Timnit is an environmental scientist who studies the sources, pathways and fates of small pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, in soils and coastal sediments found in urban environments. She is passionate about inclusive environmental futures and actively advocates for sustainable solutions that are designed for everyone, especially in response to the plastic pollution crises. Timnit is committed to connecting people to science, the sustainable diversification of STEM, and environmental justice advocacy. She actively works on local and national initiatives with similar goals.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?

Pro-pun

3 Do you have any pets?

Sadly no! I do a lot of pet setting to compensate for that until I can finally can get a pet of my own!

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Do plants count?

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Both

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Both

7 Do you speak any other languages?

Yes! I speak Swahili and Tigrinya as well, with VERY limited proficiency in French.

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

I honestly think I am doing what I genuinely love, but if given the opportunity I probably would be a bookshop owner or art teacher!

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

Geology!

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

If we were not in a pandemic, it would be Japan.

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

Foreseeing the future, but with conditions!

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

I have been really into the podcast ‘Breaking Green Ceilings’ and highly recommend it for EVERYONE who is in the environmental field. Read anything by Audre Lorde. Listen to afrobeats to feel the personification of joy through music.

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

Honestly? Sleep. Making art, reading, walking in nature and dancing by myself.

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

A support system (that I am so lucky to encounter anywhere I have lived), being around nature and laughter. Copious amounts of laughter.

15 What beverage gives you life?

Cold passionfruit juice

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

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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

A writer/philosopher

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

The excitement and curiosity research brings and watching my students and mentees learn and do amazing things!

19 What got you excited in science?

Having agency over problems I thought were untouchable.

20 What excites you about science now?

Still having agency over problems I thought were untouchable and teaching people to do science!

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

passionfruit and guava yogurt!

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can sing and used to sing semi-professionally for years.

23 What is your favorite game?

Sequence!

24 What is the last book you read?

Know My Name by Chanel Miller. A truly powerful and vulnerable read.

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

You are worthy of all you aspire to, but you still need breaks to get there.

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

Backpacking in Eritrea. It will happen one day though! I want to intimately learn about where I am from and hopefully keep a journal of it.

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

It may not seem like tomorrow will happen, but it will and you will have moments where you are in awe that it did and you’re here. Everything will turn out okay, I promise.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Being outside, creating, moving and immersing yourself in music.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Judas and the Black Messiah. Impeccable film about Fred Hampton and the man who betrayed him.

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

Is it weird if you understand it has purpose? My friends know that I almost always have things they will need in my bag. Call me “generally prepared woman”.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Giraffes are majestic!

32 What is your favorite book?

I read a lot, so it changes a lot.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Nachos or ketenya (toasted injera smeared with a spiced ghee and berbere mixture)

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Christmas

35 What is your favorite plant?

I love so so many plants. So, all of them. But I love showing off my ZZ plant on zoom calls the most.

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Newton’s 3rd Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

37 What is your favorite season?

Fall

38 What is your favorite smell?

Sandalwood, Jasmine, Bergamot, Lavender, Rose

39 What is your favorite sound?

Rain/Storms!

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I am unashamedly myself.

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

The word honey in Tigrinya “Maa’r”. It is musical and viscous, just like honey.

42 What is your proudest moment?

Seeing former students and mentees do all the amazing things!

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A weeping willow tree!

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

Being in the presence of the ocean and the mountains all in one go!

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I write very short poems about very expansive feelings.

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

Jasmine Childress (@_JChildress on Twitter)