Chase is a behavioral ecologist and conservation biologist who researches the behavior, physiology, and management of elephants. He is currently a PhD candidate at George Mason University in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Chase’s current work focuses on understanding the reproductive behavior and biology of male Asian elephants. He is a National Geographic Explorer and a former Fulbright Research Fellow in Sri Lanka. You can find out more about Chase’s work at www.cladue.org.

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?

Yes! A white labrador named Tucker (who, like all other dogs, is the best dog in the world).

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Of course! My apartment is filled with elephants that I’ve collected from friends and loved ones, and along my research trips.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Baking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Sweet

7 Do you speak any other languages?

My pandemic project has been learning Sinhala, the predominant language spoken in Sri Lanka.

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

Zookeeper (still working with elephants, of course!)

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

It would still be biology, but I find immunology fascinating.

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

Sri Lanka (although a close second is Gabon)

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

Teleportation…I love traveling, but can’t stand the transit time (or carbon footprint)!

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

I’m always trying to convince my friends to watch Killing Eve–not at all science related, but I watch it over and over again.

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

If I could spend it anywhere in the world, it would be a quiet morning with elephants, followed by an afternoon reading in the shade, then a night under the stars.

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

Elephants (have I mentioned yet that I’m obsessed?). Books. My photographs that represent memories of good times traveling and with friends and family.

15 What beverage gives you life?

Water. One of the quirks about me is that it’s the only thing I drink.

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

Gorillas in the Mist, by Dian Fossey. It made me want to spend my life studying and spending time around animals.

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

A zookeeper, and then a writer, and then a zookeeper again. I’m lucky to have a job as a scientist where I sort of get to do the best of each of those.

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

The opportunity to make a positive difference.

19 What got you excited in science?

Trips to the zoo as a child, combined with science teachers in school who encouraged me.

20 What excites you about science now?

I get really excited sharing “my” science, whether that be through academic publications or presentations, or through informal talks with students.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

The Bachelor (but don’t tell anyone).

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I’ve played the piano for over 20 years, but only my family has ever heard me play.

23 What is your favorite game?

I’m not a gamer, but I do like a good round of Mario Kart with friends.

24 What is the last book you read?

“Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past,” by Sarah Parcak

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

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.

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

I used to be afraid of heights, so skydiving was always something I thought I’d never do. I’m eager to try it now though.

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

Pursue your passions and interests, and put your whole self into those.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Watching trashy reality television…it always makes me feel like I have my life put together.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

An episode of The Office.

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

I’ll let you guess (hint, I use fecal samples from elephants to study their hormones).

31 What is your favorite animal?

Elephants (I’m particularly fond of the Asian species).

32 What is your favorite book?

I enjoy re-reading “Into Africa” by Craig Packer

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Pizza. Even bad pizza is pretty good pizza.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

World Elephant Day (it just so happens to be my birthday, too).

35 What is your favorite plant?

I have the opposite of a green thumb, so I’m not going to subject any plant to being my favorite…

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Elephants have more genes dedicated to olfactory receptors than any other animal we know of…that means they’re some of the best sniffers in the animal kingdom!

37 What is your favorite season?

Spring

38 What is your favorite smell?

Don’t judge me, but the smell of elephant dung has a nice earthy odor…

39 What is your favorite sound?

Elephant rumbles…they literally travel through you, so you often feel them before you hear them.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My organizational skills (although sometimes it gets on my nerves too…)

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

අලි​යා (I’ll give you three guesses what that means in Sinhala)

42 What is your proudest moment?

Not a moment, but working with so many other dedicated people makes me very proud to do what I do.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Southern magnolia tree

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

Living in DC means I always feel like I’m walking around where important things have happened.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

People often ask me how I got so interested in elephants, and I’m always embarassed to admit that it was from repeated viewings of “The Jungle Book” as a child. I’m so grateful that initial interest sparked what has turned into a passion that I plan to dedicate my life to.

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

Surangi Perera (Twitter: @SurangiPerera1)