Gerard is a vector biologist focused on insect genetic engineering. Originally from a town near Barcelona, he moved to Australia to pursue his PhD degree in the McGraw lab working on the genetic basis of Wolbachia-mediated dengue virus blocking in the mosquito Aedes aegypti. He then started a 3-year PostDoc in the Bier lab developing second-generation CRISPR-based gene drives in mosquitoes and flies, especially aiming to mitigate the appearance of resistance to the transgene upon introduction into a naive population. He recently moved to Penn State University where he focuses on improving insect transgenesis techniques and virology-related projects.

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?

No

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I have a framed drawing of Einstein playing basketball, if that counts.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Cooking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Savory

7 Do you speak any other languages?

Catalan, Spanish and Italian (in that order)

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

Strength and Conditioning coach

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

Any branch of Astronomy

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

Home, I haven’t been in a while. I’d make sure to detour to Melbourne and maybe some place else, though.

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

Time bending is underrated.

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

The Leftovers (HBO), anything Haruki Murakami and Janelle Monáe

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

Good breakfast and out with my road bike, the day mood changes from then on.

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

Phone, wireless earbuds and sports

15 What beverage gives you life?

Coffee, literally.

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

Mecanoscrit del segon origen (Typescript of the Second Origin), by Manuel de Pedrolo. It is a Catalan classic based on a dystopian future. Talks about struggles of growing up from the perspective of two friends, lone survivors on Earth.

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

Geographer/Astronomer

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Curiosity and the capacity to have some contribution to the community.

19 What got you excited in science?

I think it was when I realized the amount of molecules and processes that have to work perfectly for life to happen. All tuned and balanced.

20 What excites you about science now?

The pace of innovation and how fast discoveries are made, and the impact they can have in the world. Think that, in biology, we went from deciphering the genetic code to precise genome-editing in 50 years. It’s mind-blowing.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Crema catalana, or crème brûlée. I’ll take as many as you have, thanks.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Juggling, and remembering stats (in sports) or who’s been in what movie. Not relevant talents, really.

23 What is your favorite game?

I’m playing a lot of Diablo in the Switch. But all-time, World Cup 98 and Age of Empires II.

24 What is the last book you read?

Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall and Movies (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano. I finished both at the same time.

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

“If you are good to go out till late, you are good to get up early”, said my mum many times on Saturdays and Sundays. I think it teaches accountability very well.

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

Podcasting, or writing a novel.

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

Problems come, and problems go. It is what you learn from them.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A day in the Mediterranean coast.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

FC Barcelona winning the basketball Spanish Cup over our arch-rivals. As for shows, Lupin on Netflix.

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

On the plane from Barcelona to the Egypt-Sudan border, while descending, I realized my passport had been expired for a while. Safe to say no-one cared and I made it back home OK a couple weeks later.

31 What is your favorite animal?

The African elephant

32 What is your favorite book?

A Storm of Swords, by George RR Martin.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Neapolitan pizza.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

April 23rd. It is the Catalan Day of Love, everyone has a smile on their face.

35 What is your favorite plant?

California redwood

36 What is your favorite science fact?

That in a frozen lake, all liquid water under the surface is at a perfect 4ºC.

37 What is your favorite season?

Spring

38 What is your favorite smell?

Any of the main cooking herbs (freshly-cut mint, parsley, basil..)

39 What is your favorite sound?

The cracking sound of dried leaves.

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

That I really believe that, no matter what, hard work pays off.

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

You can’t say ‘whisper’ out loud, which makes it perfect. For this same reason and the amount of “sh” sounds, my pick is xiuxiueig (whisper in Catalan).

42 What is your proudest moment?

Being the first person in my family to get tertiary education and the joy everyone got when I graduated.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Pine tree

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

Short commutes, nature and the ability to go to big cities if you need buzz.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I have broken all fingers at some point in my life.

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

My good friend Lara (@Larallbb)