André is an evo-devo biologist whose aim is to try and understand the impact of nutrition on development and how it is shaped by evolution. His science life started in his hometown in Lisbon, Portugal. After completing a B.Sc. in Biology, he took a year to volunteer and work in the Mirth Lab, who study how nutrition affects development. This was where he got his interest in research and decided to pursue a master’s degree in Biology of Evolution and Development, which led him to travel to Melbourne, Australia. He then started a PhD degree collaborating with three different labs to understand how protein impacts egg production in Drosophila. He is now finishing his PhD and looking forward to where science will lead him next. In his spare time, he likes to read and discuss fantasy and science fiction books, workout with his friends at the gym, attend BodyCombat classes and play all sorts of video and board games.

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?

Does a lot of plants count?

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Yes, I have a framed scientific drawing of a female and male Drosophila melanogaster on my desk, given to me for a “Secret Santa” gift

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Baking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Sweet

7 Do you speak any other languages?

Yes, I speak Portuguese and a bit of Spanish too

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

A fantasy writer

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

Mixing biology with astronomy would be awesome!

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

Back home to Portugal, maybe stopping in Japan for a couple of weeks

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

Being able to control the elements, Avatar style!

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

Watch Chernobyl, read Remembrance of Earth’s Past Trilogy and listen to some Thomas Bergersen

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

Have brunch with friends, walk around and enjoy the weather, then read when the sun is setting and game throughout the night

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

Coffee, a good book and the gym

15 What beverage gives you life?

Coffee… every. single. morning

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

Memorial do Convento (Baltasar and Blimunda in the English edition) by José Saramago, it isn’t a super interesting book but it broke all expectations of what I thought a book should be and it inspired me to read more and find new ways to be surprised by literature.

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

A scientist! (But one of the ones that makes things explode and creates mutant creatures like horse-sized spiders)

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Getting the cool result/answer for a problem I devoted a lot of time thinking about, that feeling of accomplishment is like a drug

19 What got you excited in science?

Having the drug mentioned above with more frequency haha (except when the experiments don’t go as planned). That and trying to know more about how things work and how just one slightly wrong thing and the whole system can come crashing down, either an organisms’ development or an entire ecosystem

20 What excites you about science now?

The fact that we are moving faster and faster, hopefully in a good direction. What we knew 10 years ago is becoming old news and every year there are so many cool discoveries!

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Eating chocolate-chip cookies, it’s hard to stop once I start.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can wiggle my nose like Samantha in Bewitched if that counts as talent

23 What is your favorite game?

Recently, Immortals Fenyx Rising. Of all time, that spot goes to Spyro.

24 What is the last book you read?

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

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

“Do as I say, don’t do as I do” said my dad plenty of times when telling me to focus on my studies and “Trust yourself, no one knows you better than you do” which was my mum’s saying every time I was conflicted about a big decision in life.

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

Swimming with sharks

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

Don’t stop believing in yourself, and don’t lose yourself, whoever doesn’t like it will have to deal with it.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A warm drink and a book work wonders to let go of the stresses of this world, nothing better than be on an adventure to save the world

29 What is the last thing you watched?

The Handmaid’s Tale

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

Antibodies for staining fruit fly tissues. Having to transport that from Portugal to Australia and ask flight attendants if they could store that in their fridges led to various awkward/funny situations

31 What is your favorite animal?

Red Panda

32 What is your favorite book?

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Korean Bibimbap

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

25th April, Freedom Day in Portugal

35 What is your favorite plant?

Walnut tree (which is also one of my last names)

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Sharks existed before trees

37 What is your favorite season?

Fall

38 What is your favorite smell?

Freshly baked bread

39 What is your favorite sound?

Rain falling outside

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I can easily debate things and love to be the devil’s advocate, just to get the discussion going

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

Saudade, it’s a word that does not translate to English, but it means the love you feel for someone/something that stays when that is gone

42 What is your proudest moment?

Being the first in my family to be a PhD student, but I’m guessing actually graduating will supplant that

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A walnut tree or a willow tree

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

The good food and the amount of things one can do nearby from walking through gardens/parks to go see shows/galleries (Melbourne)

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I have over 700 books split between my mum’s house in Portugal and the place I currently live in

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

Brendan Houston (@biolbrend)