Arun Dayanandan is a thesis-based Masters student in the Aquatic Chemical and Behavioural Ecology lab of Concordia University’s Department of Biology under the supervision of Dr. Grant E. Brown. Supported by the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, and the Fonds de recherche du Quebec – Nature et Technologies (FRQNT), his research experience spans animal behaviour, neuroscience, and plant biology both in the lab and in the field. He is currently studying how elevated predation risk affects mate selection and offspring behaviour in Trinidadian guppies while continuing his research collaborations in India. He is also an avid science communicator, having received fellowships and awards from Concordia International, the International Wildlife Film Festival, Concordia’s School of Graduate Studies, and the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability, and has delivered over 30 academic presentations and workshops in ten different countries to hundreds of fellow scientists.
Arun’s personal website (http://arundayanandan.com) contains links to his many videos, podcast episodes, and articles.

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?

Over the years I’ve owned a variety of birds, fish, and amphibians, including 3 Red-bellied piranhas

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?

Both

7 Do you speak any other languages?

Yes

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

Museum curator

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

Forensic Science

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

Antarctica

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

Talking to wildlife. It would make for some really great research projects!

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

(For everyone) Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
and
(For students) Mastery by Robert Greene

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

Go on an adventure with my camera and see what I can film/photograph.

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

You can’t go wrong with water, oxygen, and carbon.

15 What beverage gives you life?

Water. I’m a beverage purist. Unless you have a king coconut on hand, then all bets are off.

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

Apart from Flow and Mastery, probably Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

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

Assuming I’ve grown up – a scientist. So far so good!

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

That there are people in this world that could use an extra hand and that I’m lucky to be in a position where I can pay it forward.

19 What got you excited in science?

Libraries. An endless curated supply of knowledge in books and films all at your fingertips – it’s like legal pirating!

20 What excites you about science now?

Being surrounded by like-minded people who are pushing the boundaries of human knowledge in ways that would have been unimaginable a decade ago and seeing that work directly improve the lives of others.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Romantic comedies. There, I said it!

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Sleeping deeply anywhere and everywhere, yet staying alert. Honed through years of travel.

23 What is your favorite game?

The Sims, but with all the ladders removed.

24 What is the last book you read?

Science Blogging: The Essential Guide by Christie Wilcox

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

If you make a mistake, look up and smile. The audience won’t notice.

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

Not scared but just haven’t had the opportunity: Eating giant grubs in the Amazon. Or a fried spider in Southeast Asia. Or a Sourtoe cocktail in the Yukon.

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

Start eating more. Your workouts will go a lot better and you’ll feel fantastic.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A workout followed by a hot shower, going to a restaurant with friends, and a good book before bed.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Pumas: Legends of the Ice Mountains

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

A toss-up between a bottle full of live leeches and a jar of rotten eggs.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Kookaburra!

32 What is your favorite book?

At the moment it’s Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Popcorn. I’m eating some right now.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Halloween

35 What is your favorite plant?

Nepenthes sp.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Whichever I learned most recently. Did you know your eyes have their own immune system?

37 What is your favorite season?

Summer

38 What is your favorite smell?

Campfire and marshmallows.

39 What is your favorite sound?

Dominant seventh sharp ninth

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

Dreaming. Dreaming is pretty fun. Both the night and day kinds.

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

I have one but it’s on the tip of my tongue…lethologica!

42 What is your proudest moment?

Applying for, and being accepted to, the Concordia Galapagos Project and the study abroad program in Australia, and subsequently getting involved on- and off- campus. Good job past me, now let’s make future me proud!

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Ficus religiosa since they provide ecological and socio-cultural value for so many.

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

The multitude of languages and cultures. There are endless learning opportunities in a city like Montreal.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Fish have complex personalities and change their behaviour based on social conditions, environmental changes, and much more. Some are terrific parents, some build elaborate displays in the sand to attract mates, and still others will switch sex if the balance in their group is off. Think about that the next time you visit your local aquarium!

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

@biologist_in_training