Dr. Cinda P. Scott is a Marine Biologist with training in molecular evolutionary genomics from the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. Over the years, her work has included teaching and lecturing, administrative and grants management, and scientific research. For 6.5 years, she has led The School for Field Studies, Center for Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies program in Bocas del Toro, Panama where she is currently the Center Director. She manages a team of faculty, staff and students who are dedicated to understanding anthropogenic impacts of tourism on the natural environment of Bocas del Toro. Her research examines the health of mangrove ecosystems throughout the Bocas del Toro Archipelago in addition to maintaining interests in coral reef ecology and conservation biology. You can learn more about her mission to build equity in ocean science on her website, www.cindaseas.world

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?


Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?



3 Do you have any pets?

Yes, I have a mini-schnauzer named Professor Webster.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?



5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?



6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?



7 Do you speak any other languages?

Yes. I started speaking Spanish when I was in 6th grade and never stopped. I studied abroad in Costa Rica and now live in Panama and I speak fluent Spanish.


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

I would be a dancer, professional photographer or interior designer.


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?

I would want all of the powers that Yoda has from Star Wars, particularly telepathy, telekinesis and crazy strength.


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

I think watching Chasing Coral is really important. We are losing coral reefs and the ecosystems they support at an alarming rate. The ocean supports all life and seagrass, mangrove and coral communities are under serious threat. We need to change our habits, be educated consumers and continue to work on solutions to the climate crisis. The climate crisis is not a stand alone issue. It is interwoven into cycles of poverty, classism and racism. Therefore, I recommend also reading, Stamped from the Beginning, The Warmth of Other Suns and Nickeled and Dimed.


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

Go to the beach!


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

Lip balm, polarized sunglasses, my electric bicycle


15 What beverage gives you life?

A deliciously made Cosmopolitan


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

Race Matters by Cornell West


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

A veterinarian


18 What drives you and keeps you going?

 Any kind of challenge that requires problem solving. I thrive off of challenges.


19 What got you excited in science?

Mr. Stokinger’s 6th grade chemistry assignment. We had to choose an atom and do a model of it. I chose Zinc (atomic number 30). I spent weeks designing my atom and wound up needing a ride to school in order to carry it without having it fall apart. I used hangers and all different kinds of balls and tape to make it. It was huge and I was so thrilled with it. Importantly, I realized that I was a very visual learner, but I didn’t really understand that until I took organic chemistry in college. I also really loved my vertebrate life class as an undergraduate. We got to go into the field, trap small mammals and study them, mist net birds, and do a little taxidermy (I did a squirrel). I was just happy to always be moving around and to learn by doing. I was always excited about science because I had the opportunity to put theory in to practice at all levels of my education.


20 What excites you about science now?

What excites me is that as far as we have come, there is still so much that we do not know. Imagine that we just found out there is a new species of whale! The ocean in particular is still a mystery and that is exciting to me.


21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Welch’s fruit snacks. I see them and I must eat them all. I don’t know why. It is highly disturbing to me that as a grown adult I must have Welch’s fruit snacks.


22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I am a figure skater and dancer.


23 What is your favorite game?

Uno. I love watching people’s faces as they have to draw 4, bwahahahaaaa.


24 What is the last book you read?

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. I have a 12 year old niece and she is a voracious reader. I bought her this book and I decided to read it with her. She finished it in one night and I read it over several days to catch up. We had a nice discussion about it afterward. I never read teen books, but I wanted to do something with my niece since we are far apart from each other. I highly recommend the book, we loved it!


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

Explore the world, be grateful, and live each day as if it is truly your last. No one can live your life but you. Nothing is guaranteed.


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

Well, I’ve already jumped out of a plane, and I’ve jumped off multiple cliffs into various bodies of water, so I’m definitely a thrill seeker. I love roller coasters, the bigger, the faster, the better. I guess I’d have to say that something like going into the rainforest and trying Ayahuasca scares the living daylights out of me. I do not understand why people want to do this.


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

YES! You are smart enough, you are capable and you will succeed. Stop allowing others to judge you and just go for it.


28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Going for a walk. Scuba diving. Dancing. Listening to music. Meditating. Petting my dog.


29 What is the last thing you watched?

Episode 2 of The Last Dance on Netflix. I really don’t like basketball or mainstream sports at all, but I was in high school and college in the 90s and Michael Jordan ruled the scene. I was curious about what was happening behind his fame and talent during those years so I started to watch. It is actually really interesting and he is a really intense and driven person which is intriguing to me.


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

My friend’s ashes. Prior to her death, my friend asked me to promise to take her ashes to Paris, France. I did as she asked and traveled with her from New York to Paris via Dublin. Stopped in Dublin first so she was in my bag for quite some time.


31 What is your favorite animal?



32 What is your favorite book?

My favorite book constantly changes, but right now it’s still Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende.


33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Chocolate chip cookies.


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

The day I buy new school supplies to start a new semester of teaching. A fresh, new, fun notebook and a beautiful pen (eco-friendly of course) always make my day.


35 What is your favorite plant?

Passionfruit. A passionfruit flower is absolutely one of the most beautiful and bizarre flowers on the planet. Passionfruit is delicious and I am lucky to be able to have fresh passionfruit juice here in Panama on a regular basis.


36 What is your favorite science fact?

The deepest part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep (Mariana Trench), is 36,200 feet deep.


37 What is your favorite season?



38 What is your favorite smell?



39 What is your favorite sound?

I don’t know why, but I love the sound of my dog licking water from his bowl and I also love the sound of the piano.


40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

It is impossible for me to hide my emotions. My face tells all.


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

Que locura


42 What is your proudest moment?

There are a few, but definitely successfully defending my dissertation and obtaining my Ph.D. Several awards I have received and invitations to give talks have made me proud.


43 What kind of tree would you be?

A coconut tree. Coconuts are incredible! From water to oil to juice to jelly, coconuts provide so much!


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

The ocean is 10 feet in front of me. Living on an island makes it easy to get around by bicycle and I love bike riding. Living by the water gives me so much joy and introspection.


45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’m certain that I am an extroverted introvert. I love music and dancing, and talking to and meeting new people, but I also love and cherish the times when I am alone to think and plan. I can spend hours by myself and I am 100% content.


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

Dr. Ana K. Spalding, @AnaKSpalding (Twitter)