What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being in a beach house somewhere, with my dearest loved ones, and the biggest decision of the day is “what are we doing for dinner?”

What is your greatest fear? That unspeakable fear that all parents have

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Greed, self-righteousness, and entitlement (Sorry; I couldn’t stop at one.)

Which living person do you most admire? Alison Richard. She is a lemur biologist, was the Provost of Yale University when I was there on faculty, and is now the Vice-Chancellor of University of Cambridge.

What is your current state of mind? Hectic and happy

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Prudence

On what occasion do you lie? When my fiancé asks “Now, how much did those boots cost?”

What do you most dislike about your appearance? My hair. Every day is a bad hair day.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Warmth and intelligence

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My son, Dylan

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would like to slow myself down a bit. I have taken on too many commitments and really crave and miss “thinking time”.

Where would you most like to live? In a farmhouse, somewhere in the south of France

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The stomach flu

What is your most marked characteristic? Determination

What do you most value in your friends? Consistency, honesty, warmth and humor

Who is your hero of fiction? Elizabeth Bennet

Which historical figure do you most identify with? I am stumped by this question. There aren’t many women who are recognized as historically significant, especially in the sciences. I certainly admire Charles Darwin beyond expression, but do not identify with him in any way.

Who are your heroes in real life? My parents. They are two of the most interesting people that I know. Both are very accomplished, and so much fun to hang out with. I am very fortunate to have parents whose company I enjoy and whose lives I admire.

How would you like to die? As a very healthy old woman—lets say in my mid-90s—who has just returned from an adventurous trip to the tropics where I contract a lethal (but painless) tropical disease. I would have just enough forewarning to say goodbye to my loved ones, and then expire peacefully while gardening. Do you think that this can be arranged?

What is your motto? My favorite is “underpromise and overachieve”.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I’m sorry to admit it, but “awesome”

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Warmth and intelligence

When and where were you happiest? Summer evenings on my grandparents’ farm, when I was growing up

Which living person do you most despise? I don’t despise anyone.

Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to sing beautifully

What is your greatest extravagance? Shoes and clothes, without a doubt.

What is your favorite occupation? Evolutionary biologist

Who are your favorite writers? Jane Austen

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Having survived a pretty extreme personal tragedy, and coming out of it strong and sane. I was able to provide a safe and secure environment for my young son during a very challenging time. He is now a confident happy kid, and that makes me very proud.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A pampered domestic cat

What is your most treasured possession? I have so many wonderful family artifacts: a Yoder Family bible that dates births, deaths and marriages, all the way back to 1797; I treasure my paternal grandmother’s engagement ring; I love to gaze at the wedding photographs of both of my grandmothers. Given these many treasures, I can’t choose just one. Therefore, I will say that my most treasured possession is the wedding ring that my fiancé bought for me in Prague last January. I will put it on, once and for all, in August.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Deplore is a very strong word. There’s nothing about myself that I deplore. I do wish that I were better in math (and lots of other things).

What is your greatest regret? I’ve given this question a lot of thought, and have to say that I have no regrets. I believe that in all the big matters, I have made the best decision possible, given the information available to me at the time.

What are your favorite names? Dylan and Cassidy

What is it that you most dislike? Having to wake up early. I am not a morning person.