Dr. Connie A. Rojas is a first-gen, biologist, and Latina scientist from Los Angeles, CA. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences and Psychology in 2014 from Wellesley College. On May 10th, Connie defended her dissertation and received a dual PhD degree in Integrative Biology, and Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from Michigan State University (MSU). Her research examines the causes and consequences of microbiome variation in wild mammals. For this, she travelled to the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem in Kenya to study the animals in the region, spent summers doing lab work with collaborators at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, and spent a semester at the UNAM Institute of Ecology in Mexico City. Throughout her time at MSU, Rojas has been highly committed to fostering the success of first-generation and underrepresented students like herself. In August, Dr. Rojas will be starting a Postdoctoral position at the University of California, Davis, with support form the UC Davis Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. She is very proud of her journey and hopes it motivates others to pursue their goals!

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?

had a pet scorpion and anole lizard at some point

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I have a stuffed animal – a hyena

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?

Cooking

6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Savory

7 Do you speak any other languages?

Spanish

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

Director of an Education Program for college or grad students

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

computer science

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

Italy

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

To have superior strength

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

For podcasts: You’re Wrong About, Against the Odds, Believed, Man in the Window

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

Go on a hike, have a picnic, then come home, and watch a movie while eating takeout and drinking wine.

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

MacBook Pro, group fitness classes, cheese

15 What beverage gives you life?

water; cocktails

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

Not a book, but after I took Biology in high school, I knew that that’s what I wanted to study for the rest of my life

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

teacher

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

my family; wanting a better life; proving others wrong

19 What got you excited in science?

I’ve loved nature and animals for as long as I can remember

20 What excites you about science now?

Genomics, statistics, and the microbiome

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Potato Chips and Pastries

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

When the times comes to shine, I shine

23 What is your favorite game?

Werewolf

24 What is the last book you read?

I WILL TEACH YOU TO BE RICH by Ramit Sethi

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

1. Exude confidence and others will believe you, regardless of how you feel inside. 2. The only way you fail is if you give up / don’t continue. 3. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. 4. You do not have to follow the status-quo, do whatever you want!

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

Backpacking

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

Believe in yourself, work hard, and ask for help when you need it. Things will get better in all aspects of your life. Continue staying true to yourself.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A warm shower and takeout, and going to bed early

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Leverage

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

I’ll tell you what I don’t have: I don’t carry a wallet.

31 What is your favorite animal?

Spotted hyenas, dogs, and Cheetahs

32 What is your favorite book?

Harry Potter series

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Mexican Food

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Any day of July

35 What is your favorite plant?

Diffenbachias and Begonias

36 What is your favorite science fact?

In spotted hyena societies, females have 100% control over mate-choice

37 What is your favorite season?

Summer

38 What is your favorite smell?

citrus

39 What is your favorite sound?

Pop Music

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I get s**t done

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

Dream

42 What is your proudest moment?

Receiving my PhD earlier this week

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Pear Tree

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

Extremely affordable rent, good quality of life

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’ve travelled to 4 continents

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

Olivia Spagnuolo (oliviaspagnuolo11@gmail.com), Patricia Jaimes (patriciajaimes91@gmail.com), Jenn Watts (wattsje3@msu.edu)