40 Smart Questions for Smart Girl Sara Wasserman, PhD

This week on Experimenting with Megan Amram we met Sara Wasserman, PhD. Dr. Wasserman’s research involving flies including the similarities between the human brain and the Drosophila melanogaster’s (plus lots more!) was the topic of conversation on our latest episode.

Dr. Wasserman is definitely a certified Smartie, and we’re getting to know her a little better by having her answer 40 Smart Questions!

Name: Sara Wasserman

Age: 35

Job: Postdoctoral Associate

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Which living person do you most admire? My mom! I feel fortunate to have grown up watching such a graceful example of a smart, strong, and compassionate woman.

What non-practical talent would you most like to have? The ability to fly.

What words do you live by? The motto from a semester I spent at the National Theater Institute in College: “Risk. Fail. Risk Again.”

If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Navy blue

Who was the last person you spoke with on the phone? My brother.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Large animal veterinarian.

What lights you up? Seeing that “click” and the resulting happiness when a student understands a concept they’ve been struggling with.

If you could be born in a different time, when would that be? I’m pretty happy with the time I was born in but I’m also curious about what will happen next, so if I have to choose I’d say 100 years from now.

Your Most Overused Emoji: The face where it’s smiling awkwardly showing all the teeth

Best Thing That’s Happened to You This Month: I got the green light to pilot a new project that would bring research labs to high school campuses!

APSG Sara Wasserman Flies

Favorite Color: Navy

Favorite Movie: Finding Nemo. “Just keep swimming.”

Favorite Book: I’ve always loved reading Garfield comic books…those count as books, right?

Favorite TV Show: The West Wing

Personal Lady Hero: My mom, she’s pretty darn amazing!

Favorite Season? Fall.

Early bird or night owl? Early bird for sure…too many years of morning water polo practice!

Time or space travel? Space

Dogs or cats? Do I have to pick? Dogs if I must choose.

Cowboys or aliens? Cowboys.

Internet or IRL? IRL.

Pizza or Pasta? Pizza.

Truth or dare? Truth.

Cake or pie? I can’t pick and I won’t pick. Both :)

Ready, aim, fire or ready, fire, aim? The first one.

Would you rather have finger-length legs or leg-length fingers? You guys ask the tough questions! Leg-length fingers.

Would you rather have a dragon or be a dragon? Have a dragon.

Would you rather speak every language fluently or be able to talk to animals? Talk to animals.

Show us your most recent selfie!

APSG Sara Wasserman Selfie

Favorite mad scientist? Galileo Galilei

Coolest use of science you’ve ever seen? Historically, I would say the cloning and use of GFP (green fluorescent protein) and right now I would say the use of temperature or light activated channels to turn neurons on and off is really incredible. I’m excited to be integrating these tools into my own research!

What scientific discovery would you most like to be known for? I would like to be known for asking exciting questions and for how I approach problem-solving and not necessarily the end discovery.

What are you most proud of? All my failures. They’ve taught me way more than my successes and have given me the strength to take more risks.

Why do you think STEM is important? STEM fields of study have the potential to impact so many areas of our lives from agriculture to communication to health to the arts (I love the STEAM movement!), its importance lies in its ability to span so many diverse aspects of our existence.

What’s the most outlandish scientific theory you’ve heard or seen in popular culture that could actually be real? The existence of a parallel universe.

What question besides “what is the meaning of life?” would you want to know the answer to? Can we as a society ever discover and understand “everything” or with each new discovery will we always reveal new questions?

Sara Wasserman, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at the Frye Lab at UCLA/HHMI.