BSc, Biological Sciences, SFU 1999
MSc, Marine Biology, University of Victoria, 2001
PhD, Community Ecology, University of British Columbia, 2007
Author (Orion Publishing, Pegasus Publishing), TV Presenter (Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, Animal Planet), Public Speaker (National Speakers Bureau)
After graduating from SFU, I went on to obtain my MSc from The University of Victoria, and then my PhD from The University of British Columbia. I have 4 children, and defended my PhD when I was 8 months pregnant with the second one. I wanted to create a career involving science and communication – but I was very much ‘stuck’ at home with my kids. Thank goodness for the internet! I wrote and hosted a web series called Wild Sex (Earth Touch Productions) that has garnered almost 60 million views. From the popularity of this series I was invited to give a TED talk, which has reached an audience of over 2 million. The Nature of Sex, a book I wrote based on the series, is currently available in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and will be available in the USA and Canada in 2016 (as Wild Sex). Since my debut in front of the camera I have done many other TV programs including Outrageous Acts of Science on the Discovery Channel and Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World on National Geographic. I also worked as a blogger and host for Scientific American Magazine for a number of years. Currently, I am host of Animal Planet’s World's Oddest Animal Couples, and I’m shooting a new series for The Science Channel in the fall of 2016. My speaking duties have taken me around the world, including Australia, Europe and all over North America.
Why did you choose to go to SFU?
SFU was always my #1 choice for my initial university experience. It was close to home, my brother attended it and many of my friends did as well. I was also lucky enough to win the President’s Entrance Scholarship when I graduated high school in 1993.
Where did you spend the most amount of time on campus?
There was this little alcove near the archaeology department, with built in benches and a view of a small pond. In my later years at SFU you could ALWAYS find me on the 6th floor of the library in a study carrel overlooking the AQ. In those days you had to photocopy journal papers with a copy card and the journals and copiers were all on the 6th floor. I just loved it there. Oh so many hours! I kind of laugh now at how much everything has changed in the digital era. Are the photocopiers even still there?!
What is your favorite memory from your time at SFU?
One of my very few A+ grades was from a laboratory course in organic chem. I had this amazing spot beside the window, and it was summer semester so the days were always beautiful. I loved making those crystals – I guess that’s why I did so well :D There are so many things that I loved about SFU. The coffee at the cafeteria, the big lecture halls, the cavernous biology labs.
Who was your favorite SFU professor and why?
Without a doubt it’s Dr. Bernie Crespi. I’m not sure he would even know how much he inspired my career. I took a social behaviour course from him in one of my last semesters and he asked us: "what do humans do that no other animals do?" This question actually inspired my first book ‘The Nature of Human Nature’. When my second book comes out I’m totally going to send him a copy!!
How has your SFU degree impacted your career?
SFU biology is what inspired me to continue studying. A field trip to Bamfield Marine Station led me to spend a semester in the inaugural fall program in 1996. I became forever hooked on beauty and biology.
What is your favorite SFU snow story?
Oh gawd. I was on a weekend field trip to somewhere - and I had parked my car on the North Side of the mountain. It snowed a bunch during that weekend and I remember coming home from that field trip and not being able to find my car. Ugh. I don’t even remember how that story ended.
If you could give advice to students today, what would you tell them?
Stay in SCIENCE. I had to spend my first few years at SFU taking 000 level science and attending night school just to get my high school sciences. If you decide not to pursue science, that’s fine – you can do an arts degree without prerequisites. However, you cannot do a science degree without prerequisites. Keep at it!!
What is the one thing about SFU that must not change?
The AQ! It’s haunting and gorgeous and a total landmark for a fabulous university.