Meike is a cognitive neuroscientist fascinated by humans’ ability to process face identity.

She is a leading expert on the topic of Super-Recognizers, who translates fundamental research into policing and law enforcement.

Meike collaborates with various international police agencies and is a scientific advisor to the Berlin Criminal Investigation Division, and expert contributor to the EU project SafeCi – Safer Space for Safer Cities.

She is originally from Germany, where she studied (neuro)psychology and discovered her love for the brain and faces. Meike did her PhD in Belgium, and a postdoc in Scotland, funded by the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS).

Currently, Meike lives in Switzerland, where she is funded by a Swiss National Science Foundation promoting women in academia (SNSF PRIMA) grant, and leads the Applied Face Cognition Lab.

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, a Russian Blue (cat) called Lavazza. He has a little goatee and squints a bit.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Yes

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Cooking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Savory

7 Do you speak any other languages?

German and English are my mother tongues (I lived in the US for 5 years until I was 10). Other than that I speak French and a bit of Italian

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

Why would I want to switch professions?! I”m sure I would end up doing some type of other research.Why would I want to switch professions?! I”m sure I would end up doing some type of other research.

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

Medicine or physics.

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

Japan

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

Knowledge replication

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

Sir Philip Pullman’s trilogies ‘His Dark Materials’ and ‘The Book of Dust’.

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

Morning yoga, followed by boating on the beautiful river Aare and a massive BBQ with friends.

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

In no particular order: sun, food, and drag queens.

15 What beverage gives you life?

Morning coffee paired with orange juice.

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

I really cannot remember :-S

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

According to VHS evidence, I wanted to be a ballerina when I was 10. I started ballet about 15y later…

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Curiosity.

19 What got you excited in science?

During my studies in Bochum, in one of his classes, Onur Güntürkün spoke about symptoms of patients with hemispatial neglect. I thought it was the most intriguing thing, and have been hooked on studying the brain ever since.

20 What excites you about science now?

On a meta level, that science and knowledge is becoming accessible to everyone. Regarding my work specifically, that there are so many possibilities for translation into other areas of research, as well as into real-life / society.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Binge watching series.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can selectively move my left lower eyelid.

23 What is your favorite game?

Pandemic (I swear we started playing before COVID).

24 What is the last book you read?

Contact by Carl Sagan.

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

Document everything.

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

Nothing, really.

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

Take more breaks.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Animals, beach, yoga, dancing it out.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

We’re Here.

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

I once travelled with a(n uncooked) “Sauerbraten” in my luggage.

31 What is your favorite animal?

I love cats, dogs, and horses equally.

32 What is your favorite book?

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Tacos or pizza.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Any summer day.

35 What is your favorite plant?

Anything edible that attracts bees. This year it’s a close tie between our tomatoes and raspberries.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

A low-frequency hum of purring at 25–50 Hz could stimulate muscles and promote bone healing.

37 What is your favorite season?

Summer

38 What is your favorite smell?

Cinnamon

39 What is your favorite sound?

Waves

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

That I am unapologetically honest.

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

Schmetterling.

42 What is your proudest moment?

Not sure whether “pride” is an accurate description, but finding out I’d received funding to start my own lab was a pretty big deal for me.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A cherry tree.

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

Switzerland’s beautiful lakes, rivers, and mountains – especially the Aare in Bern.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

According to Wikipedia, the smoot is a nonstandard, humorous unit of length named after Oliver R. Smoot, whose height was used to measure the length of the Harvard Bridge. Oliver R. Smoot later became chairman of the American National Standards Institute and then, president of the International Organization for Standardization.

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

Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew)