If money and time was no object, what research idea would you investigate?
Why does admin always expand to fill the available time? Then I’d test why the world is divided into people who see dichotomies everywhere, and the rest of us.
Who was your PhD supervisor, and what was the best thing you learned from them?
Neil Caithness (a systematic biogeographer) who taught me that I didn’t want to be a systematist. There were too many cladists back in the early 90’s. And he nurtured an interest in argument and beer.
Which paper of yours is your favourite? (and why)
The next one to be accepted.
What is the worst review you’ve ever had?
They almost all blur into one equally nightmarish singularity. I am amazed I’ve ever got anything through peer-review.
Which other evolutionary biologist’s work do you most admire and why?
Martin Daly and Margo Wilson’s work – especially their stuff on on homicide. It showed that evolutionary thinking could yield new and important insights into serious contemporary issues. And the writing is beautiful.
Dawkins or Gould?
Dawkins. Gould got me hooked on evolution, but he got a bit too ornate for my tastes, and he surrendered on behalf of evolutionary biology to the “cognitive creationists” on sociobiology. Dawkins is really much better on natural selection and what it means for the lives individuals lead.
What is your earliest memory?
Because of the unfreezing process I have neither an inner monologue nor a long-term memory.
What is your most unappealing habit?
An unwillingness to make sense while answering questions.
What was the last album you bought? (any good?)
Rodriguez – Cold Fact. Like all good Saffers I had it on vinyl in the 80’s, but my interest was rekindled by Searching for Sugarman. Timeless brilliance.
Who would win a fight between a kiwi and an echidna?
An angry sea bass.
What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Something with frickin lasers on it. Or a purple toga.
Tell us a secret that your colleagues don’t know about you
I ran for student government with a guy called Andrew Thatcher, wearing a pale green toga. In winter. In Johannesburg. We did very well, too.
Rob Brooks is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of New South Wales. Originally from South Africa, he came to Australia in 1997 and has worked on an enormous range of projects generally related to evolution in the context of sexual reproduction. A past president of the Australasian Evolution Society, his work includes the award-winning book Sex, Genes & Rock ‘n’ Roll published in 2011 by NewSouth books. He regularly and entertainingly updates his website with news, research and ideas both sexy and evolutionary-y.