If you’re looking for Marianne Denton, try the mountains, or a stream, maybe in the desert. As an aquatic ecologist and environmental scientist with Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Marianne is always looking at new ways to investigate the ecological integrity of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. If she’s not out in working and playing in nature, you’ll find Marianne sharing her passion and knowledge with the greater community. In addition to looking at the wonders of Earth’s natural world, Marianne also loves to explore the cosmos through her telescope and learning about astrobiology.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

My life, and heart, has been shared with so many dogs and horses over the years. Right now, Lothar, an African Grey parrot, bosses me around and asks “wanna go for a car ride?’ Of course, we have to.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

In my home office (AKA spare bedroom), I’ve turned the bathroom into a wetlab with all my hobby sampling equipment, and there is A LOT of insect (especially dragonfly) art.

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?

After having radiation therapy, I seriously considered becoming a radiation oncolgist – it’s physics and medicine together!

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

Primatologist working on orangutan conservation.

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

Atlanta because my best long-time girlfriend lives there and I miss her so much.

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

Shape-shifting like an Animoph.

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

A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold

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

Play in the forest, either skiing in winter or looking for insects and invertebrates in the summer.

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

Running, insects and mountain lakes.

15 What beverage gives you life?


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

Somehow as a young white girl in a small mountain town I ended up with a biography of George Washington Carver, and that’s when I became both a scientist-in-training and a civil rights activist.

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

High school biology teacher.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Life. I love life. I love there’s so much to be discovered all the time.

19 What got you excited in science?

I think that science was always very much part of my childhood, but my 5th grade teacher brought in some pond water and projected it on the screen and I was in love with this brand new world of very small creatures.

20 What excites you about science now?

That we’re moving closer and closer to learning about the origins of life on Earth and the possibility of life within the Solar System.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Cashmere sweaters

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

High performance sports car driving

23 What is your favorite game?

Our son introduced us to Cards Against Humanity, and oh my goodness, I am so rotten at heart.

24 What is the last book you read?

My husband knows I love crime novels and non-fiction, so Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher: Hunting America’s Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology by Max Allan Collins

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

“That’s the price you pay for being unique and not conforming.”

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

I dream about flying all the time, so I think about hang gliding but there’s no way I’m jumping off a mountain.

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

You have far more talent, more intelligence and ability to do amazing things with your life. Quit messing it up.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A very, very hot bath.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

The Inner Light. Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s so good.

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

Random dead insects or desiccated rodent skull that I’ve found.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Dragonfly as anyone on twitter is constantly subjected to during the summertime.

32 What is your favorite book?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë or The Stand by Stephen King. I read it about every five years, and it still scares me.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

PB&J with chocolate milk.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Today. Every day is an adventure.

35 What is your favorite plant?

Sunflowers growing tall and bright, feeding all the native bees.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

That as aerobic organisms, we live because cyanobacteria put oxygen into our atmosphere 2.5 billion years ago.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Horse barns with sweat, tack, manure and hay.

39 What is your favorite sound?

My son’s assigned ringtone.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My sense of adventure.

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

Echolocation or alpenglow.

42 What is your proudest moment?

Any time that I’ve stood up for, and stood by the side of, some one who is being bullied by another.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Populus tremuloides aka Quaking Aspen

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

All the outdoor recreational opportunities.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Male dragonflies have a special appendage that scoops out a previous male’s sperm before they mate with a female.

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

Katie Strang @palaeokatie she is so incredibly interesting, goes on all sorts of adventures, does incredible science communication and is just her most authethic self.