Bear Pause: Simone Maddox '15

Simone Maddox Bear Pause

Simone Maddox ‘15 graduated last spring from Rice University and is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota studying the evolution of birds.

Q: If you could visit any place in the world, where would you choose to go and why?
A: I’d like to visit Portugal and Southern Spain on a history and architecture tour. Back in high school, I spent a summer abroad in the northern region of Aragon, and I’ve always loved learning about the extent to which Arab and early Muslim influence spread across the Iberian peninsula, especially in their architecture and languages. I learned about Roman rule and the more localized taifas in Zaragoza, but I’d like to visit Andalucia to experience this chapter in the history of the region.

Q: What book has influenced you greatly? How?
A: I have two that I think are worth noting. First, my love of Shakespeare I owe to Mr. Ellenbogen’s seventh grade English class where we read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I can’t say it’s my favorite play, but it certainly does have the honor of being the first Shakespeare I read. Second is “Birds Art Life” by Kyo Maclear. It’s a book I read for class shortly after it came out, and I really connected with it. When life gets complicated, it helps to step back and observe the little things out in nature.

Q: If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you spend it?
A: Reading. I set aside time to read on my way to work, if I can  — I usually take the bus — but that’s only maybe 20 minutes total both ways. So an extra hour could really put a dent in my ever-growing reading list!

Q: If you could live inside any sitcom, which one would it be?
A: This will sound dated, but the answer is “Frasier.” The Crane boys — Martin included — would be so funny to be around, and maybe I’d catch an opera or two!

Q: When was the last time you were nervous?
A: Probably grad school orientation. The first day at a new school is always a little scary, even though I know that I, ultimately, have nothing to be afraid of. Everything turned out fine, of course.

Q: Who is your hero?
A: One that comes to mind is Nadia Nadim. Born in Afghanistan, the now-pro soccer star began as a refugee to Denmark, where she worked her way onto the Danish national team as a striker. Before returning to Europe to pursue medical school, Nadia played right here in the U.S. in the National Women’s Soccer League for the Portland Thorns.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Growing up I collected a lot of things: shirt pins, rocks, little animal figurines, etc. But I think the weirdest thing I collected was little dog sculptures made out of soap. I had like 13 of them, all different breeds, and I couldn’t have them all out of their boxes at once, so, every once in a while, I would rotate which one would have the place of honor on the countertop. They were never for handwashing, only for looking at.

Q: What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
A: I had the wonderful privilege to see Hadestown this past summer in New York on Broadway. I’ve always loved theater albums as a way to listen to stories on the go. When I was younger, I would always try to listen to movies while jogging in the park, and I think theater recordings became another way for me to do that, where no visual was needed.

Q: What did you want to be when you were small?
A: I always wanted to be an artist! Art is a lot of the reason I got into science/anatomy; I wanted to understand how bones and muscles worked together to make things move. I wanted my art to look real, and, to portray reality, you have to understand it.

Q: What is the best gift you have been given?
A: Rice has this long-standing tradition of class rings, each largely identical over the past century, but I wasn’t going to get one because I never really wore rings throughout my life. That being said, when I wear my ring now, a gift given to me by my parents, it reminds me not only of a family who loves me, but also of the friends I’ve made, the hard work and the accomplishments I’ve made to be who I am today. I never go a day without it.