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Alice Roberts | Anatomist & Author

We recently caught up with Professor Alice Roberts to talk comparative anatomy, fins as limbs and the many excitements of zorbing. Alice is an acclaimed anatomist, anthropologist and broadcaster – among many other things – and is the author of several DK books including The Complete Human Body and Human Anatomy.

What’s your favourite fact about the human body?

I love comparative anatomy and the evolutionary history of the bodies we all inhabit today. The idea that my limbs were fins in a very ancient, fishy ancestor of mine is wonderful!

What’s the best part of your day?

Reading books to my small children at bedtime. I love sharing old stories with them, and finding new ones.

What are three objects you couldn’t do without?

My contact lenses – I am incredibly short-sighted! My laptop – this is the tool I use most, and I love the access to the library of the whole world that the internet provides. And my sketchbook – sometimes old fashioned pen and ink sketching is just the best!

What’s the most difficult thing about your work?

Being away from home. I love adventures, but I love being at home with my kids and husband too.

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had on the job?

There are lots of them, but zorbing through a huge map of the female reproductive system – laid out on a grassy hillside, to show the journey of the ovum – has to be one of the weirdest!

What’s the achievement you’re most proud of?

Three of them: two kids, and my PhD!

What’s something you never expected you would learn?

To be happy in the moment, instead of always looking forward to tomorrow. Is this just something that comes naturally as you get older?

What are you reading right now?

Andrea Wulf’s wonderful biography of Humboldt – and lots of academic papers, as usual!

What’s the thing you’re most excited about for the future of your field?

The coming together of ecology, developmental biology and genetics – understanding how biology really works.

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