Michelle Stantial is a quantitative ecologist interested in developing statistical models to inform species conservation management decisions. Her broad research interests include predator-prey relationships, population dynamics, decision science, and endangered species conservation. Her specialties include hierarchical models, occupancy estimation, and survival analyses. Michelle is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate with USGS at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.


1 Are you an early bird or night owl?


Early Bird


2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?




3 Do you have any pets?


Yes! I have 2 doggos that are my shadows. One is a border collie named Britta, and the other is a little nugget, side-of-the-road special named Tallulah.


4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?


Does study species-themed décor count?! Because my house is filled with bird paraphernalia 🙂


5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?




6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?




7 Do you speak any other languages?


I can get by in French-speaking countries, and I’ve recently started learning German which is a delightful language!


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


Be an outdoor adventure guide.


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?


Teleportation with any objects I’m physically touching. For example, I want to go mountain biking, so I hold onto my bike and we appear in Moab!


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


My Green Manifesto by David Gessner


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


Since today it’s snowing, I want to go skiing!


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


My skis, my mountain bike, and my dogs.


15 What beverage gives you life?


Coffee blended with coconut oil and butter.


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


The Giver


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


An astronaut. Still do.


18 What drives you and keeps you going?


Providing a voice for wildlife through research so that we might better protect and conserve our natural resources before its too late.


19 What got you excited in science?


The first time I held a bird (an osprey), my whole world changed, and I switched from studying pre-med to focusing on wildlife. I was 21 years old.


20 What excites you about science now?


The very same thing still excites me. Except now I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for how banding birds can help us to make better informed decisions about how we manage populations.


21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?


Checking the weather. I’m obsessed with the weather, and I check it about 10 times a day. It makes me happy.


22 What is a secret talent of yours?


Being able to look at a map one time and know my way around a place. I have a special place in my memory for maps.


23 What is your favorite game?




24 What is the last book you read?


So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo


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


Never forget where you came from.


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


I’d like to do more surfing. I learned a long time ago, but I have a healthy fear of the ocean.


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


Ask more questions.


28 What is the best way to de-stress?


Anything outside… I know that I keep talking about how much I love my mountain bike, but it’s true! But I’d also take a day of skiing or hiking or rock climbing too!


29 What is the last thing you watched?


Manhunt: Deadly Games


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


I keep a jar of peanut butter in my bag at all times.


31 What is your favorite animal?


Probably any butt-bobbling bird. There’s something magnificently hilarious about watching a spotted sandpiper or Louisiana waterthrush forage.


32 What is your favorite book?


All the Lonely Planet guides.


33 What is your favorite comfort food?


Velveeta Shells and Cheese


34 What is your favorite day of the year?


I don’t think I have a favorite day of the year…


35 What is your favorite plant?


Staghorn fern


36 What is your favorite science fact?


Einstein’s theory of special relativity has always been mind-blowing and difficult for me to grasp: the idea that events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another and the implications of that are astounding to me..


37 What is your favorite season?




38 What is your favorite smell?




39 What is your favorite sound?


The hustle and bustle of any city in India.


40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?


That I love food, and all kinds of food, and I love trying new foods. I love food.


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




42 What is your proudest moment?


Defending my dissertation and graduating with my Ph.D.


43 What kind of tree would you be?




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


The weather. We fully experience all 4 seasons and I truly love that.


45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.


My grandfather served in the US Army alongside Elvis Presley.


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


Alfredo Gonzalez @_AlfredoGonz