If money and time was no object, what research idea would you investigate?
That’s easy, exactly what I do now! There are only a few things better than researching sex and video games.
Who was your PhD supervisor and what was the best thing you learned from them?
Maydianne Andrade was my PhD supervisor and I learned quite a bit from her. She improved my writing by taking the time to comment on every change. And there were a lot of them at the beginning. She taught me how to design experiments better and to just generally enjoy science. But I definitely didn’t learn my work-life balance from her—she’s a workaholic!
Which paper of yours is the one you think should have attracted more attention?
I think it’s a review I was a part of:
Elias, D.O., Andrade, M.C.B., Kasumovic, M.M., 2011. Dynamic population structure and the evolution of spider mating systems, in: Casas, J. (Ed.), Advances in Insect Physiology. Elsevier, UK, pp. 61–114.
It’s only been cited a couple of times (I think by us!) since it was published, and other reviews I’ve published at that time have fared much better.
I think it’s a really cool paper and the idea was to turn other researchers onto the benefits of using spiders. It looks like that didn’t work out so well. I guess that’s good for me, anyway.
What is the worst review you’ve ever had?
Reviewer 1: “This interesting and well written paper…”
Reviewer 2: “Overall I think the study is sound; it makes a nice contribution and should be of interest for a broad audience.”
The Editor: “I enjoyed your paper, and overall, it is a very solid paper that has a lot to offer. … [however] I am concerned that your paper might be better suited to a more specialized behavioral journal or perhaps a journal in invertebrate ecology or behaviour”
WHAT?! But why did you send it out for review then!?!
We made the few changes and then sent it to another journal where it got smacked around by both reviewers and the editor. Weird.
Then we decided to shoot higher than both previous journals and submitted to American Naturalist. And after some amazingly helpful comments from the Reviewers and Editors, it found a home there earlier this year.
Best retrospective rejection ever.
Which other evolutionary biologist’s work do you most admire?
Bob Elwood. He’s done some great empirical and theoretical work on competitions. But most importantly, he’s a great reviewer. He’s extremely thoughtful, honest and polite. I only know this because he’s signed every review he’s given me, positive and negative.
I’ve never met the guy but I very much look forward to buying him a beer and having a chat.
Dawkins or Gould?
Gould. Dawkins is now pretty annoying now. Have you followed that guy on Twitter yet? Yikes.
Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
If I had only one invite, it would definitely be Bill Murray. He has this very mysterious persona and I’d want to know what he’s really like.
But if I had a second, Will Ferrell. You could just have him sit in a chair in an empty room and I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing. I’d like to have a beer with that guy.
And if I had a third, maybe Kanye West. I’d like to see how long it would take for him to leave a party once he realized it wasn’t about him.
What is your earliest memory?
I have a terrible memory. I think it was the pancakes I had for breakfast yesterday. Or was that was this morning?
What was the last video game you bought?
Skylanders Swapforce. I now play video games my kids play. It’s amazing to see how quickly they get better at games. I am very much looking forward to them growing up so that we can game more together.
But the last game I bought for myself? I buy games from the Humble Bundle every so often (look it up!) and I play them at work to chill for a few minutes. The latest was ‘Fez’ and ‘Limbo’. Limbo was great. I haven’t got to Fez yet.
If you had to ask a fellow evolutionary biologist or colleague to fight for your life in a celebrity death-match scenario, who would you choose?
Have you ever been to a conference?! If there was a zombie apocalypse, no one would stand a chance in there. I mean, evolutionary biologists aren’t known for their ability to fend off an attacker.
But I guess if I had to pick an evolutionary biologist, I’d pick Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde. He’s a friend back from when I did my Honours and MSc. His arms are the size of my legs. Okay, that sounds weird. I mean his biceps are as big as my quads. That still sounds weird, but I guess it doesn’t sound like he has freakishly long arm-legs or something.
I think he could hold his own against most people, but he would do especially well against evolutionary biologists. But I’d have to figure out a way to get him to fight in the ring for me.
Which do you prefer: beer or wine?
Depends! Beer after work (ales), but wine with dinner (mainly Shiraz, but I do love a good Rioja).
Tell us a secret that your colleagues don’t know about you
I enjoy watching anime. Quite a lot. I used to be embarrassed about that, but no longer. It’s just too awesome. It’s why pretty much any movie with mechs in it is the best movie ever made. Oh, what about ‘Pacific Rim’ you ask? The best movie ever made.
Mike Kasumovic is a lecturer and DECRA research fellow based in the Ecology and Evolution Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. His research focuses on the evolution of sexual behaviour and specifically the different ways that males and females go about maximizing their reproductive success. Although much of this research concentrates on invertebrates, he also has strong interests in human social behaviour, particularly in the context of modern technology, such as the internet and video games. Find out more about him at www.michaelkasumovic.com and his educational gaming site www.TheEvolvedGamer.com