one week at age 4 – a cowboy. Since then – a scientist.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Seeing how I’ve bettered the professional and personal lives of others.

19 What got you excited in science?

The signature of nature is its remarkable and almost incalculable diversity. I was inspired to learn about all forms of functional or physical diversity in animals or plants.

20 What excites you about science now?

Honestly, the most exciting thing about science for me today is helping trainees and young faculty find their own passion for scientific research.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Cheetos (all pleasure, no guilt)

22 What is a secret talent of yours?


23 What is your favorite game?

All the various word game apps that I play against my husband 24/7

24 What is the last book you read?

“Decolonizing Academia” by Clelia O. Rodríguez

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

“Your job will never love you as much as you love it.”

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

Travel the length of the Silk Road

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

“Take a day off now and then. It’ll hurt at first, but you’ll learn to enjoy it.”

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Take my dogs on a long walk down to the woods on our farm

29 What is the last thing you watched?

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5

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


31 What is your favorite animal?

Other than my pets, it would definitely be mountain gorillas.

32 What is your favorite book?

Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Chicken fried steak

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

My husband’s birthday

35 What is your favorite plant?


36 What is your favorite science fact?

That a part of our brain is called the indusium griseum!

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Blossoming lilies

39 What is your favorite sound?

The songs of my pet canaries.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

That I survived horrific and terrible things.

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

Receiving the 2011 Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility from the American Association for the Advancement for Science, along with my dear colleagues and friends – Professors Dario Ringach and Edythe London at UCLA

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A red oak (Quercus rubra)

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

On my farm, we see deer (stags, does and fawns), red foxes, coyotes, wild ducks, copious types of birds (my favorites are the turkeys, pileated woodpeckers, Baltimore orioles and pine grosbeaks), groundhogs (yuck!), endless types of snakes, fireflies in the summer… on and on.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I left high school after my sophomore year. I went on to the University, and as a result, I got my Bachelor’s degree 1 month after my 20th birthday.

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

Dr. Tim Mosca (@drosophilosophy)