Lan-Nhi is a Biology PhD candidate at Penn State University. She studies bird songs to learn about the evolutionary history of birds in North America. She occasionally writes at her blog:

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

3 cats!

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I have a bird calendar and a growing collection of bird-themed mugs.

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?

Musician or performer of some sort.

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

History or Public Health.

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

Back home to Vietnam.

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

Breathe under water.

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

Afterglow by Luna Li, or any of her other music.

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

In bed with a hot latte and multiple things to do within reach: play Animal Crossing, reading books, watching cooking videos on Youtube.

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

My cats, my phone (don’t judge me pleeeease), and a pair of black boots.

15 What beverage gives you life?

Dirty chai latte with oat milk.

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

Humanity – Jonanthan Glover. I read it as part of an Ethics Capstone class in college, really need to read it again.

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

Zookeeper or Biology high school teacher.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

That eventually I can do some good for others.

19 What got you excited in science?

I was (and still) the person who would spend hours jumping from links to links on wiki pages to read about everything, just because I’m curious and like to get to the bottom of it. I think it’s exciting to know things and connect the dots, and also knowing that it takes a lot of research and thinking for people to get the knowledge I now read like trivia, is fascinating.

20 What excites you about science now?

That it requires much specificity, but also is forgiving at the same time because in science everyone can find their little place in the world and claim that niche their expertise. I just recently carved out my research project, and it was reassuring and exciting to know that there are aspects of it no one had done before.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Dress up nicely for no reason.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I’m quite crafty!

23 What is your favorite game?

I have an app on my phone called Animal Restaurant – it’s strange but it’s the most relaxing thing ever. You just collect recipes to serve cute characters. Highly recommend!

24 What is the last book you read?

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere – ZZ Packer.

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

“If people are jealous, it’s the problem of their own insecurities, not yours.” – my Dad

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

I don’t think I’m scared of trying anything. It’s more a matter of laziness or lacking time 🙂

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

College in the States is not as fun since you don’t like parties, so don’t expect too much.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A looooong bath.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

An episode of The Simpson.

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

A spare paperboard coffee sleeve.

31 What is your favorite animal?

I like all of them it’s really impossible to choose, but let’s say capybara.

32 What is your favorite book?

Currently “There There” by Tommy Orange.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Whatever day I go to shop for stationaries to prepare for the new school year.

35 What is your favorite plant?

The Cathalea Medallion that I own – first adult plant that I didn’t kill.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Dinosaurs became birds.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

The ocean.

39 What is your favorite sound?

Rain on glass when I’m inside.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I pay attention to details and remember small things about other people. If you ever tell me a story about your childhood I’ll never forget it.

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

“thương” – it’s a feeling more intimate and deeper than “love” when you love someone.

42 What is your proudest moment?

In junior year I went to NYC alone for a concert from Erie PA and got back in time for my OChem lab the next day.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Some kind of fern.

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


45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I walk really fast because when I do I feel like I’m going somewhere doing something important (imposter syndrome helloooo)

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

David Reichenberger (@davethewhaler on Twitter)